Experience vs. Credentials: Does Your Commercial Construction Contractor Make the Grade?
When selecting a contractor for your commercial construction project which matters most: experience or credentials? Actually, both are important. While credentials may help distinguish whether or not a commercial contractor is professionally qualified, it is experience that illustrates his or her capabilities of satisfactorily completing the job on time and within budget.
Let’s say you are planning to open your first restaurant and are deciding between two commercial contractors. Contractor A has never built a restaurant, but his low bid is very attractive. On the other hand, contractor B has a higher bid, but has completed several exquisite restaurants under his belt. Although both contractors are technically qualified, the inexperienced contractor runs the risk of delays and cost overruns that could delay the opening of the restaurant and actually end-up costing you more in the long run.
What Should I Look for When Hiring a Commercial Contractor?
Licensing: Most states have licensing requirements for commercial contractors, but some states like Iowa, for example, only require a contractor to be registered. There is a big difference between licensed and registered contractors. A licensed contractor must demonstrate competency whereas a registered contractor need only complete a form. If your state requires commercial contractors to be professionally licensed, verify their license is currently valid and in good standing.
Associations: There are a variety of industry and trade associations that serve the commercial contracting industry including Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), Associated General Contractors (AGC), and the Building Industry Association (BIA). Contractors that are members of one or more industry trade groups have made a commitment to follow industry ethics, standards, guidelines and continuing education.
Insurance: Only hire commercial contractors who are licensed, bonded and insured. Clients can be held liable for thefts, accidents, damages and the negligence of contractors who do not carry adequate insurance or are not properly licensed and/or registered as required by state or local laws.
Experience: Past performance is the best predictor of future results. So, whether you are building a restaurant, remodeling a hotel or any other type of commercial construction project, look for commercial contractors with a proven track record of delivering exceptional results for clients in industries that are similar to yours. Review their portfolio of recently completed jobs, contact references and ask if they would hire the contractor again and see what others are saying about them on online review sites like Google, Manta, Yelp and the BBB, for instance.
When selecting a commercial contractor for your project be sure to conduct a thorough evaluation using the above criteria and prioritize the results based on what is important to you. Remember, credentials may get a contractor in the door, but experience delivers results.