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7 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Hiring a General Contractor

Commercial building projects are high-stakes undertakings, which makes hiring the right contractor for your job mission critical to a successful build. Many factors go into a smooth, expertly executed commercial project. If any of those factors fail to meet expectations due to inexperience or lack of execution on the part of your contractor, disaster can ensue.

Practically everything depends on one individual coordinating the work of other subcontractors and overseeing the project through to a successful conclusion. Improper permitting, budgeting, and construction delays can cost you money and your reputation. We have a few important tips to help you learn about common building renovation mistakes and the value of hiring the right contractor for your commercial property.

#1 Failure to Adequately Research a Contractor

Let’s start with the basics. A general contractor oversees and coordinates all aspects of a construction project from beginning to end. This includes hiring subcontractors & crew, supervising the work of construction managers & supervisors, ordering materials, scheduling work, and ensuring that everything goes as planned throughout the duration of the job.

When you're faced with the need to complete an important commercial project, one of the most important tasks associated with the project is hiring a commercial general contractor who meets your requirements. Doing thorough research on a contractor who can execute these duties before selecting is so important. This cannot be stressed enough. When looking to hire a commercial general contractor for your project, there are some effective ways to check if they are qualified for the job:

  • Check website reviews

  • Ask for references

  • Review previous work through case studies or their portfolio

  • Set up a time to interview the possible general contractor

It is essential for successful project completion to check all references supplied and to research work done by a candidate contractor in the past. There are plenty of consumer review sites like Angie’s list and Google Review where you can get a general sense of the reputation of the contractor you’re considering.

By checking their previous work and interviewing the parties involved, you should be able to clearly understand how skilled, reliable, and trustworthy any commercial contractor is.

#2 Failure to Establish Clear Expectations

The primary responsibility of contractors is to manage every aspect of their assigned projects to ensure they are completed on time and within budget. Before contractor interviews, you should have a clear timeline in mind to help mitigate any scope creep causing you to go beyond the allocated budget.

A detailed project scope makes the project clear and understandable. Your commercial general contractor can oftentimes assist in developing the project scope, especially if they are a design/build firm like Buildout Pros. Your commercial contractor should also create a schedule around the scope you have developed and be responsible for meeting deadlines and taking action if a deadline has to be pushed.

By neglecting to establish expectations and deadlines early on, the end result is unlikely to be what you intended. Prior to contractor interviews, you should have a clear timeline in mind and a detailed project scope that makes the extent of the project quite clear and understandable.

#3 Ignoring Contractor Qualifications

When interviewing a contractor for your job, you should judge their skills and experience first and their likability second. A personable contractor doesn’t always get the job done one time, and you need someone who will run your project and meet deadlines. It is vital to closely examine the qualifications and any certifications a contractor holds so you know exactly what they’re capable of.

To avoid this mistake, carefully review a candidate’s entire portfolio so you’re well aware of projects they’ve managed in the past. Good past performance is an indicator of likely good future performance.

#4 Failure to Get all Details in Writing

Failing to get all the details in writing with your commercial general contractor can lead to various problems and complications during the construction project.

Without a clear and detailed written agreement, both parties may interpret the project scope, timeline, and budget differently.

This can result in misunderstandings, disagreements, and even legal disputes. Additionally, without a written contract, it may be difficult to hold the contractor accountable for any mistakes or delays in the project. Therefore, it is crucial to have a written contract outlining all the project details and expectations before starting any construction work.

#5 Not Maintaining Good Communication

Regular check-ins should be a routine part of the project because you will need to be informed of progress at all stages of the commercial project.

One of the biggest mistakes you could make would be to provide a contractor with your instructions, then let him/her proceed until the end without bothering to touch base. You could end up with a very unpleasant surprise in such a case, and you may have to pay for a project that’s only half complete. When you touch base regularly, any concerns that pop up can be quickly addressed, and the project can stay on schedule.

#6 Failure to Establish a Realistic Budget

One of the most common budgeting mistakes made by project leaders is to not accounting for the possibility of unexpected contingencies. These will probably occur on almost every project, so they should be accounted for in every project budget. Even some simple things, like cost overruns, commonly impact a commercial project, and if they aren’t accounted for, the project may have to be halted due to a lack of funding.

Even a well-planned and thought-out construction project can experience its fair share of unanticipated surprises. Having a contingency budget inline in your project budget is vital to avoid any surprises down the road. The contingency size can vary anywhere from 5% to 25% depending on the type and size of the project and the level of detail that was developed during the planning stage.

#7 Failure to Check Licenses and Insurance

When you think you’ve found the right contractor, check their background through the state consumer protection office. Be sure to check a contractor’s licensing and insurance to avoid problems later on. Legal issues could be involved if a contractor is not licensed to operate in your state or municipal area. They must also be insured because any accidents on the job might have to be paid for by yourself if the contractor lacks adequate insurance.

By confirming both, you can avoid major headaches when the project gets going. If possible, visit an active job site the contractor runs to check for signs of organization and professionalism.

Partnering With The Right Professionals

Commercial projects are costly, so all possible precautions must be taken to ensure you have the right general contractor managing the job. Failing to observe the warnings described above could be letting yourself in for financial disaster. Even if you’re pressed for time in getting a project underway, it will be well worth your while to take all the time needed to select the most qualified candidate as your general contractor.

One way to be sure you have the right general contractor is to contact the specialists at the address below and find out everything you need to know. You will find that these experts have all the proper accreditation, an impressive portfolio of past projects, and are quite willing to maintain regular communications to get the job done right the first time.

Buildout Pros – National Coverage – Local Presence


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