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October 5, 2020

Regardless of whether you’re constructing a new commercial building, expanding on the existing building, or renovating some of the office space, you want to choose the right commercial contractor for the job.

Any commercial construction project is a multi-million dollar undertaking. The people you select as contractors to undertake the job will either […]
ensure those millions of dollars are spent wisely to hit the deadlines and complete a building that is up to code. On the other hand, the wrong contractors can send the budget for the project off the rails and cause delay after delay in completing the building.

So how do you ensure you select the right contractor for the job? Read on for some best practices to choose a commercial contractor that delivers results.

how to choose a commercial contractor

Contact and get a quote from several contractors

The most important thing to do when considering a commercial contractor is to have a construction plan all mapped out. When you have a plan to construct a commercial building, all of the steps, the costs, the timelines, and the materials are all envisioned. That plan becomes your roadmap and helps you narrow the field of potential contractors down to the ones whose capabilities align with your expectations.

Once you have your plan, you can start calling up potential hires and interviewing their credentials. The Canadian Home Builders’ Association encourages you, as the project manager, to have multiple discussions with a potential contractor. Complex projects like commercial construction require more than one conversation to outline the vision, communicate the timelines, and then ask for realistic quotes.

Those quotes and the dates that contractors promise to deliver will help influence your decision as to whether to hire that particular contractor. If the first few meetings don’t connect you with the right contractor, consider using a partner that is committed to working with proven contractors who live up to world class standards.

Do your homework

You’ve had your initial meetings with a few contractors that show potential. You’ve outlined the required dates of completion for the project and received quotes that spell out how and when the jobs will get done.

Now, it’s up to you to verify that what each of your prospective candidates has presented is feasible. A detailed background check can make all the difference in selecting a contractor who will keep your commercial project on time and on budget. Otherwise, you risk derailing it all.

Research the contractor’s history

First and foremost, if the contractor has a professional website, visit it and review the services offered. You should also keep an eye out for any testimonials from past clients that have left reviews about the contractor’s work. All of this information gives you a better understanding of how this potential hire conducts business and the results that you can expect.

On top of that, speak with any friends or colleagues that have hired contractors of their own. Ask if anyone has experience working with the contractor you’re considering and what that experience was like. You can compare notes from your network about contractors they hired, and how quotes, services, and timelines from your contractor compare to others in the industry.

Is the contractor licensed

You’ll want to verify that your commercial contractor is fully licensed before they take on the job. In Ontario, the Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities oversees the process. If your contractor does not have a certification granted by the Ontario government, it’s best to move onto a new potential hire.

You also want your contractor to have general liability and worker’s compensation insurance. In the event of an unforeseen accident, this prevents you as the project manager or the building owner from being liable for those injuries. You’ll avoid significant cost overruns by hiring a contractor who’s fully insured.

Restaurant Interior

What about their qualifications

You can answer part of this question when researching the history of the contractor. Any certifications should be featured on their website, and any testimonials from past clients will validate their skills as being up to par.

Ask for references

Just like in any job interview, references are important to ensure you’re selecting the right candidate to take on the work. References from past employers or past clients who are satisfied with the work that was done will help validate the contractor’s qualifications for your job.

If they’re unwilling to provide any past references, take that as a red flag that this contractor is likely not the best fit for you. You can use a platform for talented commercial tradespeople to connect with a fully qualified contractor with plenty of references.

Ask the right questions

Remember that this is your interview process. You dictate the terms and you decide what topics are most important to discuss when vetting potential talent. Use this opportunity to put your would-be contractors on the spot with the right questions that shine a light on how they handle construction projects from start to finish.

Don’t be afraid to put some ‘what if’ scenarios out there. It’s not uncommon for unexpected difficulties to arise during any construction project, and you want to know that the contractor you hire for the job is well-suited to handle those unforeseen circumstances. How they answer those what if questions will help you determine their overall suitability for the job.

Google My Business reviews

Finally, Google My Business is a great resource to verify the capabilities of your potential commercial contractor. Reviews are a key indicator for new customers, in any industry, and they provide third-party validation for the services offered by those professionals.

MidiCi Commercian Building

Consider your budget

Finally, you want to ensure that the contractor you select is quoting you at a reasonable rate that falls within your budget for the project. Review all submitted quotes with your overall budget and see how your options check out.

Be wary of bids that seem significantly cheap or low. This may indicate a lack of project knowledge and a higher risk of mismanagement or avoidable mistakes. It may sound cheaper in the beginning, but you will get hit with “extras” and it can end up costing you more than you thought.

Keep in mind higher quality general construction companies with strong reputations will have higher price tags. Take the time to shop around and weigh your options before making a final decision. You want to be comfortable with the contractor you select so do your due diligence.

Final thoughts

Knowing how to choose a commercial contractor can make all the difference in how your construction project proceeds ahead. These types of projects have very specific requirements, particularly around budgets and timelines. A vetted commercial contractor will speak to their ability to meet those requirements and offer solutions for unforeseen problems.

Make sure that any contractor under your consideration understands the requirements and is transparent with their own history to help you verify they are the right fit for the job.