Breaking ground on a commercial real estate project, whether it’s an office building, retail location, multi-use space, MDU or even an institutional new build requires the cooperation of multiple contractors. Ideally, your experienced general contractor will be able to keep the project together, ensuring it finishes on time and within your budget.
Finding contractors who are licensed, bonded, and insured in your city is the bare minimum. There are many aspects you should consider before signing a contract with any CRE professional, including how well the expert’s experience matches your project and if they share your views on sustainable building practices, along with the knowledge to meet your needs.
For new technologies and sustainable solutions, find all the topics you may want to explore using the the Monster Commercial ecosystem of CRE resources to help you find the best solutions and contractors for your specific project, with expertise in a variety of fields and a dedication to sustainability. Follow these tips below and gauge each contractor based on these criteria as you begin your search.
Experience on Projects Like Yours
If you’re creating or retrofitting a cutting-edge, green multi-use complex with retail, office, and living space, you want to find an architect, designer, general contractor and trades with expertise in those type of projects. Likewise, if you’re working on an institution or public works project, you want contractors who understand how to navigate those specific permits and coding requirements.
You wouldn’t go to a podiatrist for a toothache. And you wouldn’t drop your Tesla Model X off for service at a Toyota dealer. When you’re choosing contractors for your construction project, you want to find companies with the expertise, experience, and training in projects exactly like yours.
Positive Customer Reviews – Not Just References
When you find a general contractor, architect or designer that understands your project’s unique needs, it makes sense to ask for references or endorsements from other satisfied customers. But, of course, no business will provide names of customers who weren’t 100% happy, right?
A company unwilling or unable to provide any references or positive reviews throws up a giant red flag. But don’t just take the information and sources they provide at face value.
Do your research by looking over Better Business Bureau listings and reviews. How many complaints have been lodged against the company, and how did they respond to those complaints? Do they showcase transparent business practices? Are they communicative if there is an issue? Are reviews across the Web mostly positive?
Big name property developers and contractors may have media coverage written about them, which means you might be able to track down some of their prior customers and ask about their experience with the firm.
Provides Detailed Contract
Transparency and communication are often marks of high-quality, trustworthy contractors. And a detailed contract is one of the signs that you can trust your contractors, all the way from the GC to automation specialists, electricians, commercial HVAC specialists, and more.
There are multiple ways to structure a construction contract as it relates to pricing, and it’s one of the most crucial factors that comes into play when you’re choosing a CRE construction contractor. A cost-plus contract ensures that you’re getting what you’re paying for and that costs are documented, offering the most transparency. But in today’s era of rapid inflation, be cautious signing a cost-plus contract without a guaranteed minimum or “not-to-exceed” price. At the very least, make sure an audit clause is included so that you have access to supporting cost documents and accounting records if necessary.
A stipulated sum or lump sum price may deliver the most value for your money but may be hard to find contractors willing to lock in pricing today. For smaller projects, all parties can walk away winners with a lump sum contract.
You can read this article for more information on pricing structures for CRE construction projects.
Offers Fair Pricing
In addition to being transparent about pricing, you’ll want your GC and the various trades to offer reasonable prices. The definition of “reasonable” may vary widely today. But it’s rarely a good idea to lock arms with the lowest bidder for any job. If one contractor comes in much lower than their competitors, you have to wonder where they are cutting costs and how that will, ultimately, hurt your project.
Uses Sustainable Materials
One of the reasons a construction contractor may cost slightly more than competitors is the use of sustainable building materials and implementation of sustainable solutions. The use of sustainable materials is more important now than ever before and in the end, add value to your commercial project, making them more cost effective than conventional construction.
Commercial building projects generate 25% to 40% of the world’s carbon emissions, a key factor in dangerous climate change. Business owners and tenants, alike, prefer sustainable buildings. Plus, you can earn tax credits and incentives from federal, state, and local governments for the use of sustainable building materials and eco-friendly construction, including smart building automation systems, solar glass, solar power, and living walls or roofs. Look for specialists with expertise in green building design to ensure your new construction project employs all the latest practices.
Beyond creating designs that employ energy-saving technology, look for contractors that make an effort to use sustainable, reclaimed, or locally sourced materials. You also want to ask if the contractor uses things like low- or no-VOC carpeting, flooring, and paint, as these materials are not just better for the environment, but safer and healthier for the inhabitants of a building.
Employs Sustainable Building and Business Practices
Sustainable building and contracting industry trades with sustainability knowledge all start with the design, incorporating eco-friendly materials, but it extends to how the contractor runs their own business. From paperless offices to lean manufacturing techniques and even the use of off-site construction in controlled environments, there are many steps contractors can take to reduce their carbon footprint. Partnering with these companies can help reduce your company’s carbon footprint, as well.
Understands the Multiple Environmental Standards and Certifications
If you’re focused on building a sustainable environment (Read this to find out why you should be!) you might be interested in applying for LEED or WELL Certification. To do so, you’ll want to work with companies that meet those standards and a general contractor who can help you with the extensive, often complicated certification process.
LEED is a widely-used green building certification program, first imagined in 1993 by the American Institute of Architects, 60 of its members, and several non-profit organizations. By 1998, the USBSG had launched the LEED 1.0 pilot program, to be followed by the roll-out of LEED for New Construction in March 2000.
The WELL Building Standard is an international standard established by the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI). WELL certified spaces are found to advance human health and well-being to enhance health, productivity, and happiness of workers and residents in the building. More important than ever in the midst of a global pandemic, buildings built to WELL standards are widely recognized to attract top talent, increase productivity and enhance workforce resilience.
Which certification is right for you? Or should you apply for both? Read our article on LEED Certification vs. the WELL Health-Safety seal to decide.
Final Step: Choosing the Best Contractors for Your Commercial Construction Project
As a commercial real estate developer or project manager, choosing the best contracting partners for any project is all in a day’s work – but it can still be an overwhelming process. Establishing relationships with the right contractors is a key to success. But not every contractor is perfect for every project you may embark upon.
Let the Monster Commercial ecosystem of CRE resources and sustainability experts help you build relationships with trusted professionals for any project.