Are you getting ready to expand your horizons by building a new rental unit or perhaps retail space? While exploring available contractors, you notice that some are listed as commercial and others residential. Do you need a commercial contractor for a new downtown building? It all depends on the extent of your development plans and the available services that the contractor offers. Learn what to expect when you hire each type of general contractor.
Determining the Scope of Your Project
When you are in the planning phase of pulling your building project together, you will want to determine what type of contractors may be required for the job. If you are adding a tennis court to a park, you may only need a residential contractor. If you are investing in a new shopping center, you will need to tap a wider range of support businesses. If you need more than the usual builder, electrical, and plumbing contractors, start to think commercial.
Commercial Contractors have the Experience and Resources for Major Infrastructure Improvements
Your project will include the expansion of local road systems, new traffic lights, integration into the communication networks, and impact the sewer system. Your commercial contractor will have the engineering professionals on staff or within reach to tackle major construction tasks with confidence. They may have project managers assigned to different portions of the entire plan–one for the roads and one for the buildings. Not only are they hiring the workers needed to do the physical labor, but they are also prepared to attend zoning meetings, anticipate new licensing and permits, and address ecological impact studies.
Residential Contractors Focus on the Finer Details
A residential contractor specializes in the systems that support neighborhoods of housing, whether that means single home structures or apartment complexes. Instead of extending the city sewer system, they are equipped to tie into it. They expect to put down a short access road, not pave an entire highway. Your residential contractor will have an architect that focuses on home design and engineers familiar with bathrooms and backyard pools. You will work with project managers interested in finishing details such as carpeting, tiling, and siding.
Working with a Company that Offers Both Services May be the Best Fit
What if your job fits into the middle of the description for a commercial vs. residential project? You may need more of the services provided by a commercial contractor if you are planning on a huge subdivision with multiple roads, shopping centers, and access to public parks and commuter routes. At the same time, you will need a builder able to produce homes that are finished appropriately for the target price point. This is when you want to find a business that offers both residential and commercial contracting. It may reduce the selection of available qualified firms, but you will be happier with the building process and final result.
In order to place your project in the best position possible to be successful, you have to work with an experienced property developer. If you’re going through this process for the first time, you might be wondering what a property developer does. What are a few examples of jobs a property developer may complete? There are several examples to keep in mind.
Find the Right Land
The first responsibility of a contractor is to help you find the right land. There’s a good chance that you have plenty of land in your area; however, not every property is going to be right for your project. Some land may only be zoned for a specific purpose. Other land might be permitted for a specific thing. Your property developer can help you assess your options. That way, you can make the best decision for your project.
Your property developer will also help you with financing details. You may need to apply for funding from a bank. You may need to ask for a grant from a specific organization. Your property developer can help you assess your options. Then, he or she can use his or her connections to help you get the best financing deal at the right rate. This can go a long way toward helping you get your project off the ground.
Locate the Right Contractors
Finally, your property developer will also be responsible for helping you find the right contractors for your project. There are lots of contractors out there; however, not every contractor has the right skill set for your job. Some contractors are better suited for some areas than others. Rely on the advice of your property developer to find the right contracting team for your project. This will place your project in the right hands.
Anyone wanting to start on a new residential construction project will first have to answer many questions. Perhaps the most important of those questions is, “What are the requirements for residential building?” In essence, those requirements can be placed into three categories: building codes, zoning, and permitting.
Building codes layout all of the regulations and requirements for residential construction in the state of Washington. The building codes are regulated by the Washington State Building Code Council (SBCC). The codes are updated regularly and determine the structural and functional requirements for any building. They can apply to things like energy efficiency, load-bearing capacity and so much more.
Outside of specific building codes, zoning determines where residential construction is allowed. Municipalities handle zoning. As an example, Tukwila handles its own zoning, which is independent of zoning set by SeaTac. Before any construction project can begin, it must be properly zoned or face the risk of fines or worse.
The final set of requirements are tied to permits. Permits come in all shapes and sizes, and they verify that a construction project is living up to regulations. Permits ensure that zoning and building codes are followed, along with any other necessary regulation. The key is that a permit must be granted before work begins on the part of the project covered by the permit.
When these three categories of requirements are met, a construction project may proceed and will be completed up to the regulatory restrictions placed by the state of Washington and any other governing bodies with authority over construction.
While it’s tempting to hire the contractor who submits the lowest bid, this can be a costly mistake. Instead, you should carefully vet these companies to ensure you get the results you expect without any frustrating hiccups along the way.
Tips for Choosing a Commercial Building Contractor
Reputable companies will have references from companies they’ve worked with in the past. You can ask whether the contractor completed the work on time and within budget, if there were any issues with the building project, and if the business recommends the company. It’s also helpful to ask whether communication was clear.
Contractors must also have appropriate licenses to work on projects within the state. The required licenses may differ between commercial and residential construction projects. The builder you choose should understand those differences and be ready to apply for the appropriate licensing or already have those licenses. Otherwise, your project may fall behind schedule or be faced with fines if the company fails to meet safety and zoning laws.
After determining there are no licensing issues, you’ll want to ask the business about its experience with projects like yours. It will quickly become apparent whether a company has the credentials and how efficient the management is in general. You can avoid contractors that haven’t worked on commercial projects in the past or that rely too much on subcontractors.
Finally, compatibility is important when choosing commercial building contractors. Some people work better together than others. Although a company may be able to complete your project on time and within budget, you’ll have to work closely with them during the design process. If your personalities clash, you’ll struggle every step of the way.
Once you’re confident that you’ve found the right company to hire, you can sign those contracts, and your build can start.
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