August 25, 2022

16 Questions to Ask Any Commercial Construction Partner Before You Begin

Jerdon Construction Hard Hat

Before you begin any commercial construction project, large or small, you’ll want to align the best partners for the job. Who you work with will have a direct impact on your budget, your timeline, and your image in the community. It’s not a project decision to take lightly or without a thorough vetting of every potential commercial construction partner.

Of course, Jerdon Construction is a great first call to make. But for those who need additional insights into identifying, vetting, and selecting the right commercial construction partner, these are the questions to ask.

1. Can You Share More About Your Business and History?

While most companies claim to be reputable and reliable, one of the first questions you’ll ask involves a deeper dive into their business and history of work. This is the time for commercial contractors to sell themselves as professionals and their company as the only partner for your upcoming job. Take notes and be mindful of the responses. You’ll want to verify a history of successful commercial projects.

2. What Makes Your Company Better for this Project than Others?

Ask this question to get at the heart of why the company believes it’s the best partner for your project. Be specific about identifying unique differentiators that are directly applicable to your plans. Here, you’ll look to spot the advantages and added value benefits of a partnership.

3. Have You Worked on Similar Projects?

Commercial construction partners will be eager to share past projects with you in demonstrating their success. However, it’s imperative that you ask specifically about projects they’ve completed that are similar to yours. The more experience a company has with projects like yours, the more prepared the partner will be to expect and tackle challenges along the way.

4. Can You Share Licensing, Bonding, and Insurance Information?

Don’t presume the commercial contractor you’re talking to has all the right paperwork and credentials. Take a moment to ask about the big-ticket must-haves, like state licensing, bonding, and insurance coverage. You can explore further by asking for any additional certifications a company might have, reinforcing its reliability and competence.

5. Do You Have Experienced Project Managers and Site Supervisors?

Don’t just interview the commercial construction partner as a brand. Dig in to learn more about the people and responsible professionals who will be directly involved in your project. More specifically, inquire about the experience, history, and proven records of project managers and site supervisors. Ask why they’re the best for your project and, if possible, see if you can meet them during this vetting process.

6. What’s Your Subcontractor Bench Strength?

Every commercial construction company will have a roster of subcontractors as preferred vendors for various jobs. Before you officially commit to a partnership with any company, take the time to inquire and understand the quality and reliability of the subcontractor bench strength. It’s best to know upfront if there are questionable resources and if the contractor has contingencies in place to address subcontractor concerns mid-project.

7. Do You Work with Local Suppliers?

There are many benefits of embarking on commercial projects where suppliers are local. There is more control over certain aspects of the project when parties and materials are sourced locally. You can also be supporting local businesses during your project, which is a positive brand enforcement for you and key stakeholders in the project. It shouldn’t be a deal-breaker if not all suppliers are local. However, it’s worth asking during your contractor vetting process to know where your project materials will be sourced.

8. Can You Describe Typical Payment Schedules for Similar Projects?

Before you choose a commercial construction partner, be clear about payment schedules and expectations. You’ll have a budget to adhere to, and you’ll want to work with a company that is transparent and forthcoming about payment requirements and timelines.

9. Can You Share References of Similar Projects?

Once you’ve asked the commercial contractor about similar projects, inquire further by asking for references from those jobs. Not every commercial project is going to be seamless. But if there aren’t contacts you reach out to, it could be a sign those “similar projects” weren’t as perfect as they may have claimed.

10. Do You Bid Estimates or Fixed Costs?

This question will allow you to better understand how a commercial contractor manages costs. Working off of estimates could mean expecting budget changes. Fixed cost bidding for certain aspects of the job can be helpful for you as you’re minding your total project budget. There is no surefire right or wrong way to bid a job. Just be sure you’re completely knowledgeable about how your chosen commercial construction partner handles bidding and estimates.

11. What Strategies Do You Use to Ensure Projects Remain on Budget?

Every company you talk to will likely say completing a project on budget is a top priority. Don’t simply take anyone’s word for it, though. Ask what methods, processes, and communications are used to ensure commercial construction projects remain within budget. Look for those that leverage specific project management software and budget trackers. Try to look for oversight processes that allow for constant updates of pricing and anticipated cost adjustments.

12. How Do You Manage Project Timelines and Schedules?

While you’re inquiring about budget mechanisms, you can also segue into asking about what a company uses for timetable management and scheduling oversight. You’ll want to be a part of any timeline strategies, so you can measure just how on-schedule your commercial project is day by day. Take your inquiries even further by asking whether or not the company’s last three projects were delivered on time.

13. Do You Guarantee Your Work?

Not all commercial construction partners will have guarantees. So, be diligent about asking. You’ll want to know what work the company backs up front, along with timelines for guarantees over time. The response you get will help you feel confident about the quality of work you can expect and accountability measures you can take later, if necessary.

14. Who’s Responsible for Managing Designs and Changes?

Who you first speak to when vetting a commercial contractor may not be the primary contact during the project. In addition to learning about the strength of the project managers and site supervisors with whom you might be working, inquire, too, about the designs and changes. Be assertive about meeting who will handle your designs, estimates, and changes along the way. You’ll want someone you feel compatible to work with, as well as someone who’s versed and competent.

15. Can You Share Any Claim or Safety Records?

Get into the details and ask about records for safety practices and claim records. Accidents can always be a risk in any construction setting. But should you spot more than an average number of claims or safety incidents, it could be a red flag. You’ll want to work with a commercial construction partner who prioritizes safety at every level.

16. What Is Your Current Project Schedule Right Now?

Before officially selecting a commercial construction partner, ask about the current schedule. Yes, it’s a good sign if a contractor has jobs right now. But it’s also important to spot when a particular contractor might be too busy to take on your job or effectively communicate with you throughout the project timeline. This line of questioning can also lead you to inquire further about timely communication channels and frequency.

Before you begin your project journey, make sure you’re conducting thorough interviews and vetting with any commercial construction partners. And give Jerdon Construction a call during your process. You’ll be more than thrilled with our responses to these important vetting questions.