7 Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing a Commercial Construction Firm
Choosing the right commercial construction firm for your business may seem overwhelming. Every general contractor and construction company has its own way of approaching a project, so the process of selecting the best fit for your facility architecture and construction can be confusing. It is vital to do your research, ask the right questions, and know the key criteria to evaluate. To help guide you, we’ve prepared a list of things NOT do when choosing a commercial construction company.
Don’t ignore a referral
Ask around for referrals from other business owners who have recently completed a project. You will learn a lot about the reputation of various local construction firms by doing so. Chances are your business associates, friends, family or even competitors have had good or bad experiences with contractors, and that’s a great starting point. A positive referral is often the best way to begin sourcing a quality commercial builder.
Don’t treat all proposals the same
When considering different proposals, never treat them all the same. Look closely at each one to distinguish the differences. Factors such as building materials, tenant impacts, unit costs, markup, responsibilities and schedule are all important to consider when looking at proposals from architects and general contractors.
For example, some project cost projections are fixed, while others are estimates. Estimates without a cap or maximum price could end up costing you a lot more if overlooked. Also, the proposal should demonstrate that the firm has experience working on projects similar to yours. And finally, look for the proposal to outline the firm’s range of capabilities and scope of responsibility; companies that are responsible for delivering on all aspects of your project’s architectural design, engineering and construction can be extremely valuable.
Don’t always choose the lowest price
Project cost is obviously a criteria near the top of the list when choosing a commercial construction firm, but never let cost be your sole deciding factor. Choosing a firm based only on price can increase the likelihood of expensive problems and repairs in the future if the work is not done right. Read the fine print carefully. The lowest price offer may omit critical steps that have to be added in later, so it is important to ask questions and know how costs might add up because change orders can be big business. A slightly higher priced firm might deliver the quality construction you are looking for, saving you money in the long-run. Firms that have a solid track record are most likely to offer fair market prices for their services.
Don’t discount the communication factor
Sourcing a commercial architect and construction team that will communicate clearly and honestly is extremely important. You don’t want to hire someone who will be difficult to track down when you need them. Be honest about your communication expectations during the interview process. You will be spending a lot of time working together, so you want to be sure you are on the same page with the company you choose. A well-run company will always have a plan for communication.
Don’t forget to ask for references
Never be afraid to ask for references and examples of past projects from architects and construction firms you are considering. A capable firm will provide you with a list of past clients, so you can inquire about the way they do business. Some important questions to ask when talking to references:
- For what business or field is your facility used?
- Did the construction firm address all your needs?
- Was the project completed on time?
- Was the project completed within budget?
- Did the firm communicate clearly during the project?
- What was your favorite aspect of working with this firm?
- Would you recommend this firm to other companies?
- Do you have any reservations about recommending this firm?
Don’t overlook safety records
Always ask the prospective builder about their safety record. Safety should be a primary concern for any quality construction firm. A general contractor who gets uncomfortable about these questions very likely has safety issues to hide. Ask these questions when inquiring about safely record:
- Can you provide documentation of your safety record?
- Do you have specific references that can back up your safety claims?
- Do you consistently meet worksite safety standards?
- What are your injury prevention guidelines?
- What are your insurance coverages?
- How will you ensure safety on my job site?
Don’t forget to recognize experience
Experience is a key factor when choosing a commercial construction firm for your project. Many firms that successfully manage large commercial projects from the initial design to construction completion have years of experience. Experienced firms will know how to deal with issues in the quickest and most cost-effective way. This will save you time, money and headaches.
Making the best decision
You should never rush into a contract with a commercial architect and construction firm without careful due diligence. Have them visit your building site, review their proposals carefully, and ask questions until you’re satisfied. When you take the time to research and find a qualified firm, you will enjoy the benefits. Hiring a firm that is honest, demonstrates integrity and is a right fit for your business will give you peace of mind.
Bobbitt is a comprehensive design-build firm, which means we handles the entire project, turn-key. From initial planning, site planning and architecture to pre-construction, permitting and construction, Bobbitt will be there working hard for you and your business.