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What does a Construction Manager do?

By Cassie L. Damewood
Updated Feb 13, 2024
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A construction manager, also commonly referred to as a construction superintendent or project manager, oversees all aspects of a building project from its inception through completion. He rarely does any manual labor and frequently supervises several projects simultaneously. His job normally requires regular contact with the owners and investors of the developments to give them progress reports and answer their questions.

The construction manager frequently has an office on site if only one project is underway. If multiple projects are in progress, he normally works from a centralized office location. He may conduct business from places such as hotel rooms and airports if the projects are located over a large geographic area.

When a construction manager is hired to supervise a project, the first item on his agenda is normally to create a timeline either manually or using a computerized program designed to efficiently schedule each phase of the project. This stage commonly includes defining labor and material needs for each phase of the development. If the initial budget requires an adjustment, the changes are frequently made at this juncture.

To guarantee all aspects of the project are properly addressed, a construction manager commonly uses checklists to make sure everything is on schedule. The first list typically covers the excavation of the site, the installation of drainage and sewage systems and building roads to access the site. After these tasks are completed, the next list normally includes laying the building’s foundation followed by the construction of the frames for the walls, ceilings and roof. The steps on the final checklist customarily include finish work, such as plumbing, heating, and fixture and electrical system installations.

After the first stage of the job gets underway, the construction manager is normally a regular presence at the site. He monitors the workers, ensures the design guidelines are being followed and addresses any issues regarding materials or equipment. It is normally the job of the construction manager to make sure all the proper permits for building and safety compliance are complete and current as well.

Tracking expenses as the job progresses is another important part of the construction manager’s job. He ordinarily checks the cost estimates against invoices and labor time sheets several times a week to confirm the numbers are within budget guidelines. It is common for a construction manager to require daily reports from project supervisors that detail costs for labor, materials and equipment rental.

To be considered for this position, a candidate normally should have a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, building science or a related field. Coursework in project management, construction accounting and architecture may be helpful. Experience in any construction-related job is normally considered an asset for applicants.

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