10 Duties of a Construction Project Manager

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The construction of the new World Trade Center is overseen by a project manager, who is responsible for every construction project.
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One World Trade Center in Manhattan’s financial district, with its towering height of 1,271 feet (387 meters), is the tallest building in New York City. It is constructed on the site of the original World Trade Center. Since 2006, a massive construction crew has been working hard to erect the world’s newest skyscraper [source: Washington Post].

A construction project manager (PM) is at the forefront of this and every other construction project, whether it’s building a parking lot or an apartment building.

The PM’s primary responsibility is to plan a specific construction project and oversee its progress. The position usually requires at least an associate’s degree, while some require a four-year engineering degree, and five years of experience in a related field. PMs earn approximately $84,000 per year, and their employment opportunities are expected to increase by 17 percent this decade [source: Bureau of Labor Statistics].

Here is a list of a PM’s duties in managing a construction project.

10: Plan the Work

Before construction begins, the PM must plan out the work that the crew will undertake. The PM reviews a proposed project to determine how and when the work will be performed, including any preparatory work that must be completed before the building starts. The PM’s cost estimate is critical because it determines the price at which the PM’s company bids for its services. The PM also establishes a deliverables schedule to provide the construction team with a roadmap to complete the project on time and within budget (two other PM responsibilities). To be prepared to handle any tasks that arise during the project, the construction manager must also thoroughly review the project [sources: Exforsys, Hendrickson].

9: Hire, Fire, Supervise


The PM is responsible for maintaining order on the construction site.
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The PM is the boss on a construction site.

The construction project manager is responsible not only for planning the work and ensuring that it is completed but also for supervising the construction workers who perform it. This entails coordinating and directing the efforts of construction workers. It also includes hiring, disciplining, and potentially firing individuals who step out of line (or those who, like Vito Spatafore in “The Sopranos,” spend more time sipping coffee, thumbing through a newspaper, and doing unexpected things in the port-o-john than lifting a hammer) [source: Exforsys].

In other words, it is the PM’s responsibility to complete the work through other people. In this and many other ways, the PM is similar to a manager in any other field of work, whether it’s the Ringling Bros. Circus or a paper clip sales organization in Sheboygan, WI.

Step 8: Procure Equipment and Materials

Renowned NFL coach Bill Parcells once said, “They want you to cook the dinner; at least they ought to let you shop for some of the groceries,” emphasizing the importance of being involved in selecting players for his teams. Similarly, for construction project managers, choosing the right tools and equipment to complete the job is crucial.

The workers under the PM’s supervision cannot accomplish anything without the appropriate tools and supplies. The PM must obtain the necessary equipment and materials, ranging from nails to bulldozers, and find a place to store them while also establishing a system for inventory management. Being thorough in this aspect of the job is crucial as it keeps costs within budget and ensures no delays due to additional equipment or repairs once construction begins [sources: Exforsys, Hendrickson, Shaker].

Step 7: Establish Goals


The PM determines the cost and time goals as well as “micro-goals” for the different phases of construction.
iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Although a construction PM may not be physically involved in the building process, they are responsible for ensuring that the work is done correctly, within budget, and on time.

The PM sets specific goals for the project after signing the contract with the owner (client). They review the contractual conditions of performance, including requirements and deliverables, to determine the exact work needed to fulfill the contract. The PM then establishes cost and time goals, along with “micro-goals” for each phase of construction. Based on these goals, the PM determines the number of workers, supplies, and materials needed to achieve them [source: Shaker].

Step 6: Adhere to the Schedule

Seasoned construction workers often refer to a construction project as “any collection of vaguely related activities that are ninety percent complete, over budget, and late” [source: Shaker].

Each job comes with specific objectives and constraints, where the completion time is a critical goal. The time frame is crucial because the construction contract might include monetary penalties against the builder if the project runs behind schedule. Time is indeed money [source: Hendrickson].

To meet the overall construction deadline, the PM must create a specific schedule with deadlines for each project that needs completion. The PM must also monitor the work daily to ensure it is progressing on time. If there is a slowdown due to weather, an accident, or a task taking longer than anticipated, the PM must make necessary changes to get the job back on track [sources: Exforsys, Shaker].

Step 5: Stay Within Budget

Although that brand-new strip mall might be a sight to behold, it’s unlikely that construction workers built it out of a deep-rooted artistic or creative passion for creating single-level shopping centers. A construction project is usually a commercial endeavor, so the PM must keep finances in mind while overseeing the work.

The role of a construction project manager involves various tasks and responsibilities. One of the crucial responsibilities is cost-projection, which includes estimating the cost of wages, equipment, and materials before the work begins to establish the budget. During the project, the project manager oversees the costs daily or weekly and limits or eliminates costs if necessary to stay under budget. Another technique used to cut costs and increase productivity is value engineering, which focuses on the function and cost of each option.

The project manager serves two masters, the construction company, and the client, and is expected to keep both parties informed of the ongoing process and any issues that arise. They prepare internal and external reports regarding the job status, equipment, policies, procedures, and any planned adjustments to be made. Dispute management is another crucial responsibility of the project manager, requiring them to resolve disputes among employees, subcontractors, or clients. They should seek to resolve conflicts quickly and informally, getting proper technical input if necessary, to keep the job moving.

In the event of a dispute, many construction contracts call for alternative resolution, such as arbitration or mediation, to avoid significant legal costs and slow down the project. The project manager should handle disputes carefully to ensure a smooth working relationship throughout the project’s life.

2: Creating Contracts

When it comes to construction projects, the contract between the owner and the builder is essential and outlines all of the work that needs to be done. Therefore, it’s crucial for the PM to be involved in creating the contract and to have a deep understanding of the requirements to ensure they’re met. This involvement is necessary to guarantee that the project runs smoothly [source: Exforsys].

However, drafting the contract isn’t the only agreement that the PM needs to manage. They also need to locate and integrate architects, materials suppliers, and subcontractors such as electricians, carpenters, and heating and cooling professionals. The PM needs to monitor the agreements with each of these parties, ensuring that they complete their piece of the building project puzzle [sources: Exforsys, Shaker].

1: Risk Management


Be careful where you put that finger! The PM has to be on top of safety issues.
iStockphoto/Thinkstock

One of the most significant aspects of problem-solving is risk management. Construction projects carry a wide variety of potential risks: site conditions, design assumptions, public regulations, worker safety, and environmental concerns are just a few examples. Owners have started sharing the risk by requiring builders to be partially liable in the event of a loss due to these factors. Therefore, the PM’s role is to analyze the risks before starting the project, ensuring that both the builder and the client are aware of them. They must reach a mutual agreement on how the risk will be shared. Once the construction begins, the PM must mitigate the risks by selecting materials and equipment carefully and monitoring the work closely [source: Hendrickson].

More Information

Author’s Note: 10 Responsibilities of a Construction Project Manager

Construction workers get to work outside and build something with their hands, making their job seem more enjoyable. However, being a project manager comes with a good paycheck. While the job may require early mornings and back-breaking work in various seasons, it still seems better than staring at a computer screen all day.

Related Articles

  • Learn about the job responsibilities of a construction manager
  • Understand how Guaranteed Maximum Price contracts function
  • Discover the top 5 issues that arise from fast-paced construction
  • Ask these 10 questions when considering a contractor for your project
  • Learn the ins and outs of building permits
  • Explore the world’s tallest buildings and their records

Sources

  • Find out more about Construction Managers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics
  • Read about a qualitative approach to problem-solving for construction site engineers
  • Exforsys, Inc. explains the role of the construction manager in their career center
  • Discover how project owners can use best dispute resolution practices to reduce construction costs from the Federal Facilities Council
  • Carnegie Mellon University’s Project Management for Construction provides a comprehensive resource for project management
  • Learn about the DOD Value Engineering Program from the IDA
  • Find out the differences between arbitration and mediation from National Paralegal College
  • PACE Project Management outlines the duties of a construction project manager
  • The Washington Post covers the record-breaking height of One World Trade Center

FAQ

1. What are the key responsibilities of a construction project manager?

A construction project manager is responsible for overseeing all aspects of a construction project from start to finish. This includes managing budgets, schedules, and resources, as well as coordinating with architects, engineers, contractors, and other stakeholders. The project manager must also ensure that all work is done to the highest standards of quality and safety, and that all permits and codes are in compliance.

2. How does a construction project manager ensure that projects are completed on time and within budget?

A construction project manager must carefully plan and manage the project schedule, ensuring that all tasks are completed on time and in the correct order. They must also closely monitor the budget, tracking expenses and making adjustments as needed to ensure that the project stays within budget. Effective communication with all stakeholders is also essential to keep everyone informed and on track.

3. What is the role of a construction project manager in managing resources?

A construction project manager must manage the resources required for the project, including labor, equipment, materials, and supplies. This involves hiring and managing subcontractors and ensuring that all resources are used efficiently and effectively. They must also ensure that all workers are properly trained and equipped to do their jobs safely and effectively.

4. How does a construction project manager ensure quality control?

A construction project manager must ensure that all work is done to the highest standards of quality and that all materials and equipment meet the required specifications. They must also conduct regular inspections and tests to ensure that work is being done correctly and that all safety and quality standards are being met.

5. What is the role of a construction project manager in risk management?

A construction project manager must identify and manage risks that could impact the project, including safety risks, financial risks, and legal risks. They must also develop contingency plans to address potential problems and ensure that all stakeholders are aware of the risks and prepared to respond if necessary.

6. How does a construction project manager ensure compliance with regulations and codes?

A construction project manager must ensure that all work is done in compliance with local, state, and federal regulations and building codes. They must also obtain all necessary permits and approvals and ensure that all inspections are completed on time and to the required standards.

7. What is the role of a construction project manager in communication with stakeholders?

A construction project manager must communicate effectively with all stakeholders, including the owner, architects, engineers, contractors, and subcontractors. They must keep everyone informed of project status, risks, and changes, and ensure that all stakeholders are working together effectively to achieve project goals.

8. How does a construction project manager handle conflicts and disputes?

A construction project manager must be skilled in conflict resolution and able to handle disputes that may arise between stakeholders. They must be able to identify the root cause of conflicts and work with all parties to find a mutually acceptable solution.

9. What is the role of a construction project manager in project closeout?

A construction project manager is responsible for ensuring that all project closeout activities are completed properly, including final inspections, punch lists, and documentation. They must also ensure that all warranties and guarantees are obtained and that all required permits and approvals are obtained.

10. What skills are required to be a successful construction project manager?

A successful construction project manager must have strong leadership, communication, and problem-solving skills. They must also be knowledgeable about construction methods and materials, as well as project management tools and techniques. Attention to detail, the ability to manage budgets and schedules, and a commitment to safety and quality are also essential.

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