Selecting a General Contractor

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Michael Lebar, Director of Construction, Podolsky|Circle Construction LLC

One of the most impactful decisions concerning tenant improvements and development projects is selecting the right General Contractor.  Few other decisions will contribute to the success or decline of your project.

Prior to bidding-out a project, it is important to determine the expected price range. Level of finishes and material used can greatly affect cost, but there are more critical elements to consider.  Number of offices, size of partitions, number of doors and number of toilet rooms play a larger role in the price.

When requesting pricing it is important to provide a clear written scope of work with as much information as possible.  Detailed specifications regarding the division of space, HVAC systems, plumbing and electrical requirements is a good start. Also critical to pricing is location of utilities. Distance and work required to tie into water supply, sewer, and electric service can greatly impact the price of construction. Site visits to survey the existing conditions will be key in determining the scope of work.

While cost is certainly a determining factor, there are several other considerations to keep in mind.  Also understand how the General Contractor is going to get the job done and whether they can meet predetermined deadlines. If the start date is not established, agree to project duration in weeks or days. If days, clarify if it’s calendar or work days – this makes a big difference. Be sure the General Contractor has accounted for material procurement, material shortages, and/or labor shortages.

Upon receiving proposals, read through them carefully not only for price but for scope. Request a line item breakdown for each trade.  A wide range in the job pricing can be a key indicator of scope differentiation between the bidders. Typically the last page of a proposal will identify all the items being excluded. Exclusions are just as important as inclusions when reviewing proposals. Often, Contractors will shift requested items to the exclusions section to reduce the overall price of their proposal.

  • Information, information, information: The more detail about the project you can provide upfront, the more accurate the price will be.
  • The when and how: Include a schedule with timeframe and duration of tasks as part of the work agreement.  Staffing shortages and material procurement should be taken into consideration.
  • What is and isn’t Included: Review proposals carefully. Look at what is included and, sometimes more importantly, what is excluded.