[Question]How do you start a construction business?

by HoldTheChimichanga. Posted on Sep 17, 2020    2    12

This is more of a question for my dad rather than me. He has been in construction(sitework) for about 26 years. With everyone he has worked with, whether it be foreman's, superintendents, or laborers, they would arguably tell you he is just an amazing operator and foreman. He is too humbled to even say he is the best(he would tell you he is just doing his job rather than brag) but I know his potential is maxing out.

What he always wanted to do was break out and make his own sitework/landscaping company using the knowledge he gained. The problem is that he nor I don't know how to start.

He figured all he would do was start with either a dozer or a mini excavator and do a bit of jobs here and there to save up to buy the other piece of equipment, but obviously it is not that easy.

Are there any resources I can read or does anyone have personal experience with this line of work that can give us guidance? The man is old and I at least want him to have a chance at his dream or let him know early that it can never happen rather than living and wondering "what if"


summerofevidence 1

You'll probably get better advice on hard elements he'll need to acquire (like licenses and regulations). I can help offer some guidance on the development portion of it though.

You mentioned that he wants to do sitework/landscaping. I think that's great that he's focused on a specific sector of construction. There's a lot of competition for general contractors. And maybe he'll work his way up to that level, but taking it step by step is key.

I don't think he has to be concerned about buying equipment at the moment. At least it shouldn't be a crutch to starting. He can just rent everything for the time being. Work it into the price of the quote. But of course, when he can eventually afford heavy machinery, that'll just mean more profit for him.

Start establishing the business online. Build a website, start a yelp page etc. I'm hoping your dad has a lot of pictures from all his previous jobs? Just use those and pass them off as work that was done for his own businesses. If he was the one responsible for how good it looks, there's no moral dilemma in taking credit for it. If he doesn't have pictures, have him start. Visual aids are key to picking up new clients. Especially when you don't have a lot of reviews to back you up.

I think it's worth working on the direct consumer path for now. Homeowners that need work done around the house. Weather they need to grade their yard or build out a new driveway. It's not large jobs, but it's enough to start building that reputation.

Then I think you can start working the direct to to business relationships. Maybe he's networked with a few other home builders or contractors over the years. Landscaping is a great business model to have it outsourced to a third party company. Your dad's business can be the go-to for them.

  HoldTheChimichanga 1

He does a bit of everything honestly. We don't pay pipes down or do what electricians do, but we can trench for them, the sewage pipe guys. We can do final grade for concrete workers. He can read blueprints as can I, building pads, fixing dirt for curbs and islands, he can manage a dozer with literally his eye cause of how he was taught. You'd literally need to see a video to see that this man is the real deal

I have hella pictures of all the sites we have finished in my 4 years being here so if he needs a portfolio I got him.

I have to mention, our bosses don't hate him. He has done private work for the owner of the company at his ranch, he was specifically requested at jobsites and if he wasn't available they didn't want anyone else but him. They have already let him borrow some equipment for our own home free of charge. Maybe he can figure out what to do about renting heavy machinery from them.

summerofevidence 1

Dude, you got pictures, that's a huge head start. Honestly upload those to a yelp page. And maybe get 2 or 3 reviews to start (nobody is going to hate you if you had a cousin or something write a not so real review). Jump on that.

I do TV mounting and other home services. But before even having a yelp page, I was just on task rabbit doing jobs to get by. I was only taking pictures of my work because I used it as proof that I completed the job. But when it came to building a website, I had so much content. And even though some of the bigger projects were team jobs with other people, I just made it my own thing. And I get a lot of comments on how great my work looks in the pictures.

And I'm now getting to the point where I don't have to pimp my old photos anymore.

_Samtheman 1
  1. Check to see if you need a license in your state. If you do, then get it and if not then go on to the next step.
  2. Create an LLC
  3. Get insurance (worker’s compensation, general liability, auto, etc.)
  4. Start advertising on Craigslist for side work. It costs $5 / ad. Run at least 3-5 ads per week.
  5. Start putting out bids
  6. Do the awarded jobs and start documenting the work you do. Take pictures so you can put them on your Craigslist ads. You may not want to use pics from the company he currently works in because if they find out he may get fired. Also, make sure you look into his current contract with his employer because their may be a “non-compete clause” that doesn’t allow you to work for another company within the same industry.
  7. Create a website
  8. Continue to do steps 4-6 while working your day job until you’ve saved a nice amount of money that you can live off of it for like 6+ months.
  9. Quit your day job and begin expanding.

    Also, look into other ways to advertise besides Craigslist like home advisor and others. Craigslist was the one I used when I was starting my handyman business and it worked better than I thought it would. Although I didn’t pursue my handyman business because I ended up getting a promotion and raise at my day job, these steps worked for several of my buddies.

    Also, your father would need to find a good crew that is also willing to work throughout the weekend. Maybe some guys that already know the business and others than he can teach. Try not to use guys from his current day job because the word spreads fast and his boss probably won’t be too happy he’s doing this.
  HoldTheChimichanga 1

Would it be wise contacting the formans we have worked with before to see if they want him to do building pads, detention ponds, grading, or stuff like that or just follow your lead?

We live in Texas and our company really aren't like many companies. Let's just say that he was hired as an immigrant with no 401k and now he is still working for them as a citizen still without 401k. Same as me. I have no 401k to match to and I think the company never did have any cause they are kind of shady.

I figured get his own dozer and mini and do some jobs from contractors that we know like him and have them pay him rather than an entire company

_Samtheman 1

Also, go to Fiverr and create yourself a simple logo. Don’t go to crazy on the logo design because you can create a better logo later on once the business starts to create traction. The most I’ve ever paid for a logo on fiverr was $15.

Throughout the week days he’ll be getting calls so you can either put your phone number and help him out with the phone calls because he most likely won’t be able to conduct business with his day job or he can use a phone service like Ruby . Com. They pick up calls for him and then your father can respond after he gets out of work.

I suggest he begins to start putting a pricing sheet together for the services he’s going to provide.

MulderD 1

You have to build it from the ground up!


  HoldTheChimichanga 1

I'll give you that one

Boonpa 1

You may need to get a contractors license of sort.

  HoldTheChimichanga 1

Alright. 1st step is to get the license. After that I'm guessing is making connections or already talking to connections that know the work my dad brings?

Boonpa 1

Make connections with local builders/GCs. Get on Bid lists.

  HoldTheChimichanga 1

Well I think my dad has connections with people he has already worked with. If they heard he was going solo they would hire him in a hearbeat