When selecting a commercial specialty contractor for waterproofing or concrete or masonry restoration work, Western Specialty Contractors Assistant Regional Business Development Manager Teddy Williams says not to think of contractors as commodities, but rather look at the contractor as a whole - considering their reputation, qualifications and dependability, not just price.

"The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a commodity as a good or service whose wide availability typically diminishes the importance of factors other than price. Choosing contractors solely based on price significantly increases the chance of problems developing during the project and long after the project is complete," says Williams. "It is important to examine all of the different qualities of a contractor so you can choose the one that will provide the most value to you and your company."

Below is a list of considerations that facility managers, property managers and owners should use when selecting the right specialty contractor for a project.

Don’t Assume All Contractors Have Same Level of Expertise, Qualifications 
Do you have a process to gauge the level of expertise and qualifications of the contractors that you are considering? Research your potential contractor's expertise and qualifications by asking them questions and checking their company’s website. Some contractors are more capable of fixing your problems than others, and hiring the wrong one may lead to further issues rather than a solution. You may even incur more expensive repair costs in the future because the contractor did not adequately fix the problem or the repair did not last as long as you had expected. Knowing which questions to ask a specialty contractor will help you to formulate your decision.

Example questions include:

  • What buildings similar to mine have you worked on?
  • What problems similar to mine have you resolved in the past?
  • What do your customers say about you?
  • Can you solve all of my building's problems or will I have to hire multiple contractors?

Ask them for the names and numbers of their past clients, then talk to those persons about their experiences with the contractor. There are many ways to determine a contractor’s expertise and qualifications, and doing so can save you a lot of money, time and headaches.

Don’t Think All Contractors Offer Same Level of Dependability 
Will your contractor honor their warranty? Will they be in business for the duration of the warranty? Will they come back to make repairs if necessary? People lose money all too often because they hire unreliable contractors. Make sure you choose a contractor that has been in business for a long time and has the longevity to be there for you over the years. Also, be sure to choose a contractor that won’t run away from problems. Most of all make sure that you and your company receive the protection and security you deserve.

Don’t Accept Reactive Communication Plans
How, when and why will your contractor communicate with you? What information will they provide you with and when will they give it to you over the course of the project? Do they have a plan? Will you have to track them down when you need something? Is the project on schedule? How is tenant disruption going to be kept to a minimum? You need to have all the information about the project at your fingertips so you can effectively communicate with your colleagues and tenants. You shouldn’t have to call the contractor for answers; you should already be in the know.

Don’t Ignore Contractors’ Reputations 
Which contractors do your colleagues use? Who has the contractor worked for in your industry? What do people say about your company? A contractor should provide you with case studies, testimonials and references that confirm their quality and value. If you want the truth about a contractor, read their testimonials, call their references and talk to people who have used them in the past.

Don’t Treat All Possible Solutions the Same
When you receive proposals from multiple contractors, they are not identical solutions. There are factors like price, tenant affects, safety, materials and schedule to consider. Make sure you understand these and how they impact you and your company. One proposal may be more expensive than another, but the quality of the work might help you avoid future repair costs.

It is important to be aware that value comes from many areas, not just price. Work with your contractor to understand the differences in your options so you can make the best decision for you and your company.