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How to Choose the Right Commercial General Contractor for Your Project

Updated: Jun 5, 2023

A group of commercial contractors on a job site

Investing in the best commercial general contractor for your project has a lasting impact on its overall success. This decision can play a role in the overall cost-effectiveness, timeline, and workmanship put into the project. Numerous companies may claim they can provide exceptional services, but knowing what to look for is crucial. Here is a step-by-step process that will help you choose a commercial general contractor best suited for your project.

Determine Your Project’s Scope and Needs

The first step to choosing a commercial general contractor is to determine the goals and objectives for your project. Consider these:

  • What is the size of the project? It can be beneficial to find a general contractor who has experience with projects of similar size.

  • What makes the project more or less complex than average? For example, are there tight timelines, a limited budget, or necessary specific code requirements?

  • What budgetary concerns are present? Seeking out the most trusted and authoritative provider means you’ll need a bigger budget to cover their services.

Once you understand your expectations and goals, you can create a list of specific services and expertise for your project. For example, do you need a general contractor with specialized skills in 2D and 3D design services or a team that can help you with tenant improvement and remodeling? Does your project require specialized equipment, materials, or innovative designs? Are you looking for a zero-emissions building or one with unique architectural components?

Research and Shortlist Potential Contractors

Begin your search for available commercial general contractors in the area. Create a list based on who is available but also on the services they offer. Look at:

  • The experience of the company (your project shouldn’t be their first)

  • Their expertise in commercial construction specifically (this is much different than residential)

  • Check out the company's reviews online, including on Google, LinkedIn, and other services. What are people saying about the company?

  • Ask for referrals and recommendations from companies in the area that just completed their projects or those you admire – there’s no harm in asking about the services they’ve used.

Then, work to narrow down your list to just a couple of qualified candidates. Your goal here is still to have options but to have a few specific target companies you want to talk to for your project.

Check Licenses, Insurance, and Certifications

It’s up to you to do the due diligence here. Take the time not just to ask about the availability of these services but also to verify that they have the following:

  • The proper license to work in your state

  • Access to obtaining permits within the city

  • The necessary liability insurance and workers’ compensation insurance coverage to minimize your liability

  • Certifications, awards, or recognitions for the work they’ve done that help to showcase the quality of workmanship offered

Evaluate Communication and Project Management Skills

As you begin to talk to and interact with the company, pay close attention to how they communicate with you. Are they responsive to your inquiries? Are they communicative of their processes? A company that doesn’t make time for you in the sales phase of the project isn’t going to make time later after a contract is in place.

Be sure to ask them about their communication and project management process. What strategies do they use to keep you up to date? Who do you talk to if there’s a problem? When you consider their work style and approach, you can determine if this aligns with your goals and needs.

Review Project Bids and Proposals

At this point, you’re ready to request a detailed proposal from a shortlist of contractors. Since you may be paying for this service, you should have narrowed down the list significantly. As you consider the actual proposed project, also consider the following:

  • The accuracy of the work presented to you (did they listen to your needs and concerns)

  • The completeness of the work, including whether they got everything you desired into the project’s budget

  • The transparency of what they will do, when they will do it, and what they cannot do

Look for any additional value-added services, value-engineered ideas, or warranties included. Is there anything this particular company can do that stands out from the competition?

Check References and Past Projects

With just a few organizations left to decide, it’s time to do even more work to understand the company’s history, abilities, and past work. First, contact their past clients to inquire about their experience. Then, ask for some pros and cons of working with this organization.

You’ll then need to negotiate the chosen commercial contractor's contract terms and payment schedules to get the process moving forward. Finally, review and sign a written contract that documents the project's full scope, timeline, and budget and puts contingencies in place to protect you.

It’s Time to Get Started

Moving your project ahead means taking action now. That’s easier to do than you realize because you’ll have a trusted partner in Buildout Pros by your side. As leaders in the construction management industry, our team works with you through every stage of this process, from consideration to proposals. So contact us now to learn how we can make your project come to life.

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