From the water we drink and the utilities we consume to the roads we drive and the bridges we traverse, civil construction impacts our everyday lives in a monumental way. While the ins and outs of furnishing these provisions are often taken for granted by the average inhabitant, experts in the civil construction field understand the complexity of planning, building and maintaining such necessities.
Project managers charged with putting a civil construction project into motion have a myriad of concerns to consider, not the least of which is cost. But in terms of carrying out the functions of civil construction, cost should always be weighted by other critical factors that affect the viability and success of the project as a whole. That’s why it’s important to be an informed decision maker when getting down to the business of hiring a civil contractor.
Here’s what you need to know to start equipping yourself with the kind of insight and information that supports a smart selection process.
What’s really involved in civil construction?
Civil construction is a very specific niche in the broader construction field, focusing on the development of an array of vital infrastructure. This includes public entities like highways, bridges, canals, pipelines, sewers, tunnels, airports, rail lines, telecommunications and just about any other feature involving earth, water or transportation.
Experts in this arena work not only to design and engineer civil structures and frameworks, but also to maintain, protect and restore them. Civil construction professionals are tasked with managing plans and operations that span the entirety of a civil project, such as:
- Collaboration with local, state and federal governments
- Location planning and site evaluations
- Development of contracts and cost analyses
- Design of architectural and/or organizational blueprints
- Execution of approval process with applicable authorities
- Material and equipment procurement and handling
- Demolition, excavation, drilling and backfilling
- Implementation of concrete, welding and other construction
- Cleanup and waste disposal
- Adherence to worker and public safety protocol
What considerations are required for success?
As noted, construction companies don’t just build. Yes, a major part of the work revolves around developing and erecting infrastructure. But these companies are also expected to observe crucial considerations like:
- The integrity of existing and natural environments
- Public and ecological impact
- Regulatory constraints
- Human safety
- Efficiency and profitability quotas
With so many vital concerns involved and so much on the line, civil contractors must apply strategic, modern approaches that satisfy the needs of their clients and the overarching public. This means leveraging innovative tools and methods that prioritize essential outcomes in the areas of safety, productivity and conservation.
What are the fundamental characteristics of a quality civil contractor?
Given the implications of hiring a highly competent and well-suited civil contractor for this type of construction project, you want to be certain you’re examining all the most significant areas. Ensure that the following attributes make it to your list of priorities.
Of course, price matters. However, the cheapest installation or product isn’t always the smartest option—or even the most cost efficient when you look at the broader picture. In evaluating a potential civil contractor, get an understanding of their approach to sourcing products and materials. Are they utilizing the lowest grade for the cheapest price? Or are they making quality selections they can stand by with solid guarantees and/or warranties?
Highly Trained Team Members
Civil construction work should be performed only by sufficiently qualified and trained individuals. What level of professional experience does the construction company feature, and what standards do they enforce with both their leadership team and workers? Do they have systems in place to ensure continuous process improvement? Do they provide ongoing training and advancement opportunities?
When entertaining any project agreement, your contractor should be able to provide proof of licenses, insurance and bonding, the typical due diligence. The written contract should also specify scope of work to preclude any hidden agendas. Verify whether each estimate you obtain clearly spells out the contractor’s terms and conditions, as well as all inclusions and exceptions. These types of documents provided early on can help answer your potential questions and prevent unexpected change orders. Detailed documentation is a valuable indicator of the contractor’s transparency, so be sure to ask for it if it’s not automatically offered.
Ultimately, the field of civil construction will always comprise complex challenges and the need for quality workmanship. The infrastructure of our world demands the kind of dedication and care built on strong partnerships and approaches. When you understand this reality and make informed project decisions, you have a major opportunity to achieve tangible success.