Commercial construction plays a crucial role in maintaining a thriving economy and helping a community grow. By adding new commercial real estate or renovating existing spaces, commercial construction projects create room for enterprises to launch and expand.
The US commercial construction industry is a huge part of the economy and is worth over $230 billion (2022 estimate). Due to its sheer size, the sector also provides employment to hundreds of thousands of people, both directly and indirectly.
Learning the basics about the commercial construction business could be useful, especially if you are a business owner thinking about future expansion. In this blog post, we will tell you all about commercial construction and how to pick the right commercial contractor for your business.
Buildings can be broadly divided into residential buildings and commercial buildings. A residential building is a home or apartment where people live and stay. Commercial buildings are structures used for running a business – retail shops, warehouses, offices, stadiums, parking lots, and so on.
Commercial construction refers to the business of building structures used for commercial purposes. Firms that manage and handle such projects are called general contractors or commercial contractors. The buildings may be either leased or sold after construction. Many are also built to the specifications of a single client.
Based on the size and scale of the project, commercial construction can be sorted into three categories:
A building renovation, office remodeling, repairs, and minor structural upgrades are common types of small-scale construction projects. Building small structures like a single room store or classrooms in a school could also be considered a small-scale project. These projects take the least amount of time and can often be completed by a commercial contractor operating with a smaller crew of a few individuals with minimal equipment.
Any building upgrade or expansion project that takes anywhere from a few months to a year can be considered a medium-scale project. Adding more stories to a building or entire new wings to a mall or hospital are examples of such projects. These complex projects require a larger commercial contractor with bigger crews and lots of equipment.
This usually refers to the construction of massive structures from scratch. It involves building large hotels, amusement parks, corporate offices, or even infrastructure projects like highways and bridges. Funded by either government agencies or private investors, these mega projects often take several years to complete and involve the biggest commercial contractor firms.
If you are a business organization looking to hire a commercial contractor for a new construction/renovation project, your journey will look something like this:
This is the stage where you decide all major aspects of the project. It includes the following tasks:
You can either select architects and contractors separately or go for a commercial general contractor that offers both project design and building construction services.
Once the design team is selected, you will have to meet them and discuss the broad targets for the project. These include the desired building materials, structure specifications, amenities, size and number of rooms, and last but not least, a desired deadline for the project.
In this phase, the design team will have to create detailed blueprints for the project. Architects and designers create scale models of the project and ensure that the final design is in full compliance with all local building codes and zoning regulations.
Electrical engineers plan the layout of the wiring and other related design elements, while mechanical engineers work on plumbing and HVAC aspects. Drainage, parking, and connections to other utilities are handled by civil engineers.
Throughout the design phase, the team will work closely with the client, adjusting the design based on feedback.
After receiving and approving the final design blueprints from the architects, you can move forward to the bid stage. In this phase, you will publish a tender/notice welcoming bids from contractors interested in taking the commercial building project.
You will have to clearly specify the qualifying requirements of the commercial contractor to ensure that you receive bids from suitably competent firms. The bidding stage is a market-oriented process – contractors who put in the bid with the lowest cost usually win the project.
Naturally, if you hire a general contractor with design services, the bidding process can be avoided altogether. Instead, the commercial contractor will submit the design themselves for approval and head straight into the construction phase if you give the green light.
From a client’s perspective, this is the final stage. Their active role in the project more or less ends here. The commercial contractor and construction manager handle all the duties at the construction site, including overseeing the construction, hiring sub-contractors, and finding vendors for materials.
The contractor will try their best to complete the project under budget and within the specified timeline. They will approach the client only if certain circumstances prevent them from completing those objectives.
Once the construction is completed, the commercial contractor will formally hand over the building to the client. At this point, you can start using the building for your business activities.
As you may already know, construction is a highly complex undertaking. It is almost impossible for inexperienced individuals or organizations to handle the rigors of a commercial construction project. You have to ensure that the design is compliant with building and safety codes, find reliable vendors and sub-contractors, oversee the daily on-site activities, and a million other things.
For most small and medium-sized organizations, hiring an expert construction company makes the most sense. They will not only provide you with the design and drawings but can also connect you with commercial contractors and keep track of the building process. This way you receive a streamlined service from a professional company that is associated with all aspects of the project from design to construction.
While you have a choice to use independent contractors for construction and a separate firm for design and planning, it is important to partner with reputable companies. A contractor lacking in skills, resources, or experience will reduce efficiency, resulting in delays and increased costs of the project. Having a dedicated commercial construction firm to handle your project gives you the following advantages:
This is a critical decision with major implications for your project outcome, finances, and most importantly, your business prospects. To make the best possible decision while picking a commercial construction company, look at the following features:
The commercial project management company you choose should have the ability to provide you with a clear vision of how your project should be built, and then use its execution capabilities to bring that vision to fruition. The company should preferably be equipped with cutting-edge technology (such as augmented reality combined with holographic technology) to enable your team to visualize the project’s scope and design as close to reality as possible.
Every commercial general contractor is required to have an appropriate business license (often multiple licenses) and other mandatory certifications from the relevant local authorities. The actual requirements for contracting licensing often vary from state to state. Needless to say, only work with fully licensed contractors, preferably those with a few years of relevant experience working on similar projects.
Do a basic background check on the construction team of the local contractor to see their safety record and ability to successfully complete projects within time and budget limits. Consider seeking references from past clients – most reliable companies provide a list of clients they have dealt with in the past. Work only with companies that have favorable ratings from previous clients.
For the successful completion of any building project, clear and transparent communication between the client and contractor is essential. Always keep your expectations regarding this clear when interviewing the construction company representatives. Pick a firm that can maintain a constant line of communication with you from start to finish.
Along with all the above features, the ability of a company to deliver results at a low cost is also crucial. The main thing to note here is that the cost savings should not become a priority over track record and reliability. If several construction firms are on an even footing in those areas, then, by all means, pick the firm that quotes the lowest price for the building project.
Corporeal Visions has all the hallmarks of a trusted and reliable general contractor. Here are 4 reasons to pick us for your construction project:
Call us at 703-909-4193 or contact us online to set up a consultation or request a quote today.
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