Construction Management Essay, Research Paper
Anywhere you visit throughout the world today, there is a very good chance you will come across some type of construction taking place. It could be the construction of new schools, roads, buildings, bridges, shopping centers, restaurants, or subdivisions. Construction has become a complex process, which involves different levels of education and experience. The construction worker must be ready to work around the clock because of problems such as bad weather, delays and project deadlines. A person who works in construction could be a machine operator, job supervisor, project planner, safety supervisor, materials manager, contractor, or have a number of other duties. One very important worker in the construction field is the construction manager. The construction manager plots and administrates all activities for each project, usually works over forty hours a week from a central office or field office, and has to have hours of work experience and education in the construction industry.
Construction management is the term applied to the technique of managing the various designs and construction processes of a building project on behalf of an owner or client (Volume 2). Construction management became a formal construction concept in the 1970 s by the Public Building Service of the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA). Before then, when an owner wanted to start a new project, he would call upon an architect. Usually chosen on the basis of reputation and status, the architect would handle every aspect of the construction process from start to finish. For many years, this construction process worked just fine. However, as buildings and their systems became more complex and as costs rose rapidly in the 1970 s, this way of handling construction began to fail. In 1971, the GSA found that the federal government could no longer afford to rely on the traditional bidding process for larger, complex projects, and therefore the need of a construction manager came into play (Volume 2).
The term construction management implies a greater professional duty than a contractor, although many construction management firms today were originally general contractors (Volume 2). The construction manager assists in the supervision of the entire construction process from start to finish (Handbook Online). Before a project even begins, the owner or client calls on the construction manager for preconstruction consulting (Volume 2). The construction manager provides the client with advice and council about different ways to go about the construction. This advice includes selecting important members of the construction team, such as the architect and engineer, assisting in the preparation of the project budget, planning and scheduling, estimating alternate designs, and all of the other elements of the project. The construction manager may even assist the client in obtaining financing for the project (Volume 2).
Once construction starts, the construction manager has many important roles that he must fulfill and execute properly in order for the construction to go smoothly. One important role is scheduling. A large part of the construction manager s time is spent preparing and working with schedules. Scheduling is a principal function of construction management. Scheduling is simply planning in advance the events to be accomplished over time and putting them into a document (Volume 2). The schedule must be very precise and detailed. While on the sight, the construction manager must stay informed of progress being made and make sure that schedule deadlines are being met (Handbook Online). When problems and delays occur, the construction manager must be able to work things out and adjust the schedule to where the deadline can still be met (Volume 2). Without scheduling, the construction project is not likely to be completed on time.
Another important role of the construction manager is controlling the costs of a project. Cost control of a construction project begins with the development of a budget. The budget is prepared very early in the construction process and once prepared, becomes a vital tool throughout every stage of the construction (Volume 2). The main approach to budgeting is the very detailed and precise, analytical approach. Using this approach, the construction manager builds up the budget with an estimation-type technique, taking off quantities of materials and labor and extending these quantities using unit costs (Volume 2). Without proper budgeting, many projects are abandoned or the owner suffers severe financial distress.
The construction manager must also be able to communicate well with all team members working on the construction project. Members must know what is going on during the project at all times. They must have a system to raise issues and solve problems that arise during the project (Volume 2). The construction manager holds project meetings at least once a month to bring team members together to discuss the status of the project. Here members try to work out any problems that may have occurred, and make sure that everything is going as scheduled. All meetings are documented and handouts are passed out to the rest of the construction team and any members that could not make it to the meeting to be sure that everyone knows what is going on with the project (Volume 2). The construction manager is constantly meeting one on one with architects and engineers to review drawings, making sure that everything is being done to specification (Handbook Online). To help out with communication, the construction manager also prepares a project directory, which has the names, addresses and phone numbers of all the workers on the building team (Volume 2).
In order for the construction project to be completed successfully, the construction manager must be aware of the various national, state, and local building codes and regulations that affect a project (Volume 2). Although there are no national building codes per se, certain model codes are in use on a national basis and have been made a part of state or local building regulations by law. Some of the more important of these model codes include the following: National Fire Protection Code, National Electric Code, National Plumbing Code, The Uniform Building Code, The Building Officials and Code Administrators International Code, The Southern Building Code and The American National Standards Institute Standards. These codes are enforced very strictly by law and have to be completed by exact specification to pass inspection (Volume 2).
The average workday of the construction manager can often be very strenuous. They usually work from a central office at the company headquarters or in an office stationed on the job site (Handbook Online). Since some job sights are located long distances from the managers home, they often have to take up temporary residence in another state or country. Construction is usually performed outdoors so weather plays a big role in when the job gets completed. Workers can sometimes have to work around the clock for days or even weeks to make up for lost time during bad weather (Handbook Online).
To become a construction manager, a person needs to have a solid background in building science, business, and management, as well as related work experience within the construction industry (Handbook Online). They need to understand contracts, plans, and specifications, and to be knowledgeable about construction methods, materials, and regulations. As technology improves, a future construction manager must be familiar with computer software programs that deal with job costing, scheduling and estimating (Handbook Online).
Traditionally, persons advancing to the construction management position have had much experience in construction craft works, such as carpenters, masons, plumbers, electricians, or have worked a number of years as construction supervisors (Handbook Online). But today, many construction firms hire people who combine industry work experience along with a bachelor s degree in construction, building science, or construction management (Handbook Online). East Carolina University is one school that offers a BS in construction management. The minimum degree requirement is 126 semester hours of credits (East Carolina University Bulletin). The degree is a combination of general college courses along with advanced math, science, business, management, industrial technology, design, geology, and construction. Throughout the process of getting this degree, it is required to have a minimum of five hundred hours of work experience in a real construction job (East Carolina University Bulletin). This can be obtained through a part time job during school or by working full time during summers out of class.
After obtaining a bachelor s degree, the individual usually starts out as an assistant to a project manager, field engineer, scheduler, or cost estimator (Handbook Online). Advancement opportunities vary depending upon an individual s performance and the size of the company in which they work for. Within large firms, advancements can be made to top-level managers or executives. Highly experienced individuals may become independent consultants, and some even serve as expert witnesses in court or as arbitrators in disputes. After enough experience the construction manager may even someday start their own firm (Handbook Online).
A master s degree in construction management is available for the person who really wants to get ahead of the work force and start at a higher position in a company. The University of Los Angles offers a master s of construction management degree that is available for students with a bachelor s degree in any discipline (eng/web/Mscm.html). The degree is taught through a combination of five schools: The School of Engineering, School of Urban Panning and Development, School of Architecture, Graduate School of Business Administration and the Law School. The degree requires 33 hours of credit and can be completed in three semesters (eng/web/Mscm.html).
The need for construction management positions is expected to increase dramatically in the near future as sophisticated technology and the proliferation of laws setting standards for buildings and construction materials, worker safety, energy efficiency, and environmental protection have further complicated the construction process. Advances in building materials and construction methods and the growing number of multipurpose buildings, electronically operated smart buildings, and energy-efficient structures will further add to the demand for more construction managers (Handbook Online).
Along with excellent job security, a job as a construction manager can accommodate a well suited lifestyle. Earnings of salaried construction manager and self-employed independent construction contractors vary depending upon the size and nature of the construction project, its geographic location, and economic conditions. In addition to typical benefits, many salaried construction managers receive benefits such as bonuses and use of company vehicles. The median annual earnings of construction managers in 1998 were $47,610. The middle fifty percent earned between $36,360 and $70,910. The lowest ten percent earned less than $28,970, and the highest ten percent earned more than $89,480 (Handbook Online).
The world today is growing at an extremely fast rate, and construction plays a big role in that growth. Woods are being cleared and foundations for new buildings are being set up in their place. New roads are being paved and bridges are being built. All of this activity calls for the job of construction workers. The construction process cannot get done without the labor of many people. But still these people need a leader who is highly educated and experienced in the construction business that can plan out and administrated the whole process. The construction manager is the man for this job. The construction manager is someone who has the ability to do many jobs at once. They are willing to work around the clock in many stressful situations and have the education and experience to back them up.
Construction Managers. Occupational Outlook Handbook Online: 2000-01