Thursday, 27 January 2011

Wo-Built’s Site Supervision Is Really Construction Management

Construction Manager, Job Is Never Done, by Wo-Built Inc.Photo-collage: Less Glamorous Work for a Construction Manager
Rain? Construction Manager's Job Is Never Done!
2011 © Wo-Built Inc.
As managing contractors for design and build projects, especially for home additions, custom homes and commercial renovations we provide the site supervision. The importance of site management is not to be underestimated for the success of the project and requires a substantial time commitment in large scale projects. Our lead project manager, Elida Huignard, often spends countless hours to troubleshoot and co-ordinate different trades and materials on site.

Often we are asked what site supervision entails and why it is so important. Here are some key abilities we are looking for in our site managers.

Project Management Ability: Any construction site that has a number of trades involved needs project management to bring the project in on time, budget and with good quality.
It is the site supervisor’s responsibility to record, document and manage the initial scope, negotiate any changes and implement the scope by arranging for the trades and materials. A construction site manager is also responsible for enforcing the site safety and for providing the continuity in the project. It is also requires an enormous amount of commitment to the project. The position of the site supervisor is not a 9-5 job, in effect the site supervisor is on call 24/7.

Building Knowledge: In addition to the managerial skills a supervisor needs to know how the building is constructed, to have a good grasp of the building codes and is competent in resolving technical details. In our project, to add a second and third floor we had to connect a new timber structure and the existing structure to a steel frame. The assembly was shown in detailed drawings by the architect, but due to site conditions we had to make changes. As a site supervisor Elida had to think of a way to resolve the problem, obtain the engineer’s agreement, explain the changes to the trades and ensure that it was done properly. Read more about this project in our article The Little Bungalow That Grew Up into an Elegant Palace.

It may be necessary to have different supervisors for the main construction and the fine finishing. The finishing stage requires a good eye for design nuances and this skill is different from knowing the structural, environmental and building envelope’s technical aspects.

People Skills: Broad back, patience and a sense of humour. It has been said that the easy part of the building project are the technical requirements, the difficult part is the human factor. This portion of supervision is the unpredictable one, the most emotional and sometimes frustrating, sometimes funny but always the one which can make or break a project.

People skills are the real art, and a supervisor has to be a diplomat, an enforcer and a leader at the same time. Good communication skills for both the client and the trades are important. In an interview with College Foundation of North Carolina Elida mentions a key ingredient for successful site management: "I like the interaction with all kinds of different people. I have to deal with project engineers, the bricklayers, the plumbers - all the trades."

With all the skills required and the tasks expected, construction site supervision is really construction management. It ensures that the projects run smoothly, safely, have continuity and come to a successful conclusion. But not all the tasks of the construction manager are glamorous, it ranges from sweeping debris if no-one else is available to money negotiations with the client. With all of the above construction site management skills a well-run building project is like a modern dance performance – it looks effortless even when dealing with the unexpected. At Wo-Built we are committed to support our construction managers and make their complicated work possible.

Martina Ernst
Wo-Built Inc. - Innovative Design and Build

No comments: