If you’re like most people just beginning the process of designing a new building, you’re experiencing a mixture of anticipation, excitement, and perhaps even feeling a little overwhelmed. The anticipation and excitement are all part and parcel with beginning work on the building you’ve envisioned, but that sense of feeling overwhelmed can arise from the sheer number of professionals necessary for construction to run smoothly. Fortunately, one professional stands out among the rest for their ability to perform many essential design and construction duties—the construction supervisor.
What Is a Construction Supervisor?
In general terms, a licensed construction supervisor does almost exactly what one would think—supervises the construction of a building or home. In reality, however, the scope of a construction supervisor’s job is more complicated. For the most part, a construction supervisor represents the owner throughout the process of designing and building a project and ensures work is completed as scheduled.
While representing the owner on the building site itself, licensed construction supervisors provide crucial oversight for the subcontractors performing work on the project. While in this role, construction supervisors:
- Ensure work is completed correctly.
- Direct work so that it occurs according to the construction plan.
- Keep subcontractor work on schedule.
With the help of a construction supervisor, you can keep your building project on schedule, eliminating frustrating—and sometimes costly—delays. What’s more, construction supervisors bring a wealth of knowledge to the construction process, enabling them to act in your stead to ensure subcontractor work is high-quality and on-plan. You’ll still have the authority to make the major decisions, but your construction supervisor will transmit and enforce your requests in a way that makes sense.
Why Are Construction Supervisors Crucial to the Design Process?
One key responsibility of the licensed construction supervisor is consistently overlooked during the planning stages—oversight during the design process. Far too many prospective building owners envision the building of their dreams, only to find out the design is either unsafe, prohibitively expensive, or otherwise not conducive to the construction process; these issues can lead to costly changes, delays, and even inspections failures and fines. So, how can a construction supervisor help?
During design, a construction supervisor can ensure the decisions made will result in a construction process—and eventual building—that is safe for the workers and will remain within regulations. Your construction supervisor can isolate potential issues during the design phase and use extensive industry knowledge to troubleshoot before construction begins. Risk reduction during design results in a safer, more efficient construction phase.
One essential function of your construction supervisor during this time is coordinating design decisions with any design professionals to reduce the risks mentioned above. These efforts will result in the construction supervisor crafting a health and safety plan. This plan will inform design as well as guide your overall construction plan and its implementation.
Additional Roles of a Construction Supervisor
Although on-site supervision and design coordination are a construction supervisor’s major functions, you’ll find that these versatile professionals can provide even more benefits to you. To begin, many construction supervisors can act as general contractors and assist you with locating and hiring all the subcontractors you’ll need to complete construction. Then, they can evaluate and review the bids, schedule the necessary jobs, and see each through to completion.
Another area in which construction supervisors prove their worth is in handling the majority of the paperwork and financial discussions on the job site. Your supervisor can assist with permitting, facilitate inspections, and schedule material delivery. Even better, construction supervisors are often proficient at helping you evaluate cost estimates for each subcontractor and may also be able to negotiate a better price with certain vendors and construction professionals.
Do You Need a Licensed Construction Supervisor?
In many states, including Massachusetts, you can hire a licensed construction supervisor to oversee the construction of pretty much any building under 35,000 cubic feet. This includes single-family and multi-unit dwellings as well as buildings of many other types, accessory structures, and any associated renovations. However, it’s essential to check the type of professional licensing each individual holds—with a restricted license, the scale of the buildings allowed is a bit more limited.
If your building is over 35,000 cubic feet in size, you can still utilize a licensed construction supervisor for many of the purposes listed above. However, you’ll need to seek the input of a registered design professional like an architect or engineer. In most cases, these professionals can work together to obtain the necessary permits and provide proper oversight.
Overall, a licensed construction supervisor is the workhorse of the construction and design industries. Depending on the individual, there’s hardly an aspect of the process that wouldn’t benefit by professional oversight; be aware that the more tasks you assign your supervisor, the more cost will be involved. However, in the end, any additional cost is often well worth constructing the building you’ve envisioned safely, efficiently, and to your quality expectations.