Let’s face it: “contractor” is often considered to be a dirty word. Everyone has heard the nightmare stories of home renovation projects gone wrong or sat in endless traffic delays due to road construction. However, in an economy driven by budgets and deadlines, it may be in your best interest to qualify, select, and trust your contractor at the earliest stages of your project. Here are 5 reasons why:
Time - Time is money for all of us, including your contractor. When considering a construction project, the early involvement of the contractor will help you understand the cost, schedule and constructability impacts of the methods and materials under consideration and how they may affect your project. Making changes after design and engineering documents are underway, complete, or after construction has begun not only adds significant cost, but also time to the schedule.
Budget – Many people feel that disclosing their project budget to their contractor means sacrificing any savings or budget variances. This is, in fact, not the case. A good contractor always has the best interest of their customers in mind. Disclosing your budget will allow your contractor to help you manage your project to fit within your parameters. Choosing to wait to hire your contractor using a hard-bid method might yield lowest first cost, but increases the likelihood for change orders to be issued during construction. To optimize your value, you may select your contractor based on their fees and general conditions, ensuring competitive pricing while allowing them to operate as your partner to maintain budget control throughout the design process. When documents are complete, sub trades are bid competitively to the marketplace.
Headaches – Selecting your contractor at the onset of the project allows you to choose the team you’d like to work with – from the construction manager through trade subcontractors. A large portion of your project will be performed by subcontractors. Your construction manager has strong relationships with a subcontractor base they have worked with, and knows their abilities. An award based on a hard-bid process may dictate that subcontractors carried in the final bid may never have worked with the construction manager or may not be a good fit for your project in terms of capacity or experience. Because of this, there is a significant amount of risk in hiring unknown subcontractors.
Know your team - request qualifications from prospective firms, check references, etc. Review the project team’s qualifications and references to develop a short-list of firms you would like to meet with. Request that the proposed project manager and superintendent be present at the interview. By meeting the people you will be dealing with directly, you can set expectations and measure the team’s ability to meet them.
Experience – Many construction projects involve new systems and processes for you and your internal project team including building methods, safety and maintaining ongoing operations. Your contractor is experienced in implementing and managing the construction process. Select a project team with demonstrated experience in your type of project. You may request a logistics and safety plan be developed with input from your constituents to ensure the safe, economical execution of your project with minimal disruptions.
Collaboration– What are your key objectives for the management of your project? Chances are that included in your requirements are budget and scheduling items. Your contractor is an expert at managing these items – it’s what we do; and we enjoy doing it. Allowing your contractor to be an integrated part of your project team will give you the advantage of having a budget and schedule ‘watchdog’ – one who will advise you and help keep your objectives in mind throughout the design and construction process.
In the end, selecting a contractor who you can trust and working with them collaboratively will yield an efficient, even enjoyable project delivery. Getting a construction project from the starting point to completion is easily achievable; the key is the way the process between the two is executed.