As you would with any employee applicant or professional for hire, researching their experience is crucial. Asking for referrals should be a requirement and not an option. The vital information you could receive from past clients is priceless. Checking up on the legal qualifications is also very important. You want to ensure your contractor is fully licensed, insured, and bonded to perform work in your state, especially if the project is out-of-state of their office base. Memberships to contractor associations can also be a plus, Russco has been an active member of the Retail Contractor's Association for many years. Union projects can be a nightmare if your general contractor has never built in a union town, gaining full clarity of all types of projects they have experience with will help you decide if they are the best fit.
A respectable general contractor will always have a strong balance sheet. If a general contractor is fiscally responsible in their own practices it's a good sign they will manage the costs of your project efficiently. Communication with their estimating department is crucial to ensure they are doing all of their homework upfront in order to give you the most accurate estimate prior to sign-off of project. Too many times inexperienced estimators will cause multiple change orders in a job which in turn increases your budget when you least likely expect it. When bidding multiple general contractors, middle range is usually your best bet. Anyone coming in far too low just to win the job is a major red flag, as well as if they ask for money upfront.
Any general contractor is only as good as their team of subcontractors. These are the foot soldiers of the project who will physically run your jobs under the orders of the general contractor. Ensuring they have a strong network of reliable subcontractors who they've worked with in the past should be top of the list. Lazy or lack of reliable subcontractors can cost valuable time and money on a project. Back of house is equally important - do they have ample Project Managers? Is their administration team strong? If your project requires permits to be pulled, you also want to make sure they are familiar with local municipality and permitting agencies. Asking about any other self-performing work they can offer is also a good idea, things like in-house drafting services would give them more control over costs, process and schedule.
When working with architects and engineers, it's a major value to your project if the general contractor has an acute sense of perspective from a construction point of view. By having this perspective, your general contractor can make specific construction recommendations that will be more effective for they project and could also save a considerable amount of money if a major planning change.
The key to any well-oiled machine is clear channels of communication. Does your point of contact pick up your calls or get back to you in an appropriate timeframe? Judging how well they communicate with you will also give you an idea of how they communicate with their subcontractors which is equally important. Proper communication is what keeps projects running on schedule and smoothly. Your general contractor should be adept at helping you the client communicate your thoughts onto paper and then effectively translate what needs to be done to their subcontractors.
Sourcing a qualified general contractor does not have to be a difficult task as long as you take the time to fully vet them using our provided tips. Russco, Inc. is a staunch believer in these values and always available to discuss why you should hire us as a general contractor for all of your retail needs.