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How To Get Ahead Of the Dallas Construction Boom: Find A Good Contractor

The Dallas skyline

The growth spurt of secondary and tertiary markets like Dallas has continued. 

Dallas-Fort Worth welcomed more than 140,000 new residents between 2015 and 2016, the most of any metro area in the U.S., according to estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. The influx of new residents, drawn to the region’s quality of life and strong job opportunities, has supported a boom in construction across all asset classes. 

The high demand for properties from offices to apartment buildings has led to limited supply, as construction professionals rush to complete projects on time and on budget amid labor shortages and rising construction costs.

Having a good general contractor that understands the rapidly growing market can help developers meet their goals and take advantage of the positive real estate cycle.

Like any recruitment process, finding a general contractor requires a deep dive into past experience, professionalism and industry knowledge. Global recruitment firm Michael Page offers tips on how to spot the best general contractor for a construction project:

Contact Their Subcontractor References And Former Clients

A general contractor is responsible for managing and overseeing the entire project, which will often involve the delegation of work. Contractors will purchase materials, hire subcontractors and direct the various construction workers to ensure timely and quality completion of the work. All the management and organization of the job starts and stops with the GC.

One of the best ways to assess the professionalism of a potential GC is to call up past subcontractors. Because the GC is responsible for hiring, paying and managing subcontractors, a phone call to these past colleagues can provide insight into a GC’s punctuality, integrity and leadership skills. 

Commercial real estate is a people-driven industry. Successful professionals are hired and are offered new work based on word-of-mouth praise. General contractors operate the same way. Developers should reach out to a general contractor's past clients and inquire about their experience working with the GC. They should also ask past clients if they were satisfied with the end product. 


Evaluate Their Experience

Recent Dallas construction projects have run the gamut from mixed-use office campuses to Deep Ellum's first residential high-rise. The variety of project types and the construction challenges they present require a general contractor with a range of experience across asset classes. 

A good general contractor has experience in every aspect of construction, from basic repairs to designing and building properties. Even though most general contractors hire subcontractors, they need to understand how to do the job themselves. This assures that subcontractors complete their tasks on time and at the highest level of quality.

Developers should inquire if the general contractor has any experience working as a subcontractor. Experience working under a GC empowers leaders to make decisions that take into account the perspective of their workforce.

Pay Attention To Listening Skills

The job of a general contractor is to help translate the vision and design plan of the developer and the architecture firm into a physical structure. The GC needs to not only have a strong understanding of technical items like blueprints, work permits and building codes but also the emotional intelligence to understand what the client hopes to achieve. 

The ability to listen and gently push back against clients is critical. Sometimes developers have design plans that are structurally impossible or cost-prohibitive. The job of the contractor is to explain why it cannot be done and offer an alternative solution.

Do Not Always Choose The Lowest Bid 

Most developers, when looking to begin a project, will send out a request for proposals to general contractors. These competing companies then submit a bid that details the costs of construction and the proposed timelines. Developers might be tempted to go for the lowest bid, but construction firms often make unrealistically low bids to get jobs, or cut corners to reach a more attractive number. 

General contractors should provide a thorough estimate the first time, and include specific details of all materials and work needed. Detailed bids demonstrate professionalism and integrity. If a developer is issued a bid without an explanation or on-site consultation, the proposal should be questioned, as well as the contractor's involvement in the project.

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