Arriving at a decision to build a new business facility or renovating an existing one is arguably much easier than deciding on which commercial contractor to do the job. Simply put, not all commercial builders have the skills and experience needed to successfully complete your project.
Retail space or office buildings, for example, have far fewer considerations and requirements than hospitals, schools, jails, sports complexes, or other highly regulated industries.
No matter the scope of your next building project, use these five tips to choose the best commercial contractor.
1. Assess Their Portfolio & Check References
An important step in researching the capabilities of a commercial contractor is to view their online portfolio. You’ll want your finished project to be a reflection of your culture, community and industry expertise, so look for featured projects that impress and inspire. When possible, actually visit the facilities to observe first-hand their attention to detail — commercial structures don’t need to skimp on originality and craftsmanship.
Take time to read through case studies to see the types of challenges that had to be overcome. Ask for a list of references and follow through on talking with other project owners. Ask them how easy it was to work with the contractor’s team, how detail-oriented they were in their proposals and follow through, whether they stayed on budget and on schedule, how they handled roadblocks, etc.
While a picture on their website may be worth a thousand words, the relationships they’ve built with past customers and their ability to follow through on promises is the true test of their reputation.
2. Explore Their Full Scope of Services
Today’s commercial contractors often do more than just build structures; there are many facets of the building process that need to be addressed. When requesting proposals from your list of potential commercial construction companies, consider how they can help alleviate other demands on your time and budget.
As an example, some contractors specialize in providing pre-referendum services that provide an estimated cost to the project and educate/inform voters on your new school or government building referendum. Even then, it’s important to explore the scope of those services. Do they merely provide consultation or do they conduct feasibility studies, participate in community forums, provide communication materials, and assist with media?
You may also want to work with a contractor that has an interior design division to ensure that the furnishings, accessories and finishes complement the architecture and are suited for your type of business. Don’t select a contractor solely on price; dig deeper to ensure you compare apples to apples and understand the full scope of what they’re offering.
3. Examine Their Safety Record
Construction is considered an inherently high-risk industry when it comes to worker and occupant safety. The level of attention your contractor gives to safety isn’t just a reflection of how much they care for their construction teams; it’s a direct reflection on their ability to complete your project safely, on time, and on budget. Nothing can bring a project to a halt faster than someone being injured on the job, and the associated fines, lost wages, and potential litigation can be significant.
A company with an impressive safety record will help protect your interests and can also help protect your reputation by avoiding negative media attention.
4. Ask About Their Time and Budget Management Processes
Reputable companies know how to keep commercial construction projects on schedule and on budget, and they do so as a result of developing reliable processes and having experienced industry experts. A building project should run like a well-oiled machine; one missed detail could have significant consequences.
Today’s contractors leverage technology to manage all the moving parts of a project, including timelines, contracts, costs, subcontractors, permits, materials, deliveries, and a host of other elements. Ask about their track record for on-time project completions, and discuss their processes for addressing scope changes, potential roadblocks, and other unexpected situations that may arise over time.
5. Get to Know the Project Team
Once you’ve made a decision, you’ll work closely with the construction team until your project is completed. Depending on the planning process, scope of your project and the services needed, that time may span several months or even several years, as is often the case with projects that require referendums. Building a great facility is important, but building great relationships is what will make the difference between a pleasant experience and one you’ll never want to repeat.
The project team should be involved in the proposal and budgeting process so you have a chance to get to know them and their level of expertise. Just as importantly is ensuring your personalities align and that you feel at ease sharing ideas and giving feedback. Get a feel for how accessible they’ll be throughout the process and how well they communicate.
Even if a commercial contractor checks all the boxes in regards to processes, budget, design and more, having a compatible, transparent and trusting relationship is potentially the most important consideration. We invite you to get to know the team at The Samuels Group to determine whether we’re a fit for your next commercial building project. Contact us to set up a time to explore the possibilities, and check out our 10 Questions to Ask a Commercial General Contractor guide for additional considerations. Just click the link below.