Everything you need to know about starting a Virginia Beach construction project

Starting a new business or renovating a current one’s physical space is a no-brainer in Virginia Beach. With the city being ranked as one of the most desirable places to move in the United States, there has been an influx of residents and business opportunities in the area. 

As a result, right now is a great time for established businesses to refresh their physical space or for a new business to buy a commercial property and renovate it into their dream storefront, office, or condo complex.

But before you start on that commercial construction project, there are some things to know about undertaking a Virginia Beach construction project. Namely, you should understand how to choose the best contractor for your project and one who is familiar with the area. Continue reading to learn how to find the right contractor for your Virginia Beach construction project.  

The essentials for finding a contractor

Before we dive into what to look out for in a contractor in Virginia Beach specifically, let’s review the must-haves for a contractor on any construction project in any geographic location. 

The first essential is that the contractor has expertise in the area of construction (commercial or residential) and with the specific type of project (a new build, renovation, remodel, repair, or build out). Once you’ve defined your project type and area of construction, keep these two features in mind when searching for a contractor.

There are other must-have traits in a contractor as well, including: 

  • Transparent, efficient business processes
  • Easy to communicate with
  • Committed to the future of your business
  • Robust experience
  • Successful past projects

If you intend to operate your business while the construction occurs, you also want to find a contractor skilled in the art of minimal disruption. Some contractors can easily coordinate projects during your business hours, as demonstrated through their previous projects. Others cannot work efficiently and quietly while you operate, which is reflected in negative reviews.

Licensed in Virginia

Now that we’ve discussed the essentials for finding a contractor in any geographic location, let’s take it local. Starting at the state level, you want to make sure your contractor is licensed to work in Virginia. 

Commercial construction permits in Virginia are typically only granted on projects with a licensed contractor. There are a variety of standards a licensed contractor must meet, including: 

  • An official business entity, such as an LLC or S-corp
  • A determined class for the license. Each class can only take on construction projects below a class-specific maximum budget. 
  • A chosen specialty. They must also meet any requirements needed for that specialty.
  • All owners, partners, members, and managers of your business, including Qualified Individuals and Designated Employees, identified 
  • A completed pre-licensure course and license application
  • A passing score on 3-4 tests, depending on the type of license

The license is important since without it, a contractor can’t get the necessary permits to complete most projects. 

Commitment to the area

The right contractor isn’t motivated by pay alone. They’re also motivated by a desire to see their community thrive. When looking for a contractor, choose someone as committed to the Virginia Beach business community as you are. 

This could be a contractor who regularly attends local events and networking conferences, though this can be hard to judge at times. Instead, look for work samples they have completed in the area.

Carlton Building Services, for example, has completed many projects in Virginia Beach that potential clients can read about before they choose to work with us. These projects include:

Virginia Beach building permits

While commitment to the area is a must-have, a contractor needs more than passion; they should also understand how the building permits process works in Virginia Beach. While it is possible to make small alterations to a building, such as adding a coat of paint, without a permit, most construction projects require one. 

There are also three types of building permits, and your contractor should understand which you need:

  • New commercial construction: for when a new building is being construction
  • Commercial additions: for when something new is added to a space, such as an additional room or garage
  • Commercial alterations: for when a major change is made to a space, such as moving walls or changing an office layout

The right contractor will also complete the majority of the building permit process, meaning you as the client don’t have to be familiar with this process. The only role you have to play is choosing a contractor who understands local permit regulations. 

Financing Options in Virginia Beach

If you’re a small business, you want to work with a contractor who understands the financing options and how to stick within a budget. The most common financing option is a small business loan, and a good local contractor will understand organizations that provide these loans and how to ask for a loan extension if needed. They may even be able to walk you through the application process.

For Two Maids and a Mop, one of Carlton Building Services’ clients, having a local contractor who understood loans was integral to completing the project. Previously, they had worked with a contractor who did not complete the job. When our team came in to finish it, there wasn’t enough money left on their small business loan. Our team worked with them to extend the loan.

At the end of the day, your contractor should understand your business needs and be as devoted as you are to building the Virginia Beach business community. They should also be your ally in submitting permit applications and navigating financing options.

If you’re currently searching for a contractor with these traits, we invite you to reach out for a free construction quote.

JP Carlton

J.P. Carlton

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