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5 tips for Civil Engineers when choosing a Civil Contractor

15 December 2017

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When choosing a civil contractor, it can seem easy to go with the usual suspects - even if you’re not always 100% happy with the outcome. But sticking with the devil you know doesn’t allow you to investigate if you’re getting the best value for money, or see if there’s a better option out there for your particular project.

With ever advancing technology allowing for new approaches and improving efficiency it’s a great time to take the time to review your civil contracting options.

Here are 5 helpful tips to help you decide on your next civil contractor.

1. Get to know them first

Before signing any contracts, it’s really important you get to know your potential civil contractor. Who they are as a human being, and what they are as a business.

Knowing this personality upfront will help you determine if you’re about to engage someone with the same values and commitment to quality as you.

You’ll be relying on your contractor to deliver your project on time and on budget so check out their operation - meet with them and visit their workshop and offices. How professional is their operation, how long have they been around, what are their business values and practices? Do they give you the confidence they can back up their quote?

While you’re scoping them out, you're also setting the groundwork for open communication in advance. This is a good investment and should make things smoother down the track.

2. Don’t hire them just because they’re the cheapest

You should choose the company with the ‘best price’, but this doesn’t mean the cheapest. The best price is the cost to have the job completed efficiently, within budget, on time and to the standard of quality you need, with minimum fuss.

If the civil contractor has been able to undercut their competitors, the question is why? What is the quality of their work?

Lower prices can mean a lower standard of work. If you are able to pay less to them, they’re probably cost cutting in the labour or subcontractors they hire and the materials they use.

A cheap civil contractor may have less experience or industry knowledge. In choosing a civil contractor consider the value of a contractor with the knowledge and experience to help you troubleshoot solutions if you come up against an unexpected problem on site.

A contractor that can adapt to site conditions and innovate can help you save time and money on jobs and make sure any unexpected hiccups don’t blow your budget.

3. Check out their references

A good civil contractor will be able to provide you with the details of at least 5 previous projects. And be diligent in researching each of them.

Ask the right questions. Did the contractor keep to the agreed budget? Did they deliver on time? Were they good communicators, have a fast response time, and were flexible with changes? Where there any issues on site, and how did the contractor overcome them?

If you’re working within an existing community you’ll want someone that understands how to successfully work with residents around. Ask if they managed noise effectively, kept a neat and tidy site, effectively managed traffic and general disruption to the community.

Don’t miss the opportunity to find out about any points of difference that might set them apart from their competitors for your work. Positive attributes that have repeatedly cropped up with previous projects will likely benefit yours too.

4. Go see their results for yourself

Get on the road. Doing the leg-work is going to cost you some time, but delays to replace poor quality work will cost you more.

Take the time to visit completed projects and assess the quality of the work. See for yourself if they have been able to deliver what they have promised.

5. Check if they meet ISO standards and have relevant accreditations

In the interests of safety and consistency, you’ll need to ensure your contractor is meeting all industry standards. Demand to see relevant industry accreditation.

Final Thought

If your contractor has been able to outprice all their competitors, establishing why can save you headache and heartache down the track. Choose a civil contractor that can show you industry accreditation, quality workmanship, verifiable completed projects, and a culture of open and clear communication.

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