How to Choose the Right Contractor to Build Out Your Location


The Build Out

It’s very common for commercial spaces to require some design work before they’re ready for occupancy.

Some spaces will be fully renovated, but others will need you to implement your own design and renovations.

Second-generation spaces usually require updating at the very least, or a total makeover in the worst of cases.

The build-out is the work that will be done to make the property ready for your business.

It can be as big and impressive as you like, and the changes can add personality, as well as functionality, to your business.

On the other hand, a build-out may not be necessary if the space is laid out efficiently.

You may take a utilitarian approach and simply freshen up the space with new paint and carpet.


How to Choose the Right Contractor

Make sure you hire a commercial contractor, not the residential contractor who builds homes in your neighborhood.

A commercial build-out is not a residential renovation.

Hire the professionals who specialize in the commercial real estate field.

It’s very different from other specializations within each industry, and you need the most competent team on your side.

In a public space, you have to pay attention to commercial building codes, which are very different from residential requirements.

Even the best residential contractor may not be familiar with ADA requirements or differences in fire codes.

Residential contractors may also be unfamiliar with commercial grade materials.

Residential grade carpet will not stand up to the wear and tear of having twenty people walking on it every day.

Two thousand square feet of carpet in an office space is not the equivalent of two thousand square feet of carpet in your home.

Good contractors can save you time and money, but bad ones can be disastrous.

Picking the right contractor doesn’t have to be difficult, but it does require some careful thought.

It’s a big decision that will have a big impact on your business.


What to Keep in Mind

The best contractor is not always the cheapest one, and spending less shouldn’t be your deciding factor.

It would be wise to get three bids and compare the offers.

If one is very high and one is very low, you may want to go with the one in the middle.

There are reasons the other two were at the far ends of the spectrum.

However, if all three are approximately the same cost for the same scope of work, the cheaper alternative could be a good bet.

The way you and your contractor get along during the initial bid process should play a significant role in determining whom you should hire.

If you don’t get along in the walk-through, you won’t get along throughout construction.

Ask for references and look for reviews of potential contractors online.

Contracting is different from most industries because their work is literally on view for all to see.

The person who commissioned the work can determine very quickly if the contractor did a good job or a terrible one, and they usually don’t mind sharing that information.


Interviewing the Contractor

If the price is right and the reviews are good, the next step is to interview the contractor.

You have to be able to develop a rapport and be comfortable talking to him.

Evaluate his communication style and how quickly he responds to you when you call.

If he’s too difficult to get in touch with or too slow to respond, he may not be the best fit.

Your general contractor is your connection to all of the work getting done.

He may know how to do all of it, but he won’t be doing all of the work himself.

Instead, he’ll hire subcontractors while he orchestrates the timing.

Even if you have a friend who could do some of the construction, it’s best to let the GC hire his own crew.

Because he’s ultimately responsible for the subcontractor’s work, he’s not going to hire anyone unless he’s familiar with their skill and work ethic.

You don’t want to be the one having to follow up with a subcontractor to get their work done simply because you wanted to use that sub.

It’s not fun, and it never works out in the way you’d like it to.

Stories about untrustworthy subcontractors are prevalent in the real estate market.

The build-out can be the most important step in the process of finding and leasing a new home for your business.

Your customers will be forming opinions of your business based on what your space looks like and how it functions.

Make the most of the opportunity you have ahead of you.


Want to dive further into the world of leasing commercial real estate?

Get more information on Tyler Cauble's best-selling book, Open for Business: The Insider's Guide to Leasing Commercial Real Estate, or buy it here.