If you’re ready to get started on a commercial construction project, you have two options. The first is to search for architects and engineers to help you plan, then search for a contractor later. Or, you could take the faster and more affordable approach: hire a general contractor immediately and include them in pre-construction planning.
Keep reading to learn about the pre-construction process and why a general contractor is an invaluable asset from start to finish.
The pre-construction phase is a crucial part of every design-build construction project. Unlike the design phase in a design-bid-build project, which only includes you and an architect, the pre-construction phase involves your entire project team: architects, engineers, construction managers, general contractors, and more.
During the pre-construction planning stage, your team outlines every aspect of your project, from budget to materials. Here are a few of the services included in pre-construction planning:
- Determining the scope of the project: Your team will work with you to identify your project goals and gauge the size.
- Estimating budget: Design-build contractors typically have estimators on staff who calculate project costs, including materials, labor, and administrative costs.
- Creating project plans: Your contractor will select a team of architects and engineers and work closely with them to develop detailed project plans.
- Selecting subcontractors: Because your general contractor already has a good idea of the scope of work during the pre-construction phase, they can start searching for subcontractors right away.
- Securing permits: It can take months to get permits for the first steps of your construction project. Design-build contractors avoid delays by starting the application process early.
- Scheduling inspections: You may need an inspection of your construction site and surrounding areas before breaking ground. Your contractor will either perform the assessments or work with a third party to ensure your project will comply with local laws and building codes.
Including a general contractor from the beginning may require more upfront work to find the right partner, but it pays off throughout your project. Here are a few advantages of hiring a general contractor right away.
If you wait to involve a general contractor until after an architect completes your plans, you still may have to wait weeks or months for them to pull the proper permits and find your project team. Different project phases can overlap when you involve a general contractor from the beginning. While your architect works on plans, your contractor can apply for permits, estimate costs, and vet subcontractor teams.
Involving a general contractor during pre-construction planning can also prevent mistakes that would have delayed your project later. For example, your contractor can let your design team know if one of their ideas is impractical or expensive to execute, and they can adjust before it becomes an issue. Additionally, because architects and contractors work together during pre-construction, they can brainstorm materials and alternatives together. Your contractor won’t have to waste days scrambling to search for suitable replacements after construction begins.
Your design team may be the creative force behind your project, but your construction team will perform the actual work. An experienced general contractor can spot the things that will turn into extra costs on a plan and work with your team to identify affordable tweaks that still achieve your design goals. Without that additional oversight during the pre-construction planning phase, you might end up with skyrocketing costs during construction and several expensive change orders.
Connor Construction understands how frustrating it is to wait for permits. That’s why we developed a process that gets you the right permits before you need them—every time.
Every member of your project team plays an integral role in your project individually, but they work better together. When everyone is involved during pre-construction planning and can get on the same page, they can come up with creative solutions and notice issues that might have slipped by otherwise.
Your general contractor will likely have existing professional relationships with several architects and engineers, and they can select the team with the most experience in your industry and project type. This established relationship eliminates any communication barriers between your design and construction team, ensures that both teams will work towards the same goal, and prevents future unwelcome surprises.
When you choose a design-bid-build project delivery method, there are different points of contact during every stage of the construction process. First, you have to find an architect to handle pre-construction planning. Then, you accept bids from several contractors and choose one for your project. Once construction begins, your general contractor becomes your point of contact. You have to maintain a high degree of involvement to ensure everything moves forward.
If you involve a contractor from the beginning, they’re your single point of contact from day one. You don’t have to search for an architect or accept bids in the middle of your project. No matter how involved you prefer to be, you can feel confident that your general contractor is handling everything your project needs.