Choosing Contractors for Larger Construction Requirements
Larger projects will typically involve a more varied skills requirement as well as higher expertise levels. The more money is involved in a project the more important it becomes to manage the construction process efficiently. Ussually a project will be managed by a General Contractor or building company which will coordinate the overall efforts of multiple suppliers and liais with the client. This general contractor would make use of subcontractors such as electrical contractors or mechanical contractors to handle various specialist aspects of the project.
It is important to choose a general contractor who has both a great reputation with their clients as well as the sub-contractors. When choosing a company to head up your construction project ask them to give details on similar projects that they may have done before. For example if they have worked primarily with retail fit-outs then they might not be ideal to head up a factory instillation.
Find out how the general contractor sources their sub-contractors. For example: do they only use certified electrical contractors from your region? Have they worked with a specific contractor on any other projects? Broadly speaking a general contractor would be responsible to managing sub contractors as well as negotiating terms with them regarding work practice and safety procedures.
All workers involved in a construction project will be subject to health and safety regulations in your region. Overall safety and health concerns would best be insured by the main building company or contractor such as protection from slips and falls, adequate protective barriers, air quality management where appropriate. Where a specific hazard falls into a specialist realm then added protection need to be ensured. For example where the potential for electric shock exists then it would be best if the electrical contractor was insured or adhered to national standards such as the Electrical Contractors Safety Association (ECSA) in Ireland or the National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting (NICEIC) in the UK.
So selecting experienced parties that are licensed and insured are pivotal parts of any construction project whether you are dealing with a new construction, building maintenance or the renovation of an existing setup.
Setting Up a Contract or Proposal:
Establishing expectations for all parties concerned can be time consuming but is a very necessary part of any project. It becomes especially important in larger construction projects as miscommunications can lead to animosity and loss of income to the client, the general contractor, sub contractors or – in the worst cases – all parties involved.
Scope of work needs to be outlined in a contract along with costing and reasonable timelines. Include milestones for the project as well as who is responsible for delivering these milestones and what procedures followed when if it becomes apparent that the time or cost projections will not be met. Outlining who is responsible for cleanup and protection of existing structures should not be overlooked as it directly impacts the definition of when a project is ‘finished’.
Payment terms need to be agreed to before any work is agreed to. There are often also unforeseeable additional costs in any construction project. These are often called ‘change orders’ and may arise for a variety of reasons. In some cases the client changes the scope of the project, in others there may be external factors outside of the control of the contractor such as weather issues or union strikes. When deciding how to proceed it is best to refer to the original contract and to assess whether or not the issue was reasonably foreseeable. In cases where assumption by both parties is a problem it is best to consider ’splitting the difference’ with a view to keeping the project in track.
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