All the work (and in my opinion it should be extensive) you do up front will pay you big dividends to the project’s success. What I mean by this, is if you do your research and due diligence on your team member selection, then you are so far ahead of the curve.
So what if I don't know if that supplier is reliable and trustworthy? You might not have been involved in a construction project before or you might be new to the country. So where do you begin?
I start by asking… speak to trusted relatives, friends, colleagues and associates who’s opinions and judgments you value. If they’re a good judge of character then they are your best place to start. They will know someone however unrelated to what you are looking for. If they don’t know someone directly, they will know someone who might know someone. However, the more steps removed you are, the riskier it naturally gets. It’s always preferable to be only 1 link away, so that their character is hopefully aligned to that of your referrer.
I believe people tend to associate in similar groups, so those who are reliable and trustworthy tend to associate/work alongside people with similar principles.
I have also found that once you have made a good contact and you’re very confident of their abilities etc, they will be able to open many doors for you particularly if they’re in the industry. So for instance, if your architect is good, they will have a large network of professionals they can recommend to work on your project.
Before you know it, bingo – you’re making large leaps and bounds in a short space of time. Having said that, always do your homework on every referral that you engage. This can be anything from visiting their past and current work and also following up on references that is (in my experience) a wise (however tedious) exercise to do. Bearing in mind, they will only naturally give you positive references, but there might be something the referee says that affects your view positively or negatively – so definitely worth doing.
I want to say one caveat about the above, do not hold your referrers to account if the relationship between your new supplier should go awry once you’re working in the project. I say this because in my opinion, the onus always remains on you to do your homework on them and be 100% convinced that they are the right person for your team. They might have been great for your referrer, but for one reason or another, they might not have been a good fit for you.
Trade magazines can also be helpful, but I would consider second tier and buyer beware. Beautiful glossy images are impressive (as you’ll hopefully agree on my site!) but they only tell you part of the story. They do not disclose the cost overruns, the arguments, the fallouts, the poor designs having to be reworked. They just show you the finished article, which doesn’t tell you the full picture unfortunately. I have learnt this lesson the hard way.
The absolute last resort is to search through unknown routes such as internet search or white pages etc. I try to avoid this route like the plague. You simply have no idea as to how good they are. There is no levelling ground on the internet, anyone can advertise on the web, so caveat emptor to the highest order…
Most projects start with design, so naturally this involves an architect or draftsman… who do I choose? I’ll cover this in my next post.