Swinerton In the News

Swinerton Builders Colorado: January 31, 2014

How to be a Good Houseguest

Whether you are preparing for company, packing for a visit, or are back into the reality of the new year, stop to consider that hiring a general contractor to work in your building is a lot like having a house guest.

Some guests you want to return because they display polite manners and respectable attitudes. Others, you hope, never grace your doorstep again. So what does it take to be a good house guest - or more appropriately a good general contractor - that gets asked for return visits?

Communication
Good house guests communicate their plans for arrival, departure and activities in between, taking into consideration your expectations of them.

In the world of construction projects in occupied buildings, scheduled weekly meetings between the property manager and general contractor provide opportunities to discuss expectations, upcoming changes, noisy work and disruptions in utilities. Building management can then disseminate this information to their tenants, keeping them up to date on activities that may affect their work environment. 

Housekeeping
Nobody likes dirty house guests who don’t pick up after themselves. Property managers don’t care for sloppy construction activities in their buildings either. And a general contractor who maintains a disorganized project site is at risk for injuries to trades people and building occupants.

A builder who values a clean work area and a high quality end product proactively controls safety hazards, noise, dust, odors and access with careful planning and execution. Abiding by the building rules reduces noise, inconveniences and disruptions to normal routines while increasing the likelihood that you’ll be asked to visit again.

Leaving on time
House guests who overstay their welcome can grate on even the most patient host’s nerves. Similarly, a property manager won’t hire a contractor who completes projects late. Scheduling is a core competency of every skilled builder, and those who deliver projects as promised are invited back time after time. 

Completing projects as scheduled can benefit property managers’ relationships with their tenants as well since noisy, complex or phased renovations can take months to complete, causing disruptions to tenants’ daily operations and construction fatigue. Even something as simple as planning in advance for utility interruptions or loud core drilling can have a major impact on the schedule and property manager/tenant relationship. When property managers are armed with the knowledge of a detailed project schedule, they are able to share this information with their tenants who typically become more tolerant of construction when everyone is well informed and work is progressing as planned.

Budget Management
Ever have a house guest suggest a great place for dinner – and then stick you with the bill, possibly compromising your budget and relationship?

Budget control is one of the most fundamental responsibilities a general contractor has, and when performed properly, holds all involved accountable to the financial success of a project.  Efficiently managing this broad and complex process, an experienced general contractor forecasts, identifies, communicates and controls costs. 

Many construction projects face financial challenges at some point in the process. The strongest and most responsible general contractor can not necessarily guarantee that those challenges will never take place. However, the opportunity for such challenges to occur is greatly reduced when costs are accurately identified and forecasted, thus salvaging budgets, relationships and dinner plans.

Always say “Thank You”
Proper etiquette suggests bringing a gift when you arrive at your host’s dwelling - something thoughtful like a bottle of wine or a bouquet of flowers. For a contractor, having an experienced team ready to tackle the job on day one is a respectful way to show appreciation.

During a visit, similar to construction duration, it’s the little things that make time spent together more enjoyable: keeping your things tidy, making dinner. Many times during the course of a project, property managers may have small tasks that they need the builder to perform outside of the contract. Firms with client-focused attitudes try to accommodate those extra tasks at no or minimal cost by leveraging their relationships with subcontractors.

Lastly, after the visit or project is complete, the utmost sign of gratitude is a token of thanks. Timely punch list and closeout activities, accurate as-built drawings, and completed O&M manuals are all appropriate gifts contractors should give.  Building Information Modeling facilitates electronic as-builts which property managers can easily use to inform future renovation work without the hassle of paper drawings.

When general contractors maintain the mindset that they are guests in another’s place, communication and consideration are major keys to a successful project. More often than not, offering these gifts – with no surprises – results in a repeat visit.

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