7 tips for hiring the best general contractor for your project
San Juan, Puerto Rico – June 13, 2022.
When taking on the monumental task of a commercial and industrial construction project, one of the most important decisions you will make is hiring a general contractor (GC).
Commercial and industrial building construction requires specialized expertise. There are thousands of moving parts and thousands of things that could go wrong. GCs handle key details of a construction project, such as budgeting, scheduling, site acquisition, permits and much more.
An inexperienced contractor could make critical mistakes that cause significant delays and increase costs. Investing some time to ensure you hire the right GC for your project will save you time and money, not to mention headaches, in the long run.
What Do General Contractors Do?
A GC is a company or individual who oversees all aspects of the building process of a project, including the following tasks:
- Managing all activities taking place at the jobsite
- Obtaining all prefab and off-site materials needed for construction
- Acquiring and renting large machinery, equipment, tools and storage space
- Handling logistics, permits, building codes, zoning regulations, etc.
- Working with architects, engineers, tradespersons, subcontractors, suppliers, vendors and other key players in the project.
Commercial and industrial GC work on a variety of building projects, for example:
- Office buildings
- Manufacturing facilities
- Hospitals and other healthcare facilities
- Hotels and apartment complexes
- Retail stores, restaurants and malls
- Multi-purpose commercial buildings
- Farm and agricultural buildings
- Arenas and sports stadiums
In this article, we offer seven tips to help you find the best GC for your project.
1. Research Your Candidates
Start by doing an online search and visiting the websites of several GCs. Look for information about their credentials, types of jobs they do and services they provide, as well as images of current and completed projects. If possible, you should visit a current jobsite to observe the GC in action and assess the quality of the work.
2. Get Referrals, Check References
Request a list of references (at least three clients) from the GCs you’re considering. Below are some of the questions you should ask these clients:
- Did the GC communicate clearly and frequently?
- How did the contractor handle unexpected issues?
- Did the GC provide consistent supervision at the jobsite?
- Did the contractor complete the project on time and within budget?
- Would you hire this CG again?
You can get additional information about contractors in your area from the Better Business Bureau, local and national construction associations, commercial real estate brokers, architects and online customer reviews.
3. Assess Their Experience
Credentials may show which GCs are qualified to handle the scope of your project, but experience will tell you which ones can complete the job on time and on budget. It takes years in the construction industry to learn how to run a large project successfully. Look for a GC with a diverse portfolio of successful projects and with at least three years of experience working on construction projects that are similar to yours.
4. Ask Questions
Interview your potential GCs, preferably in person. Here are some examples of questions you could ask during this meeting.
- What sets you apart from your competitors?
- Have you worked on projects similar to ours?
- Are you licensed, bonded and insured?
- Do you keep a job safety record?
- How soon could you start?
- How long will it take you to complete the project?
- Is your bid an estimate or a fixed price?
- Do you guarantee your work?
- What is your payment schedule?
5. Check License and Insurance
Make sure the GCs you’re considering are licensed and insured. Ask to see a license certificate and proof of insurance. Consider bonding, which guarantees the builder will act in accordance with applicable laws and standards. A licensing bond protects project owners against negligence and fraud, typically up to a certain dollar amount, depending on state and local requirements and regulations. You might also consider a contract bond, which guarantees that the contractor will complete the terms of their contract for your project.
6. Consider Character and Compatibility
The GC you choose will become your new business partner. You will have to work together to ensure the project is completed; therefore, choose someone with whom you are compatible (background, values, company culture, etc) and someone who is trustworthy and has high standards.
7. Evaluate Your Costs
Cost is one of the most important factors when choosing a GC. But the lowest bid isn’t always the best value. Furthermore, a bid that is substantially below market rate could be a red flag pointing to a GC that uses substandard materials and hasty construction methods.
Solicit bids from more than one contractor, at least two or three. Make sure they’re bidding on the exact same scope of work. If your project already has been designed by an architect, give your potential CGs the latest plans and specifications. You should receive an itemized description of costs that includes as much detail as possible.
If you’re in the market for a GC with a flair for excellence and a knack exceeding clients’ expectation, consider CIC Construction Group. With nearly 40 years of experience and offices in Puerto Rico, North Carolina and Florida, we offer comprehensive general contracting services for customers in the Caribbean and Southeast U.S. Contact us for more information about our services.