Which of these individuals are you?
- The building owner planning to build or change a structure
- The building contractor in charge of a new project
For both these groups, there’s one constant challenge: Making the most progress with the least amount of money. You need to manage your budget or, depending on your role, keep your profits high.
This article is for both of you, so listen up. We’ll share some insider secrets that can help up and coming construction contractors get ahead in the game. It will also help developers or building owners have more constructive discussions with their hired building contractors.
Let’s solve a few problems and prevent other challenges entirely.
Step 1: Understand What Wastes Money
The initial budget you draw up will seldom represent the eventual cost of the building project. There are too many variables and each day is bound to have at least one unexpected incident.
The good news: You can manage quite a lot of variables if you focus your attention on the right aspects, namely the factors that quickly increase expenses. Not all of them are obvious, so consider this list when making decisions:
Time: Each day you add to the original timeline means another day’s rental expenses on equipment. Therefore, finding speedy resolutions and ensuring the builders always have what they need to progress is essential.
Labor: This links closely with the factor of time mentioned above as more time spent on a project results in more labor charges. Also, determine the most cost-effective way between a large group of people doing the work in a short period of time compared to a smaller group taking a few days longer.
Mistakes: It’s inevitable—things will go wrong. This is why most experts advise you to add about 20% of your original budget simply to cover unforeseen expenses and finishing touches. Try and prevent mistakes with forward-thinking, excellent communication & checking up on the team regularly.
Materials: This makes up a huge part of your overall expenses and there are many suppliers on the market. Spending time on sourcing the best ones can keep costs down. Make sure they’re of high quality so a sub-standard product doesn’t lead to problems and more expenses.
You can see that both the construction project manager and the client can play a role in managing these variables.
Step 2: The Right Partnership
Who you partner with determines how these factors are managed, so pick a contractor wisely.
Don’t Build Cheap
First up, make the decision now not to go with the cheapest contractor. Yes, a few new contractors may simply try to get into the market, but unfortunately, you also run the risk of ending up with:
- A contractor who cuts corners.
- The company may be desperate for work because of bad customer service in the past that led to losing clients.
- Desperation for work could also mean cash flow problems. This can affect how quickly the contractor can get resources for your project.
You don’t want these problems affecting the timeline or quality of your structure.
Contractors: Don’t trust extremely low quotes to get you your next job. It could lead to potential clients distrusting the value of your work.
If you’re shopping around for materials you should keep cost in mind, too. Yes, you need to compare prices. Finding suppliers that offer excellent rates on products such as sandstone, sand, or granite will save you a lot of money in the long run. Simply remember to ask for proof of the products’ quality so you don’t accidentally buy low-quality items that affect the strength, longevity or maintenance of your building.
Once you start with vetting building contractors, clients should keep the industry’s trends in mind:
- You must approach them with clear expectations and some ideas, or they won’t be able to quote accurately.
- Be prepared to wait for a while before the best ones are able to attend to your project. Construction projects take long and professionals may already have other jobs scheduled during the next few months. If you’re demanding and only want things your way you may miss out on getting the best possible building contractor for your project.
- You can’t necessarily trust an excellent carpenter to deliver exceptional work adding a brick and mortar wall. Search for the right type of construction services when you start vetting.
- Chances are that the contractor will use sub-contractors. This is common practice and as long as there’s proof of their credentials the project can still produce an optimum structure.
While clients must keep these guidelines in mind, it’s also the responsibility of construction contractors to discuss these matters with potential clients. Good communication will prevent many misunderstandings throughout the project.
How to Pick Construction Services
Now, what makes one construction contractor deserving of being employed? Use these guidelines to identify the winner:
- Reviews and references are excellent starting points. Clients trust previous clients’ feedback more than the discussions with the contractors themselves.
- There must be proof that the contractor has the correct licenses to do the work and to get the work certified as being compliant.
- Discuss permits as these are essential to avoid paying fines. This is also the contractor’s responsibility, not the client’s. If a contractor tries to cut corners by not obtaining permits or revert the task back to the client, it’s a clear red flag.
- The ideal contractor is not the first one you interview. Talk to multiple ones so you can compare quotes and learn more about the industry & your options before deciding.
- It should be standard that a client asks for portfolios and references to contact.
- On the matter of upfront payment, no contractor should request more than 30%, while the average is around 10%. If a contractor requests more it could be because he or she needs funds to complete another project. That’s another red flag.
- Contractors have given the industry a bad name because they often move on to other projects before taking care of the last details on the previous ones. That happens because they’re always under pressure to meet deadlines. To prevent a project from staying incomplete, final payment should only be expected when the entire project is completed satisfactorily.
- Ideally, clients and contractors should share some of the responsibilities of the project’s insurance. Review insurance policies so there are no misunderstandings about which scenarios are covered by which party.
Remember: Many of these characteristics impact how much the overall project will cost so spend enough time finding the best construction services near you. It’s worth the effort.
Before any work starts it’s vital for both parties’ benefit that a clear contract is drawn up and signed by all involved.
Step 3: Managing the Project
Once you’re partnered with the right individuals you start the exciting work on the new or to-be-renovated structure. For the best results at the lowest cost, use these guidelines throughout.
Does Each Person Know What to Do?
Confusion is the fastest way to waste money because you’ll be wasting time, resources, and labor. There are bound to be mistakes as well. Therefore, clear task delegation is vital.
When each person knows his or her task there is a clear workflow with little time wasted on questions and lingering because of uncertainty.
This responsibility is of course on a project manager’s to do list, so even though a client may visit the site, he or she shouldn’t interfere with job allocation.
Apart from knowing WHAT to do, workers must also know WHEN to do it. If different tasks must be done one after the other a clear schedule with realistic time allocations is vital. Ensure workers keep to the timeline so they don’t hold up progress or disrupt each other’s schedules.
Are There Safety Checks in Place?
A sure way to waste time on labor, insurance costs and resources is by putting workers at risk. An injury on site will disrupt workflow but also require workers’ compensation to be paid. An accident could even lead to damage to the structure which means you’ll have to purchase more resources and spend time fixing the damage.
For everyone’s benefit, health and safety guidelines must be in place from the start:
- The right clothing
- Safety gear such as hard hats
- Equipment and training for working on structures 6ft and higher
- Clear signage about on-site hazards to warn workers and visitors
Can You Go Green?
The real cost of your structure doesn’t end the day the construction team leaves. You’ll be using the building and costs will add up every day. Going green may sound expensive when you plan your project, but in the long run green living often saves you money. Here are a few examples:
- Taking you off the grid so you pay less utility costs
- Modern appliances use less power
- Preventing temperature fluctuations requires less use of air conditioners
- Natural products such as slate roofing often require less maintenance than other substances
Incorporating solar panels in the design or properly insulating a new structure can go a long way in saving you money in the future.
As responsible individuals in today’s conservation-conscious society, both clients and contractors should put this on the discussion list.
What Can You Do to Speed Up the Process?
Another thing both clients and construction contractors can help with is planning ahead. You know what must take place next, so make sure there are no unnecessary obstacles that keep workers from doing their tasks:
- Remove furniture from a room that’s being renovated or painted so workers don’t waste time covering the items, trying not to mess on them or moving it themselves.
- Make sure the resources—materials, water and power—are available according to schedule so no time is wasted because workers wait for a delivery or a generator.
Can You Optimize Material Sourcing?
There are no laws or even preferred guidelines about who should source materials. Clients or contractors can do it.
Best tip: Think out of the box.
Construction contractors may get the best prices for materials such as granite, wood, limestone and more because they know the suppliers. However, if the client has a contact that can deliver an even better deal it should be considered.
Also think of unique sources if you need to keep costs low:
- Reclaimed items
- Second-hand resources that are still in excellent condition
- Sales at various vendors in town
- Up and coming suppliers may offer better rates to ensure sales
Communication is Key
Throughout all these tips there is one factor that keeps surfacing: Communication.
When communication channels stay open and get used daily there are fewer misunderstandings that can lead to unnecessary expenses. Ideally, client and contractor should talk every day. They must make sure they agree on what’s needed for the next steps in the schedule & ensure the resources are available for the work to continue.
That’s a lot to take in, but don’t let it overwhelm you. A construction project is an exciting chapter in a business’ or a family’s journey. Put these guidelines in place and you’ll get the best outcome at the lowest cost—you may even save enough to add that stunning décor feature you’ve been dreaming of.
Do you have more questions before you start your construction project? Leave a comment below and let the community help you.