Deciding the type of leadership needed in a construction project is an important decision.  The right leadership can make all the difference in the ease in which your project is completed; not to mention your project schedule and budget. We’ve outlined 5 key differences between a project manager and a construction manager to help you make the best decision for the leadership of your project.


Differences Between a Project Manager and a Construction Manager

  1. Construction managers will manage only the construction portion of the product. The CM is an expert in building trades including electrical, carpentry, plumbing and general construction. They oversee day-to-day operations from pre-construction through the project punch list. Essentially, a CM is a project manager with a specific area of knowledge.
  2. A construction manager is involved in personnel management at the construction site. The CM will ensure that materials are delivered on time, that tools are available and that resources are properly allocated.
  3. A project manager runs all aspects of the real estate project. This includes everything from the initial planning, site selection and analysis, design, procurement, construction and the physical move. Because the PM is responsible for the project budget and schedule, it is beneficial to have an independent resource. The PM will be keenly aware of anything that will extend the project schedule and inflate the project budget and aims to mitigate those risks.
  4. A project manager is brought on at the inception of a real estate project and therefore has a comprehensive understanding of the client’s goals. A project manager works very closely with the client to gain a comprehensive understanding of all aspects of the real estate project. More than knowing what the client needs out of their physical space, a project manager has the knowledge from the client to understand the specific needs so that the end result is precisely what the client wants.
  5. The main difference is the level of authority. A CM oversees all construction activities. A PM supervises the CM. The project manager has greater responsibility to the project, as he/she oversees more than the construction process. Therefore, a project manager will often supervise a construction manager.


Related- Project Management vs Construction Management

Katie Craven
Katie Craven is Marketing, Communication and Brand Manager at Watchdog Real Estate Project Managers, a real-estate consulting firm that provides owner’s representation and project management services. More about Watchdog Real Estate Project Managers as well as additional blog posts can be found here.
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