5 Points to Consider When Choosing a General Contractor

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When beginning any construction project, finding the right general contractor for your needs is essential to the success of the project. Spending time upfront to find a quality general contractor that is the best fit for a project can save hours of time and headaches. While the quoted cost can and should be a significant factor when making the decision, it shouldn’t be the only factor. There are several other considerations and certain red flags to look out for.

Here are five key points to consider when choosing a general contractor:

Experience

Does the general contractor have the experience required to meet the scope of the project?

  • With any project, it’s important to align the skills of the general contractor with the work that needs to be completed.
  • Ask the general contractor about their unique capabilities and if they’ve performed similar types of work.
  • It’s certainly appropriate to ask for referrals.

Resources

Does the general contractor have adequate resources at their disposal?

  • A strong network of subcontractors – it’s important that your general contractor has a network of reliable subcontractors that they work with regularly.
  • Adequate staff to handle the project – especially for larger projects, you should ask yourself, does this general contractor have enough staff on both the project management and administrative sides to take on my project? If pulling permits is involved, are they familiar with the local municipality and permitting agency?
  • Self-performing work – find out what unique capabilities, such as an in-house drafting department or other self-performing work, your general contractor can offer that would give them greater control over the process, schedule and costs.

Communication

Does the general contractor effectively communicate with customers and subcontractors?

  • You can never underestimate the value of effective communication between subcontractors and customers. It’s what keeps projects running smoothly and on time.
  • It’s important to choose a general contractor that is skilled at helping clients get their ideas out of their heads and onto paper and then effectively communicate what needs to be done with subcontractors to best achieve goals.

Value-Engineering Ideas

Can the general contractor bring a construction-specific perspective to project planning?

  • When working with architects and engineers, a good general contractor is able to offer a different perspective from a construction standpoint.
  • This perspective allows the general contractor to make specific recommendations for how to construct something differently that is more effective for the project and/or will save a considerable amount of money.

Financially Responsible

Does the general contractor have a strong financial record?

  • Having a healthy balance sheet is a very important quality to look for in a general contractor.
  • If a general contractor is financially responsible in their own business practices, then it is a good sign that they will manage the costs of your project responsibly as well.
  • Often times an owner will ask for a bond of 5% of the project to see if the general contractor is approved.
  • Look for these red flags: a contractor that asks for money upfront or one willing to take a job for too cheap.
  • Keep in mind that a quoted cost does not always turn out to be the actual end cost – the most responsible contractors do their homework on the front-end in order to give accurate estimates.