Choosing a Fabricator: Four Questions to Ask
Updated: Oct 14, 2020
Before your restaurant is on Michelin's list or your medical building is playing host to a stream of hacking patients, when it's still just a heap of raw materials, you have some decisions to make.
Prominent among them? Who's going to do my custom metalwork? After all, this supplier is going to be a partner from your project's rough start to its polished close. So finding one you can trust and who does good work is essential.
To that end, here are four questions to consider when making your choice.
What's your experience?
No qualification is more important in considering your options than experience. A fabricator who's tackled your type of project before is a gift when it comes to sidestepping potential glitches that can cost time and money. Request evidence of completed jobs that most closely resemble the challenges of yours.
Also, quiz candidates on their knowledge of relevant codes and industry standards, and ask for references who can attest to good work and a timely job completion track record.
Can you handle my job?
The capacity of a metal fabricator to tackle your project's various demands, however niggly or nuanced, is essential to your peace of mind in getting it done.
Here, you should consider:
Design capabilities: Can you work from any drawing? Can you design a project from the ground up?
Production capabilities: Do you have a complete line of production equipment capable of addressing my current and future requirements? Can you cover both one-off and large-run assignments? Can you do assembly, laser-cutting, welding, metal-forming, stamping, pressing, and tool-making for stamping and fastening? Can you work with different types, sizes and thicknesses of metal?
Facility capabilities: Do your physical premises have the space and systems that my project requires? Do you have adequate infrastructure for receiving materials and for packing and shipping the final products?
A final thing to consider when choosing a steel fabrication company is its proximity to your building site. Steel is heavy, and hauling it from A to B can rack up some serious fuel charges.
What's your customer service like?
It's one thing for a fabricator to launch a project in a burst of energy, but quite another for it to follow through to satisfactory completion and maintain contact throughout. A good flow of communication and ideas—including proactive troubleshooting and project contingency coordination—between you and your fabricator eliminates stress and confusion and adds value to your project.
Are you priced competitively?
Metal fabricators cleave to a wide range of pricing strategies, so it's important to shop around in your pursuit of one whose pricing falls within industry standards. Ideally, your early contact will have revealed a commitment to picking the most cost-effective methods for your job and to staying on budget smartly.
Metal fabrication and assembly are important aspects of any construction job. Do some research before committing to a fabrication company to make sure you pick one that will work for your needs.