February 19, 2020

4 Things to Consider When Hiring a General Contractor for Your Commercial Project

If you’re thinking of hiring a general contractor, knowing what to expect from them before the project gets started can make the difference between a high-quality build done on-time and on-budget, and one that’s going to cost you time, money and a lot of stress. To help you ensure your commercial project is a success, here are a few things to consider when hiring a general contractor:

Your General Contractor is responsible for managing and coordinating your commercial project from start to finish, taking responsibility for the following:

  • Obtaining the proper building applications and permits required.
  • Specifying the final scope of work, including schedule, estimates and timelines.
  • Sourcing all necessary labourers, subcontractors, equipment, materials and services.
  • Project oversight and ensuring quality of work is completed on schedule.
  • Maintaining project budget while maximizing efficiency to reduce costs.
  • Maintaining a safe work environment and ensuring safety requirements and regulations.
  • Maintaining consistent communication and project updates with all project stakeholders.

1) Experience

Does the general contractor have the right combination of talent and industry expertise required to successfully meet the scope of your project? Do they have a solid reference and a proven track record? Whether you’re renovating a restaurant, expanding a professional medical office or building a commercial building from the ground up, it’s important that the company you hire as your general contractor has the proven track record for planning and executing commercial projects like yours. Do your due diligence and review the company’s portfolio, past projects, client testimonials and reviews.

2) License and Insurance

No matter the size of the project, make sure that the company providing general contracting services has a valid license and is properly insured. Hiring an unlicensed general contractor can expose your company to several liability issues, putting your organization and property at significant financial risk. To protect your liability, you can request a copy of your general contractor’s certificate of insurance (be sure to check expiry dates) and call the issuing authority to verify the insurance is valid. If a general contractor cannot provide a license or proof of general liability insurance, do not hire that general contractor.

3) Schedule

To ensure your project’s deadline is met, take some time to discuss the scope of work with the general contractor and find out how they communicate, strategize and update the schedule. A mismanaged schedule can cost your business a lot of valuable time and money. While delays in schedules are sometimes unavoidable due to things like weather or material availability, an expert general contractor should still have every detail in the scope of work defined in your contract. Receive a timeline for completion that includes dates and milestones for each phase of the project. If the general contractor is not able to offer a schedule or timeline, go with somebody else.

4) Get Everything in Writing

Does the general contractor provide detailed contracts? The answer has to be yes. A true professional will always work within a proper, written contract that includes detailed descriptions of the work to be completed, schedules of payments and costs, start dates and estimated dates of completion, a clear project plan that specifies what is guaranteed and who responsible for guaranteeing it, and most importantly, signatures from all parties. In addition, make sure all changes in contract are acknowledged in writing and be sure to review the contract’s cancellation clause in the event you decide to cancel the contract.

Morrison Hershfield (MH) is an engineering company that provides full-scope A-E consulting services to markets across North America. MH works with a number of General Contractors but maintains a list of “Preferred & Recommended” contractors for which Westmark Construction Ltd. is a recognized member:

“In order to be recognized as a preferred contractor, construction companies must demonstrate financial security and longevity plus they must consistently achieve a high quality of workmanship over a number of projects. Above all, companies that MH recommends must demonstrate a thorough understanding of the most modern concepts put forth by the BC Building Code, the Building Enclosure industry as they pertain to “Building Enclosure Best Practices”, and the most recently regulated BC Energy Step Code.

Other influencing criteria includes; maintaining a sufficient number of experienced management and senior staff, staff tenure, low turnover, professional ethics, site cleanliness and organization, reaction time to site instructions, as well as a generating very low number of construction deficiencies over the course of their construction projects. Contractors must also be able to complete complex projects within established schedules and budgets.”
– Morrison Hershfield Limited

Work with the right General Contractor for your next project. Westmark Construction specializes in general contracting with over 30 years of experience delivering high-quality services and workmanship. Contact us to learn how we can help you with your next commercial project.

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