How to Choose a Multi-Family General Contractor (Complete Guide)

Jamie Jacobs
Jamie Jacobs joined APX Construction Group in June of 2020 specializing in interior design, marketing, event planning, and business development.
  • Real estate is a growing industry, and building multi-family homes is a fantastic enterprise to undertake. In order to set yourself up for success, you need to work with a highly skilled multi-family general contractor that takes the stress off your plate rather than adding to it.

    General contractors are essential components to the overall success of your project because they are liable for details like:

    • Design 🎨
    • Jobsite safety 🦺
    • Material procurement 🧱
    • And much more! ➕

    Use these tips to narrow down the best multi-family general contractor for your project.

    What Does a Multi-Family General Contractor Handle?

    Choosing the best general contractor is a major decision because they are responsible for a large majority of your final product and nearly all the stages of the construction process. A contractor handles details that include:

    • Permitting: Your contractor is responsible for securing all necessary city and county permits for your multifamily housing project.
    • Design: Multi-family general contractors will work directly with trusted architects to suggest design and safety improvements while helping you stay on budget.
    • Hiring subcontractors: Your general contractor needs to be well-connected to hire electricians, flooring specialists, security, plumbers, and more. They’ll find an option that gives you the best combination of price and quality.
    • Building codes: It’s the contractor’s responsibility to ensure all zoning and building codes are followed during the building process.
    • Purchasing supplies: In general, most building supplies are purchased directly by the general contractor.

    As you can see, when so many details lie on the shoulders of a general contractor, choosing a construction management firm for your multifamily construction project shouldn’t be taken lightly.

    multi-family construction site; multi-family general contractor

    9 Ways to Find the Best Multi-Family General Contractor

    You can find general contractors by searching online and asking for referrals and recommendations from other developers. Or, you can look up the county records to determine who the contractor was for another building you admire.

    You certainly can choose to trust the first construction company that gets recommended to you, or you can do more thorough research with a few companies to determine the best fit for you.

    Follow these 9 tips to secure the best multi-family general contractor you can find:

    1) Start Your Search Early

    Developing multifamily housing is a long, detailed process. You need to allow plenty of time for each step of the project. It can usually take nine months or more to get the necessary approvals from your municipality, so selecting a contractor right away in your process can help speed things along since they know how to navigate the permitting process.

    Waiting until the last minute to search for contractors is a great way to ensure your project won’t be completed as quickly as you want.

    2) Create a Detailed Project Description

    Something you can do to aid your search is to create a thorough project description. Presenting this project description to potential contractors is the best way to get accurate cost estimates and work timelines.

    apartment building; multi-family general contractor

    3) Get Estimates From a Few Companies

    Present your project description to two or three construction firms. (For especially large projects, you can get up to five or six.) Talking to multiple firms will help you compare prices, timelines, and demeanor. To help make your this process easier, we’ve put together a list of the 6 best multi-family general contractors in Minnesota.

    If the lowest price is the most important factor to you, you can compare each estimate against each other to determine what’s fair. Or, if the personality of the firm is most important to you, you’ll get a good feel of who you easily connect with.

    4) Check References

    Your job as a real estate developer will require you to check a lot of references, and the references for your multi-family general contractor are incredibly important. Check-in with past clients to ensure they didn’t have any issues, but also ask the references questions like:

    • What type of development project did you have?
    • How long did it take for the contractor to call you back?
    • Did the contractor stay on or under budget?
    • Are you satisfied with their work overall?

    If a contractor you’re talking to is hesitant to provide references, then you should take your business elsewhere. You want your general contractor to be confident in their abilities and customer service chops.

    5) Read Online Reviews

    In the same vein as checking references, be diligent about reading online reviews. Check platforms like Google and Directorii as reviews are most commonly left there.

    It’s rare that a business has a perfect 5-star rating if they have more than 10 reviews, so you can extend some grace if a few reviews are three or four stars. However, if the construction firm has multiple one or two-star reviews paired with complaints from former clients, then you want to take that into consideration.

    Hearing directly from previous clients is one of the best ways to get a feel for what you can expect from a general contractor.

    a person checking online reviews for a multi-family general contractor

    6) Ensure They’re Licensed, Insured, and Bonded

    When hiring any sort of contractor, it is of the utmost importance to ensure they are licensed, insured, and bonded in your state.

    • Licensed: Contractors need to be licensed by a state board or agency. A license is a signal that the contractor can perform legitimate, professional work in their field. Working with an unlicensed contractor is incredibly risky because without insurance backing up their work, you would be 100% liable for any legal issues that arise.
    • Bonded: When a general contractor is bonded it means they’ve purchased a surety bond. Surety bonds are similar to traditional insurance policies, but not quite the same. Surety bonds help protect owners in case the contractor isn’t able to complete the project. For example, if a contractor abandons the project, the surety company will replace them with a new contractor.
    • Insured: An insured contractor should have general liability insurance, which protects subcontractors in the case of injury and the client in case of faulty work.

    Selecting a cheap multi-family general contractor who won’t provide proof of their licensure and insurance is a guaranteed way to set your project up for a messy legal battle. If a contractor deflects and avoids showing their licensure, respectfully end the conversation and move on to a different prospect.

    7) Take Note of How They Communicate

    There’s nothing more frustrating when working on a multifamily construction project than needing a question answered and waiting days or even weeks for a response from your construction manager.

    If a construction firm takes days to return your emails or calls when you just want an estimate, that’s a pretty good sign that you would deal with the same lack of communication throughout the process.

    But on the other hand, if a certain firm has very prompt and detailed communication from the get-go, that’s a pretty good sign that you can rely on them throughout the building process.

    8) View Their Portfolio

    A picture’s worth a thousand words, right? Be sure to view the online portfolios of construction firms you’re considering. If you can’t find their portfolio on their website, you can ask them to provide photos of some of their past projects.

    Ideally, they will have other examples of multifamily housing in their portfolio so that you can have a clear idea of what to expect.

    modern apartment buildings; multi-family general contractor

    9) Verify Their Service Location

    Last but not least, it’s important to work with a local contractor. Some general contractors may serve more than one state, which is great as long as they have the necessary licenses and insurance.

    Feel free to inquire about their service areas and where their company is based. Hiring a local company is important because an established presence in your area ensures they are in touch with your local environmental conditions.

    A Top-Rated Commercial Contractor Eager to Help

    At APX Construction Group, we know how essential it is to find the best general contractor for your multifamily housing project. We’re happy to answer any questions you may have so that you feel confident throughout the entire construction process.

    When you choose APX, you’ll always get prompt communication, on-time and on-budget service, and top-rated craftsmen. Reach out today for a free estimate!

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