Key Considerations for Hiring the Right Church Construction Developer and Design/Builder
By: Ryan Regina
In today's economy, any church looking to start a new construction project faces certain challenges. Choosing the right construction manager and design/builder using criterion based on individualized, industry-specific needs can make the difference between a successful project and a bona fide disaster. It's imperative to take a few fundamental considerations into account before signing on the dotted line.
A church construction project usually involves one overriding factor above all others: the bottom line. While certainly a critical factor in the decision-making process, budget should not 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, and hidden costs.
When vetting construction managers 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:
While most developers and design/builders will simply refer their customers to a bank or other lenders for financial advice, it is best to seek a higher caliber, full-service firm that provides such financial planning consultation in-house.
It's optimal to retain a construction manager and design/builder with a full-solution, end-to-end project management approach, which offers the benefit of single contact point project control and accountability.
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.
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.
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 and culture to deliver a high-quality product.
This can include land that ultimately does not meet their needs, more time is required to complete governing approvals or, worse, the project fails all together. Ensure the construction manager and design/build firm you hire has direct experience formulating land agreement documentation and be sure to cover a variety of "what if" scenarios as the paperwork is being prepared.
A qualified construction manager and design/builder will work very closely with the architect, along with professional subcontractors who will be performing the work, to ensure project parameters are crystal clear and maximize the chance of the project being completed to spec, on time, and on budget.
The second is firm size. Usually the bigger the firm, the higher the cost and longer the work turnaround time. While this isn't true with all large firms, it does happen more often than not.
Third, an engineering firm must have an in-depth understanding of state, county, and local agency requirements. A well-rounded engineer understands the black, the white, and the grey of a projects interpretation.
It's also important that legal representatives have adequate experience in Land Use Law, as the right counsel will know when a governing body is operating outside its jurisdiction. As a course of businesses, a full-service construction manager and design/builder will identify and manage such legal aspects of project to readily work through the red tape.
As goes without saying, the construction manager and design/build firm you hire should have extensive experience serving as project manager and general contractor for commercial construction projects of similar size, scale, scope, and complexity – optimally in the same industry. Be sure to take on-site tours of buildings the company has helped design, develop, and build, both new and old, as you'll want to ensure the buildings stand the test of time.
Look for a company that has verifiable examples of how they provided solutions when unexpected problems that arose. Experienced firms will have a well-honed protocol to minimize surprises and to keep a client duly informed. Much is also said about providing outstanding client service throughout the course of a project, but what about after final payment has been rendered and a project is complete? Will the level of service change?
It's important to thoroughly interview past clients of the development and design/build firm under consideration and to specifically ask about post-project interactions. Stellar referrals in this regard will speak volumes about a company's integrity and character.
Use this project life cycle-based checklist when hiring a commercial developer and design/builder and you'll be well on your way to a successful outcome that not only meets, but may very well exceed, expectations.
Ryan Regina is the co-founder and co-owner of BIG SKY Enterprises, an industry-leading construction manager, design/builder and finance firm, www.bigskyllc.com.