We’ve all been there. You’ve got a commercial construction project and you’re in need of a great general contractor. But finding one you can trust has been a challenge.
You’re not asking too much.
You simply need a construction company that understands the importance of communication, following a realistic timeline, and who can manage the entire project from start to finish.
Better yet, the best commercial general contractors are companies who have your best interests in mind, who see potential construction hurdles before they arrive, consult you on all your options, and maintain a “get it done” attitude throughout the entire building process.
To find a construction company and contractors that match the above description, we’ve put together this helpful post. We’ll start with the basics in terminology (for the beginners in the space), and then we’ll dive into what you’re going to look for to make sure you hire the best company for the job.
Commercial Contractors vs Residential Contractors?
In the world of construction there is no shortage of terms that every building company adds to their resume.
“We’re a commercial construction company,” or, “we’re both a residential and commercial construction company that uses a team of general contractors.” And if they get specific, they’re also into public works construction projects (schools, military, government facilities). Perhaps they’re even a design-build construction company (handle the project from design through construction phases) as well. And to make things even more confusing, some companies are all of these things.
Now, it’s important to know that all of these terms are aimed at telling you exactly what they’re able to do for you. So they do matter, but if you’re new to the world of hiring commercial contractors, take the time to understand some of these basic construction terms.
Click here to learn more about commercial construction companies.
So let’s dive into what a commercial general contractor is vs. a residential contractor.
Commercial General Contractor Definition
A commercial general contractor is either an individual or a company who has experience building commercial construction projects, or more simply put, managing construction projects that will be used by and for businesses. Your contractor is in charge of overseeing all aspects of the building process which includes:
- Overseeing the activities happening at the site
- Managing all prefab and off-site materials needed for construction
- Acquiring and renting large machinery, construction tools, and storage equipment
- Communicates with all the vendors
- Other contractors or subcontractors that will be necessary
In commercial modular construction, they’ll also be in charge of the logistics required in moving all of your modules from the factories they’re built in, to the final construction site.
When it comes to commercial construction, it’s likely that you’ll be working with a company that will be labeled as a commercial general contractor or a commercial construction contractor. These contractors are there to make the commercial project run smoothly, and they will likely have a team of other skilled construction professionals that you’ll appreciate such as:
- Building Designers
- Building Engineers and Architects
- Logistics Managers
- Carpenters, roofers, plumbers, electricians, welders, and finish technicians
- And a reliable list of vendors and subcontractors
A great commercial contractor will save you time, money, all while ensuring quality control and legal code compliance for local, state, and federal regulations.
Residential General Contractor Definition
How does this compare to a residential contractor? A residential contractor is a professional that you would hire if you wanted to build a small residence, or place where a single family will reside. Most accurately, she or he is a contractor that will be responsible for your building that is constructed for residential use on a piece of property zoned and approved for only residential purposes.
The Differences Between the Two
A residential contractor is (or should be) a very skilled professional at managing projects, but will differ from a commercial contractor in a couple of key ways. A commercial project often requires significantly more construction materials, different timeline requirements, and building codes can be drastically different between the two types of projects.
As you can imagine, assembling a large-scale skyscraper of offices and restaurants in a timely manner will require an emphasis on efficiency of labor, materials, and design. A single-family home on the other hand still requires a highly organized individual, but the scope of the project is often considerably less.
What are the most common types of buildings that commercial general contractors work on?
The types of building projects that a commercial contractor might oversee are vast, but here are some of the most common:
- Office buildings
- Medical centers and healthcare facilities
- Hotels and apartments
- Multi-family housing projects
- Retail stores and malls
- Multi-purpose commercial buildings (apartments above storefronts and restaurants)
- Farm and Agricultural Buildings
- Arenas and Sports Stadiums
The list could go on and on, but this gives you a good idea of what we mean when we discuss commercial buildings and what commercial contractors will be overseeing.
How to Hire Great Commercial Building Contractors
Thanks to the internet, we now have plenty of ways to find companies that offer us the services that we want. Unfortunately, the internet is also the playground of companies that learn to manipulate their reviews and their image to always appear as though they are an excellent candidate for you.
Let’s discuss the process of finding the best commercial contractor for your next project.
Step 1) Do your Homework on Multiple General Contractors
Start by using all available resources and contacts you have that have done a similar project to yours. This might mean going out and asking people who they used for their commercial project. Ask them what they wish they knew before they started, whether they’d recommend their contractors’ services, why or why not? And keep a list around.
If you’re feeling a little detached from other individuals or you want to start the search process on your own, then start by searching Google for keywords like, “commercial construction company near me, commercial contractors, general contractors, or even best commercial contractors for… [your type of building].” This should generate some map images with businesses in your area and give you some articles that provide you lists of companies to start reading from.
It’s 2020, commercial construction contractors that are reputable are online. And if they’re good at selling themselves, then they should communicate to you, somewhere on the internet whether it is social media or their own website on why they’re valuable.
A huge advantage goes to whether or not the company is transparent by allowing reviews to exist on their Google My Business accounts and whether or not they have a portfolio of their projects in which you can see the work they have done.
Try and get a sense of who they are, how large their company is, whether they’re able to provide services in your area, and if they’re licensed to perform commercial construction services. To check on licensing and permit questions, each state has different resources. For example, here is the state of Michigan’s commercial contractor page.
Step 2) It’s Time to Start Talking to the Contractors
Now we have to break out of our shells and call people. Some day, there will be a streamlined construction process, building codes, and the technology to buy massive commercial buildings on an amazon-esque platform. But for now, we’ll have to get to know our contractors by talking to them, first.
It’s helpful to assemble a list of questions for the contractor ahead of time so you can get a sense of who they are and give them as many specific details about your project as possible. Notice how you are treated, whether or not they sound invested in your project, and if they are able to offer recommendations that align with your goals and final outcomes for your buildings.
Step 3) Getting Quotes and Understanding Your Commercial Project Budget
This is the step where it really helps to have a good sense of what you’re demanding out of your contractors, what the value of a project like yours is, and what kind of timeline you expect.
As the building quotes start coming in, it’s a good sign if they’re generally coming in at about the same price. This will give you a good idea of what your project budget should be if it isn’t already.
It’s important for you to have your budget set appropriately and you’re in charge of ensuring that you choose a company that can stay within that budget. If your budget is unrealistically low, you might be more at fault than your contractors for how upsetting the prices seam. You can either continue to shop around or make necessary changes/find additional funding.
As is the case, a couple of factors might be determining the quotes that you’re receiving and it’s important to understand those variables.
- Size of the Company / Contractor: Large companies likely have the resources to get your project done more quickly and at slightly cheaper price than smaller ones. This is the result of a larger labor force that they can move around quickly, more vendor connections to accommodate your timeline, and the ability to buy larger quantities of materials at a reduced price. That being said, a small company with a great reputation might offer more attention to detail, better ability to adapt and make micro customizations on the fly, and provide a real sense of relationship and communication throughout the process.
- Timeline Requirements: It can be tough for all construction contractors to meet unreasonable timelines, but for a higher price, some companies are willing to bring on the extra help, or justify prioritizing your commercial project. If a company has a really great reputation for quality and care, you also might be better off waiting for them to become available, but hopefully you’ll have plenty of great options.
- Scope of the Project: It’s obvious, but it’s important not to compare apples to oranges when acquiring quotes from construction companies. If you’re building an office building and your neighbor is building an office building next store for two very different quoted prices, ask yourself, or better yet, ask your neighbor, what’s being included in their project that might account for the differences in prices. Design, size of building, materials, customizations can create significant differences in what might otherwise seem like similar buildings.
- Type of Construction Process They Use: We mention this factor because we are a modular construction contractor. That means that while we can offer you the same customizations and commercial building types, our process allows for us to complete your project faster than traditional or site-built construction contractors. It also means added flexibility in leasing, buying, or investing in completely new commercial spaces. Where site-built construction requires the building of your new custom space, a modular solution can be both to construct leasable, large-scale projects in addition to building and customizing a new modular commercial building.
Step 4) Compare and Decide on Your Next Commercial General Contractor
Now comes your moment and no one can make the decision for you or your company. It will be a combination of the hard numbers, the softer, customer service offerings, and whether or not you and your team mesh well with the contractor.
If you’ve done all of the above steps to the best of your ability and with sincerity, you’ll likely be happy with the entire experience.
Start A Conversation With VESTA Modular to Find Out How Our Commercial Contractors Can Build Your Business’ Next Space
Browse our portfolio pages, read our reviews, and better yet, contact us and learn why people love us. We’re an award winning general contractor in the modular construction industry, and we’d love to get started on your next project.
Contact us, today or select the “Request A Quote” button on this page to fill out a short form, and one of our VESTA experts will be in touch with you.
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