As a project manager at a commercial real estate firm, I understand that when it comes to commercial construction, the selection of a general contractor is pivotal to your project’s success.
This article aims to guide you through the contractor selection process, helping you make informed decisions that align with your project goals.
How to Choose a General Contractor for Your Project
Identify Your Project Goals and Criteria
Working hand in hand with your project manager, the first essential task is to define your project’s goals. This forms the foundation for your entire project. The primary objectives for most projects typically revolve around budget, schedule, and the type of construction needed. Your chosen contractor must align with your project’s goals and project managers establish criteria based on the project’s unique requirements.
When comparing different contractors, it’s crucial to focus on those who have extensive experience with your specific type of build-out. For example, if you have an industrial project, a contractor who specializes in an office build-out might not be the best fit. Making sure that the contractor’s expertise matches the project type is key. However, most contractors have experience and can execute multiple build-out types.
Conducting Thorough Research on General Contractors
Your project manager will help you delve into potential contractors’ backgrounds, portfolios, and past projects. They will also offer insights based on their prior experiences with the potential general contractors, presenting a list of those they deem highly compatible. This process allows you to gain insights into their capabilities and the quality of their work. In addition to their recommendations, you may also have existing relationships with colleagues, industry groups, and associations that could provide additional information.
Landlord’s Preferred List of General Contractors
Don’t overlook the importance of checking with your office building’s landlord. Landlords often maintain a preferred general contractor list, featuring professionals with proven track records on their properties. This can be an invaluable resource, as these contractors are familiar with the building and the landlord’s expectations. Some landlords may only allow you to select a general contractor from their preferred list. If you find an exceptional contractor not on the list, inquire about the process of adding them, as this could expand your options.
When examining the landlord’s list of preferred general contractors, keep in mind that there might be cost savings for your project. This is because the general contractors’ familiarity with the building could lead to a more efficient construction approach that can positively impact your project’s budget.
Interviewing General Contractors
Interviewing general contractors is a critical step in the selection process. It’s important to involve both your project manager and architect in this phase, as they can provide valuable insights and perspectives. You must ask probing questions that go beyond the surface. Inquire about their project strategies, how they approach challenges, and how they coordinate with subcontractors. By doing so, you gain insights into their communication skills, responsiveness, and overall fit for your project.
Considering a contractor’s reputation and client feedback is equally important. A contractor’s past performance can provide a glimpse into their professionalism, reliability, and ability to deliver on promises. Take the time to research their online reviews, request references, and, if possible, visit completed projects to assess the quality firsthand.
During the interview phase, it’s essential to consider the composition of the project team. During these interviews, the contractor typically introduces their team, which often includes their project manager, superintendent, supporting staff, and key company leadership. This meeting serves as an opportunity to personally acquaint yourself with the proposed team, establishing a sense of comfort and rapport. This connection is crucial since these individuals will be your daily point of contact throughout the project. The importance of selecting the right team cannot be overstated; their expertise, collaboration skills, and commitment significantly influence the project’s success.
Your project manager plays a pivotal role in offering a knowledgeable recommendation for selecting the right general contractor. Their insights into the contractor’s proposal, capabilities, and how they approach the project, combined with their awareness of your project’s specific needs, allow them to provide valuable guidance. Trusting in your project manager’s expertise ensures that the chosen general contractor fits well with your project’s vision and requirements, setting the stage for a successful partnership.
As a project manager, I encourage you to approach this process with a project-oriented mindset. Selecting a general contractor for your commercial construction project is a meticulous process that requires strategic thinking and careful consideration. From aligning your goals with selection criteria to conducting thorough research and interviews, each step is essential for ensuring a successful outcome.
The AQUILA project management team has decades of experience in the Austin market and is ready to help guide you through your next office renovation, TI project, or ground-up build. If you have any questions about this or any other services AQUILA offers, request a consultation today.