Construction Administration vs Construction Management


I have wondered if there is any difference between Construction Administration and Construction Management? What exactly do these mean?

Mar 31, 11 11:08 pm

In short, Construction Administration is something the architect does.

Construction Management is something the contractor does.

But just like any other failed marriage, it gets complicated after that.

Apr 1, 11 1:16 am  · 

Big Difference

In CA we(architects) review submittals and shop drawings (from the General Contractor) with conformance of design intent

A Construction Manager is not a General Contractor

The CM oversees the GC on large projects and can save the client money by making the job run on schedule and with a high level of craft.

Apr 1, 11 7:09 am  · 

The CM can also get involved in the project during the design phase as the clients was a job that was created out of what used to be part of an architect's services.

Of all the CM's that I have worked with, I have felt that when they were hired, "must be worried about and second guess EVERYTHING" had to have been part of their job requirements. From a design standpoint, they've only made the projects I've worked on worse by an over worrying of the budget and sacrificing details. The CM's main agenda is to make sure that the job comes in on time and on budget, period. There is no advocacy for design from a CM.

Apr 1, 11 9:31 am  · 
"A Construction Manager is not a General Contractor"

Except for the time that he is.

It really depends on how the project is structured. Owner may wish to hire a CM (who can also act as a constructor) on certain types of projects.

anyways, rasa asked about construction manageMENT. You are talking about construction managERS. Subtle but huge difference.

Apr 1, 11 9:36 am  · 

I agree w/ tagalong. Most I've worked with just muddy the lines of communication between the owner, architect, and GC.

Apr 1, 11 11:05 am  · 
el jeffe

my 0.02 - the purpose of a CM is to deliver on-time and on-budget, as tagalong said, but in practice they largely seem to only add friction to the flow of information.

the one cm i've come across that i respected was a retired architect who just knew his shit. i stood in awe of the guy's knowledge and ability to look-ahead and prioritize. that was the key to his and the project's success.

Apr 1, 11 11:38 am  · 

Pretty much what @rusty said is dead on. I would just add that it always depends on the way contracts are structured in a project. In most situation owner has separate contracts with architect and separate one with GC. In that situation Architect has no direct command line over GC except for drawings that were prepared and approved by the owner. CA means that Architect still works for the owner, overseas GC's work for compliance with the approved drawings but reports only back to owner ie. he/she is doing construction administration.

However, there are situations where contracts are structured differently, usually in larger firms, where architects have direct contracts with GC or where contracts are intertwined. I've worked for a development company that had both architectural and construction departments and architects who prepared drawings were put in construction management positions when the project was turned over for construction.

There is also a situation where owner could hire an architectural expert/consultant which can sometimes be an individual and sometimes an architectural firm. This consultant is than given the authority to contract for the owner with the design architect and GC. In that situation architect consultant could also act as a construction manager.

Apr 1, 11 2:47 pm  · 

Thanks for the replies everyone! Makes sense now :)

Apr 2, 11 12:18 am  · 

Yes rusty you are right ...just like anything all lines can be blurred

but construction management is not general contracting

Apr 2, 11 12:35 pm  · 


"The CM oversees the GC on large projects and can save the client money by making the job run on schedule and with a high level of craft."

How can CM make the job run on schedule unless it has direct control over subcontractors i.e. through sub-contractor contracts which is what GC has. Hence GC is the CM as it holds the contracts with subcontractors and controls all the trades in the construction

What you may be describing is actually a development manager. DM is usually hired by the owner or is part of the company that invests in the construction that contracts with the GC and has power to withhold payments if the job is not done right or on schedule. But DM is not doing actual construction management. He/she does not direct the construction on site but it acts through the GC.

Apr 4, 11 2:17 pm  · 

The CM on the job I work on is always up the GC's ass about being on schedule. He also checks and presides over the GC work.

I never said he has direct control of scheduling, and I am not talking about a DM.

Apr 4, 11 8:50 pm  · 

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