Construction Project Management

What is Construction Project Management (CPM)?

Construction project management is primarily responsible for the planning, coordination and implementation of a construction project, whether for agricultural, residential, commercial, institutional, industrial, heavy civil or environmental purposes.

The management of building projects usually involves complex tasks that can vary wildly depending on the work in hand and requires strong communication skills, a thorough understanding of the construction process and the ability to solve a problem. Construction project management is a complex field that requires knowledge in a variety of areas such as finance, law and business.

The role of a project manager

Construction project managers are responsible for ensuring that the project moves according to plan. The objective is to manage the project in a timely and budget-driven way, but still to meet the codes, plans and specifications. A project manager could also be responsible for establishing parameters, finances, schedules, the vetting, and recruitment of subcontractors and local staff, the development of a possible conflict resolution strategy and much more.

Construction manager’s common responsibilities falls into these 7 categories:

• Project Planning

• Managing costs

• Management of time

• Managing quality

• Management of contracts

• Management of security

• Professional practises in construction management (manage the project team, define the role and responsibilities of each person…).

The role of a construction contractor

The design phase is first in every construction project, and the construction manager opens the bidding process to interested contractors when this is completed. Contractors must be able to demonstrate that they can manage public safety; decision-making, engineering, drafting, human resources, time, costs and management of the quality. The contractors that meet these guidelines are then selected by selecting low-bids, selecting best values and or selecting qualifications – all common actions.

How the project is won?

The owner will share project information with a large group of contractors, general contractors or subcontractors when a project owner is ready to begin. The process begins with a cost estimate, telling the owner how much the contractor should pay for the project.

Types of Bids

A contractor may expect two types of offers:

Open Offer: Offers are open and usually advertised for public projects. Any contractor may make an offer with an open offer.

Closed bid: A private project process begins with the closed bid, which invites the owner to submit a bid to a selected group of contractors.

Selection Criterion

The offer can be made and selection of a contractor can then begin based on a number of criteria whether the owner chooses an open or closed offer process for the project.

Selection based on Low bid:

The main focus for the project owner is the bottom line – also the price. The winner is the one who submits the lowest project price.

Selection based on qualification:

The project owner asks contractors to make an application for qualifications (RFQ) in this process, which summarises the contractor’s experiences, management plans, organisational flow and success in maintaining budgets and timetables. The owner of the project chooses the best qualified contractor.

Selection of best-value

In this approach, the project owner considers both the offer price and the qualifications of the contractor to find the most effective combination of cost and expertise.

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A study of the relationship between Design (shape) and cost in the construction industry

In all the construction projects, the designs of the buildings to be constructed are planned in the pre-construction phase, and based on these designs further activities are carried on. There are direct linkages and relationships between the design (shape) and the cost incurred by the project in the construction sector. In this article, we will analyse this relationship and try to understand different aspects related to it.

Design Variables

Any design of a construction project, which is finalized, can be expressed in terms of many variables. These variables are known as design variables and they have direct cost implications. The relationship between these variables and cost can be understood and a direct forecast of the tentative costs can be done based on these variables.

Some of the common design variables that have direct cost implications are as follows:

1. Plane Shape

2. Complexity of Shape

3. Building’s Size

4. The average height of Storey

5. Number of storeys

6. Building envelope

7. Circulation space

8. Building’s grouping

9. Glazed wall percentage

10. Span of floor

11. Electrical and Mechanical Services

12. Constructability

Now we will have a look at all these factors one by one.

Plane Shape

By plane shape, we mean the shape of the plan view. In simple cases, the plan shapes can be square or rectangular. The cost of shapes with a lower perimeter to area ratio will be lower. For example, the shape of a square plan will have a low cost than the shape of the rectangular plan.

The shape of the building

The shape or the design of the building is directly linked with the cost incurred in constructing this building. The simpler the shape of the building the low will be the project cost. On the other hand, the complex is the shape or design, the higher will be the project cost.

For example, we can consider two projects with different plans A and B. Both the plans A and B have the same area but there are many irregularities and complex shapes that exist in plan B rather than Plan A. Hence it can be concluded here that the total cost will be higher for plan B as compared to plan A. This is due to the simplicity of Plan A, which is lacking in Plan B.

There are two common types of shapes, on which the buildings can be made:

1. Regular shapes

2. Irregular shapes

The regular shapes are simple shapes like square or rectangle and the irregular shapes are comprised of other complex shapes. The cost implication of constructing the building on these shapes is simple. For regular shapes, we will find that the cost incurred is less as compared to the irregular shapes. This is due to the fact that the irregular shapes have higher perimeters than the regular shapes and it is difficult to carve irregular shapes as compared to the regular shapes. Hence, it can be concluded that the cost of construction is low for regular shapes and is higher for irregular shapes.

Size of the building

The size of the building is another important parameter that has a direct relationship with the cost of construction. Buildings of the same shapes and different sizes can be taken into consideration for this. The overall cost per unit area is smaller for larger buildings than the smaller ones. This is due to the fact that the cost and other parameters don’t increase proportionally with the size. We are bound to incur smaller costs in case of the buildings of larger sizes when we calculate the cost per unit area.

For example, we have two rectangular buildings, A and B. Building B is having a 4 times plan area as compared to building A. In this case, when we calculate the per-unit cost of the two buildings, we will find that building B has a lower cost per unit area than building A. Hence, we have found that size has a direct relationship with the cost of the building.

The average height of Storey

The cost implication of the building to be constructed is also related to the height of the Storey of the buildings. The higher is the height the higher will be the cost to construct it. If we compare two buildings with different storey heights, we will find that the cost to construct the building with higher storey height is more as compared to the lower height one.

Number of storeys

The number of storeys is also directly linked with the cost. The more is the number of storeys the more will be the cost. This is due to the fact that more efforts and labour cost is required to make more storeys, especially on height. IF we have two buildings one 4 storey and the other with 8 storey, we will find that the cost of an 8 storey building is much higher than the cost of 4 storey building.

The envelope of the building

The envelope of the building is for example an important design variable. The simple will be the envelope of the building, the low will be the cost. For example, the cost of the square envelope will be the minimum, when we compare it to the other shapes.

Other Factors

There are many other design variables having an impact on the cost of the building. For example, the circulation cost is linked to the overall cost. The lower is the circulation space of the building, the lower will be the overall cost. The mechanical and electrical services are also related to the cost of building getting construction. The extent of usage of these services determines the actual cost of the building. The percentage of the glazed wall is another design variable that is important and determines the overall cost of the building. The lower will be the percentage of the glazed wall, the lower will be the cost.

Apart from all the factors discussed above, the constructability of the building is also a big determinant in the overall cost of construction. The higher the constructability of the building, the easier it is to construct it and the lower will be the cost.

Indices to represent complex shapes of buildings

In scientific studies, there are many indexes that are used to describe the shape complexities of various buildings. Some of these are as follows:

• W/F index: Wall/Floor index.

• LBI index: Length/Breadth index.

• PSI index: Plan/Shape index.

• Building planning “m” index.

• VOLM (volume/block compactness) index.

• Cook’s JC (shape-effectiveness) index.

• POP (plan compactness ratio) index.

• Optimum envelope area

All the above indexes are used to describe the shape or design of the building as well as its design features. These indexes are represented as numerical values and their exact measure will define the Complex features of the design of the building to be constructed.


Thus, we have seen in detail the different design variables which are direct determinants in the construction cost of the buildings. These factors or design of the building is directly related to the estimated cost of the building. We have also seen different aspects related to the design of the buildings and indices to represent the complexity of the building design.

All these aspects should be kept in mind at the time of planning in the preconstruction phase. They should be taken care of in the project management part. The design software like CCIS or Construction Cost Information System can be used to take care of these design variables in real-time.