What Are a Construction Superintendent's Responsibilities?

A general construction superintendent oversees every phase of a construction project from the initial planning to its completion. There are superintendents who specialize in public works projects like bridges and dams. Others specialize in building offices or houses. While a general construction superintendent’s responsibility varies based on the project and employer, there are certain tasks that are common to the occupation.

Handling Human Resource Matters

A construction superintendent interviews and selects workers for the job site. He or she is almost always responsible for communicating rules that involve on-site safety procedures to new hires. 

They are also responsible for enforcing those rules. They also routinely serve as timekeepers and approve workers’ time cards. They are typically responsible for preparing the work schedule and approving workers’ time off requests.

Construction superintendents are also often called upon to answer employees’ questions about benefits and pay. If a worker is covered through a trade union, the superintendent typically functions as the point of contact for their union’s representative. Superintendents are also responsible for familiarizing themselves with all labor contracts to ensure that there are no violations of their terms.

Supervising Construction Activities

On large job sites, a construction superintendent typically acts as the supervisor to the foremen who are, in turn, responsible for supervising the workers.

On smaller construction sites, the construction superintendent may also function as a manager and directly relay instructions to the workers absent of a foreman. 

Other supervisor responsibilities might involve assigning work teams to specific jobs or providing new hires with necessary training. They often also direct workers on the order in which specific tasks need to be performed.

Irrespective of how much direct supervision they provide, it is typically the responsibility of a construction superintendent to inspect and approve all of the work that is performed by contractors, sub-contractors, and employees.

Handling Accounting Functions

A general construction superintendent is often involved in the development of pre-construction budgets and estimates. As a project progresses, he or she monitors expenses in order to ensure the budget is being met. If it isn’t, the superintendent is tasked with determining whether or not the company can make up the difference. 

The superintendent also maintains all records pertaining to labor and material costs, often enlisting the aid of construction management software, a secretary, or an accounting clerk. On larger jobs, they often work with all three. They also track inventory of all materials and supplies to help ensure against loss and help keep the job on schedule.

Coordinating All Onsite Activities

A construction superintendent is responsible for coordinating all of the work carried out by laborers and tradespeople. They work closely with architects and engineers, lawyers, and other professionals as well. Superintendents also coordinate work schedules in a way that prevents conflicts in the workflow, seeing to it that things get done in a proper and precise order and that the materials to do the job are in place when the task comes up in the workflow.

Experience and Education

Construction superintendent is by no means an entry-level job. Most employers have strict criteria to which they adhere when selecting candidates. The vast majority look for candidates to have a minimum of four years’ experience in their trade before even considering them. Many require even more than that.

Educational requirements are broad and also vary by employer. Some will accept an applicant who has an adequate amount of experience, while other will typically only consider candidates who hold a four-year college degree in the field of construction project management and can demonstrate a proven success record in other areas within the industry.