- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
Last edited 16 Aug 2018
Management contracting is a procurement route in which the works are constructed by a number of different works contractors who are contracted to a management contractor. The management contractor is generally appointed by the client early in the design process so that their experience can be used to improve the cost and buildability of proposals as they develop, as well as to advise on packaging (and the risks of interfaces).
It also enables some works contracts to be tendered earlier than others, and sometimes, even before the design is completed (for example, piling might commence whilst the detailed design of above ground works continues). This can shorten the time taken to complete the project, but does mean that there will be price uncertainty until the design is complete and all contracts have been let.
See also: Management contracting - pros and cons.
Management contracting differs from construction management in that management contractors contract works contractors direct, whereas construction managers only manage the trade contracts, the contracts are placed by the client.
In legal terms, the management contractor is acting as a principal whereas the construction manager is acting as an agent. This means that on a management contract, the client only has one contract to administer (whereas with construction management there can be many contracts for the client to administer), but they might want warranties from the works contractors so that they can make a direct claim against them, for example, if the management contractor becomes insolvent.
The agreement between client and management contractor is likely to cover both pre-construction and construction activities, with a notice to proceed between the two, before which works contracts cannot be let. Collateral warranties are also likely to be required (for example, for purchasers, tenants or funders). In addition, the client is likely to define the works contract terms and any requirement for works contract warranties.
There is a body of opinion that believes that if a management contractor operating on a cost plus fee arrangement pursues a works contractor in court for non-performance, the management contractor is unable to prove loss and damages. This is because the loss is simply passed on to the client, and so it is the client that has incurred the damage. This has increased the tendency for clients to require direct warranties from each works contractor.
A management contractor might be reimbursed on the basis of fixed or variable costs (the works contract costs), plus either a percentage fee, a fixed fee, or on a target-cost basis. The terms of the appointment must be clear about what is to be provided by the management contractor (such as the provision of site facilities) and whether activities constitute pre-construction or construction services.
The services of a management contractor might include:
- Advising on the development of the brief (if appointed at this stage).
- Advising on appointments (such as site inspectors).
- Advising on the feasibility, interfaces, buildability, cost and programming of the design.
- Advising on statutory approvals.
- Defining key performance indicators for works contractors.
- Advising on the need for mock ups, samples, tests and inspections.
- Acting as the principal contractor.
- Cost planning and cost control.
- Preparing a construction programme and defining methods of working on site.
- Advising on the packaging of production information.
- Tendering works contracts.
- Consenting to sub-contracting of work by works contractors.
- Arranging for site accommodation, welfare facilities, fences, hoardings, roads and walkways, drainage, power and water supply.
- Co-ordinating setting out.
- Arranging labour for certain site activities (such as cleaning).
- Managing site inspectors.
- Co-ordinating the release of information.
- Managing and co-ordinating works contracts, including acting as contract administrator, carrying out inspections, issuing instructions and certificates etc.
- Co-ordinating the work of statutory undertakers.
- Witnessing tests and co-ordinating commissioning.
- Collating as-built information, building owner's manual, building users handbook, project handbook, health and safety file, pre-construction information, site waste management plan and construction phase plan.
- Monitoring key performance indicators.
- Managing the site.
- Chairing site progress meetings and preparing progress reports for the client.
A decision needs to be made as to whether the client wishes to retain the services of both an independent cost consultant and a management contractor or to transfer cost planning, reporting and cost control as a service to be provided by the management contractor.
A judgement has to be made on the competence and experience of the management contractor's proposed quantity surveying and cost estimating team and whether the client has a competent individual to police the financial aspects of the management contractor’s consultancy agreement. Sometimes, cost consultants who were appointed prior to the concept stage, advising on budgets and design concepts, have been retained because they have the confidence of the design team and client.
The most important aspect of selecting the management contractor is the quality and cost of the project management team they put forward. The team leader, the financial manager and the planner are crucial throughout the process as is the field production manager during the construction stage. The management contractor's staff costs during construction are likely to be between 5% and 7% of construction costs, but the quality and effectiveness of staff could easily change the financial outcome of entire project by 10%.
A mock meeting with consultants and the proposed management contractor's senior project team members can be an effective means of discovering how a team performs under pressure. Obviously this should only be done when the candidates have been whittled down to two or three. This technique often produces a unanimous verdict in terms of selection.
 Find out more
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Collateral warranties.
- Construction contract.
- Construction manager.
- Construction manager at-risk.
- Contract administrator.
- Design management.
- Early contractor involvement.
- Major project construction contract.
- Management Building Contract.
- Management contract: outline work plan.
- Management contracting - pros and cons.
- Managing the procurement process.
- Open-book accounting.
- Procurement route.
- Trade contractor.
- Two-stage tender.
- Types of contractor.
- Works contractor.
Featured articles and news
What should be evaluated to assess building performance?
BIM standards BS 1192:2007+A2:2016 and PAS 1192-2:2013 have been superceded.
What is biophilic design and how can it increase wellbeing?
80 experts come up with the top 7 mistakes the industry makes with BREEAM.
Compliance cannot be verified by inspection on delivery.
Some electric cars have batteries that give a range of over 350 miles.
Assembling, curating, caring for, and designing the future.
A sensitive approach to renovating a building of historic stature.
UK energy policy uncertainty as Welsh project put on hold
What collaborative working achieves and how it can be put in place.
BSRIA publishes the 2019 edition of its small but concise annual databook.
Using QSAND to measure the performance of disaster response.
What U-values are, why they matter and how they are calculated.