Congratulations! You’ve completed feasibility studies for your new self storage development, and decided on how to fund it. After poring over trade magazines to decide on the right building design, layout and colors, you’ve reached the point where you’re ready to find the general contractor (GC) who’s going to build your storage facility. If this is your first project, though, keep in mind that it can be very difficult to find a GC who gets the job done right, on budget and on schedule. So, what are the key things to look for when vetting general contractors? Here is a list of items you need to look for when going through this process, to ensure you find the best one for your project.
Licensed & Insured
Making sure that your general contractor is licensed and insured before you hire him is paramount, for a number of reasons. First and foremost, it reduces risk. If a subcontractor is injured while on your site, your general contractor’s insurance should cover it. Ask for proof of insurance, license and certifications and the company’s tax ID number; moving forward without all of these in place is asking for trouble.
An often overlooked element of selecting a GC is his personality and communication skills. If you’re hiring someone to oversee a multi-million dollar investment, it needs to be someone you feel comfortable communicating with. If they’re in any way intimidating, off-putting or difficult to communicate with, it doesn’t make sense to pursue a relationship with them. Every construction project has issues that come up, and you want to make sure that you can resolve them with the GC while maintaining a professional relationship. Observe the GC interacting with subcontractors; if he lacks respect towards them, there’s a greater chance of your interactions breaking down. Another element to gauge is the response time, especially if it’s a larger general contracting company.
The most important thing to do with references is to call them. Even if they were satisfied with the general contractor, you want to ask them what it was like working with the GC, if he went over deadline or budget, and if there were any issues after he completed the job. And, if any issues did occur, was he able to find a satisfactory resolution in a timely manner and within budget.
When you collect bids from general contractors, you want to make sure that you’re comparing apples to apples. If they’re bidding on different scopes of work and quality of materials, then their bids won’t help you choose the best-priced general contractor. Before you meet with them, prepare a list of the work that you want done, as well as the exact materials you want used. This is a lot of work, but you can either go through it once by yourself or go through it several times with individual contractors. Meeting with GCs will help you further flesh out the scope of work they’ll be bidding on. After you update the contract for work needed, make sure your bids from all general contractors are on that same scope of work.
With the interest you’re paying on loans for your project, it’s important to get it done quickly. In some cases, it may even be worth going with a general contractor who costs slightly more, but can get the job done more quickly. The big question here that you’ll want to ask each contractor is if they have other contracts that they’ll be working on at the same time as yours, and is there any chance those could interfere with your storage project.
Chances are good that your general contractor will be hiring subcontractors from outside of his company to work on your project. Discuss this with each general contractor, and review the subcontractor’s previous work and references. Although the general contractor will be managing them, doing your due diligence is important.
Occasionally a general contractor will go bankrupt while completing a project. Even if they’re quality builders, they may be one contract away from insolvency. Although this could be a tough topic to bring up with a general contractor, especially if every other aspect so far seems favorable, neglecting this could result in a project taking much longer than planned.
Visit Previous Projects
Beyond speaking with references over the phone, you’ll also want to visit previous projects that are several years old in order to see how the construction is holding up. Look for any issues that aren’t a result of normal wear and tear, like leakage, uneven surfaces and gaps. These are red flags that you should talk with the property owner about.
Self Storage Experience
It is also wise to select a general contractor who has experience building a self storage facility. You want someone who knows the nuances within the industry. A GC who has only built apartment complexes may have no idea how to select the best materials to use in construction or the best quality doors and hasps to purchase. Finding one who specializes in self storage, like Investment Real Estate Construction, or who at least has a long list of successfully completed self storage projects, is essential.
It’s exciting to build your storage facility, and the demand for new facilities is evident; but building the right development team can make or break your project. Along with the funding and feasibility study, the general contractor plays a key role in bringing your project to completion. If you are ready to get your self storage project started and need guidance selecting a general contractor, contact us today and our team at Investment Real Estate Construction will be glad to start you down the right path.