WATTS Construction

How To Choose A Commercial Contractor

This article contains tips on how to choose a commercial contractor.  The first step in choosing the right contractor is collaborating with the principals on what it is you need.  It takes brainstorming and forethought to flesh out the goal for exactly what you want to accomplish with the project.  Whether it’s a library, a recreation center, shopping center, or courthouse, many heads should be involved in discussing the desired outcomes of the construction.

Once the committee has the unanimous “end in mind,” a detailed plan needs to be written.  Defining the steps and how to operationalize them creates optimism and harmony in managing the project.

Before approaching contractors for bids, you must decide on your needs for the build, not the wants.  Many of the wants are vague and difficult for contractors to accurately include in the price estimates.  Be sure to address the level of quality you are expecting.  Review your needs, set your budget, and make a proposal to submit to the contractors who are interested.  If all the contractors have the same details for the proposal, you will be able to compare the bids fairly, apples to apples.

References

Gather information about companies located in the area of the build.  You can do this by contacting trade organizations.  The website of Associated Builders and Contractors has a “Locate a Chapter” link, where you can find contact information of members of the state chapters.  Call or email them to ask about local commercial contractors.

Another organization that can assist you in choosing a commercial contractor is The Associated General Contractors of America.  Its motto is “Quality People. Quality Projects.” You can find names and data of its member companies by clicking on the “Find a Chapter” or “Member Directory” links.

The AGC has 95 chapters and is based in Arlington, Virginia.  Brian Turmail, director of public affairs said, “We think (we’re) a good place to check in and see.”  “Most of our chapters have a listing of their members by where they operate.  We like to think that anyone who has the AGC logo on their Web page or their office is a high-quality construction firm.”

Mr. Turmail offers a few more tips for choosing a commercial contractor, such as paying attention to word-of-mouth referrals and checking references for contractors and developers.  There are some unscrupulous contractors out there, so do your homework, then hope for the best.

Quality is Key

How to choose a commercial contractor also includes not letting the lowest bid easily sway you.  The axiom that “you get what you pay for” is true in construction, too.  You want quality work and for the contractor to make money, pay its people, and finish on time.  If the money is too tight, none of those will happen.  Take some time to review the websites of the bidding contractors.  Look for their strengths and the types of projects they’ve done and are currently doing.

Work to maintain a positive relationship with the builders, keeping communication lines open.  You don’t want to hinder progress or jeopardize the project with frustration or impatience.  Interview the prospective contractors.  You need to feel comfortable about the professionalism of the contractor before hiring them.

Consider the contractor’s safety record and technical capabilities.  Is their equipment outdated?  Have they protected their employees and carried workers compensation insurance?

I hope these tips on how to choose a commercial contractor will prove useful for you.

How to choose a commercial contractor

How to Choose a Commercial Contractor
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