The Real Estate Developer’s Guide to Minimizing Stress and Surprises

I often hear the same chief complaints from frustrated real estate developers - their project is over-budget and behind schedule. Can you relate? In my 25 years of commercial construction experience, I have seen firsthand how early general contractor involvement can alleviate this type of stress for developers.

Specifically, there are four primary benefits to embracing a general contractor during the project concept stage.

1. Budget.

Qualified general contractors are able to develop a reliable and accurate budget before comprehensive drawings are available. Establishing a budget early minimizes the risk of being over-budget at any point during the project. A general contractor can ensure that the architect and engineers stay in-budget when developing the construction drawings, for example. If the developer waits until after the drawings are completed to involve a GC, there is a greater chance they will have to spend money on a lengthy value engineering process. These costly revisions, more often than not, greatly outweigh the financial benefits of a competitive GC bid process.

2. Schedule.

Similar to being able to keep a project in-budget, a general contractor can also help a project stay on-schedule. As we all know, delayed project deliveries can be extremely costly for the developer. A general contractor is able to develop a detailed schedule that assigns a time frame to every step in the process – from permitting and coordination of public utilities, to procurement and construction activities. The schedule holds the project team accountable during preconstruction.

3. Project Team.

A collaborative team is essential to a successful project. Allowing a general contractor to join the architect and engineers during the design stage eliminates confusion and wasted effort. The project team can work together to develop the appropriate type of construction and set expectations from the beginning. A general contractor can be instrumental in avoiding future constructability problems by catching them in the design process.

4. Creative Solutions.

In recent years, site work and storm water management regulations (in particular) have become increasingly expensive for developers. When brought into the project early, an experienced general contractor is able to reduce costs by offering creative solutions. For example, a GC can work with the civil engineers to repurpose site materials / dirt on a job site. This reduces the need to import or export soil on the site, saving the owner money. A general contractor can also actively look for value engineering opportunities. Simply suggesting a different retaining wall or minimizing the amount of bio-retention facilities can save the developer a significant amount of money.

Chesapeake Contracting Group offers consistent executive involvement from project concept to completion. We encourage developers to consult with us early to minimize surprises and ensure a successful project.


Frank A. Settleman
Executive Vice President
Chesapeake Contracting Group

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