General contractors are professionals who oversee and manage construction projects from start to finish. Their primary role is to coordinate and supervise all aspects of the construction process, ensuring that the project is completed on time, within budget, and according to the desired specifications. Here are some of the key responsibilities and tasks of general contractors:

  1. Cost: General contractors prepare fixed-cost bids and proposals for the entire project, including labor, materials, permits, and other expenses. They work with the client to establish a budget and monitor expenses throughout the construction process.
  2. Scheduling: General contractors collaborate with clients, architects, and engineers to understand the project requirements, objectives, and budget. They help in developing a comprehensive schedule that outlines the overall project timeline, critical path, and
    workflows needed to deliver the project on the stipulated timeframe.
  3. Subcontractor Management: General contractors hire and manage subcontractors such as electricians, plumbers, carpenters, and other specialized tradespeople. They ensure that subcontractors are qualified, properly licensed, and adhere to safety regulations.
  4. Procurement and Material Management: General contractors are responsible for procuring and managing the necessary materials, equipment, and supplies required for the construction project. They coordinate deliveries, track inventory, and ensure that materials meet the required standards.
  5. Construction Supervision: General contractors oversee the construction site, ensuring that work is progressing according to the plan. They manage logistics, resolve issues, and address any changes or challenges that arise during construction. They also monitor quality control and perform inspections to ensure work meets the required standards.
  6. Communication and Documentation: General contractors serve as the main point of contact for clients, architects, subcontractors, and other stakeholders. They facilitate communication, provide regular updates on project progress, and maintain comprehensive documentation, including contracts, change orders, and construction reports.
  7. Risk Management: General contractors identify potential risks and implement strategies to mitigate them. They prioritize safety on the construction site, enforce safety protocols, and ensure compliance with occupational health and safety regulations.
  8. Legal Compliance: General contractors ensure that the construction project complies with all relevant laws, codes, and regulations. They handle permits, inspections, and any necessary approvals to keep the project in legal compliance throughout its duration.

Overall, general contractors play a crucial role in coordinating and managing all aspects of a construction project, ensuring its successful completion while meeting the client’s requirements and expectations.



If your project is in need of a General Contractor, Contour Construction has the knowledge and expertise to successfully build your destination. Call now to get started! 240.405.0123

8 Key Responsibilities of a General Contractor Read More »

Let’s face it – if you knew how to design and build your construction project, you probably wouldn’t be reading this right now. Maybe you own a food truck and are looking to open your first brick-and-mortar. Maybe you own five fitness centers, and you are looking to rapidly expand 10 more. Maybe you’re a developer and need a new in-line shopping center shell built. Whatever your situation, you’re not the contractor and that’s why you landed on this page!Construction is our area of expertise and we know the Pre-Construction phase is the most critical yet most overlooked phase of a construction project.


What is Pre-Construction?

The pre-construction phase entails developing a project strategy, designing the project or design assisting, obtaining permits, entitlements, and assembling the project team and materials needed for construction. Pre-construction services can give owners a formal method for establishing the budget, scope, and timeline needed to complete the construction on schedule and under budget. Pre-construction is the most critical phase of any construction project. The foundation of the project’s communication and procedure is established during this phase, which also sees the project team become organized and unified in their goal. Without a solid foundation, a construction project can easily sink into chaos, resulting in communication breakdowns, process flaws, and even schedule delays. The most successful construction projects give priority to the pre-construction process.




Better clarity can improve the budgeting process significantly. Pre-construction planning services enable you to set an accurate budget and make adjustments prior to the start of the project. Real-time, precise cost estimation will lead to better financial management and will be beneficial when applying for funding from a bank or stakeholders of the project. Budgeting is more important than ever with the vast fluctuation in material costs, volatility in the Consumer Price Index, supply chain disruptions, and material shortages.


The preliminary schedule primarily acts as a baseline for the client to see when specific phases of the work will start and finish. This will be adjusted as final decisions for the project are made, but it provides the client with a clearer and more realistic idea of the construction schedule. To give a general idea of how long it will take to complete the job, the contractor will estimate the number of days needed to complete each task and attach dependencies to each task so that follow-on is accurately accounted for. There are typically a handful of items or sometimes just one that is identified as “the long pole of the tent,” meaning it is the most important task that many other tasks need to keep the project pressing on.
As with budgeting, the schedule also provides the owner with opportunities to hit their own milestones, whether it be funding, leasing, or re-capitalization in a timely manner to not delay the overall project. This is critical in today’s world where long lead times & design delays have become the norm, not the exception.


Probably the most beneficial aspect of pre-construction planning is its ability to head off problematic circumstances and blind spots that may exist on the project. Whether it’s how to reconfigure the schedule because of discovered product delivery delays or needing to engineer certain aspects of the project for foundational or structural support, heading these issues off before construction begins is critical. This prevents delays in the schedule and funding, as well as puts the construction team on the same page. Often going through this exercise uncovers risk or potential “showstopper,” issues that were never thought about or recognized during early inception which is a win for all parties involved.


Setting up a project team is important to do as early in the project as possible. It’s important to establish the key players based on their experience and expertise. You’ll have Architects, Engineers, Project Executives, Project Managers, Superintendents, and trade partners that all must be brought together to work as a team and make the project a success. You want your team to be invested in the project as early as possible to keep consistent vision, clarity, and communication.



Have a project that you need Pre-Construction services on? Contour Construction has the expertise to kick your project off to the right way. Don’t wait, contact us to day to get your project rolling! #BuildingDestinations

4 Elements of Pre-construction Planning Read More »

You’ve spent years dreaming, researching, learning, drafting business plans, gathering funding, drawing up plans, permitting, interviewing contractors, and making sure everything’s in place for your new construction project. Now, it’s time to sign on the dotted line with that contractor so work can get started.

Before you do, be sure to check the contract you’re signing, so it includes all the important items to protect yourself, your project, and your contractor should anything happen. If any of these items are missing or not favorable, consider renegotiating.

Remember, good contracts make for good projects. Here are the 7 things your contract for commercial contracting services should include, at bare minimum:

The Scope of Work

You can’t have an agreement for work to be done without defining what that work is!

This section outlines exactly what you and your contractors’ responsibilities are for the project, so everyone knows when something is and isn’t within the scope of the contract. This minimizes disputes, delays, confusion and ultimately protects you so you don’t get charged extra for an item that should have been included. Inversely, it protects the contractor from being asked to do extra work for free.

You’d like to think that the initial quote for the work is all that the project will cost, but the reality is you may change your mind on something, want to add an element, or the contractor may uncover a concealed condition after the work starts. Change orders are common on construction projects, and the process should be common as well. Add a clause in the agreement that details how changes are agreed to, as well as the contractor’s hourly personnel rates associated with the project and allowable percentage of markup for overhead, insurance and fee on subcontract costs, equipment, and materials.

A List of Contract Documents

Often referred to as “plans” or “blueprints,” it might seem obvious that your contract documents and specifications are included in your contract. Still, it’s important to record all documents specific to your project. Consider that during the bidding or permitting processes there may have been a few rounds of revisions to plans, addenda, specification clarifications, RFI’s, and more. You want your contract to reflect the most up-to-date data so that everyone involved is working off the correct documentation. Here’s a list of key items you should include:

  • Most recent set of construction drawings
  • Most recent specifications
  • Exhibits – these may include:
    • The final contractor’s bid proposal – with any qualifications, allowances, or unit costs to the bid
    • Insurance or bonding requirements may come from one or a combination of the following: your insurance carrier, financial institution, or landlord if you are leasing the property
    • Payment application
    • Waivers
    • Special Safety Requirements
    • Rules and regulations for construction

A Schedule

No one likes to get all excited to have a project finished only to see the scheduled opening date blown by poorly managed contracting services.

Both you and your contractor have dates that need to be met.

You are relying on your contractor to finish up their portion of the work so you can bring in furniture, merchandisers, staff, and paying customers. Your contractor needs to know the overall deadline by which all this work must be completed and the necessary milestones along the way so they can order supplies, maintain necessary staffing levels, and schedule different phases of your project without delays.

Even if a full bar chart CPM (critical path method) schedule has not yet been developed, a baseline schedule outlining substantial and final completion dates should be included. Your contract should stipulate that the contractor provide a detailed schedule within a specific period of time and must include all the important deadlines for your project, for example:

  • Submittal and materials ordering timelines, including identifying long lead items
  • Mobilization of the physical work
  • Dates different phases of work need to be completed, including critical progress inspections
  • Date for total project completion

The Payment Terms

Along with the payment method, your contract should include due dates for each payment.

Are your invoices due immediately upon receipt, or are they NET 30 from receipt? Does the Architect review the payment applications against the schedule of values to ensure that the cost requested coincides with the work that was completed? What happens if you forget and go past a payment due date? Is there a late fee? Does work stop on your project until your invoice is paid in full or other penalties for loss of financing?

In addition to the numbers, your contract should include how your contractor will be paid, with a standing day of the month that pay apps or invoices are expected to be received. This way, you know how and when your contractor wants to be paid so you can plan accordingly.

Historically, money is the biggest source of contention on a construction project, so this information should be spelled out in your contract in detail so there is no confusion over payments.

Construction Lien Law Protection

In many states, if your contractor doesn’t pay the people they hire. For example, employees, subcontractors, and material vendors – these groups can, within a certain time, put a lien against the property for non-payment.

Liens or even the threat of liens can be costly and difficult to manage. If not properly addressed, liens can result in the property being suspended from refinancing, suspended from a sale, or worse, to satisfy the unpaid debts. This can also cause complexity for future financing.

Your contract should include a stipulation that protects you from liens in exchange for payments. This documentation can reduce or eliminate your risk of being party to lien filings should they arise because of non-payment.

Good contract practice would be to have the contractor provide a list after a set period of all parties providing labor or materials and requiring the contractor to provide lien release affidavits notarized from these parties at each progress and final payment.

License Number

Always work with a licensed contractor to protect yourself.

Your contractor should include their state license number somewhere on the contract, so be sure to look for it. If it isn’t included, find a licensed contractor to do the work, no compromise.

Disputes & Termination

While you don’t want to think about it happening, disputes do sometimes arise during a commercial construction project.

Your contract should include information on how such disputes should be handled, such as whether they should be arbitrated or head straight to court for litigation. If one party doesn’t uphold their end of the contract, such as your contractor refusing to perform contracted work or you failing to pay a bill, the contract can be terminated.

All contracts should contain a section about the process of how disputes should be handled, as well as any information on termination of the contract by one or both parties must be included.

If you have any questions or need assistance drafting your contract, we provide a free initial consultation and expert preconstruction and contracting services to developers, owners, tenants, general contractors, sub-contractors, trades, vendors, and suppliers.

Here are industries best two organizations to obtain information, resources, and standard contract templates for your next project:

Commercial Contracting in Maryland & Beyond

At Contour Construction, we take pride in providing exceptional quality of work paired with above-and-beyond customer service. Whether you need someone to handle one portion of your commercial construction project or the entire process, our team has what you need to get your new venture up and running, on time, and within budget. Contact us today to discuss your project!

What Should Be Included in Your Commercial Contract? Read More »

Commercial construction is a complex process that even those in the industry oftentimes do not fully grasp. Even if it’s been a year or so since your last major project, we see seasoned developers and local and federal government agencies confused in this time due to increasing regulation, material shortages, inflation, supply change disruptions, and a growing labor crisis. If you’re new to commercial construction, the number of questions you have may feel overwhelming.

Here we have gathered a few of the most frequently asked questions about commercial construction and provided answers from the experts!

What Happens in the Pre-Construction Stage, and Why Is It Important?

Many people have heard of the pre-construction stage and how vital it is to the success of a project. But not as many people understand what this stage entails, or why it is so important.

The pre-construction planning stage is a critical opportunity for the client to work together with the contractor, design, engineering teams, and stakeholders to establish an owner’s program, minimize the owner’s risk, and ultimately set the project up for the best chance of success. This stage figures out all the information required to fully understand the scope of the construction with the end in mind and gives an owner the information needed to make the most informed decisions.

Some examples of Pre-Con tasks may include: 

  • Site selection
  • Existing condition assessments
  • Cost analysis
  • Owner risk management
  • Systems design
  • Sustainability
  • Identification of long lead items
  • Site limitations & constraints
  • Overall project budget
  • Schedule
  • Contingencies

Identifying, discussing, and solving issues such as these on a project before any construction work begins will minimize the chance of mistakes or unforeseen expenses, giving you a better-built project and a shorter duration of the build.

How Long Does a Commercial Construction Project Take?

There is no set timeline for every commercial construction project. Depending on the scope of the project, constraints, phasing, and access to the site, the project can take anywhere from a couple of weeks for some cosmetic finishes to years for larger development and complex historic adaptive reuse.

Renovating an established business site is one of the fastest and lowest costs of entry to your construction project, but more often than not, the design & permitting can take longer than the actual construction work, or an important specialty component may take longer to order, manufacture and deliver to the job site than the overall duration to complete the job.

The key is to identify the items that will drive the schedule, commonly known as the “critical path,” and ensure these items are watched, measured, and accounted for as the project progresses. Many times an owner may be presented with alternate materials and methods from the original components chosen, to eliminate lag in the schedule or workflow.

How Can Commercial Construction Be Environmentally Friendly?

These days, creating space is not just about appealing or functional design. The construction process also needs to be environmentally friendly in order to protect our planet and become a healthy environment in which we spend our time.

Many advancements have come in the way of eco-friendly commercial construction practices. One way contractors can be more green is by recycling any reusable parts from the existing space. Structural elements are often reused due to their stable nature, longevity, and high cost.

Selecting sustainable materials that have recycled content and low VOC’s. Bamboo, hemp, and composites are excellent alternatives to wood that may be sourced through non-sustainable forestry practices. When selecting wood products, following guidelines such as those prescribed by the Forest Stewardship Council, ensures harvesting is done in a sustainable manner to protect the planet’s forests.

Locally-sourced materials and products can also be requested. Not only is this good for the environment by reducing transportation and carbon emissions but it also bolsters local economies in the United States often saving you time and money on the project as well, rather than waiting for things to be delivered from overseas.

How Can I Choose the Best Commercial Construction Company for My Business?

Choosing a commercial construction company can seem difficult. We recommend opting for local businesses which put community and professionalism at the heart of their business and have core values that put your best interests first. Finding companies that have excellent reputations and first-class programs is not difficult. Just ask for references, project portfolios, a written technical approach to projects, and a sample schedule, meet them in person, and trust your instincts.

Commercial Contracting Services in Maryland and the Mid-Atlantic Region

If you’re looking for a commercial contractor in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, or Washington, DC, Contour Construction is here to help. We offer expert construction services and are here to be your one-stop shop for your entire project. From the pre-planning stages to the final inspection, we can turn your next vision into a reality. Give us a call or drop us a line to see how we can help.

Want to see some of our latest projects? Click here to see what we’ve been up to lately!

4 Frequently Asked Questions About Commercial Construction Read More »

You’ve got big dreams and the financing to back your new project. Whether opening a restaurant or retail store, finding the right property for your business is essential to getting things off on the right foot. Before moving in, you must navigate the commercial leasing process. If you’ve ever purchased a home, you may think you understand the process. However, commercial leases are more complex and involved than residential real estate transactions and require special considerations. Here’s what you need to know about securing a commercial lease before you sign your name on the dotted line. 

Types of Leases

Before you can negotiate a lease, know that there are different types of leases. There are three main types for commercial properties: percentage, net, and gross. A percentage lease means you pay a base rent amount per month or year, then a percentage of your sales over a certain dollar amount. This type of lease is common for retail spaces. Net leases mean paying the per-square-foot base price plus some or all of the property’s expenses. This could be taxes, insurance, and maintenance. What’s included in the lease varies from property to property. A gross lease includes all fees, including any share of utilities, taxes, and maintenance, within the per-square-foot price.

Find an Experienced Real Estate Broker

Because commercial leases are a different beast than residential real estate transactions, a real estate broker or agent experienced in the commercial leasing process is a must. The right real estate broker can help you find properties that meet your needs and walk you through other considerations, like the zoning process. Interview brokers before you select one to work with to ensure they’re experienced in helping tenants secure leases. The landlord, not the tenant, pays the broker’s fees, so there’s no reason not to hire one. Because their commission is based on the overall cost of the lease when signed, some may try to talk you into the most expensive lease possible. Stick to your plan. Don’t go so far over your budget that you’ll find yourself in a difficult financial position.

Read the Lease

The first copy of the lease will be written mainly in favor of the landlord. This is in hopes that you read and sign without considering the effect its terms and conditions may have on you. In some cases, it may be in your best interest to hire an attorney experienced in commercial leases to negotiate the terms on your behalf. By the end of the negotiation process, your lease should balance the landlord’s needs with the tenant’s, with all parties making concessions here and there.

Negotiate the Lease

Once you’ve read the lease and have an idea of things you’d like to negotiate, it’s time to go back to the landlord to hammer out the details.  Some of the things to negotiate in a commercial lease include:
  • The length of the lease – Shorter-term leases are more favorable for tenants. You can break them faster if you close your business, face financial difficulties, or the space no longer suits your needs. However, having a short-term lease also means you risk losing your space if the landlord decides not to renew it.
  • How rent increases are handled – Many landlords try to work annual increases into your lease based on the consumer price index or another measure. Be sure you fully understand any increased structures before you sign off on a lease.
  • Alterations – Find out who’s responsible for making and paying for maintenance and modifications to the space and what you’re allowed to change. Don’t wait until renovation plans are in place to discover that you can’t add extra walls or change the flooring.
  • Signage – Your customers need to see clearly-branded signs directing them toward your space. Be sure your lease outlines what types of signs are allowed and where they can be located.
  • Sublease clause – If you cannot pay your rent––for going out of business or needing to downsize dramatically––it’s best to have a sublease clause that allows you to rent to someone else who can pay.
  • Exit plan clause – You may need to break your lease, for instance, if you have to move and can’t find someone to sublease to. Try to negotiate the lowest early termination fees possible just in case.
  • Assignability: If you sell your business, you may want to assign your lease to the new owner. Try to negotiate this option into your lease.
  • Co-tenancy: Your business may depend on foot traffic from another tenant in the building. If so, negotiate to add a clause allowing you to break your lease if the other tenant leaves.

Commercial Construction Contractors in MD & VA

Now that you’ve successfully negotiated and signed your commercial lease, you need an experienced, detail-oriented commercial construction contractor to handle your remodel. At Contour Construction, we have years of experience working with commercial clients of all types and sizes, giving them the space they need to make their business a success. From initial project managing to full-scale builds, we know the commercial contracting process inside and out. We’ll get your project done on time and under budget. Schedule your consultation today!

Navigating Your Commercial Lease: A Guide Read More »