By James Kereri
In the recent past, the Kenyan construction industry has experienced a number of challenges with other perennial problems still persisting. In 2016 alone, a number of houses collapsed with loss of lives being reported.
The challenges of delays and cost overruns still remain a challenge to players in the industry. In light of this, there is need for a more analysis into the professionalism and best practices in the management of the Kenyan construction sector.
Construction management as a profession has not been much exploited even though the first graduates from Kenyan Universities were out in the early 2000’s. This can be attributed to the fact that the profession is not well understood or the traditional players in the industry are not ready to accept change. Currently construction management graduates find themselves in a dilemma as they try to find space in a rigid environment which in fact is supposed to be dynamic for it to improve its performance. Therefore, there is need to understand this profession and their place in construction.
Construction management started in the 1960’s in the United States of America. This was a result of the industry responding to the issues of delays and cost overruns especially after the economic depression after world war II.
The profession has recorded tremendous progress since then and found its way in Kenya around 2000. Since its introduction as a program being taught in the University, there has not been any progress since then as the program has not been well understood. Some believe that construction management is an extension of a constructor while others believe it’s project management.
Construction management is not project management. However, a construction manager can hold and assume the duties of project management in a construction project. Two distinct features of a construction manager are; construction management as a practice and construction management as a project delivery method.
In construction management practice, a construction manager is hired by either a project owner or contractor and assumes the role of coordinating and managing personnel at the site.
At this role, the construction manager will request changes to the project, meeting with project consultants and other project parties. For construction manager as a project delivery method, a construction manager either as an individual or as firm is hired by the project owner to take the role of the general contractor.
Also, the construction manager assuming this role can also be hired to represent the owner and will be responsible for hiring all parties in the project including consultants, contractors and subcontractors.
Construction manager is trained seven key areas which if well utilized can be very beneficial in the context of Kenya. This profession if utilized well will bridge the gap that currently exist between the architect/engineer, the owner and the contractors This requires changes in policy to accommodate this emerging and promising profession in the country. These seven core areas include:
- CM Professional Practice
II. CM Project Management
III. Cost Management
IV. Time Management
V. Quality Management
VI. Contract Administration
VII. Safety Management
Finally, a construction manager has a change to work in the project from conception to handover. In the planning stage, the construction manager is involved with architects and engineers, through budgeting where they engage the estimators (quantity surveyors).
Construction managers can also coordinate the acquisition of permits, hire contractors, lead schedules, and be in charge of the project progress when acting as the owner representative.
The writer is a researcher based in the United States.