How Residential Contractors Can Win Commercial Projects

March 1, 2022
construction of commercial project - stadium

Scale your business with safety, takeoff software, and accurate bids

As region markets shift and your company grows, your team may reach a point where residential projects are not the only project type on the table. Commercial construction projects often come with bigger budgets, larger square footage, and higher revenue. If you are ready to level-up your contracting business and begin pursuing bids for commercial projects, here are some steps to help you prepare.

Determine Size and Strategy

When moving from smaller residential projects to larger commercial work, the first thing you’ll want to consider is the size of your team and the scope that is realistic for that team to complete. What kind of commercial projects can you complete without compromising quality? If skilled labor is available to you in your trade, scaling may be straightforward, but if recruiting and training is the name of the game, then you want to account for that time before jumping into a much larger project. You certainly don’t want to be scrambling for help at the last minute, or worse, falling behind the project schedule and paying significant overtime. Commercial projects can also come with penalties for every day your completed work is behind schedule. This may show up in a contract as Liquidated Damages, so read your contracts carefully.

Once you’ve figured out the best size project for your next step, make a list of all the places that kind of project will exist—from hospitality to civic—and get creative on how your skills in the residential sector will transfer to the commercial space. If your specialty is in new build, don’t forget about office space and retail build-outs. If you are a renovation pro, keep an eye on education projects in your area.

Reporting services like Dodge will give you reports of commercial construction projects that have been awarded, are in planning, or are open for bid. A subscription to an online reporting service or plan room may be a worthwhile investment to track upcoming projects in your region.

Line Up Bonding, Insurance, and Safety

The quickest way to open up your commercial bidding opportunities and prove your company’s financial strength is with a surety bond. Many larger commercial construction projects will require a surety bond in your bid package, but this additional layer of insurance ensures that your work is completed and all materials and labor are covered. Most larger commercial projects are long-term investments, even during the construction stage, so owners will not want to take a risk with a non-bonded contractor who may default before the project is completed.

You will also need to review any commercial construction contracts for insurance requirements. High-value projects will come with higher insurance requirements, depending on your trade. Even if you are insured at a reasonable level for residential work, there may be additional coverage needed to step into the commercial market.

As with residential construction, safety is paramount on a commercial project. As the work reaches a larger scale, safety requirements are more detailed. Some contracts may require your entire team to be OSHA-10 or OSHA-30 certified. If you are a general contractors, some projects will need a full-time Construction Health and Safety Technician (CHST). Investing in these additional safety measures now will allow for you to step seamlessly into the commercial construction world.

Connect with Partners and Consultants

There are several types of management for commercial construction projects. Design-Build projects are managed with the General Contractor (GC) or Construction Manager (CM) working in tandem from the beginning of the schematic design process. CM-at-risk is managed by the construction team with a Project Manager and Superintendent, with a guaranteed total project price for design, management, and construction. Other smaller projects may simply be overseen by a GC with subcontractors. Connecting and networking with each type of construction manager will help you learn the lay of the land, and increase your knowledge about specific project needs.

Building relationships with consultants is also vital to winning larger projects, especially as a subcontractor. Taking time to connect with mechanical engineers, HVAC specialists, and structural teams will set you up for success when your specific trade is needed on one of their projects.

Use Construction Takeoff Software for Architectural Plans

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Within the commercial construction sector, professionalism and trust are the main factors for winning consistent work. Small residential projects may not have required construction takeoff software, but for multi-sheet architectural plans, your team will need a reliable tool to create measurements for any trade. Not only will takeoff software increase your efficiency, but also it allows you to accurately track material types and quantities across the entire project so nothing is missed.

A cloud-based takeoff software will also allow you to easily upload your plans, keep all your projects in one place, and access your takeoffs from any browser. A digital takeoff creates an efficient path to planning material and equipment deliveries, and ensures you have enough labor for each trade area.

Submit Accurate Bids

The most critical part of your bid for commercial construction projects is pricing accuracy. Moving from the residential to commercial sector can mean that typical material and labor pricing will shift, as you will use higher-grade products and seek out new vendors. Construction managers and owners will expect highly accurate numbers for your trade, and any overages not covered by change orders will come out of your profit.

Using a construction estimating software that is directly linked to your digital takeoff is the most effective method for calculating a commercial construction bid. The 1build platform offers local material and labor pricing so you are never guesstimating for a large commercial bid. And your reliable numbers will set you apart from other contractors who don’t have access to real-time price changes in a volatile market.

When you are preparing an estimate in 1build, you also have the options to share your takeoff and estimate, which can be shared with a public link, or export it to a PDF or Excel file, so you are ready to include your pricing in any bid package.

Are you ready to take the next step toward bidding a commercial construction project?

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