5 Steps to Take Before Hiring a Commercial Contractor for a Construction Project

Hiring the right commercial contractor for your project can be daunting, especially if you are unsure of your needs. There are many factors to consider when vetting a contractor. These five steps will prepare you with the necessary tools to research, interview, and select the perfect choice.

  1. Assessing the Project: What Construction Services are Needed?

Many commercial construction companies have the skills and labor to undertake various projects in different industries. However, some companies offer specialized services that may better fit your needs. 

For example, if you are building a warehouse, your search should begin with warehouse commercial construction companies as opposed to retail construction. Specialized companies are more likely to help you better scope out your project and understand your needs. 

  1. Choose Your Budget and Include a Contingency Plan

Creating your budget is one of the most important first steps in commercial construction. Your budget will determine what types of materials you can afford, which contractor you can hire, how quickly the project takes, etc. 

One important tip when budgeting for your project is to include a contingency plan. Often, projects need budgets allocated for unforeseen issues which can alter the scope or completely halt a project, such as an increase in the cost of materials or other unknown issues, especially when remodeling. Consider adding a 5-10% budget contingency to your project.

Other budgeting factors include the payment or draw schedule. Many contractors require the first draw before the start of the project to help fund materials and labor costs. Depending on the length of the project, there can be several draws throughout the project. If you don’t have the funds to make scheduled payments, the work won’t continue. 

  1. Do Your Research and Prepare Questions

Similar to step number one, you want to understand what construction services are needed when you begin your search. Whether you are Googling “commercial general contractors” or asking other local businesses for references, you want to make sure you choose the right type of contractor and ask the right questions. Here is a list of the top questions to ask when vetting your candidates:

How long have you been in business? Ask how long ago the company was established and the average experience of their laborers. It also helps to ask if anyone carries specialized licenses or training. 

Can you share your project portfolio? You want to ensure the company you choose has experience in completing similar projects. If they never took on a project like yours, they may lack the laborers and skills needed to complete the task. Which brings up the next question… 

How do you find subcontractors? Like most industries, everyone has their preferred network of people they choose. However, you want to make sure the general contractor or project manager is doing something other than simplifying hiring their friends. Consider asking how they find subcontractors and their requirements for project bidding.

Are you licensed, bonded, and insured? Not all states require contractors to carry special licenses, let alone be bonded or insured. Not having the above can open you to hazardous working conditions and shoddy craftsmanship. Choose a construction company that invests in protecting its business and clients.

What input do I have when it comes to material choices? Even if you do not know anything involved in construction, you should have some input when choosing materials as the customer. You don’t need to shop with them at the supplier, but you should know if they are using quality materials and if you have a choice in larger scale equipment such as HVAC systems and lighting.

How do you communicate project updates? Am I allowed to visit the construction site throughout the process? Clear communication about the project status is very important. You want to ensure you regularly receive updates, including photos and videos or site visits. 

What is your schedule, and how long do you expect the project to take? Large construction companies often take on several projects at once. You should ask if they have the capacity to take on a project of your size while working on other projects and if it will interfere with the timeline they quoted you.

  1. Ask for referrals. 

Don’t be afraid to request a client list and ask if you can contact the referral. If possible, meet on-site and view the work. Some helpful questions to ask the referral include: did they stick to their schedule, was the project completed within budget? How did they communicate updates? Are you satisfied with the work?

  1. Consider hiring an attorney. 

An attorney can review your contract and help you understand your contract rights. Your attorney can look for specifics in the agreement, such as what happens if the project is not completed on time, who is responsible for property damages, and if there are warranties on materials or the work. 

Before you hire a commercial construction contractor, remember to do your research. The process can be simple if you know what to look for and the right questions to ask. If you need a commercial contractor for your upcoming project, consider the experienced team at Division 9 Commercial Construction. Contact us with any of the above questions.