Tips For Choosing a Design or Building Firm

The process of vetting & hiring a design or construction team for your Virginia area construction or development project is a complex undertaking. It’s likely to involve multiple meetings of decision-makers, considerable resources, and an extended period of time conducting extensive research. Or at least, it should. Because of this, there are advantages in choosing one firm that can handle both the design and the build components of the project.

Choosing a separate firm for each of these tasks may result in triple the work. Regardless of whether you hire an integrated firm for all project components, or select each team member separately, there are some things you should consider carefully when screening and hiring your design build group.


1: Experience

A firm or professional’s level of experience in your industry can help build trust and assure familiarity with your type of project. Having experience in your sector ensures that your contractor and or architect understands the regulations, requirements, and potential issues which may occur. Hiring an inexperienced team may result in additional road blocks or training/ research, all of which could create delays. And time often equals money.

2: Talent

While the reputation and portfolio matter, you also want to know about the capabilities of the team working on your project. During your preliminary meetings, ask potential firms to introduce you to the staff who will be working directly with you for the duration of the project. You’ll want to ensure you have access to the company’s leadership and get comfortable with every member of the staff that you’ll be working with. Can you communicate well with them? Do you feel confident with their professionalism and experience?

3. Affordability

Cost is, and will always be, a major, and sometimes, a defining factor when hiring your construction team. Our advice here is to do your best to choose a firm that offers affordable, quality, and timely builds. If you receive a bid for a project that is far below the quotes received from other firms, you should question the bid with regard to quality and thoroughness. The old adage that “you get what you pay for” holds true here. You don’t want to choose based only on price. Understand the ins and outs of the cost structure of your project and make sure your budget is adequate. Hidden fees or surprise costs may pop-up after you sign if your firm has missed items, improperly factored in the conditions on site, or overlooked factors like weather, time to source supplies, the difficulty of sourcing specialty labor, rising costs of materials over time, etc.

 4. Communication

Communication is everything- it is the cornerstone of customer service, regardless of the type of contract you are entering into. The best construction teams, if anything, tend to over-communicate and will answer many questions before you think of them or even have a chance to ask. Make sure you choose a firm which treats you as a priority and takes ownership of your concerns. Your contractor and architect should know your priorities and goals as well, if not better, than you do if they are truly going to be able to anticipate and meet your needs. The more attention they pay to you, the better. You should never choose a firm that you have to chase or that doesn’t respond to communication in a timely fashion. Respect a company whose staff occasionally answers an inquiry with “I don’t know, but I will find out”. No contractor knows everything without doing some hands on research; regulations, prices, and conditions change rapidly in this industry. You want a company that offers you honest answers, not a series of bland reassurances. Finally, request one point of contact to handle all of your needs throughout the project, to simplify communication and streamline your role as owner. While you want access to the company’s leadership, there is a lot to be said for accountability. A single point of contact means that you don’t waste time repeating yourself or dealing with conflicts that may arise between multiple sources.

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Hunnicutt Construction has been serving the Virginia Commercial Construction sector for decades and we are committed to customer satisfaction. We value transparency and integrity, honest pricing and superior craftsmanship. If we can help you on your next project, we’d love to talk!