Choosing a General Contractor for Your Next Development: What to Look For


For every project they build, developers need to secure multiple resources. Not the least significant of these is a General Contractor, who will set the tone for the entirety of construction. A General Contractor that excels at working on a collaborative basis during the design phase is the best choice. 

Some contractors do a lot of hard-bidding for projects, where the lowest price wins. Being the lowest bidder doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the best company for the job. Further, where does this process leave the projects that need help before they get to construction documents? It’s a good idea to ask a potential contractor what percentage of their work they bid versus getting involved early and helping during the design phase.

While many contractors say they like to get involved in those early stages, the reality is that some of those contractors aren’t diving deep and putting in the effort required to really assist the developer. But what does that look like?

At The Douglas Company, this assistance comes in many forms and includes doing things like driving the process, controlling costs, and limiting surprises. Above all, we aim to be an active member of the development team and design process.

Being an active team member requires participating in weekly or bi-weekly calls with the owner, architect, engineers, etc. It is creating a preconstruction schedule that holds everyone accountable for their deliverables en route to a targeted construction start date. It also means proactively speaking up with alternative ideas to cut costs, assigning dollar values to those ideas, and following up with both owner and architect that the accepted cost cuts make their way onto the drawings.  The budget estimate also needs to be updated accordingly at the various design stage milestones and further along in the process will include subcontractor input.  This whole strategy helps your project stay on the preconstruction schedule and budget. And every good team needs good leaders as Co-Captains on their journey to completing a project.

There are, of course, more nuances to the process but you get the idea.  Having a good Co-Captain at your side really helps you, the developer, keep the team focused on goals and acts as your “right hand man” looking out for your best interests. This process may sound elementary to some, but to others it is not standard practice and the project can suffer for it. 

With all the headwinds that face new ground up projects currently, you need to be sure to get the right team in place early and make the best decision of who your Co-Captain is going to be and how good they are at fulfilling that role. 



Don Diedrick
Director of Business Development
The Douglas Company

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