As over 200 businesses were lost in the May 22 tornado, and business owners are doing their best to rebuild after the devastation damaged or destroyed their structures. A lot of local construction companies are hard at work, and a lot of distance companies are coming into the area to pick up the slack. Without knowing the track record of a particular company, or having a strong referral source, the process of choosing a commercial contractor can be daunting.
That’s why here at Farrell Construction, we wanted to share some tips on how you can check out potential contractors, and choose the right one for your project.
First of all, it is important to get at least three bids on your project. Be sure to have all three contractors bid the exact same project so you can compare their prices fairly. All contractors understand they may re-bid a project several times after being awarded the job. If they don’t, then they may be too impatient or too desperate for the job. In either case, YOU DON’T WANT THIS CONTRACTOR. Chances are, they won’t pay attention to the details of your project, or even worse, may take off with your money.
When the bids are received, look for the contractors who have around the same numbers. Any number that is extremely lower or extremely higher, get rid of. Too low, the contractor may be doing what we call “Low Balling” giving a low price and then adding more money to the bid as the project continues; or the contractor may be cutting too many corners, or may not be qualified for the project. Make sure the scope of work is spelled out in the proposal and contract, including “exclusions.” Just because part of your project has been “excluded” just means a little more work for you in searching for a subcontractor to fill the void, or the contractor may not have received a bid back from a subcontractor at the due date of the bid.
Triple-check any qualifying contractors. Ask for a LOT of references, as well as examples of previous work, and then take the time to thoroughly verify both. If the contractor is great, their customers will be eager to brag about them. If they are horrible, their customers will be eager to steer you away from hiring them, at all costs!! Don’t be afraid to ask multiple questions of previous clients, because chances are they did the same thing when they were hiring a contractor themselves.
Try to pick a local, well-established contractor for your project. This is a more personal preference on our part, but is very important. Just because a contractor isn’t local, doesn’t mean they aren’t legitimate, but it’s important to remember that they have somewhere else to live and don’t have to drive by your project after returning home. The out of town contractor also does not have the local connections that a contractor who lives and works in this area year after year has acquired. And local connections are important, especially for a business owner.
Choosing a new company doesn’t mean that you are hiring someone who isn’t qualified or can’t give you great quality (we all had to start somewhere, and without projects, none of us would ever be “experienced”). However, it’s important to keep in mind that it can be very frustrating to be the victim of the new contractor’s “learning experiences” or mistakes. We all make mistakes, but the question is do you have time to allow them on your next building project? At the end of the day, mistakes happen, but it’s how we admit and deal with them makes that makes the difference. An experienced company should have the track record and the experience needed to avoid any “learning experiences” on your building project.
These are just a few things to keep in mind with selecting a contractor for your next building projects. If you have any questions, feel free to post a comment, and I will be happy to answer them for you.