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Construction Manager vs Project Manager: What’s the Difference?

2 Workers on a Construction Site

There are subtle differences between a construction manager and a project manager. In some locations, these terms are interchangeable, and in others, they are separate positions. We’re going to look at what each position’s responsibilities are, then look more closely at their differences. Pro tip: both positions use construction bidding sites.

Construction manager responsibilities

  • Act as the owner’s advocate on all project decisions
  • Assist in project planning and scheduling, including the order work is to be performed and ensuring that trade contractors have enough time to finish their work
  • Oversee reporting on budget and schedule, ensuring that any changes are communicated to the owner as soon as possible
  • Daily communication with project team members to assist with conflict resolution and provide information from the owner’s perspective
  • Mitigate risks, such as safety, cost, and changes in work
  • Report on job progress to owner
  • Negotiate contracts with general contractors and trade contractors
  • Ensure work is performed per project specifications and local code requirements

Project manager responsibilities

  • Overall project planning and logistics
  • Provide and manage project schedule, including trade work
  • Monitor safety on the project, letting contractors know when they have violated safety policies and consulting with contractors on safety matters
  • Manage and track the project budget
  • Daily communication with project team members and attendance at regularly scheduled update meetings
  • Mitigate risks, such as safety, cost, and changes to the work
  • Manage and schedule project resources, such as labor, materials, and equipment
  • Track and price proposed changes to the work
  • Project anticipated costs to complete the project scope of work
  • Report on project progress to ownership and construction manager

Differences between a construction manager and a project manager

What does a construction project manager do? Construction managers work closely with the project owner to oversee an entire development or group of projects. They often act as the owner’s representative during the project and assist the owner in responding to daily communications and interpreting reports from the field. Their goal is to protect the owner from added costs and unnecessary schedule changes, while looking out for the overall interests of the project.
Construction managers may manage several commercial construction projects that are similar in scope or a development composed of several projects. For example, someone in construction management may be responsible for multiple projects in a school district or other jurisdiction. Their job is to monitor each project in respect to the overall goals of the development or group of projects. Project managers are generally assigned to small numbers of construction site projects, so they can manage the details of each one effectively.
Project management is more closely tied to the work being performed on a daily basis and is often found on site. A construction project manager is monitoring daily construction activities and reports on actual construction progress to the construction manager or project owner.
Often the project manager reports to the construction manager, who then sends the construction work information on to the owner for review or response. The construction manager functions as the owner’s eyes and ears on the project, while the project manager is more focused on getting the project completed.


Both construction managers and project managers perform similar tasks when it comes to managing the essential phases of any construction project. Generally speaking, a construction manager has a higher-level view of a project or group of projects than a project manager. Construction managers work closely with project owners to ensure that all their goals for each project are being met. Project managers focus on schedule and budget for individual projects.
Regardless of which position you may fall into within the construction industry, PlanHub’s free general contractor software and subcontractor bidding site will transform your workflow and make sure you’re getting the best jobs possible.

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