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What should real estate investors look for in a fit-out contractor?

fit out contractors
What should real estate investors look for in a fit-out investor

Finding a suitable fit-out contractor can save you time and money, and provide you with peace of mind. But from what we’ve learned in our experience at Built Interiors, if a real estate investor is looking for just one thing in a fit-out contractor, it’s a mutually beneficial, sustainable relationship. But, of course, relationships don’t just come into being, fully formed. They are created over time. In this article we’ll look at a few of the building blocks that go into making the relationship between investor and contractor a solid one.

Why is a long-term relationship so important?

Budget will always be a deciding factor on any project, but it can’t be THE deciding factor. Jumping from one contractor to the next in pursuit of a lower quote doesn’t really build bridges, but it can often burn them. When you develop a long-term relationship with a contractor, you’re building trust. That means when you have challenges in your business or on a particular project, you have a team of experts in your corner who are understanding, and who can work with you to find a solution.

It also means you have a contractor who knows you, your personal preferences, the standards of quality to which you like things done, and the way in which you like projects to flow.

Some tools for finding the right fit

As an investor, it’s important you and your contractor share a clear understanding of your business goals. Does the contractor you are considering have the same attitude to quality and safety standards? Are they people who dot all of the i’s and cross all of the t’s as opposed to short cuts? Of course, the latter is something you’re not going to find on their website, so take a look at the projects they have worked on in the past and get in touch with some of those clients, developers or investors. What was their experience of working with this contractor? Have they worked with them before? And has the experience from one project to the next been consistent? As with any other aspect of your business, you’re going to want to find out more about someone before you consider working with them.

Your contractor must be tooled up for great communication

Strong communication is the lifeblood of any relationship and project. Bad communication, on the other hand, will be the root of most problems should they arise, causing delays and impacting your budget. So, in the “feeling out” stage of the process with a potential fit-out contractor, ask them about their communication practices and what tools they use to support fast, reliable, transparent sharing of information. For example, do they employ:

Common Data Environment (CDE): This digital platform ensures that all parties involved in a project are working from the same data, reducing discrepancies, confusion and miscommunication. It acts as a central repository for all project data, including drawings, 3D models, contracts, reports, specifications, schedules, and other documentation. This will make it easier for you to track project progress and ensure construction projects are being completed on time and within budget.

Building Information Modelling (BIM): This will create a 3D model of your building with detailed information on its components, materials, and systems. It enables the building to be fit out in a virtual environment, simulating how different options will play out, reducing errors, improving accuracy, and helping to identify potential safety hazards before any work begins.

Building trust and transparency

While the digital platforms outlined above offer you, as a property owner and investor, a clearer picture of how your project is progressing, these should be used in conjunction with ongoing face-to-face communication and conversation.

Regular meetings: These will provide an opportunity for the contractor to discuss project progress, address concerns, and plan for upcoming tasks. Regular meetings also help to ensure that everyone involved in the project, including you most importantly, is working towards the same goals.

Checklists and updates: A key element in a contractor’s chain of communication with you, all stakeholders should be provided with accurate and timely updates, such as checklists and quality audits, to stay on top of any challenges or issues as they arise. A lack of transparency will very likely lead to mistrust and a breakdown in communication.

Reliability and processes

Find out as much as you can about a potential fit-out contractor’s processes. It would be great if everyone in the industry were reliable and trustworthy enough to follow through on all of the things they promised. But much better for everyone when the contractor has a strict methodology that includes drawing up schedules and timing plans for every stage of the project and making themselves accountable. The same should go for quotes and estimates, with the contractor providing descriptions of everything in great detail, covering what is and is not in the scope of work.

Certifications and accreditations

It’s so important you confirm your fit-out contractor is licenced and accredited by relevant industry bodies. It’s also vital they provide you with proof that they are fully insured and that their safety certifications are in order and up to date. Should a safety-related incident take place on your project, this will help to protect your investment.

Experience that fuels new ideas

There is a balance to be struck between the years of experience a fit-out contractor has and their flexibility and adaptability. Technology, processes, and materials are constantly changing, so ideally a real estate investor with an eye on the bigger picture and the future should look to work with a contractor who, rather than being set in their ways, is open to new ideas and ways of working.

Here is a good example of what experience that fuels new ideas can do for your project with Built Interiors:

This openness is a two-way street. Finding a contractor who will take on board your ideas is one thing, but one that you can trust to challenge your thinking and make those ideas even better (and your investment even greater) is worth their weight in gold-plated bricks.

Build a long-term relationship with Built Interiors

When you’re looking for a fit-out contractor, you want one who understands all of the intricacies and logistical challenges. Built Interiors has years of experience and expertise in the refurbishment and fit-out of buildings, both occupied and unoccupied. If you’d like to find out more about some of the iconic fit-outs we have completed and the loyal relationships we have developed with many of Ireland’s professional construction consultants, landlords and tenants in the office and retail sectors, get in touch with us to discuss your next project today.

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