I want to hire a well qualified a contractor to build my business or home (house,restaurant, office space, retail store) should I get three bids?

Only if you believe that quality and value are determined by who is the cheapest or lowest bidder. If you had to have a life or death medical treatment would you get three bids and go with the lowest or middle bidder? Of course not, you would want the most qualified surgeon to perform the surgery. Well, this is your business and you are probably putting your heart and soul into it. Not to mention a considerable amount of money and the success or failure of your business court could have many effects on your wellbeing. You want to open your business as soon as possible and start making money. To do this you need a qualified contractor who will get the construction done on time without complications and at a fair price.

If three bids are not the way to find a quality contractor what is?

The answer is not much different from how you find the best surgeon. You need to check out the contractor’s reputation in the industry and experience building your type of project. The best way to do this is by asking for references and actually checking them. Call the references and ask them how the contractor did with key issues such as the schedule and the budget. Be sure to ask if the owner would hire them again. Find out if company has experience building your type of project.

When should I hire my general contractor?

Hiring the construction team, including the general contractor early in the process, can help you ensure that you have a quality project that is completed on time and on budget. If hired or consulted during the site selection process, the general contractor can help decide on the feasibility of competing sites. For example, working with a contractor might help you determine that a particular site, although more expensive, is better and will save money in the long run because it does not require as much construction work up front. Or could allow you to go back to a potential landlord/seller for a particular site and negotiate a lower lease rate or selling price because of construction feasibility issues.

I have signed my lease/or purchased my location and I am ready to start building what do I do next?

If you have not already done so, your next steps should be to hire an architect and a general contractor. The architect will work with you to design the plans for building the project not only the way that you want, but, so that it will comply with local building codes.


The general contractor should be hired simultaneously with the architect or shortly after the architect is hired. Hiring the general contractor early in process can help to ensure that the contractor can work with you and the architect to explain the constructibility of different designs and suggest alternative materials or methods that will save money and time without sacrificing the quality or visual look of your project. For example, granite counter-tops look great but cost considerably more than high quality laminates or solid surface options. Or an environmentally friendly lighting package may seem like something you want to do until you realize that lighting packages that provide similar quality visually are available for ½ to 1/3 of the price.

How do I figure out how much the construction will cost and what I can afford?

Most commercial construction projects have certain things that will be required.


You need to determine a range of construction costs when you are preparing your business plan and financial pro forms, so that the amount you need for construction is included and accurately reflected in your start up costs. Once, the architectural plans are complete a project cost estimate can be obtained from your general contractor. If the project cost estimate exceeds the funds you have available, you can work with the contractor and the architect to value engineer the project. The contractor can suggest alternative materials and construction methods that will save money, but will still keep the project visually pleasing and meet your functional requirements.

What does a general contractor do?

The general contractor is the manager/boss of construction project. Much like any manager/boss, the contractor is responsible for the final outcome. To insure a positive outcome the general contractor works with the architect to build a project as set forth in the plans and so that it meets the local building codes. The contractor selects the sub-contractors to provide each of the special services needed for the project, such as electricians, plumbers, painters, cabinetry, floor coverings, then coordinates the scheduling of these subcontractors and ensures that they are building to the standards set forth in the plans.

How much does it cost to build my home ?

When clients begin researching a builder for their custom home, most often the first question they ask me is – “What is your price per square foot?” Most people believe this is the best way to get an idea of what it will cost to build their home. The other misconception is believing a builder can give them a ballpark price based on another home they saw on the builders website – because the square footage is similar.


Unfortunately – this isn’t the right question to ask a builder when starting that relationship. They won’t tell you this but every builder feels the same way. What is really happening is the builder (who has most likely been cold called by the prospective client, sight unseen of any drawings or specs) is forced to give a starting point to at least capture the lead or clients confidence, only of which then erodes like a melting ice cream cone in the hot sun once the builder sees the plans and begins giving true costs (which can often be higher) and the client is still stuck on the original price quoted as if it were gospel.



The REAL Factors That Make Up Price Per Square Foot

Will your house cost $150 per square foot, $200 per square foot or $300 per square foot or more? It’s impossible to say based on a builder not seeing any finished house plans, not having any idea of interior or exterior specifications etc. Size of the home and property size is not enough to gage a ballpark price per square foot from even though builders will try to give you an idea. This figure will change, and will most likely increase.


If you choose to go this route, you will end up feeling like you’ve fallen for the bait and switch when the builder tells you the initial price per square foot given over the phone has now increased and you’ve just spent weeks in the courtship process. Even if it’s increased by $20 a square foot, multiply that by 3500sf that’s an increase of $70,000! Any builder that gives you a price per square foot over the phone without having seen the finished working plans from your architect or designer, hasn’t met with you, hasn’t walked your property etc, is not providing you with a professional and honest answer. Be prepared for unhappy surprises.




All Rooms Are Not Created Equal

Some rooms are much more expensive than others. For example, kitchens contain expensive stuff, like cabinets, appliances and counter-tops. They often have more electric lights, power hook-ups, gas and plumbing connections, and tile back splashes. Bathrooms contain a lot of plumbing piping and fixtures, tile floors and walls. Kitchen and bathrooms are usually the most expensive rooms in any house.


The lowest cost rooms in your house will be the rooms that are built within the roof structure, i.e., the attic, garage or basement. The shape of a roof over a room with a flat ceiling creates an attic space that is going to be constructed whether you finish off the attic or not. Because most houses have a sloped roof, an attic is the by-product. The steeper the roof, the greater the volume of space created within the attic. Finishing off attic space that is already there is very economical to do. This is also true with a basement space. If your site or climate dictates that you build a basement, adding heat and air conditioning, an electrical system, drywall, paint, and a floor finish can often be done for a much lower cost than the average cost per square foot of the rest of the house.


There are several other things that affect the construction cost of your home without actually adding square footage. The type of construction, the exterior wall surface materials, the appointments, finishes, and equipment within the house, and the building site are big factors.


· A house built with a poured concrete basement, 2×6 stud walls, a slate roof, and a high efficiency heating and air conditioning system will be a lot more costly than one built on a concrete slab with 2×4 stud walls, an asphalt roof, and a basic heat pump.

· A house built with radiant heat, wood windows, slate roof and copious cabinets will be a lot more costly than one built with a basic forced air furnace, vinyl windows, asphalt roof and a minimum of cabinets.

· A house with a full stone exterior is a lot more expensive than one with composite siding.

· A house with a Sub-Zero refrigerator and granite counter-tops will cost more than one with a basic free-standing refrigerator and laminate counter-tops.

· A house built on a steep slope will cost more than one built on flat land. All of these houses could be exactly the same square footage, but the constructions cost, and their cost per square foot, would vary wildly.



Different Builders Might Calculate Square Footage By Different Methods.

Usually this is an innocent difference in opinion of how square footage should be calculated. But sometimes the builder’s purpose is to make his bid look lower and more appealing than those of his competitors. For example, some builders will include the areas of the garage and decks into the total square footage, while others don’t. In these cases, the total cost of the house would be divided by a greater number of square feet and the “cost per square foot” would be considerably lower.


The best way to calculate an effective cost per square foot is to make sure you are comparing apples to apples. Otherwise, the cost per square foot information you get is useless. No matter what method you use, make sure that you are comparing things equally when you’re looking at different bids and different builders. And don’t fall into the trap of estimating the cost of your project based on a cost per square foot estimate alone. You won’t have an accurate price until you have an accurately calculated price.