5 Steps to Pick the Right Contractor

Whether you’re building a new commercial space, renovating a current one, or undergoing a demolition project, one of the most important decisions you’ll make is picking your contractor. Hiring the wrong contractor can mean delays, frustration, and wasted time and money. But if you pick the right contractor, you will have a successfully completed project that sticks as close to the schedule and budget as possible.

So how can you tell if you’ve found the right contractor? Here are five steps to take to pick the right contractor.

Step 1: Understand what you need

The first step in finding a contractor that can go to work for you is to understand what exactly you need. Different types of contractors are better for different projects. A design-build contractor, for example, is great for a project with lots of moving parts while a corporate general contractor specializes in large-scale corporate projects.

To figure out which type of contractor you need, write down your objectives and clearly explain them to any contractor you interview so that they can better assess whether or not the relationship would be a good fit. If the contractor specializes in your type of project and understands your need, they deserve a spot on your list of potential candidates.

Step 2: Do your research 

Your middle school teacher was right about one thing: always do your homework. When starting a commercial construction project, that means research, research, and more research!

Spend some time reading online reviews, reach out for word-of-mouth recommendations from connections in your industry, and make a long list of potential contractors. The Better Business Bureau is a great place to start your research.

Step 3: Ask For references 

Once you’ve established your list of contractors, it’s time to start making some calls. Ask questions specific to your project and more general ones about working with that contractor.

If a contractor seems promising, you should ask for references from other jobs that the contractor has completed.

Good contractors have great integrity and work well with people, and should have no problem giving you a list of references. As you narrow your search, make sure to actually call those references for some feedback. You can do this over a phone call or email.

Step 4: Interview a short list of candidates and gathered quotes 

Now that you’ve gotten some feedback and talked with several contractors, invite 3-5 out to your construction site and gather some quotes. It’s always important to get a couple quotes before making your choice. Consider how they deal with change orders, if they have liability insurance, and their process for tackling commercial renovation projects. You can also look at their track record with other clients and the workmanship of buildings they renovated or remodeled in town.

Often, local contractors will understand the building safety codes for your area, have a list of reputable subcontractors they work with, and have a contractor’s license in your state. To ensure you have the necessary permits and a good workflow, choose a contractor who works in the town or county where the construction project will take place.

You should also get them to clearly define the scope of work and a cost estimate. If the cost estimate seems high, you can ask for ways to save money, though you should keep in mind a lower than average cost is one of the red flags of a bad contractor.

Step 5: Chose based on quality, not price

Going with the cheapest option isn’t always the best option. In fact, if there’s one contractor whose quote is way below the others, you most likely shouldn’t go with that option. A below-average quote is almost always too good to be true and means the contractor will likely go over budget or do a poor job–meaning you’ll have to select a new contractor to fix it!

You should select the best contractor based on integrity, ability to complete the job, and willingness to cultivate a productive relationship.

After You’ve Selected a Contractor 

Once you’ve selected a remodeling contractor, it’s time to write up a contract. It’s in the name, after all. The written contract should specify a budget, payment schedule, a schedule for completing the work, potential dates they’ll be at the job site, and both start and completion dates.

It’s also a good idea to ask for a guarantee from your contractor. Most reputable contractors will guarantee the quality of their work for a year, ensuring that you can trust the job is done right. To make the relationship as fruitful as possible, check out our guide to communicating with your contractor.

Carlton Building Services in Hampton Roads Virginia

Carlton Building Services specializes in repairs, maintenance, renovations, remodelings and build-outs for a variety of clients in Hampton Roads, Virginia Beach, and Chesapeake areas. We have years of experience handling projects in the retail, office, and healthcare space and would love to work with you on your next project!

To learn more about our services, check out past project highlights or contact Carlton Building Services to see how we can help with your next project.

JP Carlton

J.P. Carlton

J.P. Carlton is the founder of Carlton Building Services, a Hampton Roads-based construction company.