It’s in your project’s best interest for you to pay special attention to this person and find ways to get to know them better.
On most any design and construction project team, there’s always one person who consistently contributes the most to the team’s overall success and, to make an analogy to the sports world, they would typically be considered the team’s most valuable player. Although often overshadowed by others on the project, it’s the site superintendent, or site super, who gets the job done, day-in and day-out, from project kick-off to close-out, and sees to it that the project finishes within the specified time, budget, and design parameters.
For an architect, interior designer, or property owner or manager who is selecting and assembling a project team, for the reasons above and below, it might be in their best interest to pay special attention to the role of site superintendent and find ways to get to know this person better.
From a general contractor’s perspective, when it comes time to submit a project proposal, it might serve them well to make certain the site superintendent is included on the list of staff members who will be involved with the project, and highlight their level of experience, expertise, and the role they play on the team.
As an employee of the general contractor, the site superintendent is responsible for planning and scheduling, organizing, directing, and managing just about every activity on the construction site. As much as a site superintendent needs to be adept in these areas, they also need to be able to communicate and collaborate well with others, and know various project management and/or collaboration applications or technologies. And, as if all of that wasn’t enough, the site superintendent is responsible for having a working knowledge of each trade on the project, and making certain the desired level of quality is maintained as the work gets completed. Also under the site superintendent’s purview is the management and enforcement of site safety policies and procedures.
Because site superintendents possess such a great depth and breadth of knowledge and are involved with just about everyone on the project team throughout the project’s life span, more than most, superintendents are able to anticipate potential issues that might arise and know how best to navigate them to keep the project from being derailed.
Another characteristic which serves to differentiate site supers from others on the project team is their ability to instill a greater sense of harmony between all of those working on the construction site. This is where their knowledge and experience of the various trades comes into play, as does their personality and ability to communicate, collaborate, and to be responsive.
To some, it might seem as though a site superintendent and project manager are responsible for many of the same things (i.e., planning, management, quality, reporting, etc.), but they aren’t. The site super is on-site from day to day, interacting with people across the trades, while the project manager is usually in an off-site office, handling more of the administrative matters which pertain to the project.
Although a site super isn’t typically the first person thought of when it comes to a design and construction project team, there is little doubt they often contribute the most on an individual and continual basis and, for this reason, they earn the distinction of MVP.
Roger Marquis is business development director at Liebhaber Company, a full-service New York City-based general contracting, construction management, and architectural millwork firm focused on high-end residential and hospitality projects. Connect with him on LinkedIn.