How to Hire a Commercial Construction Contractor

SBC131029-01_HiringAContractorFinding the best contractor for your project is often the most challenging part of the construction process for a home or business owner. It’s important to not rush the process. Take the time to interview potential commercial contractors, talk to previous clients, and ask as many questions as possible to determine if they are the right fit for you. These eight tips will help get you on the right track to a successful construction project.

1. Ask friends and family members for recommendations.

You may be surprised at how many people you know have worked with good or bad contractors on projects of their own. This process will give you a good starting point and will also give you a list of contractors you would like to look into or avoid. Firsthand knowledge of a contractor from a trusted friend can be a great deal of help in picking out a contractor.

2. Once you’ve chosen 3 or 4 contractors to interview, ask questions!

Things to find out can include what type of projects they specialize in and if they’ve done projects that are similar to yours in the past. It’s also important to find out other relevant information, such as how they’ll handle any challenges that will inevitably pop up. Any contractor who is honest and knowledgeable about the industry will be happy to answer any questions you have.

3. Check references.

Potential contractors with nothing to hide will be more than willing to provide you with a list of references. When you are checking references, make sure to ask about things that are important to you:

  • Did they arrive on time?
  • Were they friendly and personable?
  • Did they leave the job site clean and organized at the end of each day?
  • If something came up and they couldn’t make it to your job on a day they were scheduled to be there, would they call you ahead of time and let you know?

Another important question to ask is how much work will the commercial contractor actually be self-performing, and what will they be sending out to their specialty contractors? Questions like these will help you determine if the contractor will be a good fit for you.

4. When comparing bids, make sure each commercial contractor provides a detailed proposal that makes it possible for you to see what each one has included.

It is possible that one or more of them may unintentionally omit something from the bid, which will have an effect on the pricing. Be wary of contractors with bids so low they seem too good to be true. These contractors may be cutting corners, or desperate for work.

5. Select a commercial construction contractor who has previously performed work in your area.

Many townships have different requirements for construction projects. For example, Plumstead Township in Bucks County, PA requires contractors to be registered in the township before they are able to work. If a contractor is already registered with the township they are likely to be familiar with commercial zoning requirements, which will be helpful during the permit process.

In addition, a commercial contractor who already has a good reputation within the community can have an impact on the success of the project. Many areas in Bucks County, such as Doylestown, are considered to be bedroom communities, and commercial construction can sometimes be viewed negatively. Selecting a contractor who has knowledge and an understanding of the community in which they are working can have an immense impact on getting the community’s buy-in for the project, especially for larger projects.

6. Ask for a detailed project plan.

Make sure that contractors are willing to provide you with a construction schedule that shows how long each part of the project will take. It is a good idea to set up a short meeting with the Project Manager every 2-3 weeks to make sure the project is staying on track. Ask ahead of time how any project changes that are made will impact the construction schedule, and if the target completion date will change.

7. Communication is key.

Select the commercial contractor who communicates best with you. You will be dealing with them for the duration of your project and you need to feel comfortable talking to them, as well as confident that you will be able to get in touch with them whenever necessary, by whatever means of communication is best for you, be that cellphone, email, text, etc.

8. Ask to see past projects.

Websites are a great tool that contractors can use to showcase their work. They are also helpful for you to see the quality of work they do, and the variety of work. If photo galleries include progress photos, take a look at those too and see if the jobsite is kept clean and organized during construction. Look for details. You’ll want to know if your contractor is detail oriented to make sure you get the best job possible.

The interviewing and bidding process takes time and is essential to ensure that your project is successful. A commercial contractor with a positive attitude is often a good indication that the project will be a great success. Remember these helpful tips for a positive experience when you are considering a commercial construction or a residential construction project.

7 thoughts on “How to Hire a Commercial Construction Contractor”

  1. This is a great help for finding a good commercial construction contractor. I like the advice you gave for coming up with a detailed project plan. Thanks for the helpful construction post.

  2. My friend is hiring a commercial contractor to renovate her restaurant. I agree that asking to see past projects will be beneficial to her so she can see the quality of work the contractor provides. In addition, she might get ideas from seeing what the contractor has done in the past. These are great tips, thanks.

  3. Looking through a portfolio of their past projects is a great idea. As you mentioned, knowing how they handled past projects is an indicator of how they will handle your project. If you can, it might be a good idea to go to the buildings of past projects to see how they are holding up.

  4. I’m trying to come up with a good way to get my home built. I’ll make sure that I hire the perfect contractor for me! That way I know that they will build everything to my specifications.

  5. Thanks very much for the advice you provided to check references from a potential contractor. You made a good point about how someone with nothing to hide would have no problems producing them for you, so that would make sense as a good first step. I would also think it would be important to ask around with your acquaintances to see if any of them have any experience with the contractor.

  6. I like that you point out to be weary of contractors that have low bids because they could be cutting corners or omitting something. It seems like it would be good to compare multiple bids side-by-side to see which is best. If there are more than a couple that are the same, perhaps you can look at their work ethic and history to help you decide.

  7. I liked how you said that potential contractors with nothing to hide will be happy to give you references. I feel like knowing that your contractor doesn’t have any past jobs that they want to keep in the dark would be really comforting. I would still probably check them out on the BBB before hiring them though.

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