How To Choose The Right General Contractor To Build Your Ground Up Construction Project

Can you imagine creating something as epic as the Empire State Building? This 102-story Art Deco skyscraper in Midtown Manhattan was built in 1930. The location of this magnificent building was initially set to be the home of a 25-story office building, but luckily, the company that commissioned the building defaulted on their bank loan, paving the way for the creation of the historic Empire State Building. It’s hard to envision the picturesque skyline without the iconic tower. For some, the Empire State Building epitomizes ground up construction.

While your project may not be as magnificent, you still need experienced contractors to ensure a superior build. As a business owner considering a new commercial venture, you have some options to consider. Is your goal to add to an existing structure, or are you dreaming of a brand new space?

If the addition you have in mind can be designed without interfering with an existing structure, then a renovation might be the right option for you. However, if a preexisting framework can’t support your design, you may need to consider ground up construction.

A ground up construction project requires a design from scratch. This entails everything from laying a foundation to building walls. In other words, no part of your project is currently in existence. If you need maximum flexibility for the design and build of your project or you anticipate growth in the future requiring additional space, ground up construction will be your best option. Building from the ground up allows you complete customization to meet the various needs of your project.

The first step in bringing your project to life is hiring a general contractor. This guide will assist you in hiring the right team for your ground up construction project.

What is a General Contractor?

A general contractor can be an individual or company with the responsibility of overseeing your entire construction project from start to finish. In addition to leading the project’s team of construction workers and trade professionals, your general contractor will serve as the liaison between vendors and yourself.

Primary responsibilities will include making recommendations and plans for the scope of work, which will be outlined in their contract bid. Additionally, the contractor will be in charge of ascertaining equipment and labor needs, as well as estimating the cost of materials.

The general contractor will be the person you work with directly throughout your project. For this reason, it is essential to hire someone you feel comfortable communicating with and understands your vision.

Qualities of a Good General Contractor

Once your search for the right general contractor begins, make sure to look for a team that exhibits the following attributes:

  • They offer transparency in how they work and how they determine costs
  • They provide top-notch customer service
  • They provide a clear process for managing large projects
  • They can communicate clearly
  • They can give an accurate timeline for project milestones
  • They are fully licensed
  • They have years of experience to anticipate potential project pitfalls
  • They have safety measures in place to prevent on-the-job injuries
  • They have a good working relationship with their team

Where do I start?

When looking for a reliable general contractor for your ground up construction project, the first thing you should do is acquire referrals. Who do you know that has completed projects similar to yours? If you’ve spotted a building you really like, talk with the facility manager about their experience with the building contractor.

A referral from a friend or colleague is one you can add to the top of your list. No one is going to recommend working with a contractor or company that was difficult to work with. You can also ask for referrals from lenders and architects. A positive reference is a good indication you’ll be dealing with a quality commercial builder.

Do Some Background Research

Once you have your list of referrals, visit each contractor’s website. Verify they are capable of designing and building what you’re envisioning for your project. Most contractors will have a list of completed jobs on their website. This is a good indication they offer transparency in their work.

You’ll also want to look for company reviews and ratings on sources such as Google and the Better Business Bureau. Check for any filed grievances to make sure the company is in good standing.

Always Check References

Once you feel confident that a company is capable of completing your project, speak with other business owners who have first-hand experience working with the contractor. While acquiring referrals from friends and colleagues is a great place to start, hiring anyone without requesting a few references is not recommended.

When contacting references, ask the following:

  • Were project risks addressed?
  • Was there a plan in place to proactively mitigate potential risks?
  • Were status updates offered regularly?
  • Was the general contractor easy to get a hold of and communicate with?
  • Was the initial bid detailed, and did it come close to the final project costs?
  • Was the project completed in the time proposed?

The more information you can gather from references, the better idea you’ll have about what it may be like to work with the general contractor.

Set up an In-person Meeting

When you feel a company may be the right fit for your project, it’s time to set up an in-person meeting. Use this time to assess the contractor’s communication skills. Ask how they can add value to your project and have them tell you about past jobs they’ve completed that are similar to yours.

You’ll also want to inquire about their relationship with subcontractors and trade professionals. Ask how long they’ve worked with their crew and the level of experience members bring to the project.

Ultimately your goal for this meeting will be to answer the following questions:

  • Is this general contractor experienced with building for your industry?
  • Have they completed similar-sized projects?
  • Are you comfortable with their communication style?
  • Are they a good fit for you personally?

How many bids should I request?

Once you’ve narrowed down your search among potential contractors, request bids from your top three candidates. A good contractor will require your participation in the bid process. An accurate bid provides a full scope of work and detailed cost estimates.

Once you’ve received all three bids, you’ll want to compare them. Automatically choosing the lowest bid could prove to be a costly mistake. Make sure all bids provide a complete description of your project and outline the required materials and labor needs. Gaps in the bid will cost you time and money in the long run.

Feel free to schedule a second meeting with the contractor to provide a full explanation of their bid proposal and how they determined costs. Make sure when considering each bid to take into account how well you were able to communicate with the general contractor. Your ground up construction project will ultimately depend on how well your vision is understood.

Once you’re satisfied that you’ve found a general contractor who can complete your project, you’re ready to sign a written commitment.

Add Loder Construction to Your List

Loder Construction has been serving the greater Sacramento area as commercial general contractors since 1995. Our firm is a group of dedicated professionals with a passion for building. We excel in many areas of building, including ground up construction. Our commitment to “Excellence in Construction” is what drives our Client Satisfaction.

This commitment extends to our hiring process for working with subcontractors. Everyone on our team is required to pass a comprehensive screening program. We’ve developed ongoing work relationships that span years, and in some cases, generations.

When working with Loder Construction, every client is invited to complete periodic Quality Assurance sessions to evaluate work and ensure the project remains on track. Our creative team has the experience to take on even some of the most complicated build-outs. We make it our personal goal for every project to not only succeed but exceed expectations.

We encourage you to view our vast portfolio to see what we’re capable of designing. We’re confident in many different industries, including medical facilities, bars, restaurants, night clubs, office buildings, sports complexes, light industrial, retail, and much more!

In addition to confidently designing and building your ground up construction project, we offer a number of useful services for maintaining your build. For example, our building and sanitation services include janitorial cleaning, electrostatic spray cleaning, and HVAC sanitation services, to name a few.

Loder Construction prides itself on our unwavering commitment to quality construction in all aspects of our procedure. To learn how we bring professionalism to every key aspect of development, from project management to build execution, we’d love to meet you! Visit our centrally located office on the border of Granite Bay and Roseville.

Our success as commercial general contractors in the Sacramento area and our overwhelming client satisfaction can be attributed to the extra mile we go for every project we take on. Get in touch for your personalized project bid.


JJ Loder

He received his first hammer at 4 years old, not that he wanted one but, because he kept “borrowing” his father’s. Construction has been a part of his life and being raised as a six-generation carpenter, it came naturally. As a boy he visited his father and grandfather on their construction site, and he learned what was being built. High school and college summers were spent soaked in sweat, at the end of broom as his apprentice skills improved. After graduating from Fresno State with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication in 2008, he started running small Tenant Improvements for Loder Construction and excelled in keeping projects on-time and on budget.