How to Choose a Commercial General Contractor

Written by 15 May 2010 1,304 views 2 Comments

We’ve all seen the headlines. Building starts are at lows not seen in years, a record-number of foreclosures have occurred (and there’s no end in sight) and property values have plummeted.

We’ve all seen the headlines. Building starts are at lows not seen in years, a record-number of foreclosures have occurred (and there’s no end in sight) and property values have plummeted.

These troubles are not just isolated to the residential housing market. Commercial real-estate has been impacted as well. Which is why choosing the right commercial general contractor for your commercial construction needs is more critical than ever. It may seem a daunting tasks, but it’s actually easier than you think if you follow a few simple guidelines.

References and Experience
Often, people start their search with the tried and true Yellow Pages. This might not be a bad place to begin. First of all, there’s no denying the convenience of using the local phone book or the on-line yellow pages. Once advantage of the print-variety – ads there are not cheap and you can take some comfort in the fact that the contractors have the financial means to run them.

Certainly, do not rely on the yellow pages alone. References are invaluable and any contractor worth his salt will be more than happy to provide them. Talk to other business owners that have recently required the services of a commercial general contractor. Whom did they use? Were they satisfied? Would they recommend the contractor they used? Did the contractor do quality work? Were local ordinances and codes properly followed? Find out whether your prospective “partner” completed his work on-time and within budget. Make note of problem areas. And, perhaps most importantly, check with the Better Business Bureau and see if there are any complaints registered against the contractor’s business. It takes time and effort to register a complaint – most don’t bother. If someone has taken the time, it’s because they felt strongly about the issue; their comments are a worthwhile read.

Finally, experience matters. With so many commercial general contractors to choose from, find one that has experience on similar projects of equal or greater scope. Projects in the healthcare industry, for example, may have different requirements than those in the education sector. Take the time to find someone with a proven track record working on projects similar to yours.

Good Business Practices
It is vital that any prospective contractor, commercial construction or otherwise, be properly licensed and insured. The same holds for their subcontractors. Do not be shy to ask to see certificates. If your contractor was found via the yellow pages, often the contractor’s license number is printed in the advertisement. Most states have on-line lookup tools that allow you to check the license number to see if the contractor is in good-standing. Adequate insurance for workman’s compensation, property damage, and personal liability protect you from being held liable should something occur (such as a serious on-the-job injury or accident).
Comfortable Rapport

Your commercial general contractor will be the one who is responsible for turning your vision into reality. It is important that there be good chemistry between you. All projects will face challenging issues, so a good working relationship and ability to communicate will help keep your project moving forward. Other factors to carefully consider in your selection are professionalism and punctuality. Find out if your commercial general contractor is involved in other concurrent projects, and how much time he will commit to overseeing your job.
A complex project requires skilled coordination. A good commercial general contractor can guide your project along: finding and overseeing the right people, procuring needed materials, managing the costs, and keeping abreast of the schedule. Therefore, take your time to find someone reputable that you feel comfortable working with.

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