How to choose the right General Contractor – A step by step guide
Most medium to large construction renovations are managed by a general contractor or GC. Typically this means, an owner hires the general contractor to complete a project, and the GC takes on all the responsibility of completing the project, which removes liability from the owner. This means, purchasing materials, hiring tradespeople, and completing the work through the negotiated contract type.
With so much responsibility, how does an owner choose a good general contractor? How do you know they will complete the desired work to your standards and desires?
Find A General Contractor
1. Personal Referrals
Word of mouth referrals for family and friends are often the most trusted sources for finding quality services. For commercial projects, referrals from trusted business partners or respected community members are often the best place to start. Since they have already been through a project, your trusted source will have insights into what to watch out for, and tips on making the whole process run smoothly. However, be sure to think about how relevant their project was to yours. Commercial construction has a wide variety of project types, and an office renovation is different than a change of use manufacturing renovation.
2. Online Presence or Portfolio of Work
The construction industry isn’t the most innovative or technology centered industry out there. However, it is 2015 and a general contractor should have information about their services, and a portfolio of their past work online. Research their most recent projects and look for reviews or testimonials from past clients. Look for similar projects types, and visit their past projects to see the quality of work. Next see what the general contractor is talking about on social media or on their blog. The content they are sharing online will give you an idea about what is important to them. Are they developing original content or sharing others? Are they involved in the community, winning awards, or partnering with other companies? Digging into their online presence will help you answer your questions about who they are as a company.
3. Architects, Engineers, and Design Professionals
If you are working with an architect, engineer or other design professional, they will often provide the names of general contractors they have worked with in the past. Ask for multiple names, and do some research yourself. You will want to feel comfortable working with the general contractor just as you would with a doctor, lawyer, or other professional service provider.
4. Questions to ask a General Contractor before selecting one
Other than questions around financial cost, there are a few things you should ask a general contractor before hiring them for your project.
- How many projects have you completed similar to this? How long ago?
- Who will supervise the construction site, and who will I work with when construction begins?
- What is a realistic timeline for completing the work?
- What is your greatest strength or expertise? What is a differentiating aspect of your company?
- Do you have experience working with owner suggested subcontractors?
- How have you worked with owners to meet budget restrictions?
5. Do they have the “it” Factor?
Most importantly, does the general contractor fit your needs, and style? Think about your communication style and what makes you feel most comfortable. Some general contractors will require in person meetings, others will talk via phone, while others will use email as their main form of communication. Selecting a contractor that you feel comfortable with and matches your personality will make the whole project run smoother for both parties. Think about the general contractor as an extension of your business. Would the GC represent your business while working on it? Do they have the right people to solve your problems with you? Build a relationship for a long term partnership, and not just a one-time project.
Pick A General Contractor that’s right for you!
Selecting a general contractor doesn’t need to be intimidating. Take some time and research alternatives and dig into each construction company. Avoid making a decision based solely on money. Finding the right general contractor for you, is the most important factor in a successful project.
Learn more about Compton Construction’s General Contracting services.