Best Practices for Choosing a Building Renewal Contractor

Welcome to the final post of our series on Building Renewal Projects. In previous posts, we have explored various aspects of this dynamic industry, such as its differences from construction and restoration, the stakeholders involved, as well as how to plan and budget for a building renewal project. In this post, we will delve into the best practices for selecting a building renewal contractor.

Our blog series provides you with the necessary knowledge and tools to tender your building renewal project effectively. We hope that you have found the information provided in these posts helpful in guiding you through the various stages of your project.

How to Choose the Right Building Renewal Contractor?

After tendering your building renewal project and receiving bids from various contractors, the next crucial step is to select the right one. This decision holds the utmost importance for the success of your project, as it determines whether or not it will be completed within the given timeframe and budget. Therefore, it is essential to evaluate the contractors properly and use appropriate criteria to make a fair comparison. 

There are many factors to consider, luckily there are a number of tools and resources to help. Let’s take a look at eight key steps:

1. Safety

It is essential to evaluate your potential contractor’s safety record and processes. Unsafe work practices can quickly derail a project and lead to accidents , exposing all stakeholders to liability and risk. Therefore, it is crucial to prioritize safety when choosing a contractor.

WorkSafeBC:

WorkSafeBC is the provincial organization responsible for workplace safety in British Columbia. They maintain an online database that allows you to search for a contractor’s safety record. You can search by company name, industry, or WorkSafeBC account number.

Contractor’s safety certifications:

Many safety-conscious contractors hold certifications from industry associations like the BC Construction Safety Alliance. These certifications indicate that the contractor has undergone safety training and has implemented safety protocols in their operations.

Safety awards:

Some contractors may have received safety awards from industry associations or other organizations. These awards can be an indication of a contractor’s commitment to safety.

2. Association Membership

Top building renovation contractors are highly involved within the industry. When choosing a renewal contractor enquire about their association and industry involvement. Engaged contractors stay updated on the latest technology, and materials through ongoing education and training provided by trade associations. This helps them stay ahead of the curve and offer the best value for their clients.

The British Columbia Building Envelope Council (BCBEC):

Members include contractors, engineers, architects, and consultants. BCBEC offers educational seminars, training, and networking opportunities for its members. The organization also publishes a quarterly newsletter and hosts an annual conference focused on building envelope issues.

International Concrete Repair Institute (ICRI):

ICRI offers educational programs, certification, and networking opportunities for its members. The organization also publishes technical guidelines and hosts an annual convention focused on concrete repair and restoration.

Vancouver Regional Construction Association (VRCA):

The association provides various services, including education and training, networking opportunities, advocacy, and access to industry information and resources, to its members who include contractors, suppliers, manufacturers, and other stakeholders in the construction industry.

3. Contractor Vetting Resources

There are a number of online vetting tools like Avetta and Comply Works. These third-party risk management and compliance solutions providers help businesses manage and vet their contractors. If you are working with a property manager, consultant or engineer for your renewal project they may have access to these services.

4. Certifications

Building renewal is specialized. Companies and their technicians acquire specific training to maintain and improve skills related to the trade. A renewal company committed to training shows that they place quality first. Examples of specialized training in the industry include:

  • Fall protection, boom and Scissor lift operator certificates
  • Level 1 – 3 Rope access accreditations 
  • Concrete Service Repair Technician Certificates
  • World of Concrete Master Concrete Certifications
  • Painting Contractors Association Training Level 1 – 3

Many more programs exist in the marketplace. Including specialized programs from material suppliers like Master Builders, Tremco and PPG. Top notch renewal companies often develop their own proprietary training program.

WCP| Best practices for choosing contractors
WCP| Best practices for commercial contractor

5. Contractor Financial Credentials

You will want to verify a contractor’s financial credentials including liability insurance and bonding facilities. At a minimum renewal contractors should carry $5,000,000 in liability insurance, equipment and vehicle insurance. Bonding ensures that a contracting company has the financial surety to complete larger projects 

The contractors can also provide a form known as
CCDC 11 form, which offers financial information and a list of past projects categorized by size and value. This can help you gauge the contractor’s financial stability and experience.

6. Comparing “Apples to Apples”

If you have prepared a detailed Request for Proposal (RFP) or are working with a third-party consultant, you will be able to compare apples to apples, as contractors are bidding on your specifications. Click here to view our blog post on engineers and consultants. If contractors are submitting proposals based on their recommendations, you will want to review each bid carefully to ensure “apples-to-apples” comparison. Items to consider include:

Evaluate cost estimates:

Is the bid a fixed price, budgetary, or some type of cost-plus system like time and materials? Has a contingency budget been provided for unforeseen circumstances?

Analyze the quality of materials and methods proposed:

Contractors can be asked to provide Material and Safety Data Sheets for material being proposed. This information will give you the opportunity to compare proposals

Compare timelines:

How long does each contractor proposing the project will take? How many technicians and subcontractors will be onsite? Do they have the capacity to complete the work in a timely fashion?

Ensure scope is accurate and similar for each bid:

We would guess that 75% of proposals submitted to owners vary in scope. Details like prep levels, includes/excludes and materials selection and access methods can vary widely. Carefully review scope of work on each proposal to ensure your bids are similar.

building renewal download-checklist

7. Evaluate Past Experience

When hiring a contractor, it’s essential to evaluate past experience to ensure they are capable of successfully completing your project. Here are some steps to follow:

Request a list of references and projects:

A top contractor should be able to provide you with a comprehensive list of references and past projects. Ask for recent projects or those similar to yours. You can then contact these references to inquire about their experience with the contractor and even visit completed sites in person to assess the quality of work.

Read online reviews:

Check out Google Reviews and other online review sites to read about the experiences of previous customers. Look for a mix of reviews, including average ones, as no contractor is perfect. These reviews can give you a better understanding of the contractor’s strengths and weaknesses.

Check BBB ratings:

While not all contractors are members of the Better Business Bureau (BBB), you can still check their ratings and see if any complaints have been lodged. This can provide additional insight into the contractor’s reliability and customer satisfaction.

8. Always meet the Contractor in Person

There is a trend in the industry to avoid meeting contractors in person for walkthroughs, proposal reviews, or interviews. Remarkably, we have this on projects with million dollar scopes.  Property managers, consultants, and envelope engineers who are partially responsible for vetting contractors and essentially “gatekeeping” for owners work closely with Building renewal specialists 

Despite having “gatekeepers” or project managers in place, it is best for owners and decision-makers to meet directly with contractors. Once you choose a contractor, you will be working with them closely, most likely for months. You need to be comfortable with your decision and, quite frankly, you need to like your contractor. 

We hope you enjoyed our blog series on Building Renewal. If you have any question or would like to learn more, please connect with us. Whether your renewal projects entails substrate repair, deck membrane, coating system, flooring membrane, repair and upgrading and crack repair. WCP can help. Contact us at 604.420.5552 or [email protected]

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