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Amanda Harvey
Amanda
Harvey

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Commercial renovation projects: criteria to find the right contractor

Last modified: 2019/02/13 | Approximate reading time 5 mins

Running a business is plenty of work in itself, but a commercial renovation can have a huge impact on the face, reputation, and profitability of it. Depending on if you’re looking to improve the appearance of your building, interior, or specific internal aspects that’ll make working or spending time there more pleasurable, it’s likely you’ll need to hire a contractor. Office, restaurant, storefront or shop; regardless a commercial renovation can help your business to grow and expand its success. So, working with the right person is essential but how do you choose them?

In this article, we’ll go over some of the essentials to look for when hiring a commercial contractor. It’s important not to choose the first person you find on Google. Instead, spend the time choosing the right person, as this will guarantee the project is successful.

Commercial renovation projects: criteria for finding the right contractor!

Project planning

All commercial renovations need to begin with a solid plan. In most cases, it’s going to be costly and thus, a plan will help you remain on target time and budget wise. You should begin by making a list of what you’re looking to accomplish from your commercial renovation project, starting with the most important aspects. Here are some goals you might consider:

  • Enticing more customers into the space;
  • Rebranding your business;
  • Increasing efficiency in the workplace;
  • Improving the mood between employees or between customers;
  • Optimizing and improving the use of space.

Once you’ve narrowed it down to the aspects that are most important, think about concrete ways to make them happen. This will come down to both practical and design elements that can be integrated into your building. As an example, are you trying to improve the morale of your employees? That could mean installing more windows, better insulation, repainting the interior walls to a neutral colour, incorporating plants or an air filtration system. Obviously, the specifics of your renovation process will come down to the needs of your business.

But, in order to choose the right contractor for the job, you’ll need to determine what it is you need them to accomplish. When you do eventually meet with contractors, it’s crucial for them to know exactly what you’re hoping for. But do remember that unless you’re a general contractor yourself, your wishes for the project and the actual outcome may be different. Keep an open mind and remain flexible, but do have a strategic plan in place to present to your contractor.

During the project planning process, another major aspect to consider is your budget. You’ve probably set an amount aside but it’s very important to have budget leeway. This is due to the fact that for most large-scale renovation projects, it’s likely you’ll end up sending more than intended. It’s also crucial to consider that problems can easily arise, certain materials may be needed or there could be issues you didn’t anticipate. 

store - commercial renovations

Qualifications and permits

When it comes to renovating a commercial business, the contractor you hire is going to need the correct permits to carry out the work. This is an absolute necessity and should not be overlooked. As a business owner, it’s your responsibility to be on top of what’s required. If you aren’t, it’s possible your business could face trouble including fines or even temporary closure. Here are some province-specific standards when it comes to carrying out commercial renovation projects and the necessary permits.

Quebec: In Quebec, the municipality determines the conditions to be met in regards to the construction permit. There are different types of RBQ licenses, so check with your municipality in order to be aware of the ones you need to register for as well as those which your contractor should have. Most commercial renovations will also require the contractor to have a CCQ certification.

Ontario: A building permit in Ontario can be obtained from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs website or directly from the municipality in which you live. Not only this, the local Building Codes will set out levels of construction and what can be done, where as well as when. Furthermore, if your renovation is completed to change the function of your business, i.e. moving from cafe to storefront, then you’ll need to apply for a change of use permit.

Nova Scotia: As in other provinces, in Nova Scotia, building permits are applied for through the municipality, with three sets of site plans. Requirements will vary from project to project, as well as fees.

Alberta: Commercial development in Alberta involves a number of different permit approval types but development permit approvals have to be approved for new construction, renovations or any changes made to the building.

Comparing contractor bids

People shaking hands

Now that you’ve narrowed down concrete goals for your commercial renovation, you’ll want to start meeting with contractors. Comparing bids from 4 or 5 contractors is the best way to determine who you can work with, as well as what they’re bringing to the table. As mentioned above, the first consideration for all contractors should be whether or not they are certified to take the project on.

Contractors should have the correct licenses as well as some experience in the commercial renovations field. Once this has been determined, you’re going to touch on budget. Remember, the lowest bid does not mean the best bid. You need to work with someone who can do the most with your budget, as a low-ball bid may mean that the contractor intends to cut corners, use cheaper materials and so forth. With each of your bidding contractors, look at the entire picture and think about these angles:

Customer testimonials: Reviews left by customers online will be a goldmine when it comes to choosing a contractor. People are more likely to leave a review when they’ve experienced something very positive or very negative. Not only this, customer reviews can offer insight into work ethic and quality of work, communication skills, professionality and so on.

Portfolio: The portfolio of a contractor will be telling, as it will give you insight into their style of work as well as their design abilities. Depending on what you’re searching for, consider someone with similar taste as well as someone who has worked on a building or projects similar to yours.

Interview: It’s crucial to have a face-to-face interview with every one of your potential contractors.  Talking to someone on the phone is one thing, but meeting up with someone, listening and speaking to them will give you way more insight into their communication style and whether they’re right for your job. This is someone you’re going to be working with for a while, so it’s important for you to be able to communicate openly and frankly.

Commercial renovation restaurant

Timeline and disruptions

The final thing you’ll need to determine when choosing the right contractor for the job is whether or not you should keep your business open or closed during the renovation process. Your contractor should help you determine the right move as well as offering insight into how quickly they’re able to carry out the renovation process. Make sure they can deliver the best way to get the project done with the least amount of disruption as possible. Be open about any concerns and see how they respond and adapt to both your needs and wants.

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