Questions to Ask When Vetting a Commercial General Contractor

Commercial general contractors expect a vetting and discovery process before signing any new projects. You need to gather as much information as possible to make an informed decision. But beyond the basic company history and project history, what do you need to know? 

Below is our list of critical questions to ask any commercial general contractor before narrowing down your search.

Questions to Ask a General Commercial Contractor

What similar projects have you worked on?

You want to know not only what experience they have with similar construction and/or remodeling, but also if those projects were successful. You should ask if they were completed on time and within budget.

What level of insurance coverage do you currently carry?

Of course, the commercial general contractor you choose needs to be bonded & insured. However, it’s important to take that one step further and ensure they have enough insurance to cover the needs of the job. Some contractors could be under-insured and cause more damage than they are insured for.

Do you have site supervisors?

You want to be sure you will have main point of contact on site that is employed by the commercial general contractor you hire.

What do you rely on subcontractors for?

Most commercial general contractor companies do use subcontractors so it’s important to find out up front what exactly they use them for and what capabilities they have in-house. Typically, you don’t want a management only firm that has.

Is there any type of guarantee around project deadlines?

What you really want to know is how often projects are completed on time. Oftentimes a commercial general contractor will build in guarantees and/or potential penalties if the project runs over the allotted timeframe for specific reasons. The important component to this question is to get any guarantees or penalties in writing in the final contract.

What is your payment schedule?

It’s important to be frank when talking about money, especially early in the process. These details matter and knowing when payments are due, what the payment terms are, and how much everything will cost ensures everyone is on the same page from the beginning.

What’s the likelihood of having change orders after the scope of work is defined?

Oftentimes change orders are necessary; there can be unforeseen circumstances with just about any project. But it can be helpful to get an idea of how often this happens and what the likelihood is for your specific project. As an extension of that, you should also ask what the process is for possible change orders. How will these be communicated and handled?

On average, how many projects do you work on concurrently?

You want to get an idea of how busy or spread thin the commercial general contractor ,may be during the course of your project. This ties back to timeliness and the likelihood the project will be complete on time.

Ask for references and check them!

Last but certainly not least, always ask for references and take the time to follow up on them. By checking references, you can not only get an idea of the variety of work the commercial contractor does, but also the quality of work.

How to Select a Commercial General Contractor

What is the first step to hiring a commercial general contractor? Typing “commercial contractors” into Google will return a number of options, but how do you narrow that list down and qualify each contractor? It’s important to find the right contractor for your project.

What is a Commercial General Contractor?

Before discussing how to select a commercial general contractor, it’s important to understand what one is exactly. A commercial general contractor works to complete commercial construction projects, as opposed to residential. It is typically a business entity, rather than an individual, and they are responsible for planning the construction from beginning to end. They are typically selected through a bidding process where the lowest bid from the most reputable company is awarded the project.

Define Project Scope & Priorities

The first step in selecting a commercial general contractor for your project is identifying what you need in terms of construction or renovation. Some key questions to ask include:

  • What are your goals for the project?
  • What is your budget for the project?
  • What is the desired schedule for the project?

A well-defined plan sets the tone for success, so it’s important to have the scope and goals of your project well defined.

Sending the Project Out for Bid

Once that’s complete, the next step is to send the project out for bid and request proposals or estimates from qualified, licensed commercial contractors. The contractors will review your project to create their bid, which is a project plan that details timelines and estimated costs. Upon reviewing bids it’s important to ensure that each bid includes all of the requested components and details anything that is excluded. Also, look for “Add Alternates” and/or “Upgrades” when it comes to materials, as these are potential causes for increased cost.

Selecting Your Commercial General Contractor

When narrowing down the list of bids you should take into consideration pricing, communication processes, level of detail, quality of work, proposed timeline, and company reputation. You should not choose your commercial general contractor based solely on price. Communication is paramount for a successful construction project and you want to select a general contractor that will be clear and transparent every step of the way.

You should also evaluate the payment terms to ensure there is a schedule of values and associated costs detailed in conjunction with the timeline. A progressive payment schedule allows you to make payments as certain milestones are completed. Lastly, in addition to the timeline, there should be a completion date or substantial completion date that is clearly stated in the contract.

Additional Tips

Be sure to start early. This can be a time consuming and taxing process and you do not want to make the wrong selection based on timeline constraints alone.

Pay attention to word of mouth referrals. Oftentimes a referral can tell you more about the quality of work than anything else. Also, ask for references and check them. If the general contractor does great work they will be more than happy to provide referrals from previous, happy clients.

You can also get information about companies in your area from trade groups like the Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc. or The Associated General Contractors of America.

The Ultimate Goal

The ultimate goal for any commercial construction project is to find a reputable company that provides quality work, in the defined timeline. Remember, the company you choose for your commercial general contractor will be your business partner, so choose the company that is a fit for your project and has the qualities you’re looking for.

General Contractor vs. Construction Manager

General Contractor vs. Construction Manager

Understanding the Difference Between a General Contractor and a Construction Manager

Whether you’re researching for a new project or looking to get into the construction field, understanding the ins and outs of all potential roles can get complicated. Construction projects don’t just get designed and built overnight, and sometimes there can be hundreds of people involved that bring a construction project to life.

The lines between General Contractor and Construction Manager can seem especially blurry because both are involved in coordinating a construction project, and sometimes a General Contractor can also serve as a Construction Manager. Even though that can be some overlap, we’ll break down the difference in each role so you can be prepared and fully understand if you’re looking for a General Contractor or Construction Manager.

General Contractor vs. Construction Manager

General ContractorConstruction Manager
Business entityIndividual
Hired through bidding processHired based on experience and credentials
Begins work after design processInvolved in pre-design phase
Builds entire project from beginning to completionOversees project from pre-design to completion
On job site physically construction entire projectNot involved directly on the job site

The key difference between a General Contractor (GC) and a Construction Manager (CM) is that a GC will be a business entity, and a CM will be an individual. GCs are going to be hired as a 3rd party through a bidding process to manage the construction of a predetermined design, while a CM will work on behalf of the company owner and be hired based on qualifications to work on a project from design to completion.

While both are important to a successful construction project, it’s easiest to understand the differentiations by taking a look at each role.

What is a General Contractor (GC)?

What is a General Contractor

A GC will be hired on to a project through a bidding process, where generally the lowest bid from the most reputable, trusted company would win the project. The GC will be working to complete a project within the projected bid, but if the project costs go over the estimate the company owner that hired the GC is completely responsible. This is why it’s vital to work with a trusted GC that you know will give you an honest estimate and work to stay within budget and time constraints. Conversely, if a project is completed ahead of schedule and under budget, the GC will generate a profit from the project, creating an atmosphere where both the GC and project owner need to have competitive pricing to work together.

While a GC isn’t involved in the pre-design process, they are still responsible for planning the project construction from beginning to completion. The General Contractor will approve and hire any necessary subcontractors or additional personnel required for the project, which is why a GC is typically a business entity and not an individual person. A full General Contracting company will have an entire network of specialists and subcontractors required to complete a construction project, and will work to ensure the right people are placed on the project to get the job done.

 What is a Construction Manager (CM)?

What is a Construction Manager

A CM will be hired by the business owner through a process of evaluating experience and credentials. A CM is going to work based off predetermined fee, and a CMs fee will not change if a project goes over the projected cost or finishes early. Since a CM doesn’t need a design to craft a bid, they can be involved in the pre-design process and ensure the project is built out in accordance to the initial design. Because the CM isn’t “bidding” on a project, they are hired by the business owner because of their background and qualifications.

A CM isn’t going to be directly involved on the job site. Instead, they act as a project manager and oversee the entire construction process as a whole. While a CM is typically going to be one person, there are cases where a group of individuals will work together as one entity, typically involving a group of estimators, project managers and accountants.

Do You Need Both?

Whether you need a CM on a project is completely dependent on the project itself. In many cases when you’re working with a trusted partner, the GC can take on any important roles the CM would take. In some large projects, you will want a trusted CM to ensure the designs and plan for your project and being carried out correctly. It all depends on the size of your project and your individual needs.

Want to discuss an upcoming project with our team? At Green Heart Enterprises, we have an extensive project management team and seasoned general contractors that specialize in commercial construction and renovation projects. Contact us to tell us about your project to see if we can help today.

Green Heart Enterprises Wins Corporate Real Estate Supplier of the Year Award during the Delta Air Lines Star Awards

Green Heart Enterprises is proud to announce that we were selected as the 2017 Supplier of the Year at the Delta 18th annual Star Awards. From the Sky Club at Hartsfield to the Delta campus, Green Heart has partnered with Delta over the years on several projects including the Delta Sky Club Greet Wall and a conference room at Delta HQ. According to Delta, the winner works to save Delta time and money by providing quality work within reasonable time estimates.


The Delta Air Lines Star Awards is a prestigious recognition for the top performing small and diverse-owned supplier partners who demonstrate excellence in business operations and service to Delta.

The Corporate Real Estate Supplier of the Year demonstrates supplier excellence in cost reductions/savings, quality and reliability, innovation, delivery, relationship management, and community outreach.

We are honored to receive such a prestigious award from the Delta team. Our mission at Green Heart Enterprises is to deliver a quality project for a fair price, meet or exceed the expectations of our customers, and show our passion for what we do by helping our customers improve their facilities, and the Delta Supplier of the Year award is further evidence that we’re honoring our mission through our Delta projects and beyond.

American Heart Association Benefit

In the past we've participated in a benefit for the American Heart Association sponsored by Delta. The event is a sporting clays, shooting competition and takes place at Fox Hall in Douglasville, GA. We sponsored 2 teams, our teams did not win the event but we had a blast! And more importantly, they raised somewhere around $70k for the AHA. Check out the group and our award below!

Delta Sky Club Greet Wall

If you need a place to kick back and have a snack or a beverage before your next flight, we can vouch for the Delta Sky Club at Gate D12. How do we know? Well we've spent a good amount of time there over the past few weeks building their "Greet wall"! It's the sleek and welcoming wall behind the greeting desk, hence the name Greet Wall. Check out the pictures below for some during and completed shots. 

Mission: Possible

A few months back we started having some conversations about what is really important to us here at Green Heart. A lot of similar themes kept coming up and we decided to use these ideas as guidelines for running our business. So we created a mission statement, a list of core values, and a vision of how we want to operate moving forward.  We believe so strongly in these themes that we put them on the wall in our office, and added a new page to the website here. Let us know what you think!

We're Hiring: Project Coordinator

We have a job opening for a Project Coordinator:

Project Coordinator Job Description: We are looking for someone to join our growing team that is a self starter and works well with a team. Pay is a salary based on experience, plus bonus. The Project Coordinator will be working with our staff of Project Managers on assigned projects that are fast-paced with deadlines. The majority of projects are at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

Some of the duties:





Job Costing and Tracking

Change Orders

Material Orders


Assist on projects with Project Manager going to meetings, and site visits


Education: College Degree or Equivalent Experience

Computer Programs: Excel, Project, Outlook, Blue Beam

Experience: 5 years

If interested, please email your resume with a cover letter to

Our 11 Alive Buildout Wins Awards!

A few months ago we completed a build out of the 11 Alive retail store in Concourse B at Hartsfield-Jackson here in Atlanta. We are very proud of the work considering the challenges we faced from a timing and logistical perspective. As it turns out, other people like it too! We won a First Place 2016 Build Georgia Award, a Best Sustainable Building Practices Merit Award, and were mentioned in Atlanta Business Chronicle for outstanding achievement! A big thanks to our team that worked on the project and to all those who voted!

We've Been Busy!

It's true! We've completed a couple of big projects recently at the airport here in Atlanta. Our renovation of the maintenance facilities turned out great! The new offices, conference room and kitchen are something we're very proud of and hopefully will make that group a little more comfortable in their space. And you know those long ramps you walk down to get on a plane? We gave one of those bad boys a new coat of "awesome"! Check out some of the pics below to get a better idea of the work.

We'd also like to give a quick congrats to Anthony Giacobello, Daniel Lawrence, Phillip Allision, Stephen McCutchen, and William Finney. These guys were each awarded The Ron Amerson Certificate of Commendation for Safety Excellence by the AGC of Georgia for "No Lost Time Accidents in 2015". Thanks for all your great work guys!

The Three Most Common Problems We Face as General Contractors

Here at GreenHeart, we like to notice patterns. It helps us know what to expect when getting down to work. We're not reinventing the wheel here, every good business does their own version of this. It's just a good practice to make things run more smoothly and efficiently.

With that in mind, we'd like to share a few common things that we face on every project that we have to be great at. Success in the following three areas means we do a better job and our clients are happy with our work.

1. Scope of Work

Planning is critical for us. Before any project begins we talk with our clients about everything that goes into successfully completing their project. Anything from budget and deadlines to incremental goals and setting expectations for everyone involved. Once the Scope of Work is agreed upon, everyone is on the same page. This is a pretty intensive and detailed process but it is such an important step in achieving success.

2. Finding the Right People

Every project is different. So finding the right people for a particular project can be a challenge. A great skill set and the ability to work well as part of a team are crucial. We only work with the best, and good people are in high demand. Luckily our team have years of experience and a wide network of great sub-contractors. So when we find a great person or team, we try to keep 'em around!

3. Punch List

As we approach the end of a project we create a "Punch List" which is basically a list of things that need to be finished or corrected in order to meet the standards of the contract. This list can be tedious and often requires a third party, like an architect or engineer, to help create and verify completion of the Punch List. 

The name comes from a time in the past when a hole was actually punched in the list signifying completion. Today we have smart phones and laptops, so maybe we should call it a "Click List". Get it, you guys? Because we click instead..? Ok. 


5 Things to Look for in a General Contractor

Finding a contractor can be a daunting task. The stresses of your project and the worries of working with someone you trust are big issues that can be difficult to address. We have put together a little list of specific things you should look for, and ask about, when trying to find a general contractor. 

1. Finishing the Job on Time

Meeting deadlines is often one of the most important things a client is looking for. A good contractor will be able to provide examples and references to projects of all sizes that they have completed on time. Make it clear, not just the date you'd like the project finished but the reasons that date is important for you. That will make it important to your contractor too.

2. Staying On Budget

Experienced planning and efficiently solving problems are two big factors to staying within the budget of a project. Ask around to see if a contractor has experience in the type of project you're looking to complete, and ask how they handle problems when they come up. Especially relating to your budget.

3. Communicating with the Client

The last thing you want is to be left in the dark by your contractor. Find someone you trust and set expectations for communication up front. And be specific. If you hate email and love text messages, make sure the team you hire knows that. It'll make everything a move a little smoother.

4. Solving Problems on the Fly

Problems come up on every project. Some are big, some are small but they always happen. Knowing your contractor can identify a problem, then ideate and execute a solution quickly will help you rest easy. Especially when it come to the finishing the project in the parameters of your project's goals.

5. Does Quality Work That's Specific to What You Need

This might seem obvious but it's worth mentioning and researching. Just because a contractor has the cheapest price or a big client that everyone has heard of doesn't mean they're the best for your job. Ask questions, do research, and find the contractor that's right for you.

If you have any questions at all regarding your project, please feel free to contact us anytime at 404.669.0250 . 


UPDATE: Hartsfield-Jackson Airport Seating Project

A few weeks ago we showed you a video of how some of our Zoeftig seats for the airport in Atlanta were being assembled and shipped for installation. Now we have a few updated photos of the seats in place and in use! We have to say, they're pretty sharp! Also, no more crowding around those two outlets to charge your phone before boarding a plane. Notice each seat now has it's own power outlet. Simple, elegant, useful solutions! Yes, please.

Donuts with Dad!

A few days ago, our Construction Manager Pat got to hang out at school with his son Murphy for "Donuts with Dad". It's a neat thing some schools do that allows parents to spend a little more time around their children, other classmates and the school staff. 

While there, Murphy drew this picture of Pat which makes us very happy for a couple of reasons. First, it makes Pat look like he has a giant, pumpkin head, (which he doesn't, but it's still funny) and second, the fact that Murphy pictures his dad at work with a smile on his face. That says a couple of things about Green Heart and the culture we try to maintain:

  1. We enjoy what we do. Solving problems for our clients and helping make their businesses better is what keeps us going. 
  2. We like being around each other. When we need to get down to business, we do it. But we're also up for a good joke or a heart to heart talk. (It's also pretty great when someone brings in biscuits and coffee for breakfast)

So while Pat may not have a giant, pumpkin head or an extremely angular nose, that drawing is pretty spot-on in it's own way, and we like it : ]