10 Things to Ask Your Commercial General Contractor

A commercial building project can be a stressful undertaking, but with the right contractor to help you through the process, it does not have to be! Choosing a company that has the experience and ability to help you from design through occupancy is the key to success. In order to help you with the selection process, we have provided 10 questions that you should ask every commercial general contractor before selecting the company that is the right fit for your project.

  1. How long have you been in business? Enthusiasm is great, but experience is better. Make sure that your contractor has an extensive portfolio that establishes a track record of excellence. With each year a commercial general contractor is in business, they will establish relationships with other professionals in the community, and a good understanding of all the relevant rules and regulations that might impact your project.
  2. Are you Licensed, Bonded, and Insured? Commercial contractors who are properly bonded and insured have coverage that protects their company, their employees and you if something goes wrong. Without this coverage, you may be liable if someone working on the property is injured or find yourself stuck with the bill for property damage that occurs during construction.
  3. What types of construction services do you offer? Some commercial general contractors only tackle the actual construction. Others, like Fraser Construction, can handle both the design and the construction of a project. Fraser Construction can even go a step further and offer construction management services, which means that we handle everything from preplanning, design and construction to engineering and project management. Understanding what services a commercial general contractor can provide and how they might benefit you allows you to make the best choice for your project and many times can save you money in the long-run.
  4. What Changes or Problems Could Impact My Project? In a perfect world, everything would go as planned. In the real world, stuff happens, so it makes sense to be aware of the possibilities so that you can prepare for them. What problems might arise? Discuss these options with your contractor. How might they impact the timing and cost of the project? Contingency plans are quite normal when discussing how to complete a project. Depending on the time of the year, materials and weather might be an issue.
  5. How do you deal with necessary changes? Problems happen; it is how they are dealt with that matters. Be sure to understand how the change order process is handled by your contractor and have a clear agreement about how to handle challenges that may affect your budget.
  6. How often do projects miss deadlines? Deadlines are essential to the building process and missing them can become quite costly. Ask your contractor about the scheduling process and why deadlines may have been missed.
  7. How is your safety record? A company that provides a safe environment for their employees and sub-contractors clearly cares about its people. Check on your contractor’s safety record in order to protect your own liability as well.
  8. Do you offer a guaranteed price? Many contractors offer a guaranteed price, but be sure to cover the details about anything that might not fall under that guarantee. There may be some changes that you will be financially responsible for even though the contractor uses the term “guarantee.” Get these particulars in writing with a detailed contract.
  9. Who Will Be My Main Contact? If you have questions or concerns, you don’t want to waste time tracking down the person in charge. Ask who will be in charge of your project. If it’s someone other than the person you’re speaking with, inquire about meeting them. Talking to this person will give you a sense of the potential working relationship that you’d have with them. What are their qualifications? Do they seem reliable, open and honest? Can you communicate effectively with them? Will they be spending a good amount of time on the project site? What will be their method of communication? Depending on the size of the project, you will be communicating with this project manager for quite some time. Be sure that your communication styles and personalities are compatible.
  10. What Sets Your Company Apart from Other Commercial Construction Companies? This question gives the contractor an opportunity to shine and gives you some insight into the contractor, their viewpoint and their priorities. It may also raise issues that you hadn’t considered, which can be incredibly helpful.

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