What is construction manager and what do they do?

Have you ever wondered 'what does a construction manager do?' In short, people working in construction management manage projects in the construction field, ensuring successful project outcomes for the project owners. This may sound familiar to you and you might be thinking 'what is the difference between construction manager and general contractor?'

While there are several differences, some general contractors will also act as construction managers, like Fortress Home in Chicago. With their excellent project management skills, you can trust that your build will be completed exactly as you want it. Contact them now to find out more about their construction management services: [email protected] or +773-770-8607

What does a construction manager do?

A construction manager's remit is to be the project manager for an entire construction project. They have a thorough understanding of project delivery methods and a broad skill set, including an understanding of construction methods, use of project management tools, as well as people management skills and other management and business skills.

Acting as the main point of contact and representative for the project owner, the construction manager oversees the entire process.

Many construction managers use construction management software to make their job easier, especially when managing very large projects with many parties involved.

Who does a construction manager work with?

As part of their role as project managers, construction managers work closely with other key members of the project team. This will usually include:

  • The project owner, who is paying for the project
  • The architects and engineers, who are designing the project
  • The builders or general contractor, who is responsible for the construction of the project and oversees subcontractors

What are the duties construction managers typically have?

Construction managers have a wide range of duties throughout the entire planning and construction process.


Construction managers plan the schedule for the project, ensuring all the timings and logistics are in place at the start of the process. They may use project management information systems to help them manage all the project elements. They will ensure all legal and regulatory requirements are in place for the project, including those to do with environmental regulations, health and safety codes, and HR requirements. They will also carry out risk assessments and other related paperwork.


The construction manager will work with all the other parties to get a budget in place, including coordinating cost estimates. Once the construction phase is underway they will monitor spending against budgets.


As the key point of contact for the owner, architect, engineer, and general contractor the construction manager is responsible for coordinating work and communicating with all the parties.

Supervising and contract administration

Once work begins on the job site the construction manager will probably have an office there so they can oversee the work and ensure building and safety codes are in place and being adhered to. From the start of the project, they will also ensure that every element of the contract is being delivered as agreed.

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Quality management

One of the key duties of the construction manager is to ensure that all the work is completed to a sufficiently high standard of quality and meets the scope of the project plan. It's their responsibility to ensure everything is completed as agreed in the contract.

Time management

Construction managers also have a responsibility to ensure the project is running to schedule, and if there are any delays they will put in place plans to deal with the delays and get back on schedule.

What do construction managers build?

In general, construction managers work on larger-scale projects. These might include:

  • Commercial structures such as large office buildings or retail outlets
  • Institutional projects such as hospitals, museums, and universities
  • Industrial structures and industrial complexes
  • Infrastructure projects including power plants and highways

What's the difference between general contractor and construction manager?

When you begin a large construction project you want to make sure the build is in safe hands so you need to start putting together a team, or finding someone who will put together a team for you. You might have heard of both general contractors and construction managers, but what's the difference when it comes to a construction manager vs general contractor?

There is a lot of overlap in their roles and the work they do on construction projects but below we highlight the main differences, and when you might want to work with one, or the other.

General contractors

General contractors usually have a directly employed team of their own site foreman, laborers, skilled tradespeople, and other construction workers. They will also have a pool of trusted subcontractors they work with on building projects.

Most general contractors will have an area of specialism, whether that's residential construction or large-scale commercial construction, and their team will be experts in that field.

Usually, general contractors start work on a project after the design is in place.

They might assist with applying for permits and will take over the project during the construction phase, looking after all the actual construction activities.

When to use them

Working with a general contractor in this way is generally recommended for smaller projects such as renovations, remodeling, and residential construction.

What is construction manager?

Rather than working with a large company like most general contractors, there are many self-employed construction managers, although there are also some who work as part of a specialist construction management company. They will not directly employ anyone who works in a hands-on way on the actual construction processes.

As we've seen, construction managers will work with a team of other experts, including engineers, builders, and architects to manage the project and ensure that it does not run over budget or time.

Construction managers are normally involved in a project from the very start, assisting with feasibility studies and the concept and design stage. They can be instrumental in getting major projects off the ground. Their responsibility is to the project owner and they will act as their representative and key point of communication throughout the entire project, ensuring the owner's best interests are always followed.

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When to use them

Working with a construction manager generally makes the most sense on medium to very large scale commercial, institutional or infrastructure projects, with many different parties involved, longer time-frames, and bigger budgets.

General contractors as construction managers

Some general contractors, like Fortress Home, Chicago, will take on the role of construction managers, becoming involved with a project from the very outset and managing all elements of safety, quality, time, and cost.

When to use

Working with a general contractor as a construction project manager is especially effective on projects such as residential builds and small to medium commercial projects.

Frequently asked questions

What is the role of the construction manager?

A construction manager will supervise construction projects from inception to completion, acting as the representative of the project owner or funder.

A successful construction manager will ensure a successful project outcome for the owner, by acting as project manager, working alongside other building specialists.

What is the meaning of construction manager?

If you're unsure what is construction manager, we're here to help. Construction managers are construction management professionals, with a wide range of knowledge and skills including understanding of construction methods, project management skills, and many soft skills including communication skills and people management skills.

What is expected of a construction manager?

A construction manager is expected to represent the owner during the entire construction project, project managing the entire process. This will include:

  • Liaising with all key players on the project
  • Regularly communicating with the owner
  • Managing costs and budgets
  • Creating and monitoring schedules
  • Ensuring all work is completed within the scope of the project
  • Overseeing the quality of work completed
  • Ensuring health and safety on the construction site

What is the qualification for construction manager?

There are a few paths for those who want to become a construction manager, from bachelor's and master's degrees to professional qualifications and on-the-job training. Most construction managers will have a relevant degree, several years of practical experience, and a formal certification from one of the accredited bodies in the US, making them certified construction managers.

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