Deck Builder Digest: What to Expect with Large Deck Projects!

Massive projects such as the Secrets Resort in Jamaica can be a challenge.

Massive commercial projects such as the Secrets Resort in Jamaica can be a challenge.

What is Better For Business, Large Deck Projects or Small?

If you want to have a business that flourishes, offering specialized services that your competitors cannot offer is key. So, if you’re a contractor who specializes in deck building, remember there is less competition when bidding on large projects than small ones.  If you settle for bidding on smaller projects, not only will you be faced with the challenges of setting yourself apart, you will also have A LOT more headaches. You will have to juggle multiple projects at once, pull permits, generate HOA letters and material takeoffs, order dumpsters and portable toilets for each job. If you are doing fifty small jobs a year, this is a process that seems never ending!

On the other hand, large projects usually offer substantially higher revenue, which in turn means fewer jobs to reach your gross annual margin! Also, you are not forced to deal with as many permits, HOA letters, or moving from jobsite to jobsite!  It’s important to be aware that though large projects offer more money, less hassle with paperwork, and less mobilization chores, there is always risk. Smaller projects are usually easier to gauge how much the materials and project will cost, etc. Whereas large deck projects can have unexpected cost overruns, unexpected liability costs due to slips and falls, and eroded profits. So, it is vital to bid each job correctly to ensure you will have a great year and hit your yearly goals!

Always Remember to be Cautious!

It is better to bid a job a little too high than too low; making this mistake one too many times could cost your business! Keep in mind things that can effect the process of building and require special needs. For instance, projects that are on steep hills can slow framing installation, so add extra time into the estimate to cover it. Make sure to plan and coordinate with your subs, crew, etc. to ensure that everyone has a pleasant experience on every project you do!

Commercial Project Tips

Commercial jobs are a different animal compared to residential ones. Here are some things you must be aware of when working on commercial jobs:

  • Bonds may be required per job so be aware of any requirements before any bid submission.
  • You could be responsible for posting a performance bond to guarantee your expected performance to the customer.
  • Be prepared to provide electric, materials and crews on site.
  • Be current with all OSHA regulations.
  • Commercial decks are governed by the International Building Code, therefore live loads, rail heights and stair rising do not all run the same. Make sure all requirements are specified in plans to ensure you meet code.
  • Pay attention to all bid packages to ensure that you are fully aware of all responsibilities.
  • Don’t be afraid to suggest changes! Offering up more cost effective options or changes can be music to the customer’s ears!
  • On commercial projects, your bank may open a line of credit for you, or vendors. This line may also allow you to have delayed payments, as often times you do not receive any payment for 30-60 days.

Having these tips in mind will help you prepare for larger jobs. Remember that even though you are growing your business, don’t forget about your foundation, smaller residential jobs. These are important; so make sure you balance your production and keep your commitment to all contracts.

Building Relationships

When working on commercial projects, you will have more supervision than required for residential jobs. Building relationships with the construction manager and superintendent can help build your business. Always make sure to schedule a meeting with the project manager with each job, if one is not already scheduled for you. Understanding what is expected of you and your crew is essential. Remember that these relationships can give you the opportunity to work on future jobs with these supervisors because if they enjoyed working with you, they will refer you and your company for future jobs.

Thinking BIG!

When growing your business and venturing into large, demanding projects, you might find it easier to start with projects that are larger versions of what you currently are building. From there you can grow into the deck builder you have always aspired to be! Always remember that caution and precision is the key to taking your company to the next level!

Have you worked on a larger deck project and had problems? What was the solution and outcome? Tell us your story and comment below! Follow us on LinkedIn or Google+ for more ways to grow your business!

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