As the project manager, you’ll be involved in a building’s construction from conception to completion. Large developers hire a manager to take on the day-to-day responsibilities from estimating the costs of the whole project to its final walk-through. Along the way, expect to interact with everyone else who has anything to do with the building.
In many cases, your services will be needed long before the blueprints dry on the new building. Architects and developers rely on the project manager to look at and oversee designs to ensure that they meet current state and local building regulations and that the building is right for the environment it’s going to occupy. Building codes and availability of materials and labor fall under your purview and you’re expected to participate in the process, including hiring and managing the actual designers.
The first order of business is to develop a budget based on the costs of materials, building fees and labor. You’ll also need to give your employers or the developer your contract with a budget for the amount of time you’ll need to complete the project. It takes years of experience to get yourself ready to fulfill these duties. While many project managers work as subcontractors, you can land a job with a large development corporation. In that case, you’ll need both a bachelor’s degree and a pile of experience. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, you can learn a lot of this information by taking courses and earning a certification from the American Institute of Constructors or the Construction Management Association of America, but even they require experience to get the creds.
Once all the approvals are in place, you really get to work, hiring and overseeing the work of the individual contractors who will build the place piece by piece. So, you might have to start with the site preparations and hire excavators to get the ground ready. As each new subcontractor begins working, it’s up to you to explain the blueprints and the requirements of the job, negotiate a fair price, make sure crews work steadily, inspect their final work and arrange payment. Each subcontractor, from the roofers to the carpet layers, has an effect on your time and financial budget for the overall project, so it’s up to you to make sure they stay within their boundaries.
You will be with the owners and developers during the final walk-through before you hand over the keys and present your final invoice. Prior to that final walk, you need to do a whole lot of walk-throughs on your own and create punch-lists of tasks and details that need correction. Most construction projects fall short of the ideal and subcontractors are accustomed to returning to jobs to fix errors or complete jobs left undone.
Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."