What is the difference between Construction Manager at Risk (CMAR) and General Contracting?

On a public project, public owners can now use multiple prime contractors or a single prime contractor.

A single prime contracting model is known as general contracting. To get a general contracting job, a general contractor must put a bid on a complete set of construction documents provided by the owner. General contractors will submit a bid for the project based on these documents prepared by the owner. Based on design issues, delays and other unforeseen problems, this price is subject to change. General contractors aren’t usually part of the design process, so if there are issues with a design, they usually don’t arise until after the contract is awarded, which means there can be disputes between the owner and the general contractor.

General contractors are not required to include a contingency in their bid for a project, unlike a CMAR. The general contractor is in charge of all subcontractor contracts and schedules all their work and oversees all their work and the quality of the work.

A CMAR has a similar contractual agreement to general contracting. Like the general contractor, the CMAR holds all the subcontracts and is in charge of scheduling and overseeing work of the subcontractors.

It is preferable to work with a CMAR at the start of a project. CMARs usually participate in the design process and tend to be aware of and can identify construction challenges, budget constraints, material availability issues, scheduling concerns, and so on. Since the CMAR is familiar with the project from the start, problems can be reduced or eliminated during the project. CMARs aren’t directly responsible for design or engineering but may share responsibility for design issues.

Finding a CMAR is different than finding a general contractor. To select a CMAR, there is a two-step process including a request for qualifications phase and a request for proposals phase. Also, the award standard for CMAR is “best value” and an owner can award the contract for CMAR services to the firm that provides the best value based on price and the technical proposal compared to lowest price.

Fee arrangements for CMARs and general contractors are different, as well. A CMAR typically provides a guaranteed maximize price (GMP) for a project, while a general contractor does not. The GMP is provided either with proposals or after the contract is awarded. CMAR’s costs are subject to open-book pricing, which allows the owner to audit the CMAR’s costs and verify the proper costs are being charged against the GMP. The CMAR is also required to set its fees for providing CMAR services at the time the proposal is provided. The CMAR’s fee is required to include a contingency for the project and are carefully addressed in the contract.

According to Brandon Hurd, Managing Director of Hurd Construction Management, CMAR services are “…designed to increase efficiencies and decrease construction costs by taking a holistic approach to client’s often ever-changing developments. We like to provide this level of comprehensive service which includes conducting feasibility analysis, aiding in site selection, construction planning, design reviews, budget development, and more….”

Working with a CMAR can reduce change orders, bring a higher quality of construction, improve communication, accelerate the schedule and increase cost certainty. The relationships are more trusting in a CMAR project.

At Hurd Construction Management, you will receive the best construction service provider for your construction, building or contracting job. Our team has a combined 75+ years of construction and architectural experience that we bring to any project. We have completed more than 2.6 million square footage of new construction, renovation, and improvement projects on different types of buildings and industries.

Looking for a licensed general building contractor to build your commercial construction space, industrial space, or educational space? Hurd Construction Management’s teams provide superior construction and design-build services. We work with clients across the southeast with three convenient offices located in Jacksonville, FL, Orlando, FL and Savannah, GA. Contact Hurd Construction Management by visiting our website, email service@hurdcpm.com, or give us a call at 866-231-2477.