how to start a construction company

How do you start a construction company and make sure you don’t fail?


That’s what we’re going to cover here in our Definitive Guide.


About 90% of construction companies fail in the first year or two.




Is it because they aren’t great at building?


Nope…. It’s because no one taught these builders how to grow a company.


I know a ton of builders that are great builders, but don’t really understand how to run a construction company so they’re always struggling.


If you follow the strategies in this guide, you’re going to be building your company with a solid foundation and it’ll set you up to have a massive growth.


By the end of this guide you should know exactly what to do and start bidding and winning jobs by tomorrow.




Step 1:   Decide on a Specialty


The first step in starting your construction company is going to be deciding on a specialty.  This is going to be based on your experience and your overall goals.


Subcontractors typically make 20-30% profit margins but smaller contracts.


General Contractors make 10% profit, but have much larger contracts since they are managing 10-15 separate trades on the jobs.


There are pros and cons to both, but ultimately you’re going to want to look at the following factors when determine what you want to specialize in:


  • What do you have experience in?
  • What is the most profitable?
  • What is high in-demand in your area?
  • How quickly can you get your first projects?



Residential vs. Commercial (or both)


Most construction companies can work on both residential and commercial.  The biggest difference is in your ability to finance the projects an your cash flow.


For residential you’re usually able to get 10 or 20% as a deposit to start the job.  You also start projects quickly after submitting your bid.  And there is usually less competition so your close rates will likely be much higher.


The drawbacks are that they are smaller projects, you’re dealing with “feelings” of the homeowners so they are going to be very picky since it’s their own home.


For commercial, they are typically bigger projects with larger contract values.  There’s  more competition and usually no deposits paid up front. You bill monthly and usually receive your first payment 60-90 days after starting the job.  For commercial, having a credit line with your bank and terms with your supplier is important so you’ll need good credit.




Step 2:  Start Finding Potential Projects


This is the part where most new contractors get stuck and can’t grow their new business.


It’s never been easier to find projects to submit your bids and get contracts.


One of the bonuses with working with I AM Builders that we can help you find the right projects in your area using our national database of projects.


The key to lead generation is to create a steady system of leads that you can always be bidding on projects and landing new jobs.


The more jobs you bid, the more chances you have of winning jobs.


If you want to spend the time looking for projects yourself, you can use lead generation platforms like Construct Connect, Dodge, Building Connected, or Home Advisor.


In my article about the best lead generation sites for contractors, I wrote about all these platforms and how to use them properly.




3.  Start Estimating and Sending Bids


Estimating is the life-blood of your business.  If you really want to grow your construction business and make sure you are successful you have to invest in submitting several bids per month consistently.


What I recommend is that if you have the budget, invest in hiring an in-house estimator and set up an office for them so you can focus on running your business and meeting new clients.


The biggest challenge contractors have is a lack of time to estimate and meet new clients. That’s why the goal is to have your own team perform your estimates while you’re out chasing business.


By the way, I AM Builders is primarily an estimating company so we can help you with your estimates.




4.   Set Up your Licenses and Insurance


Once you get your business up and running and you see Leeds coming in and you’re estimating jobs, now is the time that you should make sure you have all of your licenses an insurance .


if you notice, this is number 4 which means it’s actually not as important in terms of getting your business up and running as most people might think.


It’s important to have all of your licenses an insurance is set up, but it shouldn’t take you six months to do that before even getting your first potential project. There is a time in between when you submit a bid and when they award it so in those few weeks or months you can be applying for your license and getting all of your insurance is set up .


typically you will need general liability insurance and workers compensation insurance.


You can call a commercial insurance agent and they can set you up with that .


For the license , this will depend on your city or County or state , but sometimes it’s as simple as applying with your building Department so they can issue you a license or certificate.


If you are going after a specialty or something like general contractor, you may need to pass a test before submitting an application.




5.  Follow Up, Follow Up, Follow Up


Following up is by far the most important part of the entire estimating and bid process.


A lot of contractors spend hours creating a bid , submit it, and never follow up to see where their prices in relation to their competitors, or even invest anytime in getting to know the estimator or the project manager on the other end.


In my article on how to grow a construction business, I highlight the importance of following up and building relationships with clients. By following up and getting to know the estimators, you will have preference when it comes time to award projects.


Many contractors don’t do this because it is very time consuming, but I think it’s more time consuming too submit 10 bids and win one versus submitting four bids to win one. And once you build that relationship with the client, they will come back to you over and over and over.






Starting a construction company can be a very challenging task, but these five strategies are going to give you the best chances of having a successful business.


With our consulting services , we can help you every step of the process including getting you leads, estimating your projects, and even doing your follow up.


If you’re interested, give us a call and we can discuss your company in detail.

Daniel Quindemil


Founder and Senior Estimator at I AM Builders