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Construction Manager vs. Project Manager: What Are the Differences?

construction manager vs. project manager

March 17 2022 - The United States’ construction industry is worth a whopping $1.36 trillion and continues to show an upward trajectory.

While construction and real estate play a crucial role in shaping our economy, we often fail to appreciate key industry players. No, we’re not talking about contractors and engineers, we’re talking about construction and project managers.

The input of the project and construction manager is invaluable in any construction project. However, there’s still a ton of confusion over what role each of them plays. Between a construction manager vs. project manager, who do you need the most for your project?

In today’s post, we’ll be highlighting the major differences between these two professionals.

What is a Construction Manager?

A construction manager is a construction expert who oversees all the aspects of the construction project. They oversee the construction process from its inception to completion. Working closely with architects and engineers, they review the project and create accurate cost estimates.

The construction manager must also ensure that the building is constructed to code and obeys all local regulations. They play a vital role in the planning, budgeting, organization, and implementation of the construction project.

What Is a Project Manager?

A project manager is an expert whose job is to oversee the success of a construction project. They are responsible for ensuring the project finishes on time and is within the stipulated budget. Project managers keep track of expenses, organize logistics, and delegate work.

Project managers work closely with clients to ensure the projects meet their expectations. These managers also have to liaise with other construction professionals to see the project’s success.

Construction Manager vs. Project Manager: The Differences

There are glaring differences between construction managers and project managers. It’s unfortunate that most people use these two terms interchangeably. That said, here are the major differences between construction managers and project managers.

The Job Description

As the name implies, the construction manager is solely responsible for the construction aspects of the project. This includes supervising construction work, ensuring material availability, among other responsibilities. They oversee daily construction activities until the project concludes.

Project managers, on the other hand, are more hands-off on the actual construction process. Project managers are in the background and don’t directly contribute to the project. Their work is to ensure that the project gets enough materials and that all workers get paid on time.

If you need to address something about the construction after a site visit, speak to the construction manager. If you’re unhappy with the flooring materials, you’ll have to tell the project manager.

Real Estate Responsibilities

Some responsibilities of the project manager touch on the real estate aspect of the project. The project manager will work out the initial planning, site selection, and design. They’ll also handle all legal matters concerning the project.

Project managers are especially useful in the development of real estate investment projects. That’s because they help create a timeline and budget for the project. They’ll also plan for contingencies for unexpected events that may otherwise derail the project.

Construction managers, on the other hand, have little to do with the real estate aspects of the project. Most of the responsibilities of the project manager have to do with things on the ground. All the paperwork and legal and fiduciary aspects of the project are the project manager’s responsibility.

Personnel Management

There’s a very high chance that the project manager won’t come into contact with any of the construction personnel. That’s because the project manager’s job is more in the backdrop of the actual construction. The only time the project manager will talk to the construction personnel is during a routine site meeting.

A construction manager, on the other hand, works hand-in-hand with construction personnel to ensure the project’s completion. The construction manager ensures that construction workers get all their materials and tools on time. They also assign duties to construction workers and supervise the entire exercise.

Relationship With the Client

As mentioned earlier, the project manager works closely with the client to ensure they meet the client’s expectations. The manager will have frequent meetings with the client to get a comprehensive understanding of the project. They also use these meetings to update clients about the project’s progress.

Construction managers rarely meet their clients, except during site visits. However, it’s their job to ensure that the client’s expectations crystallize into a tangible project. Construction managers convert drawings into actual buildings that are ready for occupation.

The Level of Authority

Project managers sit higher in the chain of command than construction managers. This is because the project manager plays a greater role in piecing different aspects of the project together. They ensure the budget fits the project’s scope and liaise with suppliers for the timely supply of materials and tools.

While the construction manager supervises the construction personnel, the project manager supervises the construction manager. Regardless of the hierarchical difference, both must work together to see the success of the project.

Both project and construction managers play crucial roles in the development of residential and commercial properties. You may have to review a construction manager guide to get a firm understanding of the roles of a construction manager. You may also need a project manager guide to understand their responsibilities.

Resources like are great for reviewing the responsibilities of both project and construction managers. It’s also a great place to pursue an education in those lines of work.

No Construction and Project Manager Equals No Project

It’s hard to pit a construction manager vs. project manager because both play a crucial role in ensuring construction projects come to life. Now that you know the differences between these two experts, you know who to talk to for whatever reason. You should also consider pursuing a career as a construction or project manager if it aligns with your interests.

For more informative content, check out the other posts on the site.


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