Construction Manager (CM)

The construction manager is paid by the owner to act in the interests of the owner overseeing the construction process through design and construction. This includes:

  • Budgeting throughout the design process
  • Constructability advice
  • Cost evaluations regarding materials, methods and sustainability
  • Scheduling
  • Bidding
  • Construction oversight

Benefits – The construction manager controls the scope of the work which prevents delays, changes and disputes during the construction phase. The CM enables optimum use of the owner budget and enhances the design and construction quality by bringing in construction expertise early in the design.

Drawbacks – There is a fee for the CM service. However this is offset by the benefits of achieving the schedule and budget with a team approach.

General Contractor/Construction Manager (GC/CM), or Construction Manager at Risk

This concept is being increasingly used for projects, especially those on a larger scale. The GC/CM is brought into the process during the design phase and assumes the risk for the construction of the project.

Benefits – the GC/CM feeds into the design process by providing input on cost, schedules and constructability. This leads to better cooperative team approach. By the start of construction costs and schedules are set therefore minimizing change orders.

Drawbacks – the GC/CM approach will have fees associated with pre-construction services. In theory these fees will be negated by the delivery of a product that is delivered within budget, on schedule and to the owner’s expectations.

Design Build

In this concept the owner contracts with a single source to provide both the design and construction services. The contractor will engage a designer.

Benefits – The Design Build delivery method saves both time and money for the owner and gets the design and construction experts involved at the start of the process. It also removes owner risk as the responsibility for any design or construction errors fall under the responsibility of the design builder.

Drawbacks – The Design Build process reduces owner involvement in the design and can result in design decisions being made by the design builder rather than the architect that are not in the best interest of the owner.


This concept is the traditional project management type used for a construction project. The owner contracts a designer for their project, the contractor then bids on the completed set of plans and the lowest cost (depending on qualifications) General Contractor is contracted to build the project.

Benefits – the General Contractors are in competition to provide the lowest price for the project since the lowest bid will win.

Drawbacks – the General Contractor bids exactly to the plan and uses the lowest cost qualified subcontract bids in order to win the job against the competition. If plans are not perfect or there are items not specified on the plans, this can result in change orders during the project.