How to Find Good GC's for Your Real Estate Projects


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How to find a good general contractor for your commercial projects? What questions should you ask? What’s a typical timeline for a medium to large project? Aaron Saunders, Managing Director of Spartan Investment Group has 16 years of experience in the construction management industry and shares his knowledge.

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What are some questions you recommend people asking a potential General Contractor (GC)? And how to find a good one that is specific to their location?
Spartan Investment Group had hired a couple of GC’s in the past and one of them did pretty well, one of them did okay, but it just didn’t feel like they were meeting the expectations. And that morphed into questions such as “Well, what if we built this in house? What would it look like? What are some expectations that we would have if we had a general contracting arm?”. If we are treating these projects as our own projects, and having our investors best intentions in place, and I’m not saying other general contractors don’t, but we felt we could be the best stewards of our investors money if we were really managing their projects in house, with an internal team. With that in place, 18 months ago we started to build out tools and processes. The thought process was always coming back to what is the best way to execute a project when someone knocks on our door, because ultimately we want to build all of our projects.

What are some things to look for when you’re trying to identify a general contractor?
Look at their history, their resume, the projects that they have completed, you may see that the general contractor doesn’t have the specific projects that you are looking for, but you can ask them, do people on your team have a resume from other organizations that you have brought over that have executed something similar to this? Look for that portfolio of projects, ask for recommendations from architects, and that will help you narrow down your search as you identify a GC or multiple GC’s that you want to work with. The next step would be to sit down, interview them, and make sure that your scope of work aligns with what they do and the expectations that they have for the project because ultimately, they may be a good contractor.

Let’s say it is zoned for whatever asset class we’re building. What is next? And how do you assemble a team in a city that you may not have done business with in the past?
We will reach out to some of our industry partners that we are working with currently to find out if they have worked in that city, and who is a good civil engineer to work with in that city. The nice thing about having a local civil engineer is that they know the city, they understand the process, they understand a lot of the soil types in that city and how we want to build our building.

If they haven’t done self storage before, we will coach them a little bit on what our typical building structures look like. For example, that we don’t need a large deep foundation, obviously depending on the geotechnical report, and let them know what the parameters of our building requirements are.

First is going to be identifying that civil engineer and starting to build. Then it depends, are you going to be building a multi-story facility? Do we need an architect on board? Is it going to be a single-story facility where we can go to one of our building manufacturers and they can provide us building elevations?

Aaron Saunders

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