construction project managers in kenya

Roles Of A Construction Project Manager In Kenya

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Curious about the roles and responsibilities of a construction project manager?

Going by the Kenya Construction Industry Databook, building developers are now more informed than ever before – and, as such – they’re increasingly involving construction project managers in their developments. 

Recent trends show that construction project management firms are progressively coming in to bridge the gap between real estate developers, contractors, and conventional construction consultants (architects, engineers, quantity surveyors, etc). 

That notwithstanding, however, it turns out that a majority of local builders are still unsure about where a construction project manager fits. While the basic roles of quantity surveyors, engineers, and architects in Kenya are understood by many, the same cannot be said of construction project managers. 

As such, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to clear up any confusion on the professional duties and responsibilities of construction project managers in Kenya. This is the guide for you if you’re wondering:

  • Who is a construction project manager?
  • Whether you need a construction project manager for your building project. 
  • When you ought to engage a construction project management firm. 
  • What to expect from a construction project manager from the beginning to the end of your building project. 
  • What’s the difference between an architect and a project manager? 

Who Is A Construction Project Manager?

construction project managers roles and responsibilities

A construction project manager plans, coordinates, and facilitates the implementation of a construction project – while ensuring that everything is delivered on time, within budget, and to the expected quality standards. 

So, in a way, you could say that hiring a construction project management firm is a strategic move for managing risk. They’ll come in to oversee all the intricate facets of your project from pre-construction through to post-construction. 

But that might then beg the question – what’s the difference between a construction project manager and an architect? And would you really need both professionals in your building project? 

Architects In Kenya vs Construction Project Management Firms

While an architect is the lead designer of your development project, a construction project manager plays the role of the overall lead consultant from planning to project closeout. 

What this means is, your architectural firm will:

  • Oversee the entire design process. 
  • Collaborate closely with other project designers – including engineers, landscape architects, and interior designers – to come up with designs that collectively meet your project requirements. 
  • Define all the building specifications throughout the project. 

Then the construction project manager, on the other hand, is expected to administrate all the day-to-day tasks on behalf of the client. This entails:

  • Scheduling and tracking all the activities related to the project. 
  • Setting the project budget and aligning all the tasks/resources with it. 
  • Supervising the construction works to ensure quality. 
  • Managing all the project risks that arise along the way. 
  • Advising the client about their legal and contractual obligations. 
  • Formulating and managing all the contracts – including the ones signed with key service providers. 

So, in short, you could say that the construction project manager is more like the point man who coordinates all the project stakeholders, resources, and activities. They are the ones who’ll manage the risks even when you’re building remotely from the diaspora.  

As it turns out, even BORAQS (The Board of Registration of Architects and Quantity Surveyors) itself endorses this project approach. In one of its professional training seminars, its representatives used the following chart to illustrate where project managers fit in the standard project organization structure. 

architects in Kenya vs PMs

You’ll notice that the construction project manager acts as the principal link between the client/developer and all the service providers.

And with that said, here’s a detailed breakdown of the CPM duties from the start to the end of the building project. 

What To Expect From A Construction Project Manager In Your Kenyan Project 

A typical construction project is made up of four primary stages: 

  • Planning 
  • Pre-construction
  • Construction
  • Post-construction

It’s your construction project manager who should strategically guide you through each of these stages by: 

#1. Duties During The Planning Stage 

construction project management firm

1.0. Needs Analysis

  • Reviewing your business plan. 
  • Undertaking site appraisals. 
  • Performing case studies on developments that are similar to your proposed project. 
  • Analyzing and determining your project requirements.

1.1. Viability Assessment and Cost Analysis

  • Identifying all the possible approaches that you could use to implement the building project – public-private partnership, joint venture, construction loan funded, etc. 
  • Conducting a comprehensive feasibility study and then preparing a report that covers the market, technical, financial, and legal aspects of your proposed project. 
  • Coming up with a cash flow forecast that’ll help you make informed investment decisions.
  • Estimating the total cost of construction
  • Predicting your possible project returns using profitability parameters such as Return on Investment (ROI), Return on Equity (ROE), and Internal Rate of Return (IRR). 
  • Leveraging market benchmarks to prepare future projections of the indicative annual profit and loss statements for the proposed development. 

1.2. Target Setting

  • Ratifying the options that best deliver your project requirements. 
  • Drawing up the project execution plan and master schedule. 
  • Setting up the project control structures. 
  • Developing a detailed budget for all the stages of your construction project
  • Composing the design briefs that’ll guide your project architects and engineers. 

1.3. Stakeholder Identification

  • Helping you identify and appoint the most suitable design consultants – architects, engineers, landscape architects, etc. 
  • Preparing and administering the contracts to be issued to project architects and engineers in Kenya
  • Guiding you on the roles and expectations of all the stakeholders who’ll be engaged throughout the project. 

#2. Duties During The Pre-Construction Stage

analyzing building plans from architectural firms in kenya

2.1. Design Coordination

  • Defining the design deliverables to be met by the appointed architects and engineers. 
  • Following up on the designs to ensure that are well-aligned with your project requirements and budget. 
  • Conducting value engineering on all the designed elements and proposed materials. Eg – your construction project manager will compare various suggested roofing materials to pick the best fit based on cost and quality. 
  • Advising you on when and how much to pay each design consultant. 
  • Collating all the architectural drawings, structural drawings, MEP drawings, etc. 
  • Coordinating with the architects, engineers, and NEMA experts to have their drawings/reports approved by the relevant statutory bodies. 

2.2. Procurement Planning

  • Reviewing all the building materials and specifications to establish the true cost of the project. 
  • Drawing up detailed Bills of Quantities to be used as pre-tender estimates. 
  • Breaking down the Bills of Quantities into a comprehensive schedule of materials. This is where you get to determine, for instance, the required number of cement bags, reinforcement bars, roofing sheets, etc. Hence, you can think of it as more of a shopping list for building materials. 

2.3. Tender Management and Contracting

  • Preparing construction contract documents in line with the design specifications, scope of works, project execution plan, cash flow forecast, project budget, and legal requirements.
  • Establishing the criteria that’ll be used to evaluate interested building contractors.  
  • Drafting and compiling the tender documents – unpriced BQs, contract drawings, conditions of the contract, tender forms, tender data sheets (TDS), instructions to tenderers (ITT), etc. 
  • Inviting interested building contractors to submit their bids for the project. Each contractor is expected to review the architectural drawings, structural drawings, plus building specifications, and then fill in the unpriced Bills of Quantities with their proposed rates. 
  • Evaluating all the bids submitted by various interested contractors. 
  • Identifying the most qualified contractors based on the pre-determined evaluation criteria. 
  • Writing a comprehensive tender report that details the tendering procedures that were followed, the contractor evaluation criteria, plus appointment recommendations. 
  • Negotiating works contracts with qualified building contractors. 
  • Overseeing the signing of the construction contract agreements with the best contractors

#3. Duties During The Construction Stage

construction project manager roles when building

3.1. Contract Administration

  • On-site enforcement of the contract.
  • Ensuring that each stakeholder understands their contractual obligations. 
  • Mobilizing the appointed building contractors and construction consultants. 
  • Sanctioning the contractors’ performance bonds and construction all risk insurance covers
  • Coordinating correspondence between the contractors, the suppliers, and the design team. 
  • Furnishing contractors with the requisite production drawings and illustrations of the construction details. 
  • Monitoring the progress of the construction works against the project programme.
  • Guiding you on when and how to pay your building contractors. 
  • Reviewing all the variation applications made by the contractor. 
  • Ratifying any change order requests made by the client or the design team (architects, engineers, etc.)
  • Reviewing and resolving any arising contractual disputes between the stakeholders. 

3.2. Quality Assurance

  • Full-time on-site supervision of the construction works. 
  • Developing the Quality Assurance/Quality Control (QA/QC) plans. 
  • Conducting material/quality tests and then forwarding the subsequent test reports to the contractors, the design team, and the client.
  • Assessing the qualifications and skill levels of the workers at the site. 
  • Scheduling and coordinating progress review meetings between the contractors and the design team (architects, engineers, etc). 
  • Conducting quality reviews with the contractors, architects, and engineers at each project milestone.
  • Following up on all the instructions issued to contractors (by the project architects and engineers) to ensure compliance.
  • Reviewing all the arising site queries and then relaying them to the appropriate stakeholders (architects, engineers, or the client.)

3.3. Cost Management

  • Supervising the procurement processes. 
  • Receiving and reviewing all the contractors’ payment applications.
  • Measuring and valuing the construction works and materials on the site to determine the precise amounts that should be paid to the contractors at each payment stage. 
  • Determining the retention fund amounts at each payment stage.
  • Issuing payment certificates to the contractors – Interim Certificate, plus the Certificate of Practical Completion.
  • Tracking all the alterations made to the original building design and/or the construction works, and then adjusting the budget projections accordingly.
  • Representing you (the client) in progress review meetings with project financiers and other external stakeholders.

3.4. Risk Management 

  • Predicting, identifying, and managing the time, cost, and quality risks. Eg – the construction project manager should be able to review and minimize the impact of market fluctuations on the overall building costs
  • Setting up security measures to prevent pilferage of the construction materials
  • Flagging up and resolving issues that may trigger project delays, disputes, or resource wastage. 
  • Setting up strategic plans to recover any lost time. 

3.5. Compliance Monitoring

  • Applying for NCA approval.
  • Developing the method statement 
  • Evaluating the construction works to ensure legal compliance throughout the project.
  • Administering the appropriate Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) plans at the construction site.
  • Assessing trade contractors for compliance with the health and safety policies.

3.6. Documentation and Record-Keeping

  • Setting up the structures for project reporting and communication. 
  • Documenting the minutes for all the official and unofficial site meetings. 
  • Recording all the material deliveries made to the site. 
  • Monitoring and recording the usage of materials and resources at the site. 
  • Providing and maintaining the project’s cash flow and expenditure statements.
  • Preparing and maintaining site progress reports. 
  • Collating all the receipts of the payments made to suppliers and contractors. 

#4. Duties During The Post-Construction Stage

construction project manager doing building inspection

4.1. Defects Management

  • Conducting comprehensive facility testing and building commissioning. 
  • Collating proof of defects liability insurance from your contractors, subcontractors, architects, and engineers. 
  • Flagging up both patent and latent defects in your construction project. 
  • Supervising the defects mitigation process. 
  • Reviewing and confirming the accuracy of all the warranties issued for materials and equipment. 
  • Issuing the Certificate of Making Good Defects to contractors, and advising you on the payment obligations. 
  • Applying for the Certificate of Occupancy from the local authorities. 

4.2. Cost Appraisal

  • Preparing the projects’ final accounts after measuring and valuing all the building works and materials. 
  • Reviewing and certifying the final bills for vendors, suppliers, and contractors.

4.3. Handover Documentation

  • Collating “As-Built” drawings from the architects and engineers. 
  • Liaising with the contractors, suppliers, architects, and engineers to prepare comprehensive Operation and Maintenance (O&M) manuals. 
  • Developing the project close-out report. 
  • Handing over the completed project in line with the Plan for Use Strategy. 

Over To You

And there you have it. 

From this schedule of roles, it’s evident that while hiring a construction project manager will cost you money, the benefits far outweigh the costs. You can think of them as the party that’ll safeguard the huge investment you’ll be making on your building project. 

The Integrum Construction Project Management firm itself was started to address the vacuum that existed in the traditional framework for construction projects. 

Our founders – who happen to be architects, engineers, and quantity surveyors – observed that the structure back then exposed Kenyan architects, engineers, and developers to huge risks. Both building developers and designers lacked a proper quality assurance system that would perpetually protect their interests on-site. 

Take, for instance, the issue of material testing.  If you check out the PPRA Standard Form of Contracts or the 1999 JBCC Standard Form of Contract, you’ll notice that the traditional practice has been to leave the bulk of the technical material testing duties to the contractors. 

Now, it doesn’t take an expert to figure out what happens if you give a profit-driven contractor the privilege of quality testing themselves.

Certainly not the type of risk you’d want to be dealing with on an investment project as capital-intensive as construction. Protect your hard-earned money today by engaging a bonafide construction project manager


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