As an architect or homeowner, it can be hard to choose a good general contractor. Sometimes you don’t know where to begin or what to even consider when looking for a firm to work with. Other times you may not even know what makes a contractor a good fit for your project. In our latest blog, we list out a couple of factors you should consider when choosing a contractor.
Reputation should be one of the most important factors in your consideration phase. This will give you and your team insight into how the firm operates as a business. When looking for a construction firm to work with, we suggest you look at their testimonials from previous clients. Key characteristics to look for include include timeliness, professionalism, and flexibility. This way you can get a holistic view into what it looks like when you begin to work with them- or if you even want to work with them. One of the places that you can find testimonials is on the company’s website.
But what if they don’t have a testimonials page? One way to look for a company’s reputation is on sites such as Houzz, Franklin Report or even Google Reviews. These platforms allow you to find different professionals and their testimonials from previous clients. Another similar website is called Build Zoom. This site has a similar concept; however, it shows more detailed information. For example, it ranks the general contractor among others in the New York area. You can also see if they have an active permit or not. The contractor that you are looking at might also have media coverage. For example, properties that we’ve worked on are featured in The New York Times, Curbed Magazine, Architectural Digest…etc.
Another way to look into a construction firm before committing is by asking around in the Architecture or Design community. In this industry “word of mouth,” can go a long way. Asking your peers about their experience with a construction firm can be the confirmation you need in order to make that final decision. It is also a good idea to ask the contractor for references of previous clients or subcontractors.
2. Company Size/ Flexibility
When looking for a general contractor, it’s important to take into consideration the size of their company. When you look at the list of employees, do they seem understaffed in the office? Another factor to consider is the longevity of their employees.
“If their employees have been with the company for 20 years then that tells you that they have invested in the infrastructure of their organization and also value long term relationships. As a result, they will most likely manage your relationship in the same fashion.”Anthony Scordio (President)
There are both pros and cons to working with a small construction firm compared to a bigger firm. For example, with a smaller company you are guaranteed to increased attention as they are able to respond to your needs quicker, and in turn you may develop a personal relationship with them. Depending on the size of the company, you may also be working closely with the owner instead of a larger company where you might communicate closer with the project manager. However, on the flip side, it might be harder to fix small issues when working with a smaller contractor as they may not have the capacity to do so at a faster rate.
You will also have to consider your style of communication. Do you like communicating in person? That would require that your contractor is always available to schedule in person meetings. Or would you require over the phone contact? This is something that you want to know early on because it can delay or speed up your project timeline.
3. An Interview
Once you gather a list of potential firms to work with, it is now time to narrow the list down. If you have the time, it can be importadnt to contact each firm and arrange a meeting. During this meeting, you want to make sure the company is capable of completing your project. Some questions can include:
- Have you completed a project like ours in the past?
- Can we schedule a walk-through of a current project that you are completing?
- How many other projects are you juggling?
- What does a timeline for a project like this look like?
These questions will help you gauge whether or not the construction firm is the right company for you or not.
If you’re not available for an in-person interview with the contractor and short on time, then the next best thing to rely on is the contractor’s portfolio. Our CEO Anthony Scordio suggests these factors when looking at a potential contractor’s portfolio:
“Does the contractor’s portfolio of work generally match the scope of your project? Do they take pride in showcasing that work in the best light through marketing materials (photography, video, website, etc.)”–Anthony Scordio (President)
Another factor to consider is what types of services the construction firm specializes in. For example, some firms may strictly do renovations, or some may do more new construction. This way, you get to see if they are an expert in one field or if they generally work in each service.
5. Costs/ Budget
When thinking about what kind of contractor to choose, it is also important to consider your budget. Here’s what Anthony had to say:
“Firstly, does the average pricing of the contractor’s portfolio of work match your project needs? If not, then maybe it is not even worth exploring an estimate from the contractor. If the contractor does provide a bid for the job, is the estimate too high or too low compared to industry average or what you were expecting? Both scenarios are indicators that the contractor may not be the right fit for your needs.”– Anthony Scordio (President)
However, it is important to remember that the more money that you spend on a general contractor, the more attentiveness and customer service you will receive. When it’s all said and done, you end up getting what you pay for.
Choosing a general contractor can be a lengthy process, but we hope that this list has helped you narrow down your list of potential construction firms. Everything we listed is important, but the most important factor about choosing someone to work with is making sure your values align. You will be working together for an extended period of time so you want to make sure it is enjoyable and as seamless as it can be. Good luck with your search!
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