This article is a quick primer on the top five reasons you should retain an expert construction manager to oversee your project. Very few people have the experience or the time to manage a high-value, complex construction project (residential or commercial), nor should they assume the potential risks of doing so. In an industry where time is money, costly mistakes abound. Construction know-how is critical—the value of a professional construction manager is a positive cost-benefit in comparison to the risks of doing a major project without professional guidance. Ask yourself: how much is it worth to avoid a significant delay or a complete redesign? A good construction manager will skillfully lead the project to create efficiencies, avoid pitfalls and champion your project on a direct path to the finish line.
Please follow the links to other Stonemark blog articles for in-depth information on the benefits introduced here.
1. Objective and Expert Representation
A construction manager’s role is to provide objective project management and technical expertise to represent the best interests of the owner and the project. As the owner’s representative, the construction manager will view the project from a comprehensive perspective and typically manage the entire process: feasibility, entitlement, preconstruction, coordination of design, budget, schedule, quality and function, risk management, retention and coordination of the project team.
Professional construction managers utilize specialized project management techniques to manage the planning, design and construction of a project from beginning to end. They are fluent in construction methods and technologies, interpret contracts and technical drawings and have the depth of experience to develop the optimal project plan. Construction managers issue and coordinate the bidding process for all required team members, advise the owner on the most appropriate project team and manage them to bring out their best work. They coordinate engineering, architecture, contractors and specialty consultants. Acting as the owner’s project liaison, they coordinate required disciplines, often can identify problems in advance, mitigate change orders and ensure quality.
2. Reduce Overall Project Costs
Most savings opportunities are identified during the early planning and preconstruction phases when a comprehensive scope of work is established and the total project budget is defined. Your construction manager should be brought on board early to provide critical project budgeting techniques, cost estimating services and vital input on the developing design and project plan. They will offer improvements and critical feedback on scope decisions and their cost implications, all of which need to be explored and weighed against schedule. This approach to budget and schedule is an improvement to the change order process later in construction as there will be less opportunity for change orders and budget increases to occur. Throughout the life-cycle of the project, the construction manager will continue to refine and update budget and schedule estimates to maintain constant and strict cost control of the process to avoid costly surprises.
3. Project Controls
An optimal project team will include the owner, construction manager and architect to provide a “checks and balances” system that enables major design decisions to be made on the basis of cost, schedule and quality implications as well as aesthetics and function. Too often owners are asked to make decisions absent other variables that could cause delays or cost more than the contractor anticipated. In our experience, the owner should receive full information on all implications of a design issue or change in order to make an informed decision.
Schedule Control. The use of construction scheduling techniques and the construction manager’s input on the schedule should begin during the design phase and continue throughout the project. As project managers, it is their role to encourage all team members including the contractor, architects, engineers and consultants to participate in the development of the overall project schedule in order to identify problems in advance and mitigate change orders. A good construction manager reduces costs by accelerating the design and construction schedule.
Bidding and Change Order Controls. It takes an experienced construction manager to prepare bid packages for all the various scopes of services during the design phase to mitigate gaps, overlaps or ambiguities that may become opportunities for change orders by the contractor later on. During construction, your construction manager should review, analyze and negotiate change orders on the owner’s behalf to minimize mid-project overruns. Through managing the bidding and change orders processes, your construction manager will strategize the best way to perform the maximum amount of work possible within budget and save on contracted costs.
Quality Controls. A construction manager should establish quality controls through project and performance requirements early in the building program. This starts in preconstruction with the establishment of quality standards acceptable to the client and design team. Once specified, the contract documents should clarify all quality standards and a quality control inspection program instituted for the actual construction phase. Correcting deficient work is expensive and avoidable. You should not rely on the building inspector to protect your interests. As independent construction experts, your construction manager’s staff will include highly qualified, multi-disciplinary personnel who ensure the design team, engineers and other professionals physically inspect the work to make sure it is in accordance with the contract documents, is of highest quality and is what you paid for.
4. Risk Management
Construction management is risk management. Risk, which is essentially anything that can go wrong is inherent in construction. A construction risk management plan should identify, analyze and mitigate risks to protect the owner from liability. Risk exposures can include financial risks from cost overruns, uncontrolled change orders or unstable market pricing; unforeseen site conditions such as hazardous materials; the potential for construction defects, accidents or mistakes; unrealistic expectations and contract and insurance disputes. Part of a construction manager’s risk management strategy is to allocate risk fairly to other entities besides the owner. During construction, the construction manager mitigates risks through close monitoring of the work being performed.
5. Have a Life
If your business is construction, by all means, manage your own project. If not retain a professional construction manager to champion the project for you. This will result in a more positive construction experience and less stress and disruption in your daily life. Hire a professional construction manager, work together, but let them do their job and follow their advice. When hiring a construction manager, it’s important to know what to ask when interviewing them. To learn more on this topic, follow the link to our article what questions should I ask a construction manager?
A Final Word
An experienced соnѕtruсtіоn mаnаgеr delivers an overall better project and generally saves owners more than their own fees through better planning, соѕt and schedule ѕаvіngѕ, value engineering and rеduсеd rіѕk while balancing the competing goals of a project.
Projects are built by teams—let your construction manager hire and manage the best team to build you the best project. Their expertise and focus on managing the project in the owner’s best interests results in benefits on every level from risk management in contract and insurance issues to improved quality, budget and schedule controls. Most importantly, a skillful professional construction manager will create an environment of collaboration among the team and owner as they work toward a common goal—a building program completed on time and within budget that meets the project’s goals and objectives.