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The Role of Project Managers in Construction Estimating

One of the biggest responsibilities of construction project managers involves money management. They keep track of the cost of materials and labor and are responsible for creating a budget.

They also manage the risk of the project and set benchmarks for its progression. They often work under the Construction Management at Risk (CMAR) delivery method, which means they are liable for costs that exceed a Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP). This model is used for projects with varying scope and complexity.

Scope of Work

The project scope of work is a critical component of any construction project. It lays out all the work that needs to be completed and is included in a contract document. It also serves as a basis for determining the amount of materials that will be needed to build a building. A construction project manager can help with the scope of work by verifying it and clarifying any issues.

A well-written scope of work can save you time and money by avoiding potential disputes and miscommunications. It also provides clarity about the owner’s stipulations and translates them into deliverables and milestones. It is not uncommon for the scope of work to change before and during construction, and a good project manager can handle these changes effectively.

The next step in the estimation process is creating benchmarks. These are checkpoints that are used to evaluate and determine the project’s health. This is an important step because it allows you to see how the project is progressing, and whether or not you are on track to meet your deadlines.

A skilled construction project manager can redistribute resources in order to keep the project on schedule. For example, they may have to make adjustments to a timeline due to unforeseen circumstances, such as weather or a shortage of materials. They can also prevent delays by identifying risks and developing risk management strategies.

Cost Estimation

Cost estimation is a complex process that requires a wide range of knowledge and skills. This process involves collecting and organizing historical data, and analyzing it for its application in future projects. It also involves assessing the location, machinery, and labor requirements of the project. In addition, an accurate estimate must consider market fluctuations that may affect the cost of construction materials. For example, an eco-friendly project may require different types of materials than a conventional building.

An accurate cost estimate is crucial for a project, especially when it involves public funds. Small miscalculations can be magnified when a project is large and has a tight schedule. Having an accurate cost estimate helps the project manager plan tasks more efficiently and ensures that the project is completed within its set budget.

A project manager’s responsibilities are multifaceted and overlap with those of an estimator. They are involved in every stage of a project, from concept to completion, although they are more active during planning and execution.

During the planning phase, they develop a comprehensive project plan that includes estimates of costs and a baseline schedule for construction. They are responsible for the overall quality of the project, and they set goals and manage the team members to achieve them. They also perform risk management and identify potential issues that can impact the project’s progress and schedule.


Construction project managers are responsible for managing the contracts of the project, from procuring resources to setting deadlines and budgets. It is also their job to ensure that the project is meeting all quality standards and is adhering to all regulatory requirements.

The project manager must be able to anticipate any roadblocks that may come up during the construction process and take steps to overcome them. This is especially important in a construction environment where unanticipated problems such as weather or soil conditions can delay the timeline. The project manager must be able to create a plan to compensate for these delays and ensure that the final product will meet all set expectations.

Project management involves a lot of money and is one of the most important aspects of a construction project. The project manager is responsible for estimating budgets before the work begins and ensuring that the project stays on schedule and within budget. They also negotiate pricing with contractors, either on a lump sum basis or unit rate basis. A lump sum is a quote for the total amount of work, while unit rates are quotes that cover each individual component of the building. They are typically less precise than a lump sum quote and often contain a “padding” factor, which is meant to offset future design changes that leave their quotes short of the actual construction cost.


Construction project managers are responsible for the scheduling process, which involves preparing timelines for each task and estimating costs. They also oversee the project to ensure compliance with contract specifications. They often use a combination of their experience and software to determine the best schedule for each task. In addition, they must obtain permits and licenses, hire contractors and office staff, and negotiate contracts with vendors and suppliers.

They start by listing all the tasks required to complete a project, derived from a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS). Next, they identify necessary resources, such as specific trades, specialized equipment, or materials. Then, they determine the order in which these tasks must be completed, including any dependencies (e.g., one task can’t begin until another is finished). Finally, they assign resources based on availability and constraints.

Once the project is underway, they monitor progress and adjust the plan if needed. They must also track actual costs versus forecasted costs to detect cost overruns early. If they spot cost increases in one area, they can redistribute the necessary resources to keep the budget under control.

In design-build projects, project managers collaborate with architects and engineers to develop the building specification. They must then request unit rate quotes from subcontractors, rather than lump sum quotes. Unit rates are less precise than lump sum quotes and may include a certain amount of “padding” to compensate for unforeseen design changes. The estimating team is then responsible for incorporating these unit rates into the construction cost estimate. After completion of the construction phase, the project manager prepares a final report and conducts a lessons-learned session with the construction team.