The 9 Best Construction Management Books of 2019

Climb the ladder in your construction career

We are committed to researching, testing, and recommending the best products. We may receive commissions from purchases made after visiting links within our content. Learn more about our review process.

Construction management, or CM, is a complicated and constantly evolving field. To be the best possible construction manager and remain competitive, you will have to have a firm understanding of everything from construction fundamentals to leadership and project management, as well as a thorough grasp on local laws and building codes. You will need to be organized and diligent at every step of the process. Keeping up to date on both new and old construction management strategies is critical to remain innovative and at the top of your game. Want to have a leg up on the competition and get some more insight to help put you on the path to success? Keep reading to find out the best construction management books to pick up today.

Best for Getting Started: Construction Management Jumpstart

If you are looking to fast-track your construction management career, then this is the book for you. Not only will you learn the fundamentals of the industry, but the book also includes step-by-step instructions for executing projects from start to finish. It is written from the perspective of the Barbara J. Jackson, Director of the California Center for Construction Education and a Professor of Construction Management at California Polytechnic State University, who has decades of working both as a licensed contractor and design-builder and also advising individuals in their careers.

You will learn fundamental principles that motivate the industry as well as familiarize yourself with technological advancements such as the Building Information Modeling (BIM) system and how it’s changing the profession. You will also familiarize yourself with how to evaluate project performance and assess risks.

Best Technical Textbook: Construction Project Management

The CPM method, or Critical Path Method, is a gold-standard for serious construction management professionals. This textbook guides you through all of the necessary steps, using an example highway bridge construction project and additional case studies, and teaches you how to understand the method inside and out. This book is very technical but also incredibly comprehensive, and highlights a diverse array of planning processes, including Work Breakdown Structures (WBS) and the Earned Value Management System (EVMS). Visual learners will appreciate the foldout color illustrations inside.

Best Comprehensive Industry Guide: Building Construction

The subtitle of this book by Gang Chen gives you a taste of just how comprehensive it is: it promises to cover “Project Management, Construction Administration, Drawings, Specs, Detailing Tips, Schedules, Checklists and Secrets Others Donʹt Tell You.” Think of this book as the ultimate survival guide for building construction.

Every architecture firm could benefit by using it as a checklist. Check off each job in order until completion, and you should stay on track with both time and money. Also learn how to develop your business, how to work with governing agencies, how to create and use your own checklists, and how to use all kinds of logs. This book is perfect for both aspiring architects and professionals with a long work history in the construction industry.

Best Reference Book: Construction Field Guide

This 504-page monster of a book is chock-full of essential information. You will be amazed at the breadth and depth it can cover on a variety of topics. Not only will you learn how to plan and schedule projects, but you will also learn about labor relationships and unions, safety measures and building codes, quality control, and inspections, insurance and financing, and of course best practices for project management that are used in a variety of industries and areas.

If you want to get into nitty-gritty legal details, including how to draft useful and enforceable contracts or solve legal disputes, you will find the information you need inside, as well as tips for making sure that legal matters reach a productive resolution. The guide was initially written for general contractors but goes in-depth about commonly used construction materials and planning methods that will be useful to anyone who wants to get a firm understanding of every step of the process.

You will learn valuable information from a variety of niche fields, such as engineering, and get a vital overview of complicated topics like soil testing and glassmaking.

Best for Managing with Confidence: Managing the Profitable Construction Business

Learn how to manage with confidence with a well-thought-out book on managing a construction business. After reading this book, you will be able to navigate serval harsh aspects of being a construction manager. Learn how to recognize signs of potential trouble. Get a clear view of the differences between an owner and top management. Learn about disciplining lousy performance from employees. Find out how to handle changes in key personnel and changes to the project size. Become familiar with accounting systems and evaluating contract profitability.

This is the book to help you build confidence and avoid expensive mistakes. The authors form an unstoppable team combining their knowledge to help anyone struggling in the construction business. This book is 288 pages and filled with case studies that will help you overcome many of the obstacles construction businesses face today.

Best for Learning How To Bid: Defensive Estimating: Protecting Your Profits

If you are a construction manager in a competitive market, the chances are that you have had to take part in a bidding war. If you are in a less competitive environment, you will still be expected to provide clients and potential clients with an estimate of how much your services will cost them. If you give too low a number, you could end up losing a lot of money or have angry customers who feel misled when they see the final bill. If you bid too high, you might not end up getting the contract in the first place.

In this book, author William Asdal walks you through the fundamentals of crafting estimates that fit the goals and needs of both your company and your clients alike. He is an award-winning custom builder who was named Remodeler of the Year in 2000.

Best for Running Your Own Business: Running a Successful Construction Company

The title tells you pretty much everything you can expect to find inside of this book. Construction managers are experts in the arts of construction and planning, but not necessarily in the areas needed to run their own business such as accounting or law. Thankfully, this book was written by someone who built their own highly successful small business from the ground up and includes straightforward advice, as well as many color photographs and planning tools.

As The Master Builder News put it, author "David Gerstel has achieved the ultimate American dream: For years he has worked for himself doing something he loves...he knows first hand what it takes for a small volume construction company to survive and prosper in any economic climate."

Best for Project Planning: Construction Scheduling: Principles and Practices

One of the most important parts of becoming a successful construction manager is learning how to plan a project from start to finish. This book walks you through the skills you will need to master to do so, as well as how to use the most commonly used software for doing so, including Microsoft Project, Primavera Project Planner (P3), SureTrak, P6 Project Manager and Contractor.

Because the software guides and principles are integrated into one text, you will learn how to use complicated tools while simultaneously learning industry best practices. And since there are so many practice problems, by the time you’ve gone through this book, you will have a great handle on how the philosophical underpinnings align with the industry realities. 

Best for UK Professionals: Construction Project Manager’s Pocket Book

At 296 pages, this book will not necessarily fit into your literal pocket, but it is an indispensable guide nonetheless. From leadership skills and team building to technical expertise, this book discusses everything you need to know to be the best construction manager ever. Because it is designed for a UK reader, the book is organized according to the procedures you will need to follow under the RIBA Plan of Work and OGC Gateway process, but the book has much to offer authors of every nationality.

Author Duncan Cartlidge is an experienced expert, former member of the RICS Quantity Surveying and Construction UK World Regional Professional Group Board, and a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.