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Construction Management: What It Is and Why You Need to Know About It

Construction project management is a well-respected professional service in the construction industry, with professional construction managers looking after major projects from industrial and commercial through to huge infrastructure projects.

With a broad skillset from communication and business skills through to project management and building, construction management is a vital part of construction processes. In Chicago, contact construction project management experts Fortress Home: +773-770-8607 or [email protected]

What is meant by construction management?

Construction management is project management within the construction industry and it uses project management techniques to manage construction projects from inception to completion. Construction management ensures that each project is completed on time, within budget, and meets quality standards.

Construction managers work with engineers, architects, and general contractors to make sure projects are being completed as agreed, solve problems on the job site, and then liaise with the project owner to keep them updated on the current status of the build.


The ultimate responsibility of construction managers is to the project owner.

Types of construction projects

While all construction projects can benefit from experienced project managers, most professional construction managers work on larger, long-term, high-budget projects. For example:

  • Large commercial - such as retail outlets or office buildings
  • Infrastructures - such as railway systems or airports
  • Industrial - such as industrial complexes
  • Institutional - such as schools and hospitals

Stages of work in construction management

Construction managers may well be involved with the entire project throughout the process, from long before construction starts, through to the completed project.

Feasibility

Feasibility is the pre-design stage, working out exactly what is needed (size of building, layout, scope) and if it will be feasible given building codes and zoning laws in the desired location. Cost estimating will also take place at this time. This stage can be very quick for example with office buildings but may be very lengthy with major infrastructure projects.

Design

The design takes place once the scope has been defined in the feasibility stage. At this point, architects and engineering companies will become involved in creating all the plans and schematics.

Pre-construction

Pre-construction is when bids will come in from builders, materials will be procured and the full construction team will be assembled. Work timetables will be drawn up in consultation with other professionals.

Construction

Construction is the stage that most people are familiar with and at this point, the construction manager will likely have an office at the job site to oversee all construction activities.

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Operation

Operation is when the construction stage is completed. The owner will check that the finished project meets all the requirements and that everything has been completed as agreed. Once that has been completed the owner can take over occupancy of their new building.

Key functions of construction management

The Construction Management Association of America

(CMAA) identifies seven areas of expertise (core competencies) for construction management professionals. These show the scope of construction management services provided by construction management companies.

1. Professional Practice

Construction managers need to have extensive professional knowledge, from the possible delivery methods for major projects, and construction methods and construction science, through to HR, and employment issues. They also need to know about environmental regulations and employment laws. Professional practice also encompasses leadership skills, analytical skills, and communication skills, which are essential in this type of role.

2. Project Management

Working in construction management it's essential to use formal project management techniques and project management information systems, in order to manage the entire building project from start to finish. This covers planning, documentation, information management, and other related disciplines.

3. Cost Management

A key element of building construction management is ensuring that projects don't go over budget and that all costs are managed and accounted for. The construction manager will know about budget creation and monitoring, cost estimates, and cost control.

4. Time Management

From the owner's point of view, time management is vital during the construction process.

Delays can be costly and problematic, especially with major projects, so it's vital that a construction manager understands time management systems, and scheduling for each stage of the project from project design to the construction process.


5. Quality Management

Managing the overall quality of the project is an essential part of construction management. This includes the quality of work completed by the general contractor through to the standard of the building materials used throughout the build. To do this, pre-construction, construction managers will create quality plans, carry out inspections, understand when materials need to be checked or tested, and keep accurate quality management documentation.

6. Contract Administration

Contract administration may not sound like the most exciting part of the construction management process but it's essential. It involves drawing up contracts for other construction specialists, understanding the procurement and bidding process, and monitoring compliance.

7. Safety Management

The construction process can be dangerous if it's not well managed, so safety management is a vital part of the construction management skillset. For this, construction managers need to learn all about safety legislation and rules and how to ensure they are adhered to. They will be responsible for ensuring all relevant insurance is in place, safety records are kept, emergency plans are put in place, and risk assessments are carried out and acted upon, where necessary.

Construction management qualifications

In order to ensure your project is completed to the highest standards, construction management professionals will generally need a college education and a range of qualifications. Relevant degree programs may be bachelor's degree or master's degree, as well as construction experience and certification.

There are various bodies in the US that certify construction managers and these include:

  • CMAA - The Construction Management Association of America
  • AIC - The American Institute of Constructors
  • NICET - The National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies
  • NCCER - The National Center for Construction Education and Research
  • OSHA - The Occupational Safety and Health Administration

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Why do you need construction managers?

As the future owner of a new building, be it residential construction or commercial construction, you want to ensure that your project is completed to the highest standards, within budget, and on time. Unless you have a lot of free time and energy you are unlikely to be able to manage the project yourself, which is where the construction manager comes in, as your own personal project manager.

Construction managers represent the property owner directly, ensuring the entire construction process is successful. They are responsible for managing the following elements of the construction project:

  • ensuring the project comes in at or under budget
  • ensuring the project is completed on time
  • ensuring the project is completed to the standards of quality, function, and scope expected by the owner

According to a study supported by the CMAA Foundation, working with professional construction managers results in higher quality completed projects. They also help to save money on a project and avoid or mitigate problems, all great reasons to work with experienced construction managers.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many years of college do you need to be a construction manager?

It isn't essential to have a college degree to become a construction manager but it will certainly help with future job prospects, and most entry-level positions require a bachelor's degree in construction management.

In order to become fully certified as a construction manager (there are various options for certification) you generally need qualifications and practical experience. If you have a bachelor's construction management degree you usually require four years of experience and without a degree, eight years experience.

There are also master's degrees available in construction management for those who wish to learn more about this specialism.

Is construction management a good career?

Construction managers are vital to the construction industry, which is growing, making construction management a great career path.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects jobs in construction management to grow by 11% between 2020 - 2030, faster than the average growth rate for other jobs.

Construction management, as a field, offers a very positive job outlook, due to business growth, with lots of new jobs likely in the coming years.


For people who don't enjoy the office work environment, it also offers many opportunities to work outdoors. The competitive salaries also make it an appealing career path to many.

What is construction management salary?

Construction managers earn very competitive salaries, with the median salary being $97,180 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. At the lower end, a certified construction manager may start out making around $45,000 but can climb to well over $100,000 per year.

Project management construction services in Chicago

When you need a trusted construction company for your residential or commercial project in Chicago, look no further than Fortress Home general contractor. With unrivaled construction and project management skills they will ensure your project is completed quickly and affordably, as agreed. Find out more today by calling +773-770-8607 or [email protected]

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