If you’re just starting to price your next commercial construction project, you may notice that national contractors sometimes appear to be cheaper than local construction companies. That’s typically because national companies can leverage their size to get better rates on materials, equipment and (sometimes) labor.
However, there’s a lot more to completing a construction project than just economies of scale. Local general contractors bring expertise that can help your next project run smoothly, avoiding problems and delays that lead to major cost overruns.
Let’s take a look at the top 8 advantages of working with a local business when completing your next commercial project.
1. Face-to-Face Communication Solves Problems Faster
Emails and phone calls are fine for solving small problems, but it’s a whole lot easier to have major discussions face-to-face, whether at an office or on-site. Local contractors are able to have in-person meetings so that issues can be resolved quickly and efficiently. This ease of access, in turn, offers peace of mind and allows business owners to avoid the hassle and frustration of miscommunication.
2. Travel Expenses Don’t Need to Be Added to the Budget
When you hire a national construction company, their staff (obviously) needs to get to your construction site. And, all those drives, flights, hotel stays and compensated restaurant meals have to be paid somehow.
These trips are either charged directly or built into the bid. However, when you hire a local contractor, you’re working with people who have a short commute to the construction site and travel expenses are minimal.
3. Local Companies Have References You Can Count On
Written testimonials aren’t always the most reliable source of information. After all, companies are only going to show testimonials that depict their construction services in the best light.
Seeing a contractor’s projects firsthand, and talking with previous customers, makes it easier to evaluate local construction companies before hiring them for your commercial project. You will be able to see a wide range of past work and you can ask questions to previous customers to determine how the company handled problems or issues for past projects.
4. Locals Companies are Familiar with Municipal Regulations, Weather and Other Local Construction Issues
Commercial contractor rates are often higher than those of residential, because prices are driven by the need to comply with more regulations. By hiring a contractor who is used to working with the building codes and regulations in your area, you can avoid costly and time-consuming mistakes.
There are also local factors that derail your project. While a large national contractor will be familiar with federal and workplace regulations, they aren’t likely to know the ins and outs of your municipality’s building codes.
How much will weather interfere with your construction plan? Are there local events that may interfere with moving in equipment and materials? Do subcontractors disappear during hunting season? Local businesses know about these issues ahead of time, and can work around them.
5. Local Construction Companies Offer Increased Design Flexibility
National construction companies tend to focus on specific building types, construction techniques and layouts, working in small variations as needed for each location. They’re large enough that they can focus on these projects because they know they’re easy to complete.
But if you want a design that requires something a little outside the norm to fit the requirements of your business, you may have trouble getting what you want; you’ll either need to find a specialist that can handle your building project, or you’ll need to brace yourself for fewer quotes at a higher cost.
Local construction companies don’t often have the luxury of focusing on a single building method. Instead, they have to be flexible, focusing on a variety of needs. This makes it easier to find a good fit for your project, especially for multi-use buildings that require several construction specialties.
6. Local Construction Companies Have Relationships with Subcontractors
A general contractor hires subcontractors to handle specific aspects of the construction process. These specialists include plumbers, electricians, bricklayers, roofers and more.
A national contractor will likely hire the first available subcontractor to do the job. (This approach often results in getting sub-par work that may need to be replaced or will lead to problems as the building ages.) A local general contractor, by comparison, is familiar with the local talent pool and knows which subcontractors provide high-quality work.
Likewise, subcontractors are more likely to work with someone they know. Fallout from the 2008 recession, shutdowns during the pandemic and rock bottom interest rates have created the perfect storm of high construction demand coupled with a shortage of skilled labor. That means these workers have all the jobs they can schedule, so can be picky about who they work with.
When subcontractors pick up a job with a local contractor, they know what to expect. They don’t need to worry about the working environment, and they know when and how they’ll be paid.
By comparison, working with a national contractor can mean dealing with uncertainty. Is the project scheduled efficiently? Is the work environment safe? Will they be paid in a timely fashion, or will they need to seek litigation?
By forging mutually beneficial relationships with subcontractors, local companies can offer higher quality construction with fewer issues during and after project completion.
7. Small Companies are Held to Higher Standards by the Local Community
Even though the project manager’s bonus may be affected by customer satisfaction surveys, the quality, speed and cost of a project don’t have much effect on the construction company as a whole. The contractor can present themselves using their most successful projects, with little way for the client to get a full picture of their work quality. This allows national contractors to manage projects based on their own interests, not the client’s interests.
A local contractor‘s business, however, is built on its reputation. If they don’t deliver jobsite projects on time and on budget with minimal issues, word gets around fast, and companies won’t hire them. If they don’t treat subcontractors well, they can’t hire the best talent. If their projects run into building code and zoning issues, they’ll get more scrutiny from inspectors.
8. Your Money Stays in the Community
Hiring locally looks good for your company, and it can boost your business. On average, 6 times as much money stays in the local economy when you choose to work with a local business over a national one.
When projects stay local, more tax money goes to local infrastructure, and, on average, the companies involved donate 250% more to local non-profit organizations. This directly improves your business’s reputation and indirectly improves your bottom line.
Start Your Local Contractor Search With Us
When you need a local contractor for your commercial or industrial construction project, start your search with The Builders Association.
We represent over 150 reputable union contractors across eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania, and our members cover every type and size of construction project, from subcontractors that can repair or remodel your building to large firms that can oversee massive projects.