What Does a Building Foreman Do?

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  • Written By: K. Kinsella
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 18 May 2019
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A building foreman presides over the construction of a new building or structure. The term "foreman" is commonly used in the United Kingdom, although these workers are often referred to as construction managers in the United States and other English speaking nations. A building foreman oversees a team of builders and contractors who actually construct the project and in most instances has the authority to hire and fire the people working on the project.

Colleges in some areas offer degree courses in construction management and many major construction firms only hire building foremen who have such degrees. For complex projects, some construction firms also require the an engineering degree or a business management degree. Some construction firms do not require degrees, and instead promote experienced construction workers into foremen roles. While many foremen are salaried employees at major firms, others are self-employed individuals who are contracted to work on different projects by various different construction firms.

The duties of a building foreman normally begin with a review of plans for the project that have been prepared by an engineer or architect. A building foreman normally controls the staff budget and must decide how many workers to hire, what kind of skills those workers must exhibit and how much to pay the workers. Construction delays can cause costs to rise so these supervisors may have to make provisions for delays and unexpected costs when the staffing budget is arranged.


When construction begins, the building foreman assigns duties to particular workers. Specialist workers may also be contracted, such as licensed plumbers, carpenters or electricians to complete certain portions of the project if local laws prevent non-licensed personnel from completing such tasks. On major projects, several foremen may be hired to preside over different parts of the construction process. A delay in one stage of construction could cause the entire project to fall behind schedule so the building foreman has to ensure that the work is completed carefully and efficiently.

Cranes and other types of heavy machinery are synonymous with construction sites and workers are exposed to daily dangers such as falling debris or exposure to hazardous materials that are used in the building process. The building foreman has to ensure that safety rules are adhered to and that workers wear appropriate safety gear such as helmets and gloves. Laws in many countries entitle injured workers to significant compensation payments so the building foreman has the responsibility for ensuring that reasonable steps are taken to reduce or eliminate work place hazards.



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