Thesis: Construction Manager

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¶ … Construction Manager

Today, the construction industry has become enormously competitive and complex. A wide range of new construction materials are available that require specialized knowledge in their application, and major construction projects demand careful budgeting and scheduling expertise. In addition, individual working in the construction industry must be able to communicate with a number of professionals and workers in other fields and the use of sophisticated project management software applications is becoming increasingly commonplace. Furthermore, strict building codes and safety standards are in place across the country that must be followed to ensure compliance with the project's legal requirements. In this environment, the role of the modern construction manager has clearly assumed a new level of importance and relevance to the construction industry. To determine the role of the construction manager in the 21st century, this paper provides a review of the relevant peer-reviewed and scholarly literature concerning this issue, followed by a summary of the research and important findings in the conclusion.

Review and Analysis

By any measure, managing a construction project today requires a high degree of specialized knowledge and training in order to avoid unnecessary delays, legal infractions, cost overruns and injuries on the job site. For instance, according to Arain and Pheng (2006), "The construction process is influenced by highly changing variables and unpredictable factors that could result from different sources" (p. 59). The different sources of influence on construction projects range from the varying performance of construction crews, the availability of needed resources, environmental conditions, the level of involvement of others as well as contractual relations (Arain & Pheng, 2006).

Given this wide range of influences on a construction project's management and outcome, it is little wonder that problems can arise. In this regard, Arain and Pheng emphasize, "As a consequence of these sources, the construction of projects may face problems which could cause delay in the project completion time" (p. 59). In fact, in their analysis of the main reasons for significant problems arising during construction projects, Arain and Pheng cite the "lack of a specialized construction manager" among the most frequently cited by construction industry professionals (p. 60). In reality, though, most construction managers will need to possess a wide range of skills, knowledge and experience in order to be successful even in a highly specialized field. For instance, as Sebestyen (1998) points out, "No one would deny that human talent and experience will continue to be of critical importance in construction management in the future. On the other hand, one should not readily give up the idea that the science of management can usefully complement empirical skills and instinct" (p. 241). According to Ratcliffe, Stubbs and Shepherd (2003), while the reasons for using a construction manager will vary from project to project, there are some commonalities involved in those cases where they are used. For example, Ratcliffe and his colleagues (2003) report that, "The appointment of a construction manager is most common where the developer acts in the capacity of total project manager and, for reasons of either managerial efficiency or lack of technical expertise, or both, prefers to delegate responsibility for overseeing all the construction activity to another" (p. 269).

Although the typical construction manager may have trained specifically for this position, construction managers can also be professionals in other construction-related fields as well. For instance, Ratcliffe et al. note that, "The construction manager might be an architect, a builder, an engineer, a building surveyor or a quantity surveyor, and extensive practical experience in the type of project being built is essential" (p. 269). Some of the skills required of modern construction managers include the following:

1. It is important that you have a strong technical background with a sound understanding of construction techniques, forms of construction, legal requirements, safety and quality systems;

2. An ability to motivate and lead different teams, not only the site team, but also, client and design teams, all of which may have a different vision of what they expect from the completed building; and,

3. An ability to manage these expectations while also ensuring that the budget is maintained (Jones, 2008, p. 32).

Whatever their background and specialty area, in order to manage others in a highly complex environment, construction managers must possess the right combination of education and professional experience. Indeed, most people do not ordinarily become construction managers overnight, even if they have a college degree in construction science. Rather, many construction managers first use their education in combination with hands-on experience in a variety of roles in the construction industry. In this regard, Applebaum (1999) reports that although a college degree in construction science is not an absolute prerequisite, a growing number of construction managers have completed a formal education in the industry. According to Applebaum, "College graduates may advance to positions as assistant manager, construction manager, general superintendent, cost estimator, construction building inspector, general manager and top executive, contractor, or consultant" (p. 9).

Although it is reasonable to suggest that all construction managers will perform different responsibilities according to the type of project that is involved, some insights concerning typical responsibilities can be gained from a review of the U.S. government's Standard Occupational Classification Code (11-9021.00) for construction managers which includes the following major elements:

1. Plan, direct, coordinate, or budget, usually through subordinate supervisory personnel, activities concerned with the construction and maintenance of structures, facilities, and systems. Participate in the conceptual development of a construction project and oversee its organization, scheduling, and implementation.

2. Schedule the project in logical steps and budget time required to meet deadlines.

3. Determine labor requirements and dispatch workers to construction sites.

4. Inspect and review projects to monitor compliance with building and safety codes, and other regulations.

5. Interpret and explain plans and contract terms to administrative staff, workers, and clients, representing the owner or developer.

6. Prepare contracts and negotiate revisions, changes and additions to contractual agreements with architects, consultants, clients, suppliers and subcontractors.

7. Obtain all necessary permits and licenses.

8. Direct and supervise workers.

9. Study job specifications to determine appropriate construction methods.

10. Select, contract, and oversee workers who complete specific pieces of the project, such as painting or plumbing.

11. Requisition supplies and materials to complete construction projects.

12. Prepare and submit budget estimates and progress and cost tracking reports.

13. Develop and implement quality control programs.

14. Take actions to deal with the results of delays, bad weather, or emergencies at construction site.

15. Confer with supervisory personnel, owners, contractors, and design professionals to discuss and resolve matters such as work procedures, complaints, and construction problems.

16. Plan, organize, and direct activities concerned with the construction and maintenance of structures, facilities, and systems.

17. Investigate damage, accidents, or delays at construction sites, to ensure that proper procedures are being carried out.

18. Evaluate construction methods and determine cost-effectiveness of plans, using computers.

19. Direct acquisition of land for construction projects (SOC 11-9021.00, 2009, pp. 2-3).

Taken together, the foregoing elements demonstrate the breadth of knowledge and skills required of the construction manager today, but there is also a need for construction managers to possess the right "people skills" to be effective. For example, on larger construction projects, construction managers are also responsible for conducting meetings with various members of the project on a weekly basis in order to review the schedule, discuss any job problems, and project goals for the next phase of construction. According to Applebaum, "At these meetings subcontractors will be reminded about upcoming tasks, about materials and equipment that will be needed, and about any deficiencies that the general contractor or the architect's inspectors have observed" (p. 44). Likewise, Ratcliffe et al. (2003) emphasize that, "The prime task is similar to that of the project manager, seeing that the building comes in to time, to cost and to specification. In doing so, the construction manager is often called upon to reconcile conflicts between other professional members of the team involved in the building process" (pp. 269, 271).

Construction managers must also be prepared to receive their own fair share of criticism or complaints at weekly meetings as well and minutes are usually taken to help keep track of who is responsible for what (Applebaum). In this coordinating and facilitating capacity, the construction manager is performing a significant leadership role in the construction project: "The construction manager hopes that through these meetings and their general leadership to create a positive atmosphere on a project, one that is self-propelling. This leads to good relationships between the employing contractors, the owner, the architect, and the men performing the work" (Applebaum, p. 44). Establishing a good working rapport between the numerous individuals from different trades who will be contributing to a construction project's completion is no simple matter, but it is clear that this element of the construction manager's responsibilities represents one of the more important ones.

According to Greenspan, Mitchell and Johnson (2007), a new approach to using construction managers termed "construction manager at-risk (CMAR) involves… [END OF PREVIEW]

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https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/construction-manager/2553.