Key Considerations for Hiring a Commercial Developer and Design Builder

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By Ryan Regina

In today’s turbulent economy, any organization looking to start a new construction project faces certain challenges. Choosing the right commercial developer and design/builder using criteria based on individualized, industry-specific needs can make the difference between a successful project and a bona fide disaster.

With the glut of service providers floundering in this space and willing to cut deals—and corners in kind—it’s imperative to take even a few fundamental considerations into account before signing on the dotted line.

A commercial construction project usually involves one overriding factor above all others: the bottom line. While certainly a critical factor in the decision-making process, budget shouldn’t be the only one. When cost alone is the primary focus of a project, serious repercussions are likely to follow, including poor service, time delays, hidden costs, change orders and non-existent follow up to name just a few.

When vetting commercial developers and design/builders, it’s important to consider each and every aspect of the project life cycle, from the company’s own vision to the post-project completion period. Here are a few key life cycle-based hiring considerations.

Budget

Understanding precisely how financial limitations will impact the related financing process at large is far easier when partnering with an organization knowledgeable about commercial-construction finance and can walk the customer through each and every step. While most developers and design/builders will simply refer their customers to a bank or other lenders for financial advice, its best to seek a higher caliber, full-service firm that provides such financial planning consultation in-house.

Service Scope

The commercial developer and design/builder industry is fragmented, and there’s little service standardization. The majority of companies offer only a portion of services required in the entire project life cycle, and do not provide the comprehensive oversight that allows clients to disengage from the construction project and maintain focus on their other business development and growth initiatives. It’s optimal to retain a commercial developer and design/builder with a full-solution, end-to-end approach, which offers the benefit of single contact point project control and accountability.

Image

If the proposed project is out of reach due to image reasons, a reputable developer and design/build organization should be willing and able to help resolve the problem. This may involve the need to table the project for as long as necessary and assist the organization in corrective measures, such as an image change. Presenting lenders with the right image as a borrower can be facilitated by an experienced developer and design/builder that provides financing procurement as a service.

Additionally, appearance is everything with local and regional authorities who can also impact a project. To best ensure necessary municipal approvals are granted, hire a developer and design/builder that can position and project your image in a way that’s accurate and a benefit to the community.

Industry Experience

Whether a medical office, a church, an office park or any type of commercial property, each type of business has specific needs that not all developers and design/builders are prepared to meet. It’s essential to hire a company with the ability, experience and expertise necessary to plan and execute the project so it meets both the vision of the client and the realistic financial restraints.

Companies that are suited for a given project will not only have the technical expertise to build a new facility to the desired specifications, but will also have the client’s best interests in mind throughout the entire process.

Development

Organizations often attempt to serve as project developer only to learn it takes a specialized skill set and years of developer experience to do the job effectively. While development is viewed as exciting and challenging, it’s usually underestimated from a time and experience perspective. When developing in the commercial realm, it’s important to hire a firm that has a demonstrated track record of working in partnership with high-caliber architects, engineers and subcontractors with synergistic philosophies to deliver a high-quality product.

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