Introduction to construction project management

Construction management is both an art and a science, and usually very difficult to do. It is difficult because one has to look at a wide range of variables, and try to guess the impact of each variable on the construction project. For example, a construction manager midway through a project will need to consider the following:

the weather,

Availability of construction workers who may be sick or may not feel like coming to work,

The fact that some materials run out of stock when they are needed,

Availability or unavailability of key equipment such as cranes,

Changes made to the existing design by the architects and clients the night before,

Juggling 20 or more different professions at the same time,

Surprising discoveries of underground electrical cables that no one knew about,

Inspections and permitting delays by government authorities

It is the interrelationships between all these variables and their impact on the project that creates complexity in project management. These issues are further complicated by a team of building owners, who often sit in palatial offices far from the construction site, have little understanding of the difficulties in building construction, and demand that the project be finished ahead of schedule.

These difficulties are what make it so challenging, as well as so rewarding if done correctly.

Construction management is best undertaken by people who have detailed knowledge of building construction, such as civil engineers or architects. However, some aspects of this work, such as financial planning or procurement, can be done by people without a construction background. With enough training and experience, the average person can gain enough experience to work as a construction project manager.

Construction management can be performed by different agencies in a project. This can be done by contractors working on the project, by the project owners, by independent consultants hired by the owners, by the project designers, or by investors in the project. It is important to note that each agency may have different goals and motivations in the project. For example, the contractor may want to increase building costs, and the owner may want to decrease them. Independent consultants may want to delay the project, as they are paid a monthly fee to monitor it.

The main aspects of construction management are:

Construction scheduling

Quality control

Contract Management

purchase management

Construction finance management

Let’s take a look at each of these aspects individually.

Construction scheduling

Construction is scheduled at two different times. First, this is done after the plans are ready, but before work begins on site, in order to establish a schedule and calculate construction costs for the project.

Second, this is done during project implementation, where the actual schedule may differ from the planned schedule due to delays, weather, or any number of reasons. In this case it can also be called project monitoring.

Construction should be scheduled by people who have excellent knowledge of building construction. It is usually performed on specialized software such as Primavera or Microsoft Project.

Construction scheduling requires knowledge of the resources required to achieve a particular result. For example, to complete a 5,000 square foot concrete slab, a contractor might require:

2,500 cubic feet of concrete

8,000 square feet of formwork (the mold into which the liquid concrete is poured)

10 men

Concrete pumps

4 days

Often times, the time it takes to finish a job depends on the resources available to the contractor.


Quality control

Quality control is the hardest part of construction management. Construction takes place in difficult weather, in limited work spaces such as columns, and on unstable construction scaffolds by workers who are tired, hungry, cold or hot, and with limited access to bathrooms. It’s easy for them to take shortcuts to finish a job.

A quality control supervisor must know how to check quality for a wide range of very different work items, from excavation in the ground to fabrication of concrete or steel to finishing materials such as marble or paint to services such as electrical and plumbing. Quality control requires technical knowledge, and is best performed either by engineers or people with years of training in supervising construction quality.

He or she will have to know the answer to questions such as: what is the correct proportion of water to add to the concrete mixture, how to check if the wood formwork is placed correctly and perfectly level, how to ensure the geometry of the building is not distorted during construction, and how to provide adequate fire protection For vertical columns.

Contract Management

Contract management deals with standard issues that arise during a project. It includes reviewing and paying contractor invoices regularly, and dealing with many matters that can occur, such as:

The contractor demands to pay an additional amount for the steel he supplies, because although his contract was signed in 2015, he had to purchase steel in 2017 at a much higher rate due to global changes in steel prices.

The contractor is demanding an additional payment for dumping the rubble due to the closure of the municipal landfill, and the rubble must now be transported to a new location very far away.

The contractor requests a 4-month extension because the architects and client made changes to the design during the project

purchase management

Procurement is a huge component in building construction. Think of the wide range of materials found in buildings: lighting fixtures, windows, doors, locks, toilet fixtures, wiring, switches, air conditioning ducts, waterproofing, electrical transformers, pumps, terminals, sound systems: the list is endless.

Each of these items must be ordered, paid for, inspected upon arrival, unloaded from trucks, placed in secure storage, and issued to construction workers. Damaged items and non-functional items must be replaced. Many items, such as Italian marble, German door fittings or Canadian glulam beams, are sourced internationally, requiring negotiations with customs authorities and clearance agents.

In addition, it is essential that each item arrives on site at exactly the right time: if it is too early, there is no space to store it, and funds are held back. If it is too late, the project will be delayed.

Construction finance management

A large construction project can consume tens of millions of dollars per month. Financial planning for a project is a key activity for both owners and contractors. This planning requires detailed knowledge of the project schedule. Once the project schedule is properly understood, calculations can be made for how much money will be required each week in order to keep the project running on time. You should also plan for contingencies for things that could go wrong.