Site Management Article

This is a  broad description of Site Management as provided by SFS Management Contracting. How we carry it out. What it achieves and what it provides for the Client and the project as a whole. As usual this is pretty heavy reading, so settle down and good luck.
Site Management Article
The management of any construction project needs a set of skills not given to us at birth. The Site Manager or Supervisor will need to carry out their duties properly and with enthusiasm.
They must be able to motivate and yet maintain discipline. They are going to need a variety of technical skills to be able to solve any problems when they occur and to keep the whole project rolling forward.
The Construction Manager can do this job themselves, and certainly possesses the skill set. However, for smaller projects this could prove a bit expensive. 
Usually during the Tender Process, one of the Contractors stands out as particularly proficient in their man management and quality control skills. The smart Construction Manager makes a note of their details for future reference!
It makes good sense then to promote this individual to the post of Site Supervisor or Site manager for larger projects. 
If accepted, the role of Site Supervisor will entail all the duties shown below. In addition they’d be working with and  reporting back to the Construction Manager, who would visit the site regularly.
Obviously sometimes they will be marking their own homework, concentrating as they must on their own work package. But this never seems to be an issue; and it is a testament to the character of these guys, that they can do this.
Without being partisan about this, it’s usually a Carpenter who emerges as this person. As they do seem to spend the longest time on any site. However, the role itself can be divided between different Trades, handing over control via the Construction Manager as the project proceeds.
This would be a part time role, as they would still need to oversee their own part of the project. This team approach to managing a construction site is highly beneficial to the project as a whole.
NB: From this point the reader should accept that we will be referring to whoever is in control of the actual site as the Site Manager. This includes the Construction Manager and the Site Supervisor roles which should be taken to signify the same entity.

Controlling the site.

Site Management Article
The Site Manager should  be able to motivate the workforce. They need to develop a team spirit to make best use of everyone’s talents and expertise. 
The Site Manager must also be able to mediate between the various personalities in the team. This ensures that friction, which can often occur under pressure, is kept to a minimum.
Managing a site is not about ordering people about and shouting, no matter how stressful the job may become. A cool calm head needs to be maintained at all times. This however does not mean ignoring personnel problems, in the hope that they will go away.
Providing technical aid to the contractors is often required to sustain the smooth operation of their work. It also makes certain that work dovetails in with any subsequent contractors.
The initial period of the project is crucial and involves the setting out of foundation works. Surveying skills are essential, as any mistakes made at this point could prove very costly indeed. 
The Construction Manager should also be ready to provide advice to the client. Giving guidance on materials and processes, as well as updates on operational progress. This often requires translation of technical language into layman’s terms… and all without appearing conceited.
Site Management Article
A common problem in any construction project is the Architect’s or Engineers drawings containing some ambiguous information. This can sometimes make it difficult for the contractors to perform a given task.
This could be due to some complex design element. More often though, it’s because the architects brief didn’t include a request for detailed drawings. The usual provision of Building Control based drawings are adequate; but only that. Any complex areas will need further work to enable the contractor to complete his package. 
This usually requires detailed discussions between the Construction Manager and the Architect or Engineer; to resolve any technical issues. It may require design sketches and instruction by the Construction Manager to enable the contractor to finish their task properly.
In order to achieve this, a good deal of technical expertise and skill in problem solving is required. A poor decision at this point could mean badly completed work and subsequent rebuilding.
Mistakes made in foundation works for example, can have disastrous and expensive outcomes. Unfortunately sometimes less skilled labour is used for groundwork; which is a sorry state of affairs within the construction industry.
The only real remedy for this is for closer scrutiny of the process. This is usually carried out by the whole management team including the Construction Manager, due to the critical nature of this work package.
A trained and impassive set of eyes is essential to inspect a contractors work for quality. There is always the requirement to identify all and any departures from the specifications or design. It is only with expertise gained from experience; would some of these deviations be revealed. 
Sometimes what appears to be a small error made at an early stage may be responsible for much larger consequential problems later. The ability to project forward and foresee likely troubles from small errors only comes with experience. 
It takes tact and diplomacy to persuade a contractor that their work is less than adequate. It can be taken extremely personally when the Site manager is requesting some item of work be re-done.

Measuring Work

Site Management Article
At previously agreed periods, work carried out by contractors will need to be valued and certified. This is to confirm that the work has been carried out correctly and to allow for payment to the contractor.  
This is a skilled process and only someone properly trained can really perform the task accurately. This is usually carried out by the Construction Manager with input from the Site manager, who has first hand experience of the work.  Mistakes made in valuations can lead to disputes, loss of motivation and delays.
Sometimes the process requires diplomacy and negotiation and again this calls for a particular set of skills. The certification of completed works can have a bearing on any later claims for poor workmanship; if something should go awry.
Variations to the specifications or design will always be a feature of the construction process. Dealing with them can be a pure nightmare. Contractors have a living to make, and most of them would quite happily live the rest of their lives without being involved in variation battles.
It is a fact of life that people change their minds. Self-build clients can be the most guilty of this; as they are in essence building a dream. What first appears to be a cracking design on paper, can suddenly appear too small, or even the wrong shape, when viewed on site.
Ground floor slabs are notorious for looking too small when clients first see them. At that stage the requests for alterations normally begin.
If after some discussion alterations are still going to be made, it falls to the Construction Manager to initiate that. It can require a lot of effort and skill to negotiate their implementation.
Firstly the design itself will need to be scrutinised for any consequential problems. Discussions held with the Architect and Engineer; determining if the variation would compromise the design, and agreeing any resolutions. In addition, checking that no breaches of Building Regulations might ensue.
As well as all of this,  changes to the Schedules of Work, Programme and Cost Plan must be made keeping the costs and progress under control. After  this is completed, the Construction manager working with the Site Manager, can implement the changes.  
The Contractor however, is naturally indisposed to altering something he has completed! They will need to be briefed and any cost and time implications need to be negotiated. If this process is not carried out correctly, it can lead to disputes and litigation.
Variations are the most significant cause of dispute on any building project; they should be undertaken with care. If the initial tender process was carried out properly, then it should be bit easier, as the method of dealing with variations would already have been addressed.
Any Client who considers running their own building project, either out of the desire to do the job, or because of perceived cost savings; should be strongly recommended to think again. 
Launching a building project no matter how small it may seem, takes a huge toll on the client’s welfare and that of their family. Both financial and personal elements of their lives are stretched to the limits. What may seem fun in the beginning, can very soon become a millstone to drag you down.
Unless you have training in the specific skills, both managerial and technical, it would be imprudent to consider going it alone. Even if you employed a Construction Manager to set up all the pre-construction tasks; it would not be enough to take the project to a successful conclusion.
The Self Build Exhibitions and Magazines never mention all those who have failed. It is very sad and completely unnecessary, when there are skilled individuals ready and willing to help. If prospective Self Builders think it will save them money to do this themselves… it won’t. Funds wasted through inefficiency and poor decisions can easily spiral out of control. 

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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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