During my 35 years in the construction industry—mostly in commercial construction—I’ve often been asked, “How difficult is commercial construction?” and “How do I get started in that side of the business?” Usually, these questions are asked by experienced residential contractors who are looking to expand their businesses. As I answer their questions, I’ve seen a variety of reactions. Some contractors become excited, while others express no interest.
Most residential contractors are very smart. They understand what plumb, straight, and true are. Their math abilities show well when cutting a set of stairs or a roof. They have to make sure the roof loads on a three-story are carried down to the foundation walls. Having the foresight to install the needed backing in the walls before drywall is also part of the job.
That is why commercial construction can come naturally to residential contractors. But, like any new adventure, seeking out a mentor who can provide advice and guidance is very important.
If you are a residential contractor who is contemplating going into commercial construction, here are 10 suggestions you should consider.
Commercial construction can be very profitable for a contractor. In my experience, general contractors who started out as subcontractors tend to self-perform more of the work on projects, which gives the general contractor more control of the job, less risk, and greater profits. Maybe that’s why some residential contractors get so excited when they hear about the opportunities in commercial construction.
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