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Commercial construction projects are complex. They involve many more moving parts than building single-family homes. Someone must maintain the big picture to keep all the aspects of planning and building large, often multi-tenant structures, in sync. These tips for commercial construction project management will give you a sense of the multi-faceted responsibilities of a commercial construction manager.

Budgeting and Cost Control

Depending on the developer or property owner’s process, the construction project manager may be involved as early as the initial design phase. Other developers may wait until architectural designs are complete to seek bids from commercial contractors. A newer way to streamline the project is to select a general contractor during the design phase, and involve that contractor as well as their subcontractors in the design and planning process. This allows for synchronization and communication that can reduce delays and changes through the knowledgeable input of contractors who can identify what is and isn’t possible.

When the design is complete, the owner or developer will have a sense of the necessary budget. Contractors selected through a competitive bidding process must develop their bids based on a realistic budget for supplies, labor, and contingencies, such as delays in delivery of materials or overtime. The construction project manager will be responsible for ensuring that the project stays within budget through cost controls and thorough oversight of expenditures.

Supply Procurement

As part of the budgeting process, the construction project manager must consider sources of supply, potential delays, and alternatives in the case of unexpected supply problems. Commercial buildings require a wide range of materials—from electrical and computer cabling to windows and flooring. A high percentage of commercial projects experience delays or shortages in materials, and the project manager must have a plan for if these disruptions affect the project.


Commercial construction project managers are responsible for the safety of workers on the project and compliance with all applicable safety regulations. This is just smart management, as injuries cause delays and require involvement in worker’s compensation and insurance claims.


Proper documentation of timelines, contracts, and compliance with codes and regulations minimizes disputes and facilitates understanding of expectations. Obtaining and organizing documented proof of insurance, design plans, and approved changes keep everyone informed and protects all the parties to the project with written agreements.

Scheduling Subcontractors

A critical part of project management is helping the general contractor select subcontractors. Knowing what questions to ask of commercial plumbing, electrical, and HVAC subcontractors, as well as how to schedule their work, keeps projects running smoothly and in the proper order. Subs may work simultaneously or in a predetermined order so that construction proceeds rationally. This way, subs aren’t tripping over each other and work won’t have to be torn out and redone, adding extra costs.


A top tip for commercial construction project management is to maintain clear and open communication. Managers must prevent miscommunication and misunderstandings between different teams on the project to avoid delays, quality issues, and cost overruns. The manager must also prepare a plan and procedures for everyone involved in building the project to raise issues, ask questions, and resolve problems without confusion.

Commercial construction project management requires excellent organizational, communication, and relationship skills to deliver projects on time, according to plans, and of top quality.

Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.