Commercial Construction Tips – How to Know If Your Contractor Is Doing a Good Job

Big construction project or little one. An historic renovation in the heart of old downtown or a new retail center. No matter what kind of construction project you are undertaking, you want to feel assured that you have chosen the right contractor for the job. But how do you know that your contractor is doing a good job?

The success or failure of a contractor is often closely linked with you – how effectively you complete your hiring due diligence, how clearly you state your expectations, and how well you and your contractor communicate with each other during all construction phases.

Preparation and Selection

Before you begin your search for a contractor, you should clearly outline the responsibilities for which you will hold your contractor accountable. Those accountabilities should be included in the contract between you/your company and the contractor.

Next, you need to do your due diligence.

• Ask friends and colleagues who have worked with construction projects similar to yours for contractor recommendations. Ask these questions:

o How did the contractor handle the budget and materials?

o Was the project done on or ahead of time? If it was off schedule, why?

o Was the work done according to agreed-upon terms?

o Would your source work with that contractor again?

If their referral did well on each of those points, he or she may be a good contractor on your project as well

• Check ALL references!

Get it in writing

All good business relationships should begin with, “get it in writing!”

• Each contractor candidate should provide a written bid. Red flag: nothing in writing.

• You and your contractor should have a signed contract. Include details on the budget, scope of work, materials, the schedule, and the contractor’s specific responsibilities. Red flag: the contractor who won’t sign a contract.

• Your contractor should take notes during each walkthrough and meeting. Red flag: “I’ll remember… “

On the job

These are some important on-the-job clues that your contractor is doing a good job:

• Communication: you and your contractor communicate frequently and clearly according to your agreed-upon methods (text, fax, email, phone). Red flags: doesn’t return calls, is difficult to reach, provides limited responses to questions, communicates poorly with work crew.

• Subcontractors: contractor hires quality subcontractors with verifiable references. Red flags: conflicts on the job, petty thefts, on-the-job substance abuse, wasted time, etc.

• Safety: contractor diligently observes safety practices and insists that all workers comply with safety rules. Red flags: avoidable injuries, safety issues.

• On the job site: contractor is working at the job site for the majority of the time. The construction crew is busy during all working hours of the week. Red flags: contractor is infrequently on site, workers have too much idle time.

• Security: appropriate security measures are observed at all times. Red flags: equipment and materials not secured or missing, the site is poorly secured during non-working hours, unauthorized people are on site.

Schedule and budget

Ideally, every construction project is completed on budget and on schedule. Realistically, there may be some schedule interruptions and unexpected costs.

Ask yourself some final questions:

• Is my contractor providing me with accurate, up-to-date information on all aspects of the job and construction progress?

• Is he/she managing resources, budget, crew, and materials effectively and appropriately?

• Are crew members working fairly harmoniously with each other?

• Are my objectives for this project being met?

When you can answer yes to these questions, it is most likely that your contractor is, indeed, doing an excellent job for you. Congratulations on your choice, and your new project!

Commercial Construction Tips – How to Come in Under Budget

If you are relatively new to the commercial construction business you might still have some things to learn. One of those things ought to be how to stay within your budget. If you do not have a plan for doing this it could become a constant and unnecessary battle for you. The key here is – having a plan in the first place. We are going to give you some ideas on what costs must be accounted for in your plan in order to determine what your individual project budget will be. Then you can proceed to plan how to meet that budget.

Unfortunately there are many common errors that occur when a commercial construction estimates their budget. The result is that quite often they do go over that budget. If you have a general concept of what those errors are you will know what to watch out for. Therefore, we will give you a list of what they are. In no particular order those factors are: price changes, omissions, unclear plans and specs, wrong assumptions, design changes, inadequate allowances, construction or design errors, cost-plus bids, hidden or concealed conditions, and design changes. This is some list! And this is only the list of known errors in budget estimations. It does not take into account all of the new issues that might crop up over time. But now you get a rough idea of all of the things that can go wrong. You and your leadership team may be able to come up with more possibilities right off the tops of your heads. Write them all down in your plan, and then proceed to discuss all of them in-depth.

Some things you will accomplish by dramatically reducing your budgetary errors are: to forge better relationships with your subcontractors, decrease the amount of time it takes your company to complete projects, and generally stay ahead of the ballgame. In addition to our list, we have some general tips for overall budgetary success. Our first tip is do not always accept the lowest bid. While you do want to keep your costs low, you also want to ensure you receive quality work. You will not necessarily get that from the sub-contractor that gives you the lowest bid. Do some investigating of your prospect before you go into business with them.

Our next suggestion is to always allow for any preventative measures; both from a safety standpoint involving any person who works on the project, and for things that could go wrong with that project. A lot of unplanned expense money on a project is paid out for medical care that is needed when people get injured on the job. Those injuries can be avoided if all safety guidelines and procedures are strictly adhered to. Additionally; when commercial construction companies fail to properly plan for anything that could go wrong on a project, that means more money will have to be shelled out to fix those things. This can be avoided if you allow for those kinds of expenses in your project budget to begin with. Remember the old Boy Scouts’ motto about always being prepared!!

Commercial Construction Tips – How to Avoid Going Over Budget

A commercial construction project can seem like a never-ending balancing act, like keeping a series of plates spinning. One plate represents keeping the project on schedule. Another spinning plate is ensuring that construction is completed properly and safely. And still another spinning plate is containing the project budget.

A commercial construction budget is influenced by a number of factors. Exceeding the budget can easily occur for reasons beyond the control of the owner, contractor, and project manager, including:

• A sharp increase in materials costs during construction.

• Weather fluctuations that slow or halt construction.

• Work stoppages.

• Frequent alterations to the design, materials.

Make a list

As one industry writer stated, estimating a project’s cost is the first step of construction cost containment. The project budget should list the essentials (non-negotiables) as well as the negotiables (the aspects of the project that can be reduced, modified, or eliminated in order to contain costs. Each line item should be carefully researched, sourced, and have a realistic cost applied to it. The budget should also include contingency funding.

Cost control challenges

Cost containment challenges are not always line item-related. There are a number of less-obvious but significant challenges to staying on budget, including:

• Poorly defined scope of project.

• Flawed estimating methodology

• Lack of project management policies and controls.

• Unrealistic scheduling.

• Insufficient planned-to-actual cost comparisons.

The big three

This trio of cost containment issues has been stated before and they are worth stating again. If The Big Three of budget issues are carefully managed, you can reduce or eliminate a number of budget overruns:

1. Incomplete design documentation: the architect’s rendering, plans, and specs that are turned over to the owner or project manager do not always include the in-depth details necessary for realistic budgeting.

a. Solution: the contract between the owner and architect should specify that all members of the architecture team will provide complete details, specs, documents, and drawings related to the project.

2. Pre-bidding document review: some contractors do only a general review of documentation before submitting their bids.

a. Solution: the language of the project owner’s contract should require all contractors who submit bids to acknowledge, in writing, that they have reviewed all specifications and plans. The bid price should cover all identified and “implied or express design intent” work.

Any materials or changes to design that the contractor feels are essential to successful completion of the project (but weren’t identified in the project/owner’s documentation) also should be included in the bid, along with explanations for the additional items.

This requirement should reduce or eliminate the need for contractors to seek additional compensation based on additional work necessitated by information “not shown on the original plans and specifications.”

3. The low-ball bid: underbidding can put the entire project at risk and cause it to far exceed the budget.

a. Solution: solicit bids only from trusted contractors who have successfully completed similar projects. They should have documentable records of completing projects on budget and on time.

Another cost containment option

Another cost containment option is to hire a skilled construction cost estimator. That person or team works with you to help you avoid out-of-control expenses, keep construction costs down, and ensure the project is completed within the agreed-upon timeframe.

It’s up to you

Ultimately, it is the owner and project team who are responsible for overseeing each phase, change order, and plan alteration to the construction project. There should be a well-defined process for change order submittal, review, and authorization. There also should be continual monitoring and updating of the budget so that you and your team know where the project financially stands all the way to completion.

Selecting a Contractor for Commercial Interior and Exterior Remodeling

Just like homeowners only spend on renovation once every few years, commercial projects too must be remodeled to suit the current needs and requirements. The first step is planning the project. This is the point where you decide the requirements, consider the budget, and select the tasks or aspects that need immediate attention and the ones that can be ignored for now. The remodeling project may include a new segment of the property too. To do all of that within a fixed budget, you need to find a commercial contractor.

In this post, we will talk about the aspects that matter in selecting and working with a commercial interior and exterior remodeling contractor.

1. Make your notes. What kind of remodeling project do you have in mind? If you know your requirements, discussing things further with your renovation contractor will be easier than ever. The list should be made in sync with your priorities. For example, remodeling the conference room of your business premises might be more urgent than redesigning the roof lounge. You need to prioritize your expectations, which will also come handy for budgeting.

2. Finding a contractor. Today, commercial contractors have their own websites, so finding a few options in your city shouldn’t be a challenging task. However, you should check for references with your industry friends and colleagues. Contractors and architectural services that deal with new projects may also take up remodeling tasks, so don’t shy away from contacting the top services.

3. Know more. Don’t hire a contractor unless you are sure of what they can achieve for your project. To get a good idea if they are the right choice, you need to check their previous projects. A commercial contractor who has been around for more than a decade will have the necessary experience, and in the ideal case, they wouldn’t shy away from discussing their portfolio. Check the range of commercial projects they have done in recent years and if they specialize in managing contracts on a lower budget.

4. Set a budget. As a client, you probably know what you can afford to spend on the remodeling project. Quite evidently, the prime task is to find a contractor who can achieve more than what’s on the table. On your first meeting, ask them to offer a clear picture of their charges, how they plan to manage the project and the things they can realistically achieve for your needs, keeping the budget in mind. Many contractors and commercial remodeling services may customize their work to suit your needs, and that’s surely an added benefit.

5. Finally, check the expertise of the concerned contractor. A company that deals in new projects and take up remodeling work should be your first preference. Check if they are willing to share client references and whether they have succeeded in managing a diverse portfolio in their years of operation.

Check online get started, and don’t forget to get a contract ready, with the relevant terms and conditions. Commercial remodeling work can take time, and you would want a company that builds relationships too.