Urban areas in the Pacific Northwest are experiencing a construction boom. Whether it’s public or private, cities are building up – and out – to meet the demands of their residents. In residential, industrial, or commercial work, there is a need for both general and specialized construction.
There are plenty of construction companies, vendors, and sub-contractors ready to pick up the slack. But, as you know, not all construction crews are created equal. So how do you make sure you’ll be working with a quality general contractor and not just a handyman who gets in over his head?
Research. You want to make sure you can trust who you are working with (and they can trust you, too). Some of this research can be done online, although to be thorough, you’ll want to make a phone call or two. This is a big investment – you’ll want to make decisions based on more than a gut feeling.
Can They Handle It?
First things first: can the company even do the work? An HVAC company may be able to patch drywall after installing a mini-split air conditioning system, but they aren’t going to be able to install drywall in a 20,000 square foot business park. It’s not their main focus after all.
Of course, it helps if you’ve done the work on your end. If you can present completed plans, it helps get everyone on the same page. Nobody likes surprises – adding components halfway through a project adds unnecessary stress for everybody.
If you can present a clear timeline, a quality contractor will be able to tell you if they can do the job or not. In fact, they may be able to make recommendations to improve the plan. That shows they understand the job and have the experience with your type of project.
Do They Have the Time?
With so much construction happening in the urban parts of the Pacific Northwest, construction companies are in high demand. Will they be able to meet your deadlines? If they are vague about when they can get to your project, that should raise a red flag. You know your timeline, they should know theirs.
If they can’t tell you when they’ll be available, how can you be sure they’ll stick to your deadlines? In some cases, the timelines just won’t match up. But it’s better to know that now instead of a month into the project.
Are They Professional?
When consulting with a company, how do they project themselves? This goes beyond a good handshake or a fancy suit. Do they answer questions, offer opinions, or make recommendations in a way that leaves you confident in their ability? While working in construction can be messy, do they clean themselves up for that initial consultation?
This could apply to their website, too. You don’t have to be a web designer to know a bad site when you see it. Aside from the look of the site, does it give you the information you’re looking for in an easy to navigate manner? It doesn’t have to be the best website in the world, but it should be more than a few .pdfs and an email address.
A website is often the first thing prospective clients see when researching someone to work with. As they say, you only get one chance to make a first impression. Even something as making the website mobile friendly (looks good on your phone, tablet, and desktop computer) shows they take the time to do things right.
Do They Have a Good Reputation?
Although social media gives anyone and everyone the chance to offer an opinion on popular TV shows, restaurants, and sports outcomes, construction companies don’t have the same kind of draw. Which isn’t to say feedback isn’t available, you’ll just need to do a little digging.
They should be able to give you a few examples of the work they’ve done in the past and even a referral or two. Talk to those who have worked with the company in the past. Did they meet deadlines? Was it quality work? How were the interactions during construction – were they available to answer questions?
Depending on the job, you may be able to inspect the work on your own. Is a five-year-old facility showing the age of a 30-year-old building? Or does it look as good as it did when it was first built? Some aspects of construction can’t be seen with the naked eye. But if you know what you’re looking for, you can make an educated guess on the quality of construction.
Price is also a major consideration when it comes to any construction job. However, it shouldn’t be the only factor. A general contractor can be great to work with on a personal level and brings in the lowest bid. But none of that matters if they continually miss deadlines.
Other factors can come into play, too. Does the company have a mission statement that closely resembles yours? Are values similar? If being eco-friendly is important to you, does the contractor offer environmentally sound material options and construction processes? If not, is that a deal-breaker?
It’s a lot to consider, but there’s a lot at stake. Experienced contractors understand that any project will run into the occasional hiccup – who knew a lightning bolt was going to take out an equipment truck? – and have a built-in contingency plan. But systemic issues that continually halt work and push back deadlines can end up costing you a lot of money.
So do your research. Ask questions. Find out the reputation of who you might be working with. Time spent before the first day of work may save you months of work on the back end – and you won’t be paying for crews to sit around the job site.
Does your project require buried infrastructure? Consider using Columbia Precast Products. Our crews have decades of experience, work with both private and public entities throughout the Pacific Northwest, and believe in sustainability in our products and processes alike.