Commercial construction is expensive and stressful. There are hundreds of choices along the way that can make or break a project. Undoubtedly, one of the most important decisions you will make for your project is which construction firm you hire. While there are a plethora of contractors, construction firms, and handymen, not all vendors are created equal. Save yourself future headaches and costly mistakes by vetting potential partners carefully. Asking a few pertinent questions can eliminate easily preventable hurdles. But what are those questions?
At MOORING, we eat, sleep, and breathe construction and restoration. We have seen it all. Over the years, we have crafted a brief list of the most important matters for clients to discuss internally, as well as the top-priority questions to pose to candidates they are considering hiring. Whether the job is building, renovating, or restoring, this is what you must ask.
QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF:
Should I go the Design-Build route or opt for Design-Bid-Build?
Both Design-Bid-Build and Design-Build have advantages and disadvantages worth considering. We always recommend finding a company that can provide the best method of project implementation for your needs.
Have you checked the references of the companies you are considering?
Even if a company is highly recommended, you owe it to yourself (as well as investors and stakeholders) to check their references and track record. This includes verifying the company’s financial stability. You can request audited financial statements or purchase a detailed report from Dun & Bradstreet. Asking past clients about their experience with the company and gather information regarding the company’s history where you are building will also help narrow the field. We also recommend that you request a certificate of insurance from the contractor’s insurance company.
Do you have a clear set of goals for your project and which are the most important?
A detailed budget and a realistic timeline are of the utmost importance. When evaluating these details, consider which is most important to you: coming in on time or budget. With the right company, the likelihood of achieving both increases dramatically. However, unexpected events and delays happen. Clearly communicate your priorities to your contractor to ensure you are on the same page from day one.
QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR CONTRACTOR:
Do you have the proper experience?
It is important to make sure the company (or companies) you hire has expertise that is relevant to your specific construction needs. Ask the general contractor about their unique capabilities, as well as examples of similar projects they have already completed.
Do you have the internal resources to get the job done successfully?
The last thing you want to do is hire a general contractor that has to scramble to assemble a team to complete your job. Therefore, it is essential that they already have a network of reliable subcontractors or employees with the necessary skills. For larger projects, ask if they have adequate staff on both the administrative and project management sides to keep things running smoothly, from acquiring permits to sourcing materials. Finally, inquire about their current workload to ensure they are not spreading themselves too thin between projects.
How will you keep me in the loop as the project progresses?
Communication between you and the general contractor should not be underestimated or undervalued. Ask how the contractor plans keep you apprised of the project’s status and all vital updates.
Do you have experience in this market?
Find out if your contractor has experience in the specific market in which you are building. Although a skilled contractor can do the job regardless of the location, we recommend selecting a contractor or construction firm with a positive track record working in your market. A contractor who knows the local market will be able to nimbly tap into a local pool of dependable talent—a key resource for keeping your project on budget and on time.
Ultimately, you need to hire a construction firm or contractor you trust. A few additional conversations can pave the way for a smoother journey from breaking ground to opening your doors for business.