Construction Manager at Risk (CMAR)

2024 Comprehensive Guide to the Construction Manager at Risk (CMAR) Delivery Method

Introduction to the Construction Manager at Risk (CMAR) Delivery Method

Did you know that the CMAR delivery method can significantly reduce the risk of budget overruns in complex construction projects? This method not only enhances collaboration between project stakeholders but also aligns interests towards achieving project goals efficiently and effectively.

Course Overview: The Construction Manager at Risk (CMAR) delivery method represents a pivotal shift in project management by involving the construction manager early in the project, providing cost certainty, and transferring risk from the owner to the construction manager. This course will explore the intricacies of CMAR, shedding light on its operational framework, contractual nuances, and practical benefits in modern construction projects.

Objectives of the Course:

  • Deepen Understanding: Gain a comprehensive understanding of the CMAR framework and its components.
  • Roles and Responsibilities: Explore the detailed roles and responsibilities of a construction manager under the CMAR delivery method.
  • Risk Management: Learn strategies for risk mitigation and how CMAR facilitates a proactive approach to managing potential project challenges.
  • Contractual Insights: Dive into the contractual aspects that define the CMAR method, including the structuring of agreements and financial management.
  • Practical Application: Through real-world examples and case studies, see how CMAR is applied in actual construction projects, emphasizing the method's adaptability and effectiveness.
  • Future Trends: Look ahead at how evolving industry standards and technologies are shaping the future of the CMAR delivery method.

By the end of this free important course, participants will be equipped with the knowledge and tools to effectively implement the CMAR delivery method in their projects, ensuring enhanced control over project outcomes and maximized value for all stakeholders.

Module 1: Understanding CMAR

  • Lesson 1: Definition and Fundamentals
    • What is CMAR?
    • Key characteristics of the CMAR model
    • Comparison with traditional project delivery methods

Definition and Fundamentals

What is CMAR? Construction Manager at Risk (CMAR) is a project delivery method characterized by the construction manager committing to complete a project within a Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP). This approach uniquely positions the construction manager as a consultant during the design phase and as a contractor during the construction phase. The key advantage is the managerial and fiscal accountability the construction manager holds, promoting transparency and alignment of project goals between the owner and the construction team.

Key Characteristics of the CMAR Model:

  • Early Collaboration: In CMAR, the construction manager is involved early in the design process, facilitating better integration of construction knowledge and expertise. This early involvement helps in anticipating potential issues, refining project scope, and enhancing design efficiency.
  • Guaranteed Maximum Price: The GMP is a fundamental characteristic of CMAR, providing a financial cap on the project. This feature shifts the risk of cost overruns from the project owner to the construction manager, provided the project scope remains unchanged.
  • Risk Management: The construction manager bears the risk for cost overruns, which incentivizes the proactive management of project costs and quality.
  • Enhanced Communication: CMAR promotes open lines of communication among the owner, designer, and builder. This collaboration helps in resolving issues promptly, making decisions faster, and maintaining project transparency.

Comparison with Traditional Project Delivery Methods:

  • Design-Bid-Build (DBB): Traditionally, the project owner manages two separate contracts with the designer and the builder in DBB. This separation often leads to communication gaps, which can result in project delays and increased costs due to design inconsistencies with practical construction techniques.
  • Design-Build (DB): In contrast to CMAR, the DB method places design and construction in the hands of a single entity, reducing owner control over the design and often leading to less focus on quality when budget and time constraints are tight. CMAR allows for greater owner involvement and control over the design, with the construction manager acting to balance project feasibility within the GMP constraints.
  • Multiple Prime Contractors: Unlike CMAR, where a single construction manager coordinates all construction activities, managing multiple prime contractors can lead to complications in project coordination and increased owner responsibility for integration.

By understanding these aspects, participants in the CMAR course will appreciate how this delivery method can be leveraged to minimize risks and enhance the management of construction projects. This foundational knowledge sets the stage for deeper exploration into CMAR’s application across various types of construction projects in subsequent lessons.


  • Lesson 2: Historical Development
    • Origins of CMAR in the construction industry
    • Evolution and adaptation over the years

Historical Development

Origins of CMAR in the Construction Industry: The Construction Manager at Risk (CMAR) delivery method emerged as a response to the limitations observed in traditional project delivery methods like Design-Bid-Build (DBB) and Design-Build (DB). Initially developed in the United States during the late 20th century, CMAR was designed to bridge the gap between the owner’s need for a controlled budget and the construction industry’s need for flexibility in management. The goal was to enhance project outcomes through collaborative relationships, where the construction manager becomes integral to the design process, thus aligning the interests of all parties involved.

Evolution and Adaptation Over the Years:

  • Early Adaptation: In its formative years, CMAR was primarily adopted for large-scale public sector projects that required managing complex logistical challenges and high financial risks. The method provided a way to cap project costs while allowing flexibility in design adjustments without significant contractual disputes.
  • Growth and Acceptance: As the benefits of CMAR became more evident, its adoption spread to various sectors, including healthcare, education, and private development. The flexibility to adapt to changing project scopes without dramatic cost escalations made CMAR particularly attractive.
  • Technological Integration: Over the years, the integration of technology in construction projects has significantly influenced CMAR practices. Tools such as Building Information Modeling (BIM) have been incorporated to enhance collaborative project planning and execution, allowing for more accurate cost estimations and efficient project management.
  • Modern Developments: Today, CMAR is recognized for its ability to facilitate more sustainable building practices. The method supports green building initiatives by allowing the construction manager to work closely with the design team to integrate sustainable technologies and materials from the project’s outset.

The historical development of CMAR highlights its evolution from a niche method to a widely recognized best practice in project delivery. Understanding this history helps elucidate how CMAR adapts to contemporary challenges in the construction industry, promoting a deeper appreciation of its current applications and potential future advancements.


What's next: Module 2, Roles and Responsibilities

Moving from the historical background of the CMAR delivery method, we now enter Module 2, which focuses on the vital roles and responsibilities within the CMAR framework. This module will explore the construction manager’s key responsibilities throughout the project lifecycle, their decision-making authority, and delve into risk management techniques and effective communication strategies essential for the success of CMAR projects.

Module 2: Roles and Responsibilities

  • Lesson 1: The Role of the Construction Manager
    • Responsibilities throughout the project lifecycle
    • Decision-making authority and scope


The Roles and Responsibilities

Lesson 1: The Role of the Construction Manager

Responsibilities Throughout the Project Lifecycle: The Construction Manager at Risk (CMAR) is integral throughout the entire project lifecycle, providing leadership from the initial design phase through to the completion of construction. Responsibilities include:

  • Pre-Construction Phase: Engaging with architects and engineers to influence the design process, performing cost analyses, and conducting feasibility studies to ensure the project is economically viable.
  • Construction Phase: Managing day-to-day operations on-site, ensuring compliance with building codes, scheduling subcontractors, and overseeing the procurement of materials.
  • Post-Construction: Completing final inspections, managing project close-out, including the resolution of any issues, and ensuring all contractual obligations are fulfilled.

Decision-Making Authority and Scope: Within the CMAR model, the construction manager's authority extends over several critical areas:

  • Design Input: Although not responsible for design creation, the CMAR provides feedback to enhance constructability, reduce costs, and mitigate risks.
  • Budget Management: The CMAR holds the authority to make financial decisions within the confines of the Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP), managing costs to avoid overruns.
  • Quality Control: The construction manager ensures that all aspects of the construction adhere to agreed-upon quality standards, often influencing the selection of materials and construction techniques.
  • Risk Management: The CMAR is tasked with identifying potential risks early in the project and developing strategies to address these risks, protecting the project owner from unexpected financial burdens.

The construction manager’s role is pivotal in balancing the project’s scope, cost, and time, ensuring that each phase aligns with the client’s expectations and the project’s overall goals. This expansive role demands a proactive approach to management and a deep understanding of construction processes to effectively guide the project to successful completion.


  • Lesson 2: Risk Management
    • Risks commonly managed by the Construction Manager
    • Strategies for risk assessment and mitigation
  • Lesson 3: Collaboration and Communication
    • Importance of teamwork between stakeholders
    • Effective communication strategies in CMAR projects

Module 3: Contractual Arrangements

  • Lesson 1: Contract Structures
    • Types of contracts used in CMAR
    • Legal implications and considerations
  • Lesson 2: Financial Arrangements
    • Pricing models: Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) and others
    • Cost control and budget management in CMAR

Module 4: Project Execution

  • Lesson 1: Pre-construction Services
    • Planning and scheduling
    • Estimation and budgeting processes
  • Lesson 2: Construction Phase
    • Implementing the project plan
    • Overseeing construction activities and subcontractors
  • Lesson 3: Quality Control and Safety Management
    • Ensuring safety on the construction site
    • Quality assurance strategies

Module 5: Case Studies

  • Lesson 1: Successful CMAR Projects
    • Analysis of successful implementations of CMAR
    • Lessons learned and best practices
  • Lesson 2: Challenges in CMAR Implementation
    • Common pitfalls and how to avoid them
    • Real-world problems and solutions

Module 6: Current Trends and Future Outlook

  • Lesson 1: Innovations Influencing CMAR
    • Technological advancements impacting the method
    • The role of software and digital tools
  • Lesson 2: The Future of CMAR
    • Predictions and trends shaping the future of CMAR in construction


  • Summary of key takeaways from the course
  • Final thoughts on the impact and potential of CMAR in the industry

Supplementary Materials

  • Readings: List of recommended books, articles, and research papers
  • Videos: Curated list of instructional videos and interviews with industry experts
  • FAQs: Compilation of frequently asked questions to aid understanding

Interactive Elements

  • Quizzes at the end of each module to test comprehension
  • Discussion boards for students to discuss course materials and share experiences
  • Assignments that simulate real-life scenarios and decision-making in CMAR projects

This outline provides a structured and detailed approach to learning about the CMAR delivery method, designed to be accessible to a wide range of learners, from industry newcomers to seasoned professionals seeking to deepen their knowledge.