Facility managers have a formidable role in ensuring that organizational spaces, from offices to production floors, are not just functional, but reflective of the organization’s ethos and efficiency. A crucial ally in this task is the general contractor, a partner that can make or break a project. How do you distinguish the gold standard from the cautionary tales among general contractors? Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you entrust your facility maintenance to the right hands.

The Importance of Selecting the Right General Contractor

general contractor

Before we plunge into the intricacies of evaluating general contractors (GCs), it’s vital to understand why this decision is pivotal. GCs oversee projects from start to finish, coordinating with architects, suppliers, and subcontractors, setting the project’s tone, and managing its day-to-day course. The right general contractor can offer insights that elevate the project, suggest alternatives that save costs, and collaborate seamlessly, enhancing the project’s final delivery.

On the flip side, an unprofessional or unqualified general contractor can lead to project delays, budget overruns, and headaches for facility managers, not to mention an end result that might not meet expectations. Given their pivotal role, the art of selecting the correct GC is a nuanced mix of due diligence and understanding the specific needs of the project at hand.

Qualities to Look for in a General Contractor

When evaluating general contractors, certain key attributes should stand out.

Experience in Similar Projects

Experience isn’t just about the number of years a contractor has been in business. It’s about the breadth of projects they’ve successfully completed, particularly projects similar in scope and function to yours. An experienced GC can provide insights from previous jobs, anticipate challenges, and suggest workable solutions.

Strong Communication Skills

Clear communication is the bedrock of a successful construction project. A good GC should be able to articulate ideas, expectations, and plans effectively, ensuring all stakeholders are on the same page. Additionally, they should listen to and address concerns promptly, fostering a transparent working relationship.

Track Record of Meeting Deadlines and Budgets

Reliability is key. A general contractor with a history of delivering projects on time and within the agreed budget is more likely to maintain these standards on your project. Requesting historical data or project summaries can help you verify a contractor’s track record.

Licensing and Insurance

A professional and reputable general contractor should be appropriately licensed and carry adequate insurance — like those here at Air Ideal. This protects you, your facility, and the contractor’s team in the event of accidents, damage, or legal disputes.

Red Flags to Watch Out For

While there are positive indicators to seek, there are also several red flags that warn of potential issues ahead.

Lack of Transparency

If a contractor is evasive about providing a written estimate or a specific work plan, this could be a sign of future troubles. Transparency builds trust, and trustworthy contractors are upfront about their process.

Poor References or Reviews

In the digital age, it’s easier than ever to research a contractor’s reputation. If a GC has a history of dissatisfied customers, it’s a clear indication to proceed with caution. Equally, if they are reluctant to offer references, it’s a sign they might be hiding something.

Unrealistic Estimates

While competitive pricing is enticing, if a contractor offers a significantly lower estimate than others, it could indicate that they aren’t accounting for all project costs or are planning to cut corners. A realistic and detailed estimate is a good sign.

Limited Availability or Communication

A contractor who is difficult to reach or doesn’t keep you informed on the project’s progress could lead to misunderstandings and problems down the line. Accessibility and regular updates are crucial for a smooth workflow.

Best Practices in Vetting General Contractors

Selecting a GC is a multi-step process that involves more than just scanning credentials. Here are some best practices to ensure you’re making the right decision.

Requesting Detailed Proposals

A comprehensive proposal should outline all aspects of the project, including timelines, milestones, materials, and costs. Reviewing these proposals can demonstrate a contractor’s thoroughness and their understanding of the project at hand.

Conducting Site Visits

Seeing the contractor in action on a current or recent project can speak volumes. Site visits provide firsthand verification of the quality of their work, the professionalism of their team, and the diligence of their management.

Checking References Thoroughly

Follow up with past clients to get an unfiltered picture of the contractor’s capabilities. Ask pointed questions about the project, delays, how unexpected issues were handled, and the overall satisfaction level.

Understanding Contract Terms

The devil is in the details, and this holds especially true for contracts. Ensure you understand the terms, including payment schedules, warranties, and dispute resolutions, before signing anything. It’s also wise to have legal counsel review the contract.


Partnering with a general contractor is akin to entrusting them with the stewardship of your project. The selection process should be meticulous and thoughtful. By focusing on the aforementioned attributes, red flags, and best practices in vetting, you can significantly increase the chances of a successful project. Remember that the time invested in this process is a safeguard against potential setbacks, making it an integral part of your facility management strategy.

At Air Ideal, we treat every contract with precision, professionalism, and care. With an EMR of 0.73 and several industry awards under our belt, Air Ideal presents the best in HVAC services for the New York Metro area. To learn more about our services, please visit our website and get in touch with us today.