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How to Choose a General Contractor for a Multifamily Construction Project

When developing or upgrading a multifamily building complex, the general contractor (GC) you choose to do the work may be the most critical factor for the success of your project. As Stringer Property Management experts explain, the general contractor is the vital link that connects the concept you have on paper and the actual building on the ground.

They are saddled with taking your vision for the project and bringing it to life. However, the general contractor holds the key to the show if you know your multifamily construction project’s what, why, and when. That is why the competence of a general contractor must never be in doubt.

Everything from the cost of the project to your ability to finish it on schedule, the quality of the completed work, the operational cost of the building when it is finished, the kind of tenants you attract, and how much profit you will eventually make from the project; all of these depend on the ability of your general contractor.

The question you might be asking is how do I choose the right general contractor to ensure I avoid the frustrations that commonly happen in a multifamily development? This post walks you through the list of criteria for checking the competence of a prospective GC before you hire them for your multifamily construction project.

Choosing a general contractor for your multifamily construction

Start early

Choosing a general contractor for your multifamily construction

The first mistake investors make is to assume they only need a GC when they are ready to start building. But this doesn’t seem right. Involving your general contractor in the ideation phases of your project can help you save a lot of time and money.

You will gain practical insights that can make a huge difference in the result. This is because, unlike most other professionals on your team, the GC is the field person who knows the nuts and bolts of building construction.

Certifications and licensing

Your state must license the contractor. It is also vital that they are a respected member of the local chapter of their professional body. Professional bodies ensure that their members abide by the standards of the industry. A contractor not affiliated with any organization will not be subject to the standards imposed by the industry. If anything goes wrong with your project, you may not be able to get redress by reverting to the professional body, and the profit you will make would be affected too.

Experience

Certifications and licensing

There are two kinds of experience you want to look for. The GC should have experience working in your city. A contractor familiar with the area can help you cut costs and save time. For instance, they have the know-how to accelerate building permits. They understand zoning laws and factors that only people who have worked in the area can understand. The general contractor must also have experience working on projects that are similar to yours.

Reputation

In addition to having an established presence in your locality, the GC must have an impeccable reputation. You can verify this by asking the company for a list of verifiable local references. You may also want to talk to people in the local housing industry – such as people in the trades – who can give you vital information about a GC. Before you hire a general contractor, check their BBB rating and make sure they have an unimpeachable reputation online.

Insurance and safety records

The GC should carry enough insurance to protect you and your project. At the very least, they must have workmen’s compensation, enough coverage to shield them from liability, and property insurance in case of property damage.

A bonded GC is an additional advantage; bonding ensures you do not lose your money if the contractor abandons the project. The GC’s safety records are also important; they must show proof of abiding by the highest safety standards.

Relationship with subcontractors

When doing any form of building development, relationships are everything. This is true for you as it is for your general contractor. To determine if a GC is the right company for your projects, look at their relationship with their subcontractors, tradespeople, and suppliers.

You want a GC whose role is clearly defined; they should not attempt to play the role of a subcontractor. Choosing a GC who also doubles as a subcontractor is one of the major reasons projects are delayed or go over budget.

The contractor’s fees

Transparent pricing is a huge issue when looking for the right general contractor. It is not unusual for a GC to try and confuse the investor by intentionally making estimates hard to understand. How does the GC charge for their services? Are estimates transparent? Are materials fairly priced? Does the estimate show how much the GC is going to earn? Is pricing based on a percentage or a flat fee?  In most cases, it is best to go with a general contractor who uses a cost + fees model.

When choosing a general contractor, these simple tips should be able to help you with a decision.

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