The majority of construction managers today in the US are independent contractors. They are generally hired by customers needing specific industry experience and expertise. And generally these customers are seeking construction managers with bachelor degrees in related fields. The projects worked on can include smaller home remodeling projects, to bigger commercial projects such as hospitals, office buildings, education buildings, retail stores and more. But specifically, what does a construction manager do?
A construction manager typically leads and monitors a range of construction projects from start to finish. Construction managers organize schedules, costs – and they ensure all construction parties are working on their correct piece of the project on a daily basis. Construction managers also handle many of the project relationships, and monitor and maintain the safety aspects of the construction site.
The specific activities for a construction manager to do may change from job to job, however there are some typical activities expected of construction managers. For example, safety management is a common expectation for construction managers. They are expected to identify and fix safety hazards for the construction site and workers. They are also expected to oversee quality management – by making sure that all involved in the project are within quality expectations and not taking shortcuts to negatively impact the construction. Multi-tasking is critical. Of course construction managers also need to be able to read and understand blueprints in general as well as for the projects at hand.
Another expectation for construction managers is contract management or administration – to ensure all portions of the contract are in order, being met and that everyone involved is continually on board and satisfied with contract stipulations and stages. An additional important element over and above contracts is financials management. Construction managers are expected to stay on top of costs and manage expectations if project factors and costs have to change.
Finally, project communication is paramount for construction managers. Construction projects are comprised of many personnel – all who need to stay informed each step of the way. These include architects, designers, engineers, contractors and subcontractors, trade workers and of course the customer. The construction manager must keep them all in the loop and deal with any of their issues at a given point.
Effective construction managers should know building codes and recent construction trends. They should know how to use construction software and generally understand all elements of the job. From their education, construction managers should have studied topics such as design and planning, scheduling and financial estimating. Certifications are valuable as well – derived from a compilation of hands-on experience, education and overall knowledge of construction management attributes. A couple of examples of certifications come from the American Institute of Constructors and the Construction Management Association of America.
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