Managing the Challenges of Commercial Construction Projects

Thomas Schlink
Hickory Point Bank

With summer nearly upon us, trees and flowers are starting to bloom, while we swerve to avoid all the potholes that appeared in many of our streets this spring. This is also the traditional start of the construction season. Whether it’s the city fixing potholes or homeowners beginning a landscaping project, our focus begins outside.

We are beginning to see construction crews out working on new buildings. Projects in the Warehouse District, north Peoria and Peoria Heights have all seen cranes or construction workers out and about over the last few weeks.

Commercial construction projects are similar to building single-family residences, in that they require a great amount of detailed work to get the job done right, on time and within budget. There is one big difference, however: commercial construction projects are typically larger and more complex than residential construction projects.

One of the first—and most important—things for business owners to consider is picking the right commercial contractor to complete the project. Peoria is fortunate to have many excellent contractors, both large and small. Considerations in choosing the right one should focus not only on price, but also on their current workload, their experience in building similar projects, and their relationships with subcontractors. The contractor has the tough job of creating a budget, ordering materials, negotiating subcontracts, developing a build schedule, and working with governmental agencies on permits—all before the first shovel hits the dirt.

If financing is needed, it is critical to partner with a bank whose lenders have experience in financing construction loans. Having the right financial partner will ensure that everyone gets paid in a timely manner. Experienced bankers can help a business owner manage the construction process and make their life a little easier.

Another important piece in managing the construction process involves the use of a title company. Typically, a title company will first issue a lien search or title commitment to ensure that the owner has a “clear title” to the property, and that no other entity has a legal claim to it. As requests for payments are made by the contractor or subcontractors, title companies will make sure inspections are completed, lien waivers are collected, and checks are issued for the completed work. This ensures timely payments to both the contractor and subcontractors, and gives comfort to the owner that payments are being made.

After the construction work is completed, the owner and contractor walk through the project and develop a “punch list” of items to be finalized. Final pay requests are made, the city issues a certificate of occupancy, and the project is completed.

Managing the details of a commercial construction project can be time-consuming for an owner. By taking care of these details, you can ensure the project will be a success by being done the right way, on time and within budget. Picking the right partners—from the architect and contractor, to the banker and title company—is the key to success. iBi

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