“The Conductor” by Christine Schmidt on Flickr

Does a project need a superintendent? Does an orchestra need a conductor?

“Conducting is the art of directing a musical performance by way of visible gestures. The primary duties of the conductor are to unify performers, set the tempo, execute clear preparations and beats, and to listen critically and shape the sound of the ensemble.” Wikipedia 

You just bought tickets to see a symphony. You and your Plus One are in black tie, expecting the night of your life – a night to remember.

The curtain opens. Puzzled, you don’t notice a conductor. It shouldn’t matter. You look at each other and smile. The orchestra begins. How will it sound?

Just like a symphony, tradespeople and their teams need to be coordinated. If there isn’t onsite supervision and project management, where do they look to?

Does the floor go in first or the doors? Does it matter? You have drawings so everyone’s on the same page. You think.

The Design-Build team composes the music (drawings) that guide your construction project – the office remodel you’ve always dreamed of. And everyone has their part to play: the owner, the design team, the project management and supervision, and the subcontractor (tradesmen). Who will coordinate them? Who will set the tone, pace, and aesthetic?

Just like each section of an orchestra has the full score, each subcontractor has a full set of drawings. Every instrument still looks to the conductor. This is the benefit of field supervision and project management.

Surely the London Philharmonic doesn’t put an ad for violinists and cellists on Craigslist. Why would you? This is your office, your building, and your manufacturing facility. You want the best, right? Not only that, the tradespeople (subcontractors) should be able to work well together. That happens because of the superintendent.

Just as each section of an orchestra looks to the conductor for timing, intensity, and volume – nuances that aren’t on the score – subcontractors look to the superintendent for scheduling and timing as well as how to work in that office or manufacturing environment. And drawings are always perfect, right?

Does it make a difference in music?

In a test between an amateur conductor and an expert, music experts noticed the difference. In construction, you’ll see the difference between experienced orchestration and someone who thinks they can manage without experience.

“Music experts who listened to the performance of the orchestra under the control of the two conductors found the version produced by the authoritarian conductor superior. Remember, these experts didn’t know which version was being led by the veteran conductor and which by the amateur. All they heard was the music.” Shankar Vedantam, “Do Orchestras Really Need Conductors

Why hire a contractor and pay for field supervision?

Short answer: it makes a huge difference.

In his post “The Incomplete Big Picture,” Bob Borson writes:

So what happens when you don’t have a full-time superintendent? Nobody really owns the project from a construction standpoint, and as a result, there’s an incomplete “Big Picture” view of the project. Full-time superintendents look further than 1-step ahead and make sure that the project isn’t being built without consideration for how the project will come together.

Does it matter if you have a qualified superintendent on your job? Does it really make a difference to have project management? We think it does.

Email Tom Riggins or give him a call at (714) 953-6333 to discuss your needs today.

Read some of our client reviews that highlight the benefits of supervision:

  • “I will always be grateful for your strong management presence, as well as your selection of subcontractors.” Rene Laursen – Laursen Color Lab
  • “Your attention to detail was apparent from our very first meeting and served us well throughout the entire project. Your effort to provide proactive recommendations on issues before they became problems is an excellent example of the high level or organization, professionalism, and communication that Riggins Construction displayed.” LWO Facilities Team – LightWorks Optics, Inc.
  • “Additionally, when a concern arose, Mike was quick to respond in taking the appropriate corrective measures. He also made sure to maintain a good working relationship, on-going, with local inspectors which helped expedite the various phases of our overall project.” Ron Behar, Plant Manager – Earth Island Foods – 2010 Project
  • “We all appreciated how the construction schedule was coordinated to coincide with the manufacturing schedules and dust protection requirements of Fluid Research.” David J. Cline, President – Fluid Research Corp.


A fun symphony performance to watch is that of Peter and the Wolf, a great story told by narration and instrumentation.

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