Build it Right: 3 Insider Tips for Choosing Your Ideal General Contractor
Selecting the right general contractor for your construction project is crucial to ensure smooth execution and achieve desired outcomes. In this article, we will explore three important tips to keep in mind when choosing a general contractor: finding the right size, considering the right experience, and aligning with the right amount of hand-holding.
Project Scope and Contractor Fit
Matching the size of your project with the contractor's capabilities is vital. For instance, if you have a small, scrappy startup looking to renovate 5000 sq ft of space, calling up a large contractor like Bechtel would not be ideal. While Bechtel is capable of producing a good build, their internal controls and processes designed for larger projects may add unnecessary costs to your smaller project. On the other hand, if you're planning to build a new airport, a small contractor may not have the necessary staff, internal controls, and cash flow to handle such a complex undertaking.
Evaluating the contractor's past project references will help ensure they have experience managing projects of a similar size to yours, avoiding mismatched capabilities.
The Importance of Domain Expertise
Look for contractors experienced in building facilities similar to yours. The more technically complex your project, the more crucial it is to find a contractor with expertise in that specific domain. For example, if you're planning to build an oil refinery, hiring a contractor who specializes in constructing office towers wouldn't be the ideal match. Even if the office tower contractor has handled projects of similar value, the type of work and technical requirements differ significantly in an oil refinery.
Construction knowledge and established relationships with stakeholders specific to your project, such as suppliers, authorities, and subcontractors, are invaluable. Contractors with experience in your project's domain possess the necessary expertise and established connections within the industry, enabling them to effectively execute the project and navigate any challenges that may arise.
Review the contractor's past projects, searching for relevant experience that aligns with your project requirements, ensuring their capabilities align with the technical complexity and unique needs of your project.
Balancing Contractor Involvement
When considering the right amount of hand-holding, it's essential to evaluate the experience level, breadth, and bandwidth of your internal team, including any Owner's Representatives hired to manage the project. Determine the level of guidance and involvement you require from your contractor and align it with your team's capabilities. For instance, if your company has established processes and structures that a contractor needs to conform to, you may prefer a contractor who can seamlessly integrate into your existing framework. On the other hand, if your company is still developing its infrastructure, hiring a contractor with the expertise to help inform and shape those processes could be valuable.
By clarifying these expectations upfront, you can avoid clashes and ensure effective collaboration throughout the project.
Choosing the right general contractor sets the foundation for a successful construction project. By finding a contractor well-matched in size, experience, and alignment with your team's requirements, you can enhance project efficiency, minimize complications, and achieve desired outcomes. Remember to thoroughly evaluate past project references and openly communicate your expectations to ensure a harmonious working relationship.
Gim Crew is a Principal at Crew Universal who works with biotech and tech companies grappling with complex capital projects. She helps project owners control the unknowns at any given stage. Her expertise is in establishing clear project definitions and predictive plans upstream, which then translate into smooth execution and decisive actions downstream. Gim has managed large-scale builds as both client and contractor locally in the US and the world over. She combines exceptional technical knowledge with practical project experience, offering targeted solutions and multiple perspectives for project challenges.