Hiring a general contractor is one of the most important decisions you’ll make on any project. The GC will be the point of contact for the project, managing everything from materials to people, so it’s important to hire someone you trust to get the job done. But what are the most important qualities in a general contractor and how do you find one?
Look for experience
Large projects require the ability to juggle multiple subcontractors, design changes and budget priorities while keeping the project on track and on budget. Doing that well requires experience to understand each subcontractor’s scope of work and how they all fit together to get the job done. General contractors also need experience to understand labor and material pricing and efficient building practices that can save time and money.
The general contractor will be the single point person who manages people, budgets and materials – in other words, your business partner during the project. Buildingadvisor.com highlights the need for a general contractor you can trust: “Problems will arise during and probably after any large construction job, so it is important to find someone who you feel will act fairly and responsibly in resolving any issues that come up.” Put another way, trust your gut: If you wouldn’t buy a used car from the prospective GC, walk away.
Every project will come with unexpected obstacles – design changes, materials shortfalls, inclement weather – and general contractors must be able to adapt the overall plan to overcome those hurdles while keeping the project on track. You need someone who has enough experience to know how to be flexible when the unexpected arises on a job.
Flexibility improves when general contractors are actually on-site where they can handle issues as they happen. According to the Mechanical Contractors Association of America, issues with construction logistics can have a 50% or more impact on productivity, which adds up to wasted time and money. Being present and available allows for a quick pivot and redirection of resources when things don’t go to plan, which can prevent subcontractors sitting idle.
Make communication a priority
While experience, integrity and flexibility are important, if you can’t communicate well with your GC, your project can go off the rails quickly. Choose a general contractor you feel comfortable with and who has an effective system for communication, not just with you but also with the teams doing the work. Look for one who can pick up the phone and talk to you as well as use technology to improve communication with everyone on the team.
Do your homework
Knowing what to look for in a general contractor is great, but how do you find one? Ask friends and colleagues who have been involved in similar projects for recommendations. Look at work done in your area, and pick out a few projects that are similar in size and scope to your project. Ask who did the work.
Then, dig a little deeper. Ask for references. Investigate the general contractor’s Better Business Bureau rating, and double-check licensing. Find out as much as you can about the general contractors you’re considering, then choose a few to interview. Sit down and discuss the scope of your project with them to assess how well you can work together.
If you’re looking for a contractor who will treat your project as if it’s their own and will make communication a priority, Streamline is ready to help. Our experience, commitment to integrity, on-site management – along with our mastery of the latest industry software tools to provide real-time communication – mean your project is in good hands. Contact us today to request a proposal.
Founded in 2013, Streamline General Contractors partners with multifamily, senior living, hospitality, light industrial and retail clients in urban and rural areas. Through solid relationships and trusted processes Streamline has established with clients and subs, we complete your projects on time and on budget, exceeding your expectations.