Construction Management


This Tip offers information on alternative forms of project delivery through the utilization of a construction manager’s (CM) services and the 2010 suite of three Canadian Construction Documents Committee (CCDC) construction management contracts.


What is Construction Management?


Construction management is a term for alternative forms of project delivery where a construction manager replaces the role a general contractor has in traditional design-bid-build delivery. The owner still engages an architect to design and prepare construction documents, but also engages a CM at an early stage as a consultant to provide advice, oversee and manage construction: planning, costs, scheduling, methods and materials. This CM could be a contractor, an architect or engineer, a consulting person or other entity as long as they have the necessary construction expertise and trust of the owner. The CM may also be brought on board after construction documents have been prepared. The CM will have a full time person on site acting as a site superintendent the same way that a general contractor does in traditional project delivery.

The philosophy behind the benefits of construction management is similar to that currently ascribed to Integrated Project Delivery – bringing a more comprehensive team together for collaboration during design and the ability to start construction earlier than with traditional design-bid-build. In construction management, instead of bidding by general contractors, packages of work are bid by individual trades, organized by the CM. Excavation, foundations or structure could be bid before the construction documents are completed for all the interior works. The individual trade contracts can be signed either with the owner or with the CM, which creates the two basic variations in construction management – one with CM as advisor providing consulting services only; and the other being a CM as advisor plus contractor providing consulting services and doing the construction.


In one scenario the owner signs contracts directly with the trades and the CM provides advice and management only – often referred to as CM as Agent. Alternatively the CM signs all the contracts with trades, and takes on the risk of the construction performance and the cost and schedule for the same, while still providing construction management advice in the early stages – often referred to as CM at Risk.


The cost of the construction can be set up in several ways: cost plus (minimal risk to the CM), a guaranteed maximum price (GMP), a fixed price (maximum risk to CM) or various arrangements of GMP with a sharing of cost savings between the owner and CM. Ways that construction management can affect the architect’s services include the following:


  • General
    ‾ It is critical to be aware that with a CM as an owner’s consultant, the team is more complex as advisory roles can be blurred and advice from the architect can be in conflict with that of the CM. Architects often will have less direct contact with the owner. Some owners engage a CM because they have confidence in the practicality of a contractor.  In the construction phase the CM will take the
    ‾Where the CM and owner have an agreement that includes shared costs savings, there can be extensive requests to consider or recommend alternatives by the CM or individual trades.
    ‾Often the owner and CM will not want to share a copy of their agreement with the architect, which makes it unworkable to coordinate services or to know the level of administration expected of the architect during the construction phase.


  • Design
    ‾ There can be more options requested during design phases as a CM considers different construction techniques and/or materials.
    ‾ The architects design and CM issues may not coincide (the owner needs to be involved in decisions and priorities).


  • Construction Documents
    ‾ The preparation of drawings is often requested to be expedited reducing available time for coordination and checking for completeness and errors.
    ‾ CM’s often want drawing packages for certain trades versus the traditional single comprehensive set of drawings. This requires more time to coordinate and modify earlier packages as the remaining packages are completed, plus there are additional printing and preparation costs.
    ‾ CM’s may wish to change Division 1 of the specifications.


  • Bidding
    ‾ There is some difficulty in defining the scope of trade packages. The CM should clearly define the scope of works for each trade.
    ‾ There is a need for good communication from the CM regarding the status of bidding and contract awards.


  • Construction Phase
    ‾  The CM takes more of a lead role in the construction phase; the architect has less direct communication with the owner.
    ‾  The CCDC CM contracts (5A & 17) if not amended (refer to OAA Supplementary Conditions), have the usual role of the architect to make interpretations and findings in matters of dispute split between the architect and the CM.
    ‾  The architect may not be responsible to certify payments and have less involvement and knowledge about financial progress; on the other hand they may be asked to certify payments and do Certificates of Substantial Performance for many separate trades,

It can be more complex to maintain the traditional professional role of the architect in being fair to both sides (owner and contractor) because there are more ‘sides’.  On owner/developer projects, the roles and responsibilities of the owner/developer and CM can become very blurred.


The Architect as CM


Architects can be CM’s and enter into a CCDC 5A agreement with an owner. Some architects doing small projects such as restaurant or house renovations may be asked by the client to arrange the trade works but don’t feel it necessary to have a general contractor. It may seem like a construction management approach could fulfill these directions; however, the arrangement produces conflicts of interest and other potential conflicts. Construction management has many variations and keeping the contractual arrangements clear is a challenge.





  1. CCDC Website– contracts and guides.
  2. PTs 23.2, 23.4 & 23.5. re: CCDC 5A  5B & 17.
  3. 26– Conflict of Interest Guideline. RAIC CHOP Chapter 2.3.2 Types of Construction Project Delivery, 2.3.7 & 2.3.8.
  4. The AIA Website(Search for “construction management”)

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