Your step-by-step guide to choosing the best Design-Build Contractor for your project – saving you time and money!
Do You Have a PLAN?
Before choosing a Building Contractor one of the most important things to do is to make sure that you have a clear plan, concept or idea in place of exactly what it is that you are hoping to achieve by the end of the project.
Would you be happy if someone arrived with some stone, cement, and bricks and suddenly started building something without your approval or input? Trust us, this single bonus suggestion will save you literally thousands in the long run!
Whether you are thinking about building your dream home, having extensive renovations done to your existing home then look no further!
Having a building plan drawn up to work from will not only save you time but will also allow the process of engaging with the right contractor to take place that much smoother.
Some things for you to consider would be:
- What is the expected end result?
- Am I clear about my budget?
- Am I focused on quality vs price?
- When considering the elements in my design – is a specialist Engineer going to be necessary to help turn my dream into a reality?
Being able to provide this information to the companies you are considering working with, helps them with a concrete framework to estimate on. It also improves on turnaround times, with more accurate quantity surveying and better projections when it comes to your project timeline.
If you don’t have a PLAN, look for a contractor who can help you with this.
Is the Building Contractor you are considering fully Compliant and Competent?
There are thousands of Building Contractors out there, however, not all Contractors are equal!
Before taking on your project, ensure you do some homework to make sure that the prospective Contractor is currently registered with the various regulatory authorities responsible for overseeing the Building Industry – this is especially significant when working with Building Contractors in the Western Cape.
These regulatory bodies would include:
- MBA (Master Builders Association)
- NHBRC (National Home Builders Registration Council)
- BIBC (Building Industry Bargaining Council)
- WCA (Workmen’s Compensation)
Other licenses relating to regulatory requirements could include Electrical Compliance (wireman’s license) which is necessary when electrical work needs to be signed off once completed. This is known as a Certificate of Compliance, and without it you could end up facing down-time delays resulting in lost revenue – or having the added expense of having to find a suitably qualified person to sign this work off. This could come at a much higher cost than originally anticipated or budgeted.
Further certificates that would need to be issued would be for any plumbing work completed.
Is the prospective Contractor fully Compliant with Health and Safety?
Additional and important compliance requirements would be to make sure that the Contractor works in accordance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
- Any employees working on-site having all compulsory medical examinations performed by a qualified & registered professional, and that these have been conducted in line with the OHS Act.
- These employees should have received all necessary training for the scope of works that they need to perform, and if there are any certifications associated with these tasks, that these should remain valid and compliant throughout the duration of the project.
The right Contractor will be able to share this information with you from your very first meeting!
Did you know that according to Section 4 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993, under the heading “Client,” the responsibility of the Health and Safety Plan rests squarely on the shoulders of the Client?
In the event of unforeseen circumstances, this could lead to excessive costs in claims for any Injuries on Duty.
A competent and compliant Building Contractor would be able to help you with this plan and point out all responsibilities before breaking ground or taking that first step!
Competency will also speak to the Building Contractor as proof of being able to complete your project and meet all your specific needs!
Is the Building Contractor you are considering Reputable?
It is always wise to do some research on the Company before making a decision.
Ways to do this include:
- View their previous clients, even if this means taking a drive to view some of their work.
- Ask for references that you can contact.
Some questions that need answers:
- Can they deliver what I am looking for?
- Have they completed a similar project or projects in the past?
- Are they competitively priced?
*A side-note on price … Not all contractors are equal, and to be fair, you need to consider ALL the options and not just price. Any building project requires a substantial investment – is your return on investment going to be long-term, or short-lived?
A cheap quote doesn’t always guarantee you quality workmanship, in fact, often taking a short cut to save a couple of bucks today can have disastrous effects in the long run and prove to be way more costly than getting it right the first time!
Some further questions to be asking here would be things like:
- How long have they been in business?
- Do they have a qualified Quantity Surveyor who is able to complete initial costings correctly?
- Are there other professionals within their business who can give you valuable advice on best practice solutions, rather than working strictly according to your plan?
The right Contractor will be willing to share their knowledge and expertise with you, not only to make sure that your project runs smoothly, but also to protect your investment by providing an exceptional ROI.
Along with reputation are things like Honesty and Integrity – from a recent survey, we found that more than 50% of those surveyed listed these two things to be at the top of their list of things to consider before choosing a Building Contractor.
Are The Lines of Communication OPEN?
- Is everyone communicating on the same level?
- Does everyone have the same perspective and a clear picture of the desired outcome in their minds?
- Is there total transparency in all business dealings? This transparency needs to work both ways.
If there are any grey areas, these need to be cleared up before signing the contract. When you make initial contact, take note of how willing the Contractor is to assist you …
- Do they come across as being able to provide you with added value by sharing their knowledge and expertise with you?
- Is there a clear understanding as to how any changes to your project will be tracked?
- Has the project timeline and program been nailed down and does everyone agree?
- Has the contract been clearly explained before being signed?
- Do you understand how disputes can be resolved should they arise?
- Does the Building Contractor understand what your anticipated expectations as the client are?
- Do they understand what you visualize at the end of the project?
- Has the Building Contractor taken the time to explain to you what they may need from you as the client?
Part of your responsibility as the client is to make sure that there is clear communication and understanding regarding things like:
- Access to the property during the project
- Costs of water and electricity
- Animal control
- Identifying where main water, sewage, and power lines are located.
Each of these issues being addressed from the outset of a project can be the difference between a project being completed with minimal disruptions and complications, versus frustrations and dissatisfaction throughout the entire process.
Have You Considered the Benefits of a Building Contractor who can offer a Turnkey Solution?
A turnkey solution is often the difference between what makes a project successful with the least amount of delays and problems, and one that becomes an absolute nightmare.
Before defining how a turnkey solution works, we need to explain the difference between General Contractors and Turnkey Contractors.
A General Contractor would usually only specialize in one area and would then sub-contract the rest of the work out to other builders (which usually result in each sub-contractor doing their own thing).
A Turnkey Contractor, on the other hand, has full control over multi-functional teams that all operate under one roof. This will guarantee better quality, accountability, and the project is normally completed on-time and within budget.
A “Design-Build” method is a great example of how a turnkey solution could work.
This approach versus the traditional tender or quoting methodology would normally play out something like this:
Traditional Tender / Quote Methodology
- The contract is awarded to the General Contractor who comes in with the lowest quote or bid.
- The scope of pricing and costing is usually open to interpretation by each Building Contractor because there has been no fixed brief provided to each Contractor before they quote on the work to be done.
- The design and quality of workmanship will differ between Contractors because specifications are not standardized as an agreement has not been reached between all parties from the beginning.
- The scope of works (work to be performed) may not be fully understood by the Contractor, which normally leads to additional costs being incurred later in the project and this could end up with the Contractor that was cheapest at the start, becoming way more expensive in the long run.
A Design-Build Solution!
- The client makes use of a single appointed Building Contractor who has the skills and capacity to provide a turnkey solution.
- The Building Contractor invests time in understanding all of the client’s requirements right from the start.
- The Building Contractor and his Quantity Surveyor work closely with the Architect, Engineer, and the client to ensure the design, scope of works, and building method chosen is the one that best suits the client’s budget, timeline, and specific needs.
- The Building Contractor oversees and manages procurement methodically according to best practice, within a strong internally controlled environment to make sure that the best possible costing is achieved – this means that the client gets value for money and overspending is avoided.
- The Contractor delivers exactly on the scope of work, within budget, as per the client’s specific requirements.
- The main benefit of the Design-Build option is that it translates into less uncertainty, fewer change orders and significantly reduced owner risk.
A Design-Build solution also guarantees that you have an experienced site- or project manager on-site constantly, monitoring the work as it is being completed. Having all the right contractors under one roof offers you consistency and additional control of the project.
In summary, Design-Build ensures that you get the very best service, quality and value for money. On average, the Design-Build method saves 6.1% on overall cost and delivers projects 33.5% faster than traditional General Contracting. This method helps to streamline projects as cost-effectively as possible.
When taking these steps into consideration, the numbers speak for themselves!