What is a Pre-construction Manager?

Preconstruction Managers are key assets within a contractors’ organization. They require an ability to multitask and mastery of multiple skills.

It is expected much more from Preconstruction managers than just quantity take-off or estimating. Their role expands beyond multiple tasks.

Only large Construction firms employ preconstruction managers to plan and lead projects through this critical phase prior to the start of construction. Often, preconstruction managers possess an estimating background, but some are field operations staff seeking a career change or requalification from onsite project management roles. Preconstruction managers in large corporations may only be able to handle two or three projects at a time and may not even do any estimating themselves, depending on the size and scope of the project. They very often act as the manager of internal resources of the estimating department to produce progress estimates at defined design milestones, evaluate material, equipment and system costs, review document progress and coordination with internal and external teams, build and maintain subcontractor, bidder and vendor relationships and serve to efficiently hand off blueprints, plans, scope of work, and overall project to the project manager and superintendent at the beginning of construction.

Schedule management is one of the key responsibilities of the preconstruction manager. Creating a detaile and realistic schedule for all design, approval, estimating and purchasing activities is required to ensure that construction activities begin on schedule. The Preconstruction schedule (e.g. Gantt Charts, etc) must reflect what is expected of and approved by the planning team and the owner so that packaging and scoping of the work can be accomplished through proper documents that address all information required at each individual stage of the design process. Preconstruction managers have to be involved in the project as early as possible so that then can coordinate expectations, planning and deliverables with the overall project and design team.

Communication methods and flow from preconstruction managers is critically defined upfront to guide what documents the design team will be expected to create and draw, with what level of details and under what timelines. Some commercial contractors will write detailed scopes of work in the form of a word document for specific bid packages and will receive sealed bids for each package in return. These scopes of work may combine multiple things, such as a general trades package which may include work from multiple trades and specification sections. Another commonly used approach to soliciting bids and defining the work is a carry-over from the Design-Bid-Build delivery method itself, whereby vendors and subcontractors bid work by specification or trade section and the content of their bids is then compared in great detail by the preconstruction manager using a bid tab sheet or a scope sheet.

The preconstruction manager is an advisor but is also responsible to review documents, assess constructability and various financial and field analysis and forecasts. Constructability reviews can serve multiple purposes, amongst which the most common are evaluating how a predefined design is actually constructible, under cost and timing constraints imposed by the owner. The first review completed by a pre-construction manager is aimed at time savings and costs savings by ensuring that considerations such as site access, supplies logistics, job site staging, materials, equipment and systems are considered in the planning and design. The final review has a single objective: answering two main questions. Are supplied documents sufficiently complete and clear to (1) bid the project and (2) to build the project?

Assisting a commercial property owner, a facilities manager, or an office or business manager in managing their total project budget beyond just the standard construction costs and expenses is essential for preconstruction managers. Wise owners must seek the entire construction team\’s detailed input on the total project budget as upfront as possible. Early review of project costs such as design fees, permit fees, environmental assessments, testing services, material, equipment, furniture, etc., can help avoid costly redesign efforts or issues later in the construction project. Redesign or plan modifications may be required if going over budget or doable specifications.