There are many definitions of a Construction Project Manager or Construction Manager. Sometimes, it is someone at a construction company who manages the superintendents and subcontractors. Other times, it is an employee of the client or “Owner” who oversees construction projects at their company, perhaps a real estate development company, office building landlord, or a large corporation that leases a lot of retail or office space. And other times, it is a consultant or employee of a consulting company like CBRE or JLL referred to as an “Owner’s Representative” who oversees the construction projects for the Owner. This is a fairly new role, a role that used to be filled by architects probably not more than 30 years ago. Today, many architects, like me, have traded in their architect hats to be on the owner’s side of the table. Similarly, many ex-contractors with a proficiency in contracts and management have done the same. In addition, there those that obtained degrees in construction management and went directly into the field from college.
Often times, when I’ve told people that I’m a construction manager, they envision me in a tool belt and hard hat. They become somewhat less enthusiastic when I’ve explained that I wear a suit to work just like they do. “So what do you do?” is often the next question. “I’m what is called an Owner’s Representative,” is often my first reply. Blank stares follow. I go on to explain, “In general, an Owner’s Rep. hires and oversees the architects and general contractors.” That is usually where I leave it. But there is, of course, a much more detailed answer to the question. Below is a list of some of the tasks us Owner’s Rep. Construction Project Managers do.
Develop and implement a standard project management process that enables efficiency in pricing, schedules, and quality. This customized process is unique to a specific client’s internal structure and processes.
Interview and pre-qualify architects, general contractors, and other vendors and consultants such as cabling, signage, and security contractors not included in the general contractor’s contract, as well as telecommunications and I.T. consultants.
Develop a master agreement template for the various contractors and consultants to bid on.
Negotiate and execute master agreements with the selected contractors and consultants. Unit pricing is often part of a master agreement so that price negotiations for each individual project can be as minimal as possible. Master agreements are typically re-bid every two to five years.
Negotiate and execute sub-agreements for each specific project as they are originated. Review and approve changes to scope and fees throughout each project.
Coordinate the work of the various vendors as well as the client’s internal stakeholders (property manager, building engineer, I.T. department, procurement and accounting departments, etc.) for each project. Hold regular project meetings and walk the job site regularly to keep informed of the projects’ progress.
Provide cost estimates and feasibility reports for potential projects.
Complete paperwork and enter data for client’s reporting and accounting protocols.
Make decisions on behalf of the client, as authorized.
Analyze large real estate portfolios to determine possible consolidation, acquisition, and disposition scenarios.
Assess properties being considered for acquisition.
Develop standard specifications so that products can be purchased with bulk agreements, and there is product consistency within a building or portfolio.
Negotiate bulk agreements with product manufacturers for lighting, flooring, doors, furniture, windows, window coverings, paint, etc.
Develop the annual “Capital Plan” – a list of construction projects slated for the next year with cost estimates – for the client’s management approval.
Construction managers should have technical knowledge specific to the projects they oversee. Some typical specializations are healthcare, K-12 education, higher education, office tenant improvements, retail bank branches, industrial, strip malls, ground-up residential towers, tract homes, senior housing, etc. So although many construction managers may perform similar services, construction managers may differ in the type of projects for which they perform these tasks
Elisa Garcia, AIA