Construction Management Article

The following article is a broad description of the Construction Management process carried out by SFS Management Contracting.
We will take you through its history, why it’s better for your project, and how it compares to the more traditional building methods. 
You could find it a little tedious however, so maybe best read this at bedtime! 
The following sections contain links to other pages or websites with more information. These are shown in Green text.


Project Management: uses science based methods of managing any project. It originates from research carried out by people like Lillian Moller Gilbreth, Frederick Taylor, Henry Gantt and many others in the early 1900s.
The research was initially developed to improve productivity in the manufacturing process and eventually transformed into “Project Management”.
This has developed over the years to encompass almost all manufacturing, technical and infotech industries. 
The same principles and formats have subsequently been integrated into the construction industry, providing substantial boosts in productivity.
Lillian Gilbreth: was an applied psychologist who worked on management efficiencies within the workplace.
She published a 1914 dissertation on the Psychology of Management, earning herself a Ph.D. from Brown University in 1915.
She and her husband Frank used early film technology, to help analyse tasks, suggesting improvements in worker efficiency.
According to her children, some of whom wrote books about their life, Lillian and Frank often tested ideas on their own household, which included 12 children and a dog…. (Busy Lady!) 
Frederick Taylor: came from a wealthy Quaker family. He studied in Europe but never took up his place at Harvard due to eyesight problems.
Three years later following an improvement in his eyesight. Fred took an apprenticeship at the Midvale Steel Works in Philadelphia and rose from apprentice pattern maker to Chief Engineer.
Fred created the four foundational points of production efficiency:
  1. Look at each job or task scientifically to determine the “one best way” to perform the job, instead of the previous “rule of thumb” method where workers devised their own ways to do the job.
  2. Hire the right workers for each job, and train them to work at maximum efficiency.
  3. Monitor worker performance, and provide instruction and training when needed.
  4. Divide the work between management and labor so that management can plan and train, and workers can execute the task efficiently.
These rules still apply today, although they have been expanded upon, given that project management has made an extensive headway into the modern world
Henry Gantt: worked alongside Fred Taylor at Midvale Steel Works and created a visual tool called the Gantt Chart. This was to help project teams track the schedule and progress of their work.
Tasks that were dependent on each other were linked along a timeline, clearly marking which parts of the project were ahead, behind, or right on track when it came to an estimated completion date.
There are many variations on the Gantt Chart theme, from highly complex computer programmes, to stick pins and movable sticky pad pages.
The overriding object however, is to apply scrupulous control to the progress of the project programme. This is fundamental to any construction project’s final success.
We developed our own Gantt Chart to programme the project operations, because we couldn’t find anything on the market that worked quite as well.
The programme runs automatically on a desktop, clocking off the weeks and showing whether each element of the programme is ahead or behind schedule. 
It is completely adaptable on screen and is easily adjusted for unforeseen circumstances. We produce updated hard copies for various site applications.
It also creates a weekly cash flow forecast which combines with other tools we have developed to manage ongoing costs.
SFS Management Contracting have all the skills to carry out the whole Construction Management process, from concept to completion.
Using all the tools listed in this website we can achieve the best outcome for the client. Whether the clients are Self-Builders or Developers, we can relieve them of most of the day-to-day stress which is inherent in any building project. 
This would leave them free to enjoy the process of creating a new building and living their own life!
Construction Managers Role: Utilsing all the tools listed within our services schedule we can carry out the management of your construction project.
We carry out the role usually taken by a main building contractor… except we work directly for you for a fee, usually much less than the building contractors profits.
Utilising Project Management processes we look to complete your project within set time and cost parameters.
A tool we find particularly useful in explaining the constraints in any construction project to clients is the Triple Constraint Triangle. 
This diagram perfectly illustrates the affinity between the three elements we control. Too much pressure applied on on any one element and the other two are compromised as a result.
What we aim for is to accomplish the project with the three elements in complete symbiosis.
Feasibility: We can check out the feasibility of your site to make sure there are no hidden nasty’s to stumble over. We can also check over your design to make sure that it will work technically on the site and is cost effective. 
Schedules of Work: We would then use all the design elements to draw up a series of Schedules of Work (SOWs) based on the various trades. This is probably one of the most important processes we carry out.
The SOWs contain site specific instructions to the separate trades breaking the work down to the smallest element possible. The SOWs then form the basis of all that follows.
Cost Plan: Using the Schedules of Work we would apply a cost to the work (The Project Cost Plan) using our own adaptable pricing system developed by us.
This allows us to formulate the cost plan to fit the design framework, yet remain flexible enough to allow for any later alterations.
Programming: Again, using the Schedules of Work, we would formulate a programme of work to a timeline shown on our Gantt Chart.
This would allow everyone to see how long each work package, and the whole project should take and enables us to keep an eye on progress.
Tender Process: We then enter what is possibly one of the most time consuming periods of the pre-construction phase.
The Tender Process uses the information within the SOWs to formulate tender packages, to send out to the various trades.
The packages contain the SOWs, drawings and specifications plus a copy of the particular trade contract being used for the project.
Material Procurement: At the same time as the Tender Process is underway we would be working on the procurement of materials.
This involves discussions with the various suppliers at our disposal, negotiating price structures for the whole project. 
It may include arranging trade accounts for the client so that cash flow is easier to manage. 
Final Choices: Dependent on how well the Tender Packages are returned, and their contents, can take some considerable time to collate.
Not all tradesmen are proficient at paperwork, and much to-ing and fro-ing including interviews, takes place before we arrive at a choice of contractor. 
Once this choice has been made we would then contact the contractors to verify their availability etc. We would also set out a time, based on the programme, for them to carry out their work.
A meeting would then be arranged when a formal signing of the contracts would be made.
Clients choices: There will also be choices to be made regarding the quality of finishing materials such as bathroom and kitchen fittings.
Believe it or not the finishes can prove to be almost as expensive as the rest of the build. It is imperative therefore that the client makes these choices  very carefully and with the overall Cost Plan firmly in mind. 
Contracts: The contract, usually a JCT Construction Management Trade Contract, (CMTC) would include separate  references to any specific terms that the client, the architect or engineer deem important to incorporate.
This can be anywhere from what services or plant the client is providing to a ban on smoking or swearing… yes it still happens! 
On Site Phase: With everything in place we can begin the construction phase. If the client is going to attempt to run the project themselves they need to reflect carefully. In the attempt to save a few quid the ill advised Self Builder can soon run into sticky problems.
Even with the best costed and programmed project, technical issues can emerge out of nowhere, Architects and Engineers are not infallible. Contractors can fall ill, or make mistakes, leaving gaps in the programme.
This along with the many technical problems which will occur, and need quick resolutions, makes it better to employ someone trained to do this!
Health & Safety: In April 2015 the Health & Safety Executive updated the rules on UK Health & Safety. From that date the Domestic Client Exemption from CDM 2007 Regulations ended.
Domestic Clients now have to take more responsibility over how the Health & Safety of any workers on their projects is managed.
There are specific requirements that are expected and one of these is the necessity to employ either a Principal Designer or a Principal Contractor to perform the Clients duties on their behalf.
Commercial Clients: are still required to carry out the full range of the Client Duties without exemption. this includes appointing both a Principal Designer and a Principal Contractor.
Whoever is appointed, will need to demonstrate that they understand the role, and are cognisant of the regulations and their implementation. 
Cost Control: Along with all the issues arising from the build itself, will be keeping the ongoing costs under control.
Unless the client is blessed with a small fortune to spend; the control of both overall finance and cash-flow is imperative. 
We use accounting spreadsheets, developed by us, allowing us to formulate the accounting to suit the project; not the other way around.
Our bookkeeper updates the system on a regular basis, keeping everything shipshape and open. 
Finances: The best method we have found to organise the financing of the project is to set up an online bank account, such as Chase or Starling for example.
With access allowed to both Client and Construction Management team, it allows total transparency for all. All we ask is that sufficient funds are available at the agreed times to keep the ball rolling.


Management: Managing a building project whether large or small requires a particular set of skills. No one is born with those skills, they have to be learned.
A few tradesmen builders acquire some of them by the process of trial and error. Sadly the people who pay for that are usually their customers, and as with most knowledge gained in that manner, the results can be a bit patchy.
Local Builders: Some local jobbing builders are fair tradesmen and if the work is maintenance, repair or small in nature, that is probably a good way to go.
If the job is more complex however, even a small extension to a home, then it will probably require a more proficient knowledge base.
Labour Pool: The labour pool for some local builders tends to be made up from family, friends or people met socially (in the pub), and that means that the client doesn’t necessarily get the best tradesmen available for their project.
Costing: Pricing the work itself tends to be a hit and miss affair with local jobbing builders. Their preference being the dreaded ‘open estimate’ where they charge as the work progresses. Worse, is when they demand money up front to cover early costs.
TV programmes such as ‘rogue traders’ are not fictitious… these people are out there, and they prey on individuals whose good natures don’t prepare them for what can so easily happen. Benjamin Franklin quoted (“The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten”)
Construction Companies: Larger building contractors, employ their own skilled construction managers; or their principals are qualified to do the work. Of course, they add the cost of this service to the bill.
They do a much better job of managing a building project, but charge for the service within their overheads. These overheads are naturally greater than a smaller firm and have to be covered in order to keep the owners happy.
This means that if you use a main contractor, you will still be paying for a qualified Construction Manager… he just wouldn’t be working entirely for you!
Labour Pool: The labour force used by larger building companies, is usually a mix of directly employed labour and self employed contractors.
Some of the direct employees can be of a less skilled nature, as to be honest, anyone worthy of a larger salary works as a subcontractor in their own right.
Using a less skilled labour force enables the larger contractor to enhance their profits. At the same time, they utilise their employed management professionals to keep the project moving along.
Sub-Contractors: work for themselves under agreed rates; which are usually higher than employed people. They get no working benefits, holiday pay or sick pay. this is reflected in their rates.
When they work for main contractors, their cost is charged to the client after first having had a profit margin added. Charges are likewise imposed on everything that passes through their hands, to cover company overheads.
Motivation: Unfortunately this style of operation is fraught with problems of motivation and quality control. The turnover of often lower paid staff is normally high, and as a result continuity and workmanship can suffer.
The only saving grace is that the management style is usually of a modern nature and productive.
Time vs Cost: If your desire is the least amount of time consuming decision making and personal input. And so long as your budget can afford it, then using a main building contractor is probably the best method to use. 
But be prepared to pay for that, and don’t expect the finished product to be just what you envisaged
Site management Article
Self Management: This method is where the client employs their own sub-contractors to carry out each separate portion of the work. It is in some ways the same method used by both the main contractor and the Construction Manager.
This can be a method of ensuring better workmanship. So long as someone is there to keep a close and experienced eye on the proceedings. 
However, the earnings of sub-contractors are dependent on completing their work in the shortest possible time. Although this can appear at first glance to be a desirable goal. It’s only if their work is carried out in an organised and cohesive method, that a well constructed building can be achieved.
For this system to work requires a skilled and experienced manager overseeing the project. Clients must ask themselves seriously… is this you!


If you have read all of the above, you may be having second thoughts about using a Jobbing Builder or a Main Building Contractor for your building project. 
The intention is not to disparage all of my rivals by making most of them look like rogues and villains. Not all of them are… some maybe… but not all by any means.
Our principal spent 25 years working at his own very successful Building Contracting business, so he has seen all of this from a contrary perspective. 
In all of the important issues involved in a building project, control is paramount. Control of the workforce, control of procurement, Control of  technical issues and control of the costs.
This…  is the Construction Managers role.
Get in touch with us today to arrange a free first consultation to determine the level of support you need. You could even take us on to create something like the dream home, shown here and managed by us!

Our Pledge to You

To manage your project with a professional and non-partisan approach.
Work in partnership to gain the best from the Building Experience.
Assist you to finish up with the most cost effective project.
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