Commercial Construction Tips – How to Know If Your Contractor Is Doing a Good Job

Big construction project or little one. An historic renovation in the heart of old downtown or a new retail center. No matter what kind of construction project you are undertaking, you want to feel assured that you have chosen the right contractor for the job. But how do you know that your contractor is doing a good job?

The success or failure of a contractor is often closely linked with you – how effectively you complete your hiring due diligence, how clearly you state your expectations, and how well you and your contractor communicate with each other during all construction phases.

Preparation and Selection

Before you begin your search for a contractor, you should clearly outline the responsibilities for which you will hold your contractor accountable. Those accountabilities should be included in the contract between you/your company and the contractor.

Next, you need to do your due diligence.

• Ask friends and colleagues who have worked with construction projects similar to yours for contractor recommendations. Ask these questions:

o How did the contractor handle the budget and materials?

o Was the project done on or ahead of time? If it was off schedule, why?

o Was the work done according to agreed-upon terms?

o Would your source work with that contractor again?

If their referral did well on each of those points, he or she may be a good contractor on your project as well

• Check ALL references!

Get it in writing

All good business relationships should begin with, “get it in writing!”

• Each contractor candidate should provide a written bid. Red flag: nothing in writing.

• You and your contractor should have a signed contract. Include details on the budget, scope of work, materials, the schedule, and the contractor’s specific responsibilities. Red flag: the contractor who won’t sign a contract.

• Your contractor should take notes during each walkthrough and meeting. Red flag: “I’ll remember… “

On the job

These are some important on-the-job clues that your contractor is doing a good job:

• Communication: you and your contractor communicate frequently and clearly according to your agreed-upon methods (text, fax, email, phone). Red flags: doesn’t return calls, is difficult to reach, provides limited responses to questions, communicates poorly with work crew.

• Subcontractors: contractor hires quality subcontractors with verifiable references. Red flags: conflicts on the job, petty thefts, on-the-job substance abuse, wasted time, etc.

• Safety: contractor diligently observes safety practices and insists that all workers comply with safety rules. Red flags: avoidable injuries, safety issues.

• On the job site: contractor is working at the job site for the majority of the time. The construction crew is busy during all working hours of the week. Red flags: contractor is infrequently on site, workers have too much idle time.

• Security: appropriate security measures are observed at all times. Red flags: equipment and materials not secured or missing, the site is poorly secured during non-working hours, unauthorized people are on site.

Schedule and budget

Ideally, every construction project is completed on budget and on schedule. Realistically, there may be some schedule interruptions and unexpected costs.

Ask yourself some final questions:

• Is my contractor providing me with accurate, up-to-date information on all aspects of the job and construction progress?

• Is he/she managing resources, budget, crew, and materials effectively and appropriately?

• Are crew members working fairly harmoniously with each other?

• Are my objectives for this project being met?

When you can answer yes to these questions, it is most likely that your contractor is, indeed, doing an excellent job for you. Congratulations on your choice, and your new project!

5 Handy Commercial Construction Tips

You might have been put in charge of a commercial construction project recently, and though you appreciate your boss’s stamp of approval on the work you are capable of doing, you might not know all of the components that go into the project. Here are some handy tips to keep in mind as the project progresses.

1. Start by hiring a good general contractor and then put together a practical budget for your project. This budget will need to be presented to the project owner, aka your boss or maybe even someone higher up than that, for approval. Be sure it is comprehensive. Your boss will want to know just how feasible the project is when he or she presents it to the board for approval. That budget will also be what the finance team will use to obtain financing for the project. If the budget indicates that the project location needs to be moved or that something needs to be scaled back, now is the time to make those changes.

2. Your boss or the board of directors might have one vision of what they want to see, but it might not actually be practicable. The project owner should be a part of the planning process so he or she is comfortable with the changes that are made. Also, while you are in the planning process, be sure you bring in all of the stakeholders including those who will be using the building when it’s all complete.

3. Once you have the plan in place, it’s time to set up the schedule. If your project owner wants a specific date to open the building included, that should be the place to start and then work the schedule back from that date. Be sure to build in a buffer along the way to compensate for any delays that might happen. Actually, make that will happen. The unexpected is always to be expected. With a schedule in place, your general contractor can keep you appraised of the progress, and also let you know about any delays that were encountered.

4. Don’t be afraid to work within your own limitations. It’s OK to admit what you don’t know, and when it comes to construction, relying on your experts to guide you is not only okay, but a good idea. Your contractor will also know what will be needed in terms of how to best keep you up to date on the project’s progress.

5. Communicate, communicate, communicate. There is no such thing as too much communication. Your contractor will need to provide you with regular updates, and you will need to ask key questions to make sure you and your contractor are staying on task. Open communication reduces problems and generally catches them at a point where they are more easily solved. New apps available particularly for Apple products are great communication resources. From the bid process with SmartBidNet to portable CAD apps that let you do quick drawings on site and send them to anyone by e-mail, apps can help everyone stay on target.

These five tips are some of the main ones that will help you be successful. You can also check out some of our other posts for more information about commercial construction. Happy building!

Starting a Small Business – Insurance Tips

Your Company and those like it is the anchor of this country. Almost all people assume large companies create most of the revenue the United States produces, although they just don’t understand in total Small Businesses hire a lot more people and produce even more income compared to those large companies. When you start your own business there are lots of elements you’ll want to consider within your business strategy plan. An Insurance policy mitigates your risk, small business insurance is just about the most important factors within your strategic business plan. When looking in to Business insurance packages, there are many kinds of insurance you’ll want to check into and now we can look at the various insurance policies. While we will look at insurance coverage’s that are based upon many types of businesses, you might want to speak with an experienced insurance agent with regards to your businesses requirements.

Commercial General Liability

This is the first protection you will want to take into consideration because it is on the list of needed insurance policies it is possible to acquire. The following insurance policy coverage that defends your company for both bodily injury and property damage claims. This means that this protects your company for accidents that your fault, and insures your company for scenarios when an individual or property is broken and / or wounded. Every business enterprise will need to have this particular coverage because this will handle many types of claim instances. This particular policy defends your business for libel and slander as well as slip and fall incidents. This type of coverage does insure you for several claim circumstances, it doesn’t cover them all. The types of insurance not covered under your standard liability policy are; Liquor Liability, Assault & Battery, Commercial Property, Workers Compensation, Professional Liability or Business Auto. The coverage limits for this type of insurance policy goes up to one certain limit and for a limit on top of it, you will need an Excess Insurance Policy. An Umbrella Policy may also go over your Auto Liability as well as your Workers Comp coverage increasing those limits of liability. When deciding just how much Liability Insurance you must consider what amount you have to lose.

Small Business Property Insurance

Now you have a policy coverage which can protect you for both the building you own as well as the property inside of it. Generally, the following coverage plan covers the Building and/or contents for many kinds of incidents such as fire. This coverage doesn’t insure property that leaves the premises, for that you’d need an Inland Marine insurance. An Inland Marine policy can cover small equipment to large construction tools or all kinds of other kinds of Property that would be removed from the businesses premises.

Small Business Auto Insurance

This coverage is auto insurance for your business autos. Typically a small business requires increased coverage limits of auto insurance compared to your own personal auto policy. Your small business auto policy would have increased limits of liability coverage, but the insurance coverage’s are relative. Your typically looking at liability insurance coverage along with the following; Medical Payments, Uninsured Motorists coverage, Comprehensive, Collision, Towing & Rental Coverage. If you ever rent an auto or your have a staff member drive their own personal automotive on an errand, you need to have Hired & Non Owned Auto Liability. Whenever your LLC or Corporation owns the vehicle, then you should make sure the autos are insured on a Commercial Auto Insurance policy.

Workers Compensation

This particular insurance coverage, also known as Employers Liability, would be the coverage which protects the employees and can pay for claims in which any employee was hurt on the job. Yet again, yet another critical coverage considering that Medical Treatment is incredibly costly. Without having insurance you’re self insuring and you will be liable for just about any healthcare expenses or law suit. This coverage does not cover discrimination or sexual harassment claims for that you’d will need an Employment Practices Liability Insurance.

Insurance is an important part of any Organization. It protects your business for various kinds of claims. It’s important for you to understand just what you are getting, in which area’s this insurance will cover you, and just what is not insured within an insurance policy. Make sure to always understand your policy. Insurance are generally complicated knowing that is the reason you really need to buy from an insurance broker that’s versed in Small Business Insurance. Having been providing business owners like you insurance for more than 35 years, we have the experience to help you with all of your Small Business Insurance needs. Contact us for an insurance quote. We write insurance in several states and we can easily help you get the insurance coverage you may need.

Commercial Agents – Marketing Presentation Kit Ideas and Tips

When it comes to selling and leasing commercial or retail property, the marketing presentation kit that you use has to be optimised for your area and your property type. The marketing kit something that travels with you each and every day as you meet with clients and prospects in a variety of situations. This then suggests that the kit itself should be very useful and relevant to help you close on any listings or marketing strategies.

You never really know when the opportunity will arise to present and pitch for a listing. If you sell, lease, and manage commercial property the kit will need to be suitably versatile. If you work on Office Property, Industrial Property, and Retail Property, then the kit will also be comprehensively adjusted to suit these property types.

In your marketing presentation kit, you should have a selection of the following:

  1. Provide samples of advertisements that have been used on the other properties of various types. These should be local properties of a quality nature. When the client sees samples of good advertising with other quality properties they are likely to accept your marketing strategy and recommendation.
  2. Give details of the diversity and depth of your database. The database is a significant opportunity in the listing process providing you explain its relevance to the client. The client is unlikely to discard your agency from the presentation process if you can comprehensively connect them to the relevance of your database in providing the appropriate seller or buyer for the property.
  3. It pays to have a two phase strategy when it comes to marketing campaigns. Given that most of the marketing is focused on the first three or four weeks of the agency, this is what we call the primary marketing time. At least half of your marketing effort should be directed into that primary window of time. Most of the enquiry will typically come to you during this period. The balance of your advertising money and campaign can be directed across the remaining agency period which is the secondary promotion time. Throughout the campaign you should be tracking the results of advertising in the different types of media used. If something appears to be working well then it needs to be encouraged. If another segment of advertising or marketing is not getting any enquiry, then there is a need to adjust your campaign. There is no point in wasting time or money when it comes to marketing property. The vendor is seeking enquiry results and that is what you should be creating.
  4. Email marketing of commercial property through the database is a very effective strategy to attract enquiry. It is low cost and also easily undertaken. Show the clients some samples of email marketing and how they can tap into this opportunity.
  5. The signboard on a property is still one of the most effective tools of promotion. It is relatively cheap, and is usually seen by all the local property owners and business proprietors. Given that most enquiries come from the local area, the signboard is fundamentally important to creating enquiry. Show the client some differences between specially designed signage verses generic signage. Make your recommendations accordingly.
  6. Subject to the property type and the chosen method of sale or lease, you can show the client three levels of campaign as they can apply to a particular property. For example that can be the gold package, the silver package, or the bronze package. You may like to call them something different but the inference is that different levels of advertising commitment are available depending on the appropriate levels of vendor paid marketing. When you use this strategy, the client tends to select the middle package as a suitable solution.

As mentioned earlier, you may be involved with different property types. Because of this, you should carry within the marketing kit photographs of quality properties within the category of property. The client will generally only relate to their particular property type and the location.

Tips To Help You Achieve Success As A Real Estate Investor

If you are looking for a great way of building your net worth, investing in real estate is a great idea. You can make a lot of money if you do it the right way. However, if you don’t follow the right techniques, this venture can cost you a lot of money. Therefore, we have shared a few tips with you that can help you achieve success as a real estate investor.

Opt for a Good Location

Location is the first thing that people consider when they need to buy a residential, vocational or commercial properly. Ideally, the property you are going to buy should be near a workplace and school. Similarly, if it’s close to the marketplace, people can go there without burning a lot of gas or killing a lot of time. Therefore, it’s much better to choose a better location.

Upgrade or Renovate Your Property

It’s better that you upgrade your property features to make it more appealing. For instance, you may add home automation, such as automated lighting. The same is true about commercial real estate as well.

If you offer wheelchair lifts, for instance, it can make your property more useful for people with disabilities. This will attract many more buyers. Actually, it all depends upon how convenient your property is. If your property offers features that can help people make their lives easier, more people will show their interest in what you offer.

Improve Property Conditions

More buyers will contact you if your house or apartment is well maintained. However, make sure you don’t go beyond the limits. In other words, you may not want to spend an arm and a leg just to make your property more beautiful. It won’t increase the value of your property exponentially. Although it may be worth it in certain situations, spending too much is not a good idea.

Let’s take a look at a few tips that can help you make your property well-maintained.

Kitchen: if you do it right, your kitchen can increase the value of your property by up to 80%. Therefore, if you renovate your kitchen by spending $15,000, you can sell your house at 80% higher price.

Plumbing: we all need clean running water. Keep in mind that rusty pipes pose a health hazard in addition to reducing the beauty of your house.

Landscaping: If you maintain your landscape properly, it can add ambience to your house or apartment. In addition, landscaping helps reduce your energy bills.

Do Your Research

Make sure you consider the type of people that you think will be suitable if you want to sell or rent your house. If you want to get the highest return on your investment, make sure you contact the right people. Otherwise, you won’t be able to earn a lot of profit or find good buyers. Opting for the right clients can help you find a great deal.

Conclusion

So, these are a few tips that you can follow if you want to get the most out of your investment. Hopefully, you will find these tips pretty helpful.

Commercial Construction Tips – Facts About Construction Projects

Commercial construction is often an arbiter of changing economic conditions. Construction projects mean both an improving economy and a way to improve the economy of a given area. Read on to learn more interesting facts about it.

This type of construction helps public sector agencies as well as private firms. Big new schools in areas where people are moving give students a chance to learn in state of the art facilities. New office buildings bring jobs to the area, and the upward spiral continues. Not only do the buildings benefit the users, but the building process itself gives workers a solid job for several months, and the expenditures from the construction project go directly into the local economy.

The United States is second in the world in terms of this construction, regardless of where the company doing the building is headquartered. As much as 10% of all commercial construction takes place in the US, and New York is the city with the most commercial construction going on – $8.5 billion (that’s billion with a B) in 2013. A lot of the construction was for residential buildings. Following New York were Houston and Dallas. Those two cities spent $10 billion in 2013 on commercial projects.

One of the biggest trends in commercial construction is green building. Experts from the Environmental Protection Agency expect that by 2017 as much as 48% of new building will be done with green building materials. To put that in financial terms, it could mean as much as $145 billion dollars.

By 2018, 84% of residential construction companies plan to have at least some of their construction projects classified as green. To get an idea of just what kind of impact this has on the overall economy, consider that residential projects total as much as 5% of the current gross domestic product of the US. As more and more firms add green building to their plans, it might mean that as much as 18% of GDP will be based around green construction.

Big commercial office buildings are going green, too. LEED certification is becoming the main standard, and builders are up to 41% green as of 2012. Just how rapidly is this growing? Consider that only 2% of commercial construction, non-residential, projects were green in 2005. It’s no surprise that states like Hawaii and California are leading the way in LEED projects.

It’s not just the US that is interested in green construction, though. LEED certifications around the world are becoming more common. A study released earlier this year showed that as many as 69,000 LEED projects are going on globally in 150 different countries.

This construction is as important to the global economy as it has ever been, and the increases in such projects over the last few years signal a positive change after the worldwide recession of 2008-09 and the soft recovery that followed. With even more green projects being planned than ever before, commercial construction projects will also be kinder to the planet, meaning everyone will benefit for years to come.

Tips to Buy Overseas Property Safely

Buying a property is a process that requires patience and perseverance. It takes time to do the research on the status of the real estate market and its norms in your choice of destination. The crucial part is to find a proper, reliable and experienced service provider who can help you through the whole process, right from the start through to the final stage of owning your property. We have enlisted a few key points with a goal to help you initiate the process of buying your dream property abroad.

Hire an independent lawyer

Many people seek the help of real estate agents, which is not a very good start. No matter how smart, experienced, informative and well-mannered an agent tends to be, never fall for it. Always get an independent lawyer, who will represent you throughout the whole buying process. If you are represented by the lawyer, it means you are well-protected from making any expensive mistakes down the road.

Get help from a financial specialist

Sort out your financial preferences that would help you allot a suitable budget to purchase the property. Get a provisional mortgage if you have plans to borrow money apart from what you plan to pay from your pocket. Ask your financial specialist to suggest a long term repayment plan that would be feasible for you as the lending criteria and the borrowing costs may change during those years.

Hire a foreign exchange specialist

If you borrow money overseas, but earn at home, you have to make sure that the rate fluctuations would not affect the value of your property. The difference in the value of currencies could take the property out of your hands as it goes beyond your budget. Discuss with a foreign exchange specialist and understand your risks and have a proper contingency plan to handle unpleasant situations.

Double-check the agent credentials

Apart from hiring an independent lawyer, choose a professional overseas real estate agent to assist you through the process. Place your focus on the agency rather than the property you want to buy. Question them in all possible ways to make sure the company or the agent is potentially the right person to do business. No matter what they claim, make sure everything is true, to the last bit. Don’t trust reel reviews, read real client testimonials. Ask them to offer their “Terms of business” on paper prior to signing a formal contract with them.

Learn to get the most out of your investment

When you purchase a property overseas as an investment, you must understand that you can have big returns only with risks. Make a thorough inventory of the risk to reward ratio to help you cope up with the risks and to reap better rewards out of your investment when everything goes well.

10 Great Commercial Construction Tips

Commercial construction can be a big undertaking, both literally and figuratively. You might think you have it all under control, but do you really? Here are ten tips that will help make your next commercial construction project a success.

1. The lowest bid is not always your best choice. It’s a counter-intuitive thought compared to everything we have been taught. But even in these times of wanting to be sure to keep the bottom line in check, it’s important to find the best price for the project. Sometimes the low bid is that way because the contractor has no idea what the job entails, and other times they will come in low, get a payment or two, and then abandon the job.

2. Go online and do your research. Check references, run the contractor’s board numbers, and study the backgrounds of your contractors so you can know before you sign on the dotted line just what you are getting. The internet can also be a source of information about current trends in commercial construction.

3. Find a contractor who specializes in what you want done. Sometimes the biggest isn’t always the best. A smaller contractor who is more adept at smaller jobs might be just the right thing your job needs. If you are revamping a store, consider finding contractors who specialize in retail space renovations.

4. Start with the general contractor and build from there. By bringing the general contractor into the job first, you are able to use their knowledge on the job from the beginning and have them help guide the project.

5. Go ahead and add on that maintenance agreement. Once the job is done, you want to ensure that your project will last for years to come. A good maintenance contract that checks over the equipment is a great idea to clean and maintain things like your furnace or drain pipes. A quick cleaning now is much cheaper than an expensive repair later.

6. Does the goal of the project further your company’s image and brand? If it doesn’t, it might not be the right project for you. This is a big capital expense, and you want it to pay off with a solid return on investment for you.

7. Your project should make sense. Do you have custodial closet doors that open inwardly? Did the customer service booth end up with only a small front-facing window? Double check the design proposal before you go out to bid to ensure that the concept diagrams and blueprints make sense and lead to positive workflow.

8. Along with number 7 goes ensuring that the areas like the office supplies and the copier are easy to get to and are going to keep things efficient in the office or administrative area.

9. Decorate in such a way that the colors and furniture enhance your brand and your company’s image. Your customers should feel like they are welcome in your new place, so be sure your contractor includes an interior decorator in the plans.

10. Be sure your contractors are all on board with the project and are capable of meeting the deadlines. This point is probably the most important one of all. Any delays are costly both financially and in terms of getting your business going again in the new location.

Hopefully these tips will help get you going in the right direction for your next project. Happy building!

Tips to Choose a Commercial Landscape Maintenance Services Provider

People who own commercial property spend a considerable amount of time in beautifying their landscapes. If you own a resort or hotel, then beautifying it to a great extent helps in creating a great impression among visitors.

Here are some useful tips which you can follow to select a reliable commercial landscape maintenance services company:

Be sure that the contractor offers the services which you need

One common misconception that many commercial property owners tend to have is that all commercial landscape companies offer the same type of services. However, this is not true. Therefore, you need to acquire a list of services that the company offers. Compare it with your individual needs. The usual services offered by these companies includes snow & ice management, landscape enhancement, irrigation and lighting, landscape construction, landscape design and landscape maintenance.

Landscape maintenance involves weeding, mowing, edging, trimming, pruning, turf and ornamental programs and seasonal color. In case of landscape construction, contractors plant, perform hydro seeding, installation of turfs, retain walls, installation of water features, drainage, erosion control and outdoor amenity installation. Landscape design involves site evaluation and plans to create or enhance focal points of outdoor areas. It also includes community master planning and amnesty designs such as outdoor kitchens, dog parks, patios, fire pits and fire pits.

Contractors who handle irrigation and lighting handle repair, installation, maintenance and suggestions for efficient water usage. The snow and ice management services offers involves plowing, ice melt application and clearing of sidewalks. The landscape enhancement services offered by contractors includes redesigning of focal points or addition of non-contracted items like planters, baskets, removal and trimming of trees and seasonal color displays.

Find out whether they employ sustainable practices or not

Do you need a company which can offer you with services and ensures that your landscape becomes sustainable? If you do, then you are certainly taking a wise decision. Making landscapes energy and saving water are environment conscious decisions and will make a significant impact on your budget and environment.

The landscaping company which you opt for needs to pay attention to the sustainability factor. The materials they use and their water management projects at your site should take into consideration the sustainability factor.

There are a number of questions which you will need to ask the contractor before hiring their services. Ask them where do they buy their plant materials and supplies from. Enquire whether they use native plants or not. Ask them about what changes can be done to help you save your money. Also ask whether the company can suggest any organic programs which are applicable in case of your property. Find out whether they recycle yard waste such as leave, fallen branches and clippings or not. Enquire about the programs which they offer to make lighting and irrigation more efficient.

Research the credentials of the company

You can save yourself from a considerable amount of headaches by performing some research before selecting a contractor. Check the website of the company, ask for references and also get in touch with your business associates. If you have a few questions looming in your mind, you can contact the contractor directly.

When you fix an appointment, ask whether the company holds any certification or license for the work they perform. Enquire whether they can offer any documentation or not. Ask about the affiliations and industrial qualifications of the company. If they claim that they are insured then ask them to provide you with insurance documentation. Also ask them whether they have the manpower and equipment to handle your project or not.

7 Tips For Buying a Property

Buying a property requires a good deal of research. Even if you are from the same place, you have to take care of a lot things before buying a house or apartment of your choice. Given below are 7 tips that can make the process a bit less stressful for you.

Location

As far as buying a property goes, the most important things is the location. Locations with facilities, such as hospitals, schools and parking lots are a great choice. Properties in these areas cost a bit more, but worth the extra price paid.

Haggling

Just because a property is on sale at a certain price doesn’t mean it’s worth the higher price. Moreover, the seller may not have taken an oath to sell it at the listed price no matter what. So, do your homework, find out the prices of other properties in the same area and then negotiate with the seller.

Go for a less sought after property

For instance, you can go for an apartment built above a popular shop. The apartment may offer more than enough space to meet your needs. Moreover, it may not cost as much as other apartments.

Control your enthusiasm

If the vendor or real estate agents comes to know that are in love a property, they may stick to the price offered, and you may not be able to get the best deal. Therefore, when viewing a property, you may want to control your enthusiasm.

Talk to the locals

To get a good idea of the neighborhood, you may want to talk to the locals. They can tell you how it is to live in the area. They will tell you about the nearby shops, pubs and other places. Aside from this, talking to the locals will give you an idea of what type of people they are. After all, you may not want to live with not-so-good people.

Auctions

Auctions are a good option too. Make sure you have gone through the paperwork before choosing a property. Also, don’t forget to view the property before signing the documents.

Team up

You should team up with your friends if you need help. What you need to do is be creative. While you may not want to share a flat or house with someone, your family member or friend may be on the lookout of a good investment opportunity. This can help you get the required capital to buy your desired house. Of course, you can pay become a full owner of the house after paying them their share of the property.

So, these are some simple but useful tips to help you new buyers like you. Buying a property is not a rocket science but it does require some research on your part. Therefore, you should not do it alone if you are a beginner. Instead, you should get help from someone in the light of the tips given in this article. Hopefully, you can get your hands on the right apartment now.