Construction project managers help in all stages of your construction project, starting from the very first step. Typically paid a percentage of a total project cost, they are part of the design and planning process and help ensure seamless communication between the design parties and the construction team. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, their scope of work includes preparing cost estimates, budgets and work timetables; interpreting and explaining contracts and technical information to other professionals; reporting work progress and budget to clients; collaborating with architects, engineers and other construction pros; selecting subcontractors and scheduling and coordinating their tasks; responding to work delays, emergencies and other problems; and ensuring compliance with legal requirements, building and safety codes, and other regulations.
The work of construction project managers may seem very similar to that of general contractors, but there are some critical differences. One difference is that, unlike most general contractors, project managers are not engaged in the actual construction — they are onsite overseeing the work of subcontractors. Another key difference is that project managers are hired during the design phase, while general contractors are hired after plans have been made. The project manager is generally paid a percentage of the total project cost, while the general contractor is more typically paid according to the bid they gave to build your project.
Carpenters are skilled craftsmen who build things out of wood. Depending on what the carpenter builds, they may be referred to by various names. A framer is a carpenter who puts up the framing on a house. A trim or finish carpenter installs the finishing touches of prefabricated or custom trim and detail work once a house has been built and the walls are up. A furniture maker or woodworker builds furniture — such as tables, beds and dressers — out of wood. A cabinetmaker is a carpenter who builds custom and semi-custom wood cabinets. If you’re having a home built or remodeled, your general contractor will either provide or subcontract the carpentry work for the framing, cabinets and trim. You can hire a carpenter directly to update the trim in your home, build you a piece of custom furniture, or repair or replace your wood cabinets.
Carpenters are trained to work with wood. That means that any part of your home that is built of wood is very likely to involve a carpenter. Framing carpenters will put up the wood that makes up the bones of your home. If you’re having a wood floor installed, it may be done by a carpenter — although being a carpenter is not a requirement to install flooring. Trim, baseboards, wainscoting and any other detail work is typically installed by a finish carpenter. The wood boxes of custom cabinets will be built and installed by a carpenter.
Although all of these components in your new or remodeled home are built by carpenters who specialize in building things with wood, a general contractor typically oversees construction of the entire house. If the general contractor is also a carpenter skilled in all these areas, they may well construct your entire home. More often, the general contractor subcontracts out the various building stages to different individuals, including carpenters.
It’s important to know if your project requires work by a licensed professional, as licensing laws can vary by state, locality, and job details. You can find general licensing information online at the government websites that handle occupational licensing for a given profession in your state or location. Some states designate a project cost over which you have to hire a licensed contractor. To find qualified licensed contractors, search your state’s licensing board. For example, in California, the Department of Consumer Affairs operates a searchable database through the Contractors State License Board. In some states, contracting licenses are provided at a regional level. You can find links to specific databases on BRB Publications’ Occupational Licensing page. Red flags that a contractor may not be licensed or may be providing an expired or false license number are unreasonably low bids or a request for complete payment upfront. For more, check out our tips for smart hiring on Thumbtack.
You may choose to hire a construction project manager for your residential or commercial project. For the hands-on homeowner who wants to be involved in home construction but isn’t comfortable hiring subcontractors, a construction project manager can oversee these relationships and supervise labor. Typically, construction project managers charge a fee that is a flat percentage of the total construction project cost. This may range from 10 percent to 15 percent, depending on the company and the services they provide. This means a $30,000 home remodel project would have a construction project management fee of $3,000-$4,500. Hiring a construction project manager generally precludes the markup on subcontractor labor charged by a general contractor. The drawback to this choice is that, unlike a general contractor, the construction project manager won’t be financially responsible for the work of the subcontractors. For larger projects, you may hire a construction project manager who will also hire a general contractor. This provides the benefits of the general contractor along with the management services of the project manager, who will be on board from the beginning. The construction project manager will be involved in the design phase and work with the architects and the building crew, facilitating a smoother overall process.
For more, check out our tips for smart hiring on Thumbtack.