How to Choose a General Contractor

THE STORY.

Choosing a general contractor is an important decision in any commercial construction project. Your general contractor will spearhead the entire design and construction process from inception to completion, so it’s not a decision to be taken lightly. Here are a few key considerations when choosing the construction company that is best for you and your project.

Start with your project type

It is best to begin your search for a general contractor by looking for one that has a proven track record in your specific type of project. Construction categories can roughly be divided between residential and commercial construction. Your research should drill deeper into the layers of specialties until you find the general contractor best suited for your project. When selecting a commercial construction company, for example, review their services, portfolio, and testimonials to see if they specialize in schools, hospitals, retail complexes, flex spaces, industrial builds, multi-family units, or resort facilities. Hiring a general contractor with expertise in your specific project type is critical to saving you time, money, and frustration. They have successfully been down the road you are headed many times and can foresee the pitfalls and obstacles you may be faced with and can proactively offer cost-saving solutions.

Consider your specific needs

Take stock of your project and any specific needs or challenges you might have and establish some criteria based upon those needs. While researching general contractors, consider aspects like your aesthetic goals, budget, timeline, any unique elements you would like to incorporate, and the size and scope of your project. For example, if you are wanting to create a building with ultra-modern style and functionality, a general contractor with a strong reputation in more traditional builds may not have the experience and expertise needed to guide you in the best materials, layout, and design considerations to maximize the style and function of your facility. Similarly, if you are under strict timelines or budget constraints, choosing a company that builds beautiful facilities that fit your aesthetic needs but has a track record of being late and over-budget will not result in a satisfying experience for you or the general contractor. Be honest with yourself about your non-negotiable needs and narrow down your choices based upon that criteria.

Request references 

Before making your final decision, request references for recent projects that are similar in scope. Rather than relying solely upon portfolios or case studies, visit with the project manager or key point of contact on the project in order to get a better understanding from the customer perspective how the project progressed, their happiness with the end result, any issues that arose, and how any delays to the schedule or changes to the budget were communicated and ultimately handled.  

Assess the whole picture

Once you have thoroughly vetted all of your options, consider the entire picture. Rather than choosing a general contractor based on only one element, such as budget or design style, consider all elements including the depth of their portfolio, previous customer experience, expertise in your project type, budgetary considerations, experience in your geographic area, and your personal experience communicating with them during the research and proposal process. Bear in mind that you will be working closely with your general contractor for most likely many months, so it’s important that you choose someone with whom you can have a good working relationship and who clearly and consistently communicates with you. 

By investing a little extra time upfront when selecting a general contractor, you can better ensure that you will have a smooth construction experience. If you are in the Intermountain West, we would love to discuss your project to help determine if Rubicon is the right fit for you.