Construction Management refers either to the study and practice of the managerial and technological aspects of the construction industry (including construction, construction science, construction management, and construction technology), or to a business model where one party to a construction contract serves as a construction consultant, providing both design and construction advice.

The Construction Management Association of America (CMAA) says the 120 most common responsibilities of a Construction Manager fall into the following 7 categories: Project Management Planning, Cost Management, Time Management, Quality Management, Contract Administration, Safety Management, and CM Professional Practice which includes specific activities like defining the responsibilities and management structure of the project management team, organizing and leading by implementing project controls, defining roles and responsibilities and developing communication protocols, and identifying elements of project design and construction likely to give rise to disputes and claims.

Construction Cost Management is a fee-based service in which the Construction Manager (C.M) is responsible exclusively to the owner and acts in the owner’s interests at every stage of the project. The construction manager offers advice, uncolored by any conflicting interest, on matters such as:

  • Optimum use of available funds;
  • Control of the scope of the work;
  • Project scheduling;
  • Optimum use of design and construction firms’ skills and talents;
  • Avoidance of delays, changes and disputes;
  • Enhancing project design and construction quality;
  • Optimum flexibility in contracting and procurement.
  • Cash flow Management.

Comprehensive management of every stage of the project, beginning with the original concept and project definition, yields the greatest possible benefit to owners from Construction Management. As time progresses beyond the pre-design phase the CM’s ability to effect cost savings diminishes. The Agency CM can represent the owner by helping to select the design team as well as the construction team and manage the design preventing scope creep, helping the owner stay within a pre-determined budget by performing Value Engineering, Cost/Benefit Analysis and Best Value Comparisons. The Agency CM can even provide oversight services for a CM At-Risk contract.

Before design of a project is completed ( 6 months to 1-1/2 years of coordination between Designer and Owner), the CM is involved with estimating cost of constructing a project based on hearing from the designer and Owner (design concept) what is going / desired to be built.

Upon some aspect of desired design raising the cost estimate over the budget the Owner wants to maintain, a decision can be made to modify the design concept instead of having to spend a considerable amount of time, effort and money re-designing and/or modifying completed construction documents, OR, the Owner decides to spend more money or obtain higher financial support for the project.

It is an extremely more efficient use of everyone’s time and effort, as well as a better way to mitigate design and CM costs, to manage the budget before the design is done, construction crews are mobilized, major items are purchased, and the CM is managing the site. This way, the CM is able to deliver to the Owner a project within his budget that guarantees a maximum rate of return on investment.

CM at-Risk is a delivery method which entails a commitment by the construction manager to deliver the project within a Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP), in most cases. The construction manager acts as consultant to the owner in the development and design phases, (often referred to as “Preconstruction Services”), but as the equivalent of a general contractor during the construction phase. When a construction manager is bound to a GMP, the most fundamental character of the relationship is changed. In addition to acting in the owner’s interest, the construction manager must manage and control construction costs to not exceed the GMP, which would be a financial hit to the CM company.

CM “At Risk” is a global term referring to a business relationship of Construction contractor, Owner and Architect / Designer. Typically, a CM At Risk arrangement eliminates a “Low Bid” construction project. A GMP agreement is a typical part of the CM and Owner agreement somewhat comparable to a “Low Bid” contract, but with a number of adjustments in responsibilities required by the CM. Aspects of GMP agreements will be elaborated below.