From Project Manager to Site Manager

by | Oct 4, 2019 | News

We changed one thing in 2019 which had an enormous impact on our performance as a sustainable building company.

After beginning as a sustainable, building company in 2014 we structured the way most builders do with a Project manager running multiple sites.

We quickly realised the nature of our work needed serious attention.
The detail involved in sustainable construction is so critical in making a home truly sustainable.

That .01% of a project goes such a long way to making a sustainable home.
There’s so many things to cover off being a sustainable home builder, everything from preventing construction run off going down the drain, have few or no penetrations through a building’s envelope to installing the right weather seals on doors.

Early on we made the decision to employ a Foreman on each site that would operate underneath the Project manager.
This worked rather well but there began another problem. There’s an old saying that says ‘The fastest way to starve a horse is to assign two people feed it.’ When two people are responsible for feeding the horse, each think the other is feeding it.
We certainly saw the truth to that but we persisted with this structure because it did get some really great results.

But, at the end of 2018 we weren’t content with the efficiency and searched harder to uncover the best practice to deliver sustainable homes.

We continued reading books, listening to podcasts and we networked out little butts off!

The books and podcasts were too broad and didn’t get into the nitty gritty and most of the builder’s we spoke to were in the same boat, they weren’t quite sure how their operations should be setup.

We knew we had a bunch of great foreman.
We were told so by every Architect and client we worked with. Honestly, I’ve been told that about all our Foreman at one point or another.

So, we decided to change shape and get our Foreman to step up to the role of Site Manager which the guys were all keen to do.

We removed middle management and setup with myself as Construction manager overseeing the Site Manager’s and we haven’t looked back.

Our Site manager’s only ever run 1-2 sites, they are on the tools and also have full responsibility over the project, working closely with the Contracts Administrator who’s based in the office.

Of course for every action there’s a reaction and the only reactions we’ve had from this move have been positive, and they’ve been;

Increased Quality
Giving the Site manager’s full ownership of a project has meant there’s no more passing the buck. They understand all work directly reflects on them. Of course increased quality only happens when you have guys that are proud of the work they do.

Increased Efficiency
Who’s ever heard of a builder finishing a project on time let only early!? The first project we undertook with this new structure was completed 3 months early! You heard right, not 3 weeks, 3 months early. This in itself causes other problems… We need more projects to keep the guys busy, a good problem to have.

Stronger Awareness of Sustainability
Contractors mean well, they really do. But, the construction industry is slow to change. With Site Manager’s being so close to the action things can be picked up really quickly such as commonly overlooked considerations with waste management and general sustainability principles of building a home.

The list of positive changes goes on and on including improved team buy in and customer satisfaction.

This one change we made to SHM at the beginning of 2019 has proved to pay huge dividends for team members, clients, contractors and our environment generally. We’re looking to an even bigger 2020.


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