How Involved Does a Customer Have to Be on a Commercial Construction Project?

How much someone wants to be involved with the commercial construction services they've paid for can vary a lot. Understandably, many folks are busy and wish to leave as much of the job as possible to the professionals. However, there is still going to be a good bit of customer involvement so let's take a look at just how much you'll likely be talking about.

Design and Planning

Generally, customers engage the services of architects and engineers to design commercial structures. The customer often has to loop these parties in with the builders to make sure everybody is on the same page. Particularly because of their exposure to potential liability issues, these folks will want the customer involved each time the project moves forward in a way that requires approval. You'll have to provide signatures several times to ensure everyone is on the same page and there aren't any legal concerns.

Modifications and Adaptations

Any time the commercial construction services provider has to deviate from the plans, you can expect to be involved. For example, a change in the choice of materials due to unavailability or costs will prompt a call.

Like with design and planning work, other parties will have to be looped in to ensure nothing outside of the parameters occurs. The architect, for example, will want to sign off on the changes along with you to avoid any trouble.


Money is always a major concern on commercial construction projects. It's wise to set up the contract for the project to distribute funds in tranches. This means a certain percentage of the total funds will kick in when the deal is signed, but the next tranche won't come through until specific benchmarks are reached. For example, 20% of the funds might be freed up to buy materials and pay contractors after shovels have gone into the ground for the first time.

Once more, your involvement will be critical. Not only will you have to approve the work, but you'll likely have to sign to release the money to the main contracting firm.

Permits, Regulations, and Compliance

As the property owner, you're likely the party that's on the hook for compliance failures. It's important to obtain the necessary permits. Likewise, you'll need to coordinate with the construction team to ensure the permits are timed to match their work. You'll need to be involved in signing off on all regulatory issues before, during, and after the job.