What is Construction Management?
Construction management encompasses a wide range of actions, stages, and services. The most effective way to describe it is by breaking it down and providing an expanded explanation of each aspect:
Setting up Building Contracts: This involves creating legally binding agreements between various parties, typically the Client and the Principal Contractor, in a construction project. These contracts define the responsibilities of all parties involved in the construction process and outline their obligations. The purpose is to make it clear what work needs to be done, who is responsible for it, when it needs to be completed, and the associated costs.
Monitoring on-site progress: Contract managers play a crucial role in overseeing the progress of construction projects. They ensure that the work aligns with the approved and relevant project construction information, such as drawings, schedules, and programs. Monitoring progress typically includes regular site visits, progress meetings, reporting, and addressing any issues or technical queries that may arise.
Certifying payments: Contract Managers are responsible for verifying that the work performed by the Principal Contractors and their subcontractors has been satisfactorily completed. Only after this verification can they certify payments according to the terms outlined in the Building Contract. This ensures that contractors are fairly compensated for their work. If the Client has a Quantity Surveyor as part of the Design Team, they can assist the Contract Manager in determining what work has been completed and whether the valuation provided by the Principal Contractor is fair.
Issuing Certificates: Various certificates are required throughout a construction project, such as ‘Practical Completion,’ ‘Partial Possession,’ and ‘Certificate of Non-Completion.’ The Contract Manager facilitates the issuance of these certificates, ensuring compliance with the Building Contract’s delivery requirements.
Snagging: Snagging involves identifying issues with quality and finish before the Client takes possession of the construction project, also known as practical completion. It is the Principal Contractor’s responsibility to address these problems, and the Contract Manager should not issue the Practical Completion certificate until they are resolved.
Rectification Period: Formerly known as the Defects Liability Period, this period is specified within the Building Contract (typically 6-12 months) and begins upon certification of ‘Practical Completion.’ During this period, the Client can report any defects to the Contract Manager, who must determine whether they result from the construction works or are maintenance issues. If they are construction-related defects, the Contract Manager may instruct the Principal Contractor to rectify them within a reasonable timeframe. At the end of this period, the Contract Manager compiles a schedule of defects, listing those that have not been rectified, and agrees on a repair date with the Principal Contractor. When all items are rectified, the Contract Manager issues a ‘Certificate of Making Good Defects,’ allowing the release of the remaining payment, known as retention, and concluding the Building Contract, which enables the issuance of the ‘Final Certificate.’
As-Built Information: Changes are often made during construction due to site-specific circumstances. Therefore, it is important to provide the Client with as-built drawings that accurately reflect what has been constructed. These drawings may be necessary for the ‘Health and Safety File’ or the ‘Operation and Maintenance Manual,’ which are issued to the Client upon completion of construction. This information is essential for future maintenance and renovation purposes.
Operation and Maintenance Manual (O&M Manual): This manual contains information required for the operation, maintenance, decommissioning, and demolition of a building. It is prepared by the Principal Contractor, their Sub-Contractors, and the Design Team, with a focus on Mechanical and Electrical Engineering. The Building Contract’s Preliminaries specify the content of the O&M Manual, which must be provided to the Client in draft form before the Contract Manager certifies ‘Practical Completion.’ The final document is typically not available in its entirety until several months later, as it often includes commissioning data collected while the building is occupied. The O&M Manual may include:
- A description of the main design principles.
- Details of the building’s construction, including finishes, cladding, doors, windows etc.
- As-built drawings.
- Registers of plant and equipment.
- Commissioning and testing results.
- Guarantees, warranties and certificates.
- Requirements for demolition, decommission and disposal.
Health and Safety File: When construction projects involve multiple Contractors, as they often do, the CDM Regulations require the Principal Designer or, if there is no Principal Designer, the Principal Contractor to prepare a Health and Safety File. This file ensures that, upon the conclusion of construction works, the Client possesses the necessary information to ensure the safety of workers and occupants throughout the building’s lifecycle. It also includes information needed for future construction and maintenance activities, including cleaning, alterations, refurbishment, and demolition.