The first step to answering this question assumes you have determined your project needs a commercial interior contractor. Now, how do you know which contractor will have your best interest, final goals, and budget in mind? Do you need a large commercial contractor, a medium sized firm or a small handyman? This all depends on the scope, turnaround time and ability to manage costs on your project. If you already have architectural and engineering designs, here are some considerations when interviewing commercial interior contractors:
In any construction bid, you should make sure the contractor has included as much detail in the proposal as possible. You want to be able to compare apples to apples. However, sometimes, contractors “miss” certain items only to attempt to issue change orders later in the process. Other times contractors will exclude items from the bid for a variety of reasons. If a contractor is excluding anything, make sure they call that out in their bid. Lastly, interview your contractors. Lowest bid does not always mean it will be the most cost effective OR best value…especially when it comes to the finished quality of the project and your experience with the contractor.
"If you don't know where you are going. How can you expect to get there?" ~ Basil S. Walsh
Every good commercial contractor will have a dedicated project manager for your build-out. Great contractors not only have a plan for how a project is going to get built, they have a keen sense of the communication necessary between the contractor and the customer. In almost every construction project there will be surprises. How these surprises are dealt with by the contractor and then communicated to the client will make or break the success of the project. Look for a company with vast experience in a variety of commercial building markets, very strong subcontractor relationships and a history of working together. This experience can help to identify potential areas of concern or potential areas for cost savings down the road.
The Punch List
A good punch list will define all items that need addressed before final occupancy, and include a plan for completion. The list will include any minor repairs to finishes, cleanup, and any outstanding installations remaining. In some cases, the punch list will also include final additions to scope with new last-minute details. By preparing a complete and accurate punch list, entire construction team will have a clear understanding of the details remaining, and everyone will leave happy.
In closing, if you are planning a commercial construction project, understand that pre-construction through final construction can take longer than you expect. Start your search for all AEC needs as early as possible. While you may look at the finish line frequently, having a contractor you feel comfortable with will help during those anxious times while the construction process is taking place. When your project is complete, take the time to sit down with your contractor and discuss what went right, what went as expected and what could have been improved on. This follow-up will help all parties to understand how each could improve on any future projects together.