What was known as paper contracting in the last century has morphed into construction management (CM) contracting in the 21st century. CM contracting is replacing traditional construction contract practice on many types of projects -- from the largest public and private jobs to small home improvement projects. Traditional construction practice (prime contractor and subcontractor) has disadvantages that every traditional prime contractor knows all too well: risk of loss, oppressive state regulation, warranty problems, construction claims and callbacks. Modern construction managers avoid most of these hazards by limiting their responsibility to what they do best -- construction management. CM contracts leave the construction headaches to others -- liens, trade disputes, slow payment, code compliance, inspections and government regulation.
What is a construction manager (a paper contractor)? That’s easy. A construction manager earns a fee as a consultant:
Reviewing the plans and specs.
Preparing bid packages and evaluating bids.
Checking insurance coverage.
Approving the proposed contracts.
Communicating with contractors and suppliers.
Monitoring day-to-day construction.
Keeping the owner informed of progress.
Approving payment requests.
Assisting with change orders.
Protecting the owner from construction claims.
Directing project closeout.
What's NOT included in a construction manager’s portfolio? That’s easy too. The construction manager earns a fee for consulting services -- period. The construction manager neither buys nor installs materials, has no contracts with the trades and pays no bills. The owner signs contracts with trade contractors, pays all the bills and holds installing contractors responsible for their work.
Most of a construction manager’s task will come as second nature to an experienced general contractor. What won’t come easy is the construction management contract itself. CM contracts are very different from traditional prime contracts -- and have to be drawn precisely to avoid problems with property owners, trade contractors, suppliers and state regulators.
Don’t try CM contracting without a good CM contract. Construction Contract Writer drafts CM contracts legal in any state and for any type of work. The trial version is free. And if you need a good "hands on" guide to CM contracting, have a look at the book Paper Contracting. A PDF download is available for less than $30.