What type of delivery method does your project need? Does it require a general contractor or a construction manager? While these names have been used interchangeably throughout our industry, they are indeed very different. A General Contractor (GC) is typically a firm that can self-perform the work and in some cases are specialized in one area or another. These firms will bid the work based on a lump sum price and builds the project using the drawings provided and without much input from the owner or the design team. If the plans change, the price changes. There is minimal transparency related to financing of the project when using a General Contractor delivery method.
A Construction Manager (CM) is an entity that is hired by the owner/client to be involved in all aspects of the project from the very beginning. In this type of delivery method, some of the CM responsibilities will involve budgeting, value engineering, selection of design team (if not already done), project management, construction administration, quality control, safety management, problem solving and overall supervision of the project. Essentially the buck stops with the CM and there is complete transparency during the duration of the project.
If your project requires the work of a Construction Manager, here are five key things to look for:
- Experience. Does your CM have a history of managing a project similar to your needs? How long have they been in business? Check their website, set up a meeting or ask around.
- Reputation, Timeliness, Reputation. Does your CM have good relationships with their clients and the folks in the community? Do they pay their bills on time? Are they fair on the job site? Do they get the job done on time and within budget?
- Financial Strength and Safety. Does your CM have bonding capacity to do your job? Have they recently increased or decreased their bonding capacity? What is their safety rating and have they had any incidents on the job site?
- Quality and Reliability. When choosing a CM be sure to investigate the projects (similar or not) to your own project to ensure they have the quality and standards that you would want. Do they cut corners? Are the materials they used quality materials? Will they put the clients’ needs first?
- Staff and Local Conditions. Depending on the size of your project, be sure that your CM has the manpower to do the work and are not overextending their employees. Does your CM have knowledge of the local market? Can they get you the best pricing from a local sub-contractor? Do they have relationships with local government agencies that can assist in the permitting process? This can make or break a project.