Commercial Contractors

Commercial contractor

One of the problems that torment contractors of every stripe is the homeowner that changes his or her mind at every step of the building process. For example: Deciding to go with a hardwood floor instead of the engineered one in the plans that now makes all the inside doors too long and adds thousands to the cost. In another example, a homeowner now wants tile instead of vinyl, which means putting down a tile-acceptable subflooring like cement board and raising the floor 3/4” higher. This not only causes door problems but transition strips are needed for every room next to the tiled area making ungainly bumps in the floor.

Once commercial building contractors are given a set of plans they are usually set in stone. Why? Because there is too much money at stake, both in time and materials. This is why most commercial projects, like high rise apartments, are more efficiently run than residential building ones and are finished on time and on budget.

Like Making a Movie

Everyone has stayed at the movie theatre to watch the credits role past the characters and have seen how many trades it takes to make a feature film. You can see that each category on the rolling screen has dozens of people working in the background. The crews had to do their part in a timely manner or else the movie would not have been made on time. This is similar to the task of the commercial building contractor. Because behind the project manager - the guy with the shirt, tie and white hard hat - are dozens of unseen people working to complete a huge structure.

It all starts out with the design architect, who is like a “screenwriter.” The design architect takes the needs and wishes of the client and, like a screenwriter adapting a novel for film, translates this into a compelling storyline. The commercial building contractor selects a project manager who will then “direct” the building of the structure, beginning with putting the background teams together: legal work, permit applications, surveying, excavation, etc. These people work far ahead of the building teams to prepare everything. So when the actual building (“shooting”) begins there has actually been months of preparatory work, almost as much time as the building process takes.

The Project Manager

Every building needs someone to accept the management of all areas of commercial construction: pre-planning stage, bid process, tendering of subcontracts, actual construction and the commissioning of the building. For this position a large company may have a project manager on staff. In other cases companies will consult with their human resource managers and hire someone or get a head-hunting firm to do this for them.

A project manager is part engineer, part financial wizard and part juggler. To be considered he or she will have to understand the finer points of project management: planning, scheduling, estimating, contract administration, cost controls and subcontractor coordination. The other skill that is often forgotten when dealing with clients is “diplomacy.” A project manager can often be faced with some unexpected and unwarranted “hands-on” approaches from the clients and has to know how to take in their suggestions and criticisms with careful consideration but without jeopardizing the original plans. This could lead to cost overruns. In addition, there are also the cases when he or she is dealing with the subtrades. The schedule must be maintained while keeping a sympathetic ear to their concerns.

The Permit Process

A couple of the important support tasks in a commercial building enterprise is both obtaining the proper permits and keeping up with the building codes as they are changed or modified. Without key people in these positions the process of obtaining permits could bog down the whole enterprise. These duties include the coordination of: zoning reviews; plumbing, mechanical and electrical reviews;   international building code reviews (if applicable);  environmental health reviews; transportation development reviews; Fire Marshall review; and, water and drainage considerations. In addition, the parameters surrounding the permit applications sometimes change from one area to the next so the staff has to get up to speed quickly in each are where the bid will be made so that they project manager knows the extent of the bureaucratic timeline.

Other Commercial Contracting

Building skyscrapers and hockey arenas are not the only enterprises for the commercial contractor. Property maintenance, office and commercial renovation, utility upgrading and demolition are other areas where commercial contractors are needed.  Many of these projects are considered “light commercial” but sometimes require the same amount of preparation as the big jobs.

To make contact with a commercial general contractor you can consult our Contractor Directory. It is a list of contractor referrals for both commercial and residential contractors. Another way to get great contacts is to post your project on our site at In a very short time commercial contractors will contact you directly and you can begin the process with a good start.

Posted by: TrustedPros
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