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AN INTRODUCTION TO

CONSTRUCTION PROJECT
MANAGEMENT
Construction Management is both an art and a science, and is something
that is usually quite hard to do. It is hard because one has to look at a
broad range of variables, and try and guess what effect each variable will
have on a construction project. For example, a construction manager in the
middle of a project will have to take into account the following:

the weather,
the availability of construction workers who may be sick or may not
feel like showing up for work,
the fact that some materials are out of stock just when they are
needed,
the availability or non-availability of key equipment like cranes,
changes made to the existing design by architects and clients the
previous evening,
juggling the work of 20 or more different trades at the same time,
surprising discoveries of electrical cables below the ground that noone knew about,
inspections by government authorities

It is the inter-relationships between all these variables and the effect they
will have on the project that creates complexity in project management.
Compounding these problems is the team from the owners of the building,
who often sit in glass towers far from the construction site, have little
understanding of the difficulties in building construction, and demand that
the project be finished before time.
It is these difficulties that make it both extremely challenging, as well as
extremely rewarding if done right.
Construction management is best done by people with a detailed knowledge
of building construction, such as civil engineers or architects. However some
aspects of this work, such as financial planning or procurement, can be
done by people who do not have a construction background.

Construction management can be performed by different agencies in a


project. It can be done by the contractors working on the project, by the
owners of the project, by independent consultants hired by the owners, by
the designers of the project, or by the investors in a project. It is important
to note that each agency may have differring aims and motivations in a
project. For example, a contractor may want to increase the costs of the
building, and an owner may want to decrease it. Independent consultants
may wish to delay the project, as they are paid a monthly fee to monitor it.
The main aspects of construction management are:

construction scheduling
quality control
contract management
procurement management
construction finance management

Let us look at each of these aspects individually:

CONSTRUCTION SCHEDULING
Construction scheduling is done at two different times. First, it is done after
the plans are ready, but before the work starts at the site, in order to work
out a timeline and calculate construction costs for the project.
Secondly, it is done during the execution of the project, when the actual
schedule may differ from the planned schedule due to delays, weather, or
any number of reasons. In this case it can also be called project monitoring.
Construction scheduling should be done by people with an excellent
knowledge of building construction. It is usually done on specialised
software such as Primavera, or Microsoft Project.
Construction scheduling demands a knowledge of what resources are
required to produce a given outcome. For example, to complete a concrete
slab measuring 5,000 ft2 in area, a contractor may require:

2,500 cubic feet of concrete


8,000 ft2 of formwork (the mould in which the liquid concrete is
poured)

10 men
concrete pumps
4 days

Often, the time taken to finish a job depends on the resources available to
the contractor.

QUALITY CONTROL

Construction scheduling is done at two different times. First, it is done


after the plans are ready, but before the work starts at the site, in order
to work out a timeline and calculate construction costs for the project.
Secondly, it is done during the execution of the project, when the actual
schedule may differ from the planned schedule due to delays, weather,
or any number of reasons. In this case it can also be called project
monitoring.
Construction scheduling should be done by people with an excellent
knowledge of building construction. It is usually done on specialised
software such as Primavera, or Microsoft Project.
Construction scheduling demands a knowledge of what resources are
required to produce a given outcome. For example, to complete a
concrete slab measuring 5,000 ft2 in area, a contractor may require:

2,500 cubic feet of concrete


600 Kg of steel reinforcement bars
8,000 ft2 of formwork (the mould in which the liquid concrete is
poured)
10 men
concrete pumps
4 days

Often, the time taken to finish a job depends on the resources available
to the contractor.

CONTRACT MANAGEMENT

Contract management is dealing with the standard issues that crop up


during a project. These include checking contractor's bills and paying them
regularly, and dealing with the numerous issues that could occur, such as:

the contractor demands additional payment for the steel he is


providing, because though his contract was signed in 2015, he is
forced to buy steel in 2017 at a much higher rate due to global
changes in the price of steel
the contractor demands additional payment for dumping of debris
because a municipal dumping ground has been shut, and the debris
now has to be taken to a new site much further away
the contractor demands an extension of 4 months because the
architects and client made changes to the design while the project was
underway

PROCUREMENT MANAGEMENT
Procurement is a huge component in building construction. Think of the
vast array of materials that are present in buildings: light fittings, windows,
doors, locks, toilet fittings, wire, switches, air-conditioning ducts,
waterproofing, electrical transformers, pumps, plants, sound systems: the
list is endless.
Each and every one of these items has to be ordered, paid for, checked when
it arrives, unloaded from trucks, placed in secure storage, and issued to
construction workers. Damaged items and non-functional items need to be
replaced. Many items are sourced internationally, such as Italian marble, or
German door fittings.
In addition, it is imperative that each item arrive at the site at exactly the
right moment: if it is too early, there is no space to store it, and money is
locked up. If it is too late, then the project is delayed.

CONSTRUCTION FINANCE MANAGEMENT


A large construction project can eat up tens of millions of dollars a month.
Planning the finances for a project is a key activity for both owners and
contractors. This planning demands a detailed knowledge of the project
schedule. Once the project schedule is understood properly, calculations can
be made of how much money will be required every week in order to keep

the project running on time. Contingency planning also must be done for
things that could go wrong.

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