Construction Science

Construction management

Construction Management refers either to the study and practice of the managerial and technological aspects of the construction industry (including construction, construction science, construction management, and construction technology), or to a business model where one party to a construction contract serves as a construction consultant, providing both design and construction advice.

The Construction Management Association of America (CMAA) says the 120 most common responsibilities of a Construction Manager fall into the following 7 categories: Project Management Planning, Cost Management, Time Management, Quality Management, Contract Administration, Safety Management, and CM Professional Practice which includes specific activities like defining the responsibilities and management structure of the project management team, organizing and leading by implementing project controls, defining roles and responsibilities and developing communication protocols, and identifying elements of project design and construction likely to give rise to disputes and claims.

Study and practice

Construction management education comes in a variety of formats: formal degree programs (two-year associate degree; four-year baccalaureate degree, masters degree, engineer degree, doctor of philosophy degree, postdoctoral researcher); on-job-training; and continuing education / professional development. For information on degree programs, reference ACCE, the American Council for Construction Education, or ASC, the Associated Schools of Construction.
The recognized institute for construction management in Great Britain is The Chartered Institute of Building in Ascot. According to the American Council for Construction Education (the academic accrediting body of construction management educational programs in the U.S.), the academic field of construction management encompasses a wide range of topics. These range from general management skills, to management skills specifically related to construction, to technical knowledge of construction methods and practices. There are many schools offering Construction Management programs, including some that offer a Masters degree. A comprehensive list can be found at

Business model

Typically, the construction industry includes four parties: an owner, a designer (architect or engineer), the builder (usually called the general contractor), and the government (local laws and regulations). Traditionally, there are two contracts between these parties as they work together to plan, design, and construct the project. The first contract is the owner-designer contract, which involves planning, design, and construction administration. The second contract is the owner-contractor contract, which involves construction. An indirect, third-party relationship exist between the designer and the contractor due to these two contracts.

An alternate contract or business model replaces the two traditional contracts with three contracts: owner-designer, owner-construction manager, and owner-builder. The construction management company becomes an additional party engaged in the project to act as an advisor to the owner, to which they are contractually tied. The construction manager's role is to provide construction advice to the designer, on the owner's behalf, design advice to the constructor, again on the owner's behalf, and other advice as necessary.

Design Build Contracts

Recently a different business model has become more popular. Many owners - particularly government agencies have let out contracts which are known as Design-Build contracts. In this type of contract, the construction team is known as the design-builder. They are responsible for taking a concept developed by the owner, completing the detailed design, and then pending the owner's approval on the design, they can proceed with construction. Virtual Design and Construction technology has enabled much of the ability of contractors to maintain tight construction time frames.

There are two main advantages to using a design-build contract. First, the construction team is motivated to work with the design team to develop a design with constructability in mind. In that way it is possible for the team to creatively find ways to reduce construction costs without reducing the function of the final product. The owner can expect a reduced price due to the increased constructability of the design.

The other major advantage involves the schedule. Many projects are given out with an extremely tight time frame. By letting out the contract as a design-build contract, the contractor is established, and early mobilization and construction activities are able to proceed concurrently with the design. Under a traditional contract, construction cannot begin until after the design is finished, the project is bid and awarded, and the team can mobilize. This type of contract can take months off the finish date of a project.

Agency CM

Construction Cost Management is a fee-based service in which the Construction Manager (C.M) is responsible exclusively to the owner and acts in the owner's interests at every stage of the project. The construction manager offers advice, uncolored by any conflicting interest, on matters such as:

  • Optimum use of available funds;
  • Control of the scope of the work;
  • Project scheduling;
  • Optimum use of design and construction firms' skills and talents;
  • Avoidance of delays, changes and disputes;
  • Enhancing project design and construction quality;
  • Optimum flexibility in contracting and procurement.
  • Cash flow Management.

Comprehensive management of every stage of the project, beginning with the original concept and project definition, yields the greatest possible benefit to owners from Construction Management.

CM At-Risk

CM at-Risk is a delivery method which entails a commitment by the construction manager to deliver the project within a Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP), in most cases. The construction manager acts as consultant to the owner in the development and design phases, (often referred to as "Preconstruction Services"), but as the equivalent of a general contractor during the construction phase. When a construction manager is bound to a GMP, the most fundamental character of the relationship is changed. In addition to acting in the owner's interest, the construction manager must manage and control construction costs to not exceed the GMP, which would be a financial hit to the CM company.

CM "At Risk" is a global term referring to a business relationship of Construction contractor, Owner and Architect / Designer. Typically, a CM At Risk arrangement eliminates a "Low Bid" construction project. A GMP agreement is a typical part of the CM and Owner agreement somewhat comparable to a "Low Bid" contract, but with a number of adjustments in responsibilities required by the CM. Aspects of GMP agreements will be elaborated below. The following are some primary aspects of the most potential benefits of a CM At Risk arrangement:

Budget management: Before design of a project is completed (6 months to 1-1/2 years of coordination between Designer and Owner), the CM is involved with estimating cost of constructing a project based on hearing from the designer and Owner (design concept) what is going / desired to be built. Upon some aspect of desired design raising the cost estimate over the budget the Owner wants to maintain, a decision can be made to modify the design concept instead of having to spend a considerable amount of time, effort and money re-designing and/or modifying completed construction documents, OR, the Owner decides to spend more money or obtain higher financial support for the project. To manage the budget before design is done, construction crews are mobilized, CM is spending tens of thousands per week just having onsite management, major items are purchased, etc, etc, an extremely more effcient use of everyone's time, effort, Architect / Designer's costs, and the CM's General Conditions costs, AND delivering to the Owner a design within his budget.

Selecting constructor: (to be elaborated )

Maintaining positive working relationships among the Owner, Architect / Designer and Constructor: (to be elaborated )

Maximizes the awareness among Owner, Architect / Designer and CM of all parties needs, expectations in order to perform their part of the project in the most efficient manner. (to be elaborated )


In the UK the industry is regulated though Construction Design Management regulations, which prevent incidents on construction sites and civil engineering structures once competent

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