Whether you’ve been in the restaurant game for some time or you’re opening your very first establishment, certain steps must be taken to build and open any restaurant. Finding an experienced and dedicated restaurant builder can make a huge difference in the amount of time needed from conception to construction to opening the doors for customers. Here are five to do’s when choosing a restaurant builder in the Santa Barbara, Ventura, or Los Angeles, CA area.

Be Prepared & Do Your Due Diligence

Before you even talk to a Los Angeles area restaurant builder, write out your expectations and establish your available budget. When it comes to choosing a builder, don’t base your selection on the lowest estimate you receive. A low construction estimate doesn’t always equal long-term savings over time.

You need to be sure you’re getting value for every dollar spent. The best way to do this is establishing trust with any restaurant construction company you use. You’re likely to get value when you work with a restaurant construction specialist that’s there for you through the entire process. Someone willing to guide you through everything from selecting a site to restaurant design to restaurant buildout. Someone capable of understanding your vision and turning that vision into a practical and workable reality with the look and ambiance you imagined.

You Need a Restaurant Construction Specialist, Not Just Any Builder

Only choose a contractor with restaurants in their portfolio. While there’s nothing wrong with choosing a builder with a diverse portfolio of commercial construction projects, there has to be a restaurant build in there. Building residential homes, commercial apartments, retail shops, or office complexes is impressive, but restaurants are their own animal. You need a contractor familiar with the different buiding code requirements and permits that apply to restaurants. You also need a builder that understands what goes into workable food prep and creating a pleasurable dining experience.

Be Thorough Evaulating Bids & During Pre-Construction Phase

Sure, it’s extra work and a bit time consuming, but many restaurant owners don’t take the time to get multiple bids from several different LA area restaurant builders. They also fail to physically check out projects in the region completed by the contractors/companies they’re considering. You can get way more insight into the quality of someone’s work from a physical walk through or walk around than portfolio images.

Once you’ve selected a restaurant builder in Los Angeles, it’s important to establish communication and engagement before construction begins. Establish expectations and timelines prior to any work commencing. This is the best way of ensuring project clarity and success.

Be Clear on Warranties

You ideally want a restaurant construction team and subcontractors that offer a one-year warranty on labor and materials. You should have an opportunity to meet with them 11 months after opening to request any necessary repairs while the warranty is active. They should be able to efficiently carry out any tasks without interfering with the operation of the business.

Create a Final Punch List

Restaurant owners should create a final punch list. Any hired builder should agree to walk the restaurant owner and any associated parties around and through the structure once work is completed. Any observed corrections must then be completed within 5 days. Final financial documents, including the final waivers of lien, should be presented as well as a close-out manual (both hardcopy and digital).