7 Common Mistakes Made by Construction Managers on Steel Building Projects

Published October 18, 2017 by Whirlwind Team

steel building construction manager

You don’t need us to tell you how hard it can be to run a construction project or how complex a steel building project is. It’s mind-boggling the number of details you need to monitor. With so much going on, the potential for mistakes is sizable, but it’s your job to make sure the mistakes don’t happen.

Before you can mitigate or eliminate mistakes, you have to identify them. To provide a shortcut to determining the issues to watch, here is a list of common mistakes made by construction management during steel building projects.

1. Inattention to safety

Not only is this a common mistake, but it is also a potentially deadly one as well. OSHA shows that over 4,800 workers died or were killed on the job in 2015. As the number of construction projects expands, that number will also rise.

More construction requires more construction workers, many of whom are inexperienced in the industry. The construction manager must enforce safety training, the use of safety equipment, and safety practices around the jobsite.

OSHA maintains a set of safety standards for the construction industry that includes information for managers.  You should also have your own safety policy incorporating the OSHA regulations.

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2. People problems

There would be a lot fewer problems if you didn’t have to deal with people, but where would you be without them? Unfortunately, you occasionally have one worker who causes issues with one or more members of the team. If you don’t deal with him, the entire project could be undermined by one person’s bad behavior.

The same is true of hiring someone who does not have the skills to perform in the role for which he was hired. Productivity lags and costs mount as this person's work is redone or the slack is picked up by others.

Finally, demotivational behavior from management can sink a project. Forced overtime, poor scheduling, and the manager taking vacations while the workers continue on the job are just a few of the things a manager can do to sow discontent and destroy productivity.

A good construction manager hires the right people with the right skills, does not allow problems to fester, and treats everyone fairly.

3. Unnecessary claims

If a claim is filed and you can’t defend yourself or the construction company against it, the claim is paid, and your costs increase. Under most circumstances, the availability of an uninterrupted record could invalidate the claim. Unfortunately, lack of a thorough documentation process can leave you with no way to evaluate or void the claim.

An automated logging solution integrated with your construction management system can create a complete project record to defend against unsubstantiated claims. You can capture daily weather reports, inspection reports, worker actions, and other information that can overturn the claim.

4. Workflow failures

Poor planning and inefficient workflows can introduce delays in decision making and approvals. For example, if one manager is the only person with the authority to decide on a needed change in the schedule but that person has left the company or gone on vacation, how can the change be approved?

Check your workflows to ensure there is more than one person with the authority to make the call when it comes. Build redundancy into your processes to keep the project rolling at all times.

5. A lack of document version control

Multiple versions of a document can create problems. Most projects constantly evolve, and the documentation must change with it. However, if everyone is not working from the same set of documentation, the project will shortly be in trouble from delays and construction mistakes.

Implement document version control within your construction management system. Ensure that all drawing revisions, submittal revisions, and other changes are entered and the most current version made available to everyone.

6. Reactive instead of proactive management

Just as with safety, a good manager plans ahead, identifies potential risks, and determines a way to mitigate them before they become real problems. When you manage reactively, you are often attempting to deal with something that has already happened. The response is typically ineffective and, in certain situations, may be too little too late.

Risk tracking should be part of the normal workflow of your projects. Always look for potential financial and safety risks as these are often the most damaging and expensive.

7. Unsecured jobsite

Construction equipment and materials are magnets for thieves and vandals. If you have left your jobsite unsecured, it’s quite probable that you will return one morning to find all your copper tubing missing or one of your construction machines damaged. It may be as minor as a couple of boards out of place to a complete ransacking of the site.

The financial costs are high. Even if everything was insured, the policy holder and the insurance company might have clauses that allow them to pass the expense onto you. You may find it more difficult or expensive to obtain construction insurance in the future.

  • Limit access to the site at all times and ensure all entries are locked when the jobsite is empty.
  • Lock construction vehicles and secure the keys any time they are not in use.
  • Lock all storage areas to prevent theft of tools and materials.

Theft and vandalism aren’t the only consequence of an unsecured site. It is also a safety concern. If someone should enter the site and become injured or killed, the responsibility devolves to the site owner, creating expense and ill feelings.

Almost every mistake on this list could be avoided with proper planning and training. Risk management requires that everyone who works on the site understands how and when to use safety equipment and uses it every time.

Planning reduces reactive management and can eliminate:

  • Documentation version control problems
  • Workflow issues
  • Unnecessary claims

Planning ahead includes determining the best way to secure the site, including the possibility of security cameras in addition to locks. Due diligence is required to ensure everything is locked up tight every day.


Educating yourself on how to manage people and becoming adept at identifying potential problem workers helps you to hire the right people who can get the job done efficiently.

When you are managing the construction of a steel building, you are in charge of a multitude of details. Everything must go like clockwork to meet the schedule and erect the building properly. Keep these common mistakes in mind as you plan your next project and move to eliminate or mitigate the risk of these problems.

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