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How to Choose a Commercial Contractor

When considering commercial renovations, selecting only the most qualified commercial contractor is a top priority. Building owners can take certain precautions when evaluating contractors to ensure that only the most reputable professional is hired for the project. Here are several useful tips for hiring commercial contractors:

Tip 1 – Proper Licensing & Insurance

Ask to see the contractor’s current license and proof of general liability insurance. Also ask for proof of worker’s compensation insurance. These are requirements in most states and contractors cannot legally do business without them. A professional contractor will have these documents readily available and will furnish them upon request. The client should ask for copies of these documents and should also verify their legitimacy. For instance, the client could call the insurance company to confirm whether or not the insurance policy is still current. This will confirm that the contractor has the proper coverage in place in the event of an accident. Keep in mind that if there is no insurance in place the building owner may be liable for any accidents or damage that may result from the project.

Tip 2 – Obtain Bids

The client should obtain 3-5 competitive bids for the project. Since bids will be coming from different companies they may vary greatly in terms of details and length. However, the best bid will be the one with the most comprehensive services and years of experience. Keep in mind that unreasonably low bids may indicate a lack of industry experience. The lowest cost does not always equate to the best value and a poor job will lead to more expenses in the future. Therefore, choose a contractor whose prices are in reason. Furthermore, review the bid for listed materials, taking a close look at the suppliers and manufacturers of these materials to ensure only top quality products will be used.

Tip 3 – Ask the Right Questions

The right contractor will be an expert in the type of work that needs to be done. Going into any commercial renovation project is a huge task. Therefore, choose a contractor who specializes in the type of project that the building owner needs. For example, is the contractor a general contractor who normally works on industrial projects or do they only specialize in roofing? Before committing to a commercial contracting project have a good understanding of the contractor’s scope of experience.

Also delve deeply into their reputation and work ethic. Here are several very important questions to ask commercial contractors prior to making a final hiring decision:

  1. How many years has the contractor been in business?
  2. What are the specifications of the work to be completed?
  3. Will there be any inconveniences to the occupants of the building?
  4. How will the client’s people and property be protected?
  5. How does the contractor approach safety on the job—does the contractor have a safety plan in place or a safety advisor on staff?

Tip 4 – Ask For References

Always ask for references. Speaking directly with other building owners who have worked with the contractor will provide a good indication of how the contractor works. References can be asked specific questions such as:

  1. Was the job completed based on the client’s specifications?
  2. Was the job completed in a timely manner?
  3. Would the client hire the contractor again or refer the contractor to friends or family?

Tip 5 – Get a Signed Contract

Top commercial contractors will provide a contract that lists the terms and conditions of the project. Prior to signing the contract read the document in its entirety. The contract should include the contractor’s contact information, the scope of the project, brands of materials to be used, labor to be performed, any permit obligations, pricing and details regarding clean up after the project is completed. The contract should also have a clear beginning and end date for the project. When negotiating a contract never pay the entire balance up front as this could put the client at financial risk if an unsatisfactory job is done. Most contractors require a 50% deposit up front with the remaining balance being due upon project completion. The client should keep a copy of the signed contract for their own records.

These are just a few ways in which clients can make accurate hiring decisions when choosing between commercial contractors.