Getting your desired results can be a big challenge if you have a construction project. The coordination of the suppliers, subcontractors, front office personnel, and other parties involved in the project is an act that requires patience and care. With that said, there are many individual factors that you must consider in this case. The people who manage these essential tasks fall into two roles: construction managers and general contracting.
Both general contractors and construction managers have one goal—to put all the construction pieces together and implement the project design according to the owner’s demands and the set regulations. However, a general contractor and construction manager pursue these goals differently. Besides, each has a set of unique responsibilities and financial structures, which give them the strategies they need for safe and effective implementation of the project—whether small or large. Some people are construction managers or general contractors, while others hire both.
In this post, we shall discuss both roles and explore their job responsibilities, among other things. Let’s delve in!
A construction manager is responsible for supervising the different aspects of a construction project, including supervising the personnel and setting the project’s budget. Most construction managers work for construction companies, engineering companies, or specialty trade contractors. Also, a construction manager can work from an office, even though they spend most of their time at construction sites.
To become a construction manager, they need a bachelor’s degree in construction science, construction management, or a related field and work experience. When it comes to working experience, most construction managers gain their experience by working as an assistant and getting on-site job training.
Suppose you are interested in becoming a construction manager. In that case, you can get a certification from the American Institute of Constructors (AIC) or the Construction Management Association of America (CMAA) to boost your career.
The job responsibilities of construction managers include:
- Creating project budgets and project activity timelines
- Collaborating with architects and engineers working on a project to ensure everything runs smoothly
- Hiring other managers to supervise certain parts of a project like plumbing, electrical installation, roofing, and other activities
- Assessing and providing the required guideline on technical materials or contracts to colleagues
According to the contractors at AFS General Contracting, the main focus of a general contractor is on the daily operations and direction of a construction project. The primary role of general contractors is to collaborate with the project architects and engineers to ensure that the project is completed on time.
Because general contractors don’t participate in the pre-construction stage, they might need to consult with architects and engineers when modifying the project’s original plans. General contractors are also responsible for hiring and managing subcontractors for any project.
Generally, general contractors spend most of their time traveling and working on different job sites. A general contracting career requires a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering or management and relevant work experience. Also, you have the option to get certifications like Certified Professional Construction (CPC), Certified Construction Manager (CCM), and OSHA Safety Certification, among others.
The job responsibilities of general contractors include:
- Studying construction designs and contract terms to set the appropriate quote to present to their clients
- Collaborating with the architect in the course of the construction project
- Makin sure that all work is done correctly and completed on time
- Hiring the subcontractors required to handle specialty work like electrical, roofing, and plumbing work
- Updating the project owner about the progress, timelines, delays, and any additional requirements of the project
- Coordinating on-site work between subcontractors
- Coordinating with suppliers to make sure that the construction materials are delivered on time and in the correct specifications and quantities
- Working with the relevant authorities to make sure that inspections are done as scheduled and that the entire project is compliant with the set building codes
Construction manager vs. general contractor: who’s right for your project?
Whether you hire a construction manager or a general contractor for your project depends on different factors. Here are some of the key points that you can use to make your decision:
A general contractor might be the right person for your project if:
- You don’t have the time to supervise the people managing your project
- You prefer the traditional bid system of construction projects
- You’d rather have the general contractor take full responsibility for hiring subcontractors and managing them
- You want someone with an already-established network of professional subcontractors who can deliver quality results
A construction manager might be the right person for your project if:
- You are not concerned with the traditional bid process of general contractors
- You want to play fixed price for the project
- You want a more collaborative relationship, which includes the manager’s participation at the design phase
- You want the project manager to have a complete and more detailed picture of your general financial structure
As said earlier, specific construction projects will require the services of both a construction manager and a general contractor. In this case, the construction manager supervises the general contractor. Besides, their roles are flexible and subject to change. However, what differentiates them is their level of involvement in the project and compensation structures.
However, hiring a construction manager or general contractor to manage your project will depend on your preferences—and it’s something that you can evaluate depending on the project requirements.