Ready to Build? Here’s How to Responsibly Qualify a General Contractor

Ready to Build? Here’s How to Responsibly Qualify a General Contractor

As an owner or project manager starting on a commercial build-out, you may be faced with the crucial and challenging task of hiring a general contractor. If you’ve learned from previous experience, you know just how vital that partner is to the success of your project. If this is your first project, you have probably heard a horror story or two about a colleague hiring the wrong GC and reaping the consequences that came with that decision. So, how do you tackle this challenging yet crucial milestone?

There are steps to take to ensure your project requirements are being met, your timelines and budgets are being hit, and ultimately, you are getting the result that you are paying for.

Tips for Interviewing Contractors

Every owner or project manager wants to hire the right person for the job, but choosing a construction firm can be a project of its own. One method with a high rate of success in the industry is to interview a shortlist of contractors for the job. To create this shortlist, we recommend asking colleagues or connections for referrals of firms they hired and were pleased with. If you are beginning a franchise project, ask your franchisor for recommendations on contractors that have worked with or ask other franchisees in the same market.

Consider these tips when interviewing contractors:

  • There’s no need to shop your project to a long list of general contractors. Working your way down a long list will be exhausting, and your energy and time could be better spent elsewhere. Besides, a long list can negatively affect bidding efforts, the integrity of the selection process, and the reasons for which a firm will be awarded the job.
  • Ask each contractor the same set of pre-written questions. We suggest asking about relevant experience, current works in progress, timeliness of delivery, their knowledge of health and safety standards, and the availability of resources. 
  • Ultimately, your selection should be based on the firm you feel is the most capable to complete the job as desired. It is similar to a personnel hire, pick the firm you will enjoy working with for the lifecycle of the work.

Level-Set Your Qualifications

It’s important to make sure that the firms you’re considering are comparable in size, capacity, and experience.

To obtain competitive bids, ensure that companies are bidding “apples to apples.” This can be achieved by providing a Bid Form for companies to complete and submit.

It’s important to be clear about your timeline and expectations. Share with your bidders how long you anticipate the project taking from start to finish. This way, they can budget accordingly and accurately staff their team—and subcontractors can do the same.

Consider More Than Cost

The biggest mistake we see from decision-makers during the process of qualifying a contractor is basing their selection too heavily on the quote, and not heavily enough on other qualifications.

There are other intangibles to consider too. Which team is more attentive and responsive to you? Who do you think you will enjoy working with for the lifecycle of the project? 

If you are deciding between multiple firms of relatively the same size, experience, and capacity, the cost of work should not be drastically varied. If one bid is significantly lower than the others, there may be an underlying issue in the clarity of the construction documents or the contractor’s understanding of the scope of work.

If the bids are relatively close in price, that’s a good indication that the SOW and instructions are clear. You can then make your decision based on other factors.

If You Need Help, We’re Here

Whether your commercial building project is retail, office, or restaurant, you want to responsibly qualify a general contractor before you start your property improvements or build outs. A good rule of thumb: Find someone who will keep your risk low and your ROI high. 

If you need help getting started, HURD is here. For more information about the services we offer as one of the top construction management companies in Florida, contact our experienced team today.