Commercial construction projects are for the building of business structures used as offices, retail centers, industrial buildings, and warehouses. Business owners and developers hire building contractors to build a new structure or remodel an existing one to either occupy or sell.

A commercial construction project can be an exciting and rewarding experience or it can spiral hopelessly out of control. Construction mistakes aren’t only time-consuming, they can cause a project to go seriously over budget. Even with meticulous planning, unforeseen problems can and do occur. Being unprepared can set the whole thing off schedule while draining construction funds.

Here is a list of the five costliest mistakes you can make during a commercial construction project and how best to avoid them.

1. Failing to Review Permitting Requirements Before Construction Begins

You must educate yourself about permitting requirements in your area before you break ground on construction. There is no way around the rules, and trying to avoid them will only result in sorrow. Learn what you need to do to get permission to build on your site and pay all applicable fees. Failing to do so can cause you to witness your construction and all the money related to the project, thus far being taken down before your eyes.

Building permit applications can usually be submitted in person in the Building Department at City Hall or online in many municipalities. For unincorporated areas, consult your local county for information on how to proceed. You must provide necessary information about the property and a description of the work to be completed. Proof of ownership, building plans, and contact information for all professionals involved in construction may be required to process the application.

2. Inadequate Budgeting

There is nothing worse than running out of money in the middle of a commercial construction project. Underestimating the construction cost means your business will lose money because your doors will remain closed that much longer.

A realistic budget will not only allow for construction issues to be adequately handled, but it will also provide wiggle room if faced with what could become expensive repairs on an existing structure. If you fail to add in money to cover unexpected costs, the whole project could come to a sudden halt. By planning, you avoid the stress of going off schedule and may even end up with money left over post-construction. 10% contingency in the budget should be enough to cover unexpected expenses.

3. Setting Unrealistic Timelines

A generous schedule is a necessity for any construction project. Adequate time must be allowed for all stages of the project: pre-construction, construction, and post-production. Before construction begins, be sure to secure all permits and licenses. This process can take time based on previous improvements, or even the lack thereof. The project team must allow for delays due to unforeseen circumstances like late deliveries, weather conditions, and other changes that will surely need to be made. Post-construction activities include clean-up, landscaping, and follow-up repairs.

An overly ambitious timeline can turn a construction project into a nightmare. Of course, you want the construction completed as soon as possible, but pushing the contractor to cut the timeline may result in corners being cut and avoidable errors. Finally, be sure to allow time for plan revisions as these are a natural part of a project lifecycle.

4. Expecting Your Contractor to Read Your Mind

Open and honest communication is essential throughout a construction project. If the contractor isn’t clear about what you expect, you may wind up spending more money than planned to get things the way you originally envisioned. A lack of communication wastes the contractor’s time and yours.

Sit down with all parties involved before construction begins. Decide when and how you will communicate throughout the project and hold everyone accountable. Communicating regularly with your point of contact provides you with status updates and minimizes unwelcome surprises like a sudden need to go over budget. If you wait until construction is nearly complete, you may find it impossible or very expensive to make changes.

5. Not Hiring Experienced Contractors

Resorting to inexperienced contractors in the effort to keep costs down is always a bad idea. Contractors who have not received the proper training required for licensing can cause costly mistakes. You could wind up paying double for your project simply because you’ll eventually have to hire someone with experience to make necessary repairs before construction can resume and reach completion.

Experienced contractors save headaches, money, and reduce the risk of mistakes in the first place. They are properly insured and have established relationships with skilled workers, suppliers, and subcontractors. A commercial contractor with a demonstrated history of success will not only produce a higher quality product but will save you money on your commercial project in the long run.