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Before You Start a Project

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There/'s a lot of pressure to get a project started once the owner and contractor reach agreement in principle, but first be sure all the i/'s are dotted and t/'s crossed. Requirements vary from job to job, but here is a basic list of some contractor must-haves for small to medium-size projects. Most are obvious and general, but it is good to use a checklist. Of course you must customize your checklist to take into account the requirements of the project at hand.

Be sure you have:

  • All necessary permits, entitlements and approvals (including right-of-way, development, land disturbance, environmental, building, etc.)
  • Final contract documents executed by all parties
  • Confirmation that the owner/'s financing for payment to the contractor is in place
  • Contractor bonding, banking and other financial arrangements in place
  • Major supplier agreements in place
  • Long-lead-time materials and equipment arrangements complete
  • Satisfaction that environmental studies were performed and show no indication of contamination (usually arranged by the project owner but equally important to the contractor)
  • Registration with the local secretary of state
  • Professional contractor/'s license where required
  • Local business license
  • Subcontractor agreements in place
  • Formal Notice to Proceed from the owner if required
  • Insurance coverage including builder/'s risk, commercial general liability, worker/'s compensation, and other insurance required by the construction agreement and as otherwise prudent
  • Verification that the owner has in place all insurance he/'s required to provide, that your company is named as Additional Named Insured on his policies, and that all parties have waived subrogation rights
  • Copy of the policies of all other parties/' insurance coverage that affects you
  • Your firm shown as Additional Named Insured on all subcontractor policies
  • Subcontracts signed and delivered
  • Insurance certificates from all subcontractors before they begin field work on the project
  • Location and flagging of underground utilities by the local Call Before You Dig center
  • Project boundaries clearly shown onsite

The author of this article, Nick Ganaway, was a successful general contractor for 25 years. He is a consultant in Atlanta, Georgia for contractors and other small business owners. Nick has described how to set up and manage a construction business that is profitable, enjoyable, and enduring in his book Construction Business Management: What Every Construction Contractor, Builder & Subcontractor Needs to Know.

by Nick Ganaway last update:Oct 4, 2010

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