It doesn’t matter if you’re a seasoned restaurant owner or a wide-eyed newbie opening doors to customers for the very first time. There are certain steps that must be taken to get your restaurant built and opened on schedule. If you’re planning on building a restaurant, here’s some required homework to do prior to meeting with ANY restaurant builder.

We know. Who likes homework? However, if you’re embarking on a restaurant build, you’ll need to do your fair share of homework before choosing a restaurant builder and then prior to construction beginning.

Stuck on who to choose for restaurant construction? Good. It’s something worthy of caution and deliberation. You ideally want someone experienced at building restaurants from the ground up or customizing an existing space to suit a new restaurant’s needs.

If your restaurant is part of a franchise, a builder familiar with that franchise’s specifications is also ideal.

There are three areas you’ll want to mull over with care while considering a restaurant builder.

How Much Will It Cost?

Obviously, money is an issue; however, don’t choose a restaurant builder based on a low bid alone. Always remember that the lowest estimate doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll be the least expensive option for you in the long run.

You need to trust the restaurant construction company you choose. Part of that trust is ensuring every dollar you spend will be of value. You must seek assurance they won’t cut corners to maximize their profit or meet a timeline they otherwise wouldn’t.

You want your builder to vow to be communicative and transparent every step of the way. From assessing the site selection to the initial design and buildout, you need to be in the know at all times.

You also need full confidence that the builder and construction team completely understand your vision and concepts.

Can They Deliver?

You need to work with a builder with finished restaurants in their portfolio. Building a restaurant is drastically different than building a house or office complex. Is the restaurant builder you’re entrusting capable of turning the concepts you’ve put forth into a practical, workable, amazing-looking reality?

Is there demonstratable proof they’ve built any kind of restaurant – whether it’s fast-food or a fine dining establishment. Have they finished projects for national chains? Regional developers or local culinary entrepreneurs? Where have they built? Have they built restaurants in neighborhoods and main streets? Retail centers and entertainment complexes? All of this matters because it will be an indicator as to how likely they are to deliver to your complete satisfaction.

Relevant prior restaurant construction experience means they’re not going into this cold. This benefits you and your construction timeline. They’ll be familiar with building codes and what permits they’ll need to obtain. They’ll be aware of restaurant design trends. They’ll know what goes into creating a workable food prep area and pleasant dining experience.

How Effortless is the Communication?

If you’re pulling teeth to get answers or responses from them regarding their proposal, bid, or pre-construction matters once they’ve been awarded the job, exercise caution. It might be in your best interest to continue your search or delay the start of construction until they prioritize communication.

You want to have all your ducks in a row 1 to 2 weeks ahead of construction. That’s the time for preparation, mobilization, communication, and engagement among all parties. Clarity is imperative to the success of your new restaurant.

Once construction begins, be sure there’s no lull in communication. Many issues with restaurant construction are completely avoidable. There will always be unforeseen occurrences, but even the complications from those can be minimized if the issue is communicated sooner than later for rapid response, damage mitigation, and minimal project delay.

You’ll also want some clear answers on post-construction matters. Be sure to ask about warranties on labor, materials, and finished construction. A good restaurant construction company that’s serious about backing their work will plan to meet with you 10 to 11 months after the restaurant has opened. This way, necessary repairs can be taken care of while your warranty is active. Most of these repairs can be efficiently completed without disrupting normal kitchen hours.