A construction manager can provide planning expertise, helping to ensure a proper design is used while keeping expenses low and protecting the city’s interests throughout a construction project.
When to Use a Construction Manager
Construction managers, sometimes referred to as project managers, are often brought in at the onset of a project and before any designs have been completed. Other times, they are hired when actual construction starts to oversee the process. By hiring a construction manager before engineering or architectural designs have been made, the city could receive a benefit from that manager working with the design firm to make sure the drawings fit the city’s needs. This also allows the manager and city to perform value engineering, which analyzes the functionality and quality of the product while detailing needed resources and funding. By the end of the planning stage the city should have a firm grasp on how the project will be constructed, the timeline required to complete it and a reasonable estimated cost. This information will be important throughout the project and be particularly helpful when the city begins to put together requests for bids.
Assistance with Bids and Contracts
A construction manager can also provide assistance with the bid process and has the city’s interests in mind when dealing with questions on the specifications of the project. For some bid requests, there might be a large amount of detail, so analyzing the bids from potential contractors can be a difficult task. Construction managers have experience in reviewing bids and selecting ones that will get the job done as requested. Many managers also have experience negotiating contracts with construction companies and know how to protect the city through contracts. This is often important all through a project as things sometimes do not go as planned.
Throughout a construction project, questions constantly arise and progress updates are necessary. Schedules change and the weather can play a big role. With so many moving parts there is a need for frequent communication. Having a construction manager serve as the point person for contractors can save the city a lot of time and headaches. On a typical building project, there might be different contractors working on the air conditioning, electrical wiring, concrete, plumbing and so on. Coordinating those contractors and helping them complete their tasks on time is invaluable to the city. A construction manager can also provide city officials with progress updates and ensure the city is aware of any deviations from the plan.
Another issue that often arises is change orders. Many cities struggle with knowing when a change order is necessary or acceptable and how much the city should pay. Since construction managers have experience in this process, they have a better grasp of when a change order is needed (and not needed) and what a fair price for the work is. Unlike a general contractor, a construction manager does not earn any extra money by adding change orders to a project. This is one effective way to keep construction costs as low as possible. The savings from using a construction manager vary from project to project; however, using one is generally less expensive than the traditional method of employing a general contractor. Construction managers work for a fixed fee and have a vested interest in keeping costs as low as possible for clients. This is achieved by analyzing every part of the process, from selecting architectural firms and contractors to choosing suppliers and finding more efficient ways of completing the project.
While it is clear construction managers can bring a lot of positives to a project, there are times when they might not be the best solution. Typically, for larger projects with multiple subcontractors a high level of coordination is needed, and the benefits of using a manager are more prevalent. On the other hand, a manager is likely less needed for projects that have one or two contractors. In addition, cities that are considering the use of a construction manager might find that citizens in their community are not familiar with the method. Providing education materials and reasons for using the method is often helpful.