Choosing the construction team

A guide to hiring contractors, subcontractors and vendors.

Finding a contractor capable of handling the complexities of building or renovating a synagogue is not as easy as consulting your local yellow pages under General Contractors. A complete listing of contractors with proven experience in working with synagogues can be found on both and .   A contractor who mainly does additions on homes, may have the skills to complete the construction or renovation of your synagogue, but may not have the manpower or commercial sub-contractor network base to handle a project as large and complex as building a House of Worship.  Similarly, a large general contractor who builds office buildings and other large structures may be able to handle the complexity of synagogue building, but may not be interested in focusing their attention on small project such as building a typical synagogue.  

Interview firms with a proven track record of working with synagogues.   Check references.  While there are many professional and honest contractors, there are many fly-by-night organizations who, when given the chance would be happy to take your deposit money and run.

Although many people relay on the Better Business Bureau (BBB) for references, it is important to realize that the BBB is not a government agency  It is a for-profit business who can only report on the business activities of its own members.  In order for a company to be listed with the BBB, that company had to purchase a membership.  Since most states require contractors to be licensed by the state before contracting with the public, it is a much more prudent decision to verify licensure and any legal or disciplinary action with the state licensing authority.

Before hiring a contractor for any project, it is important that the contractor present a certificate of insurance for general liability, automobile insurance and worker’s compensation insurance naming the synagogue as additional insured.

Depending on the dollar volume of the project, it may be prudent to require that the general contractor post a performance and payroll bond. A bond is an insurance policy that protects the owner in case the contractor is unable or unwilling to complete the project or pay his employees or subcontractors.  The requirement to secure bonding are strenuous and thus smaller contractors are unable or unwilling to post a bond.  Since the building’s owner pays for the costs of the bond, it should only be required on larger projects.

It is probably common knowledge by now, but for everything but the smallest projects in is just common sense to get a minimum of two or three bids.  If you are building a synagogue with a projected construction cost of half a million or more, it is well worth publicizing your bid process with several local or national bid services.  These publication which contractors subscribe to publish a listing with description and contact information of the various projects open for bid in the subscription area.  It is typically free to advise your project on these service.  The contractor bidding request from either the “owner” synagogue or the architect a bidder’s package which contains all of the design documents, blueprints, and material specifications.  Then on the given date a bid is submitted to either the architect or owner via fax, hand delivered or mail.  The “owner” then is free to meet with as many bidders as they want to interview them before awarding the job. 

On a larger project, typically the synagogue only hires the general contractor (GC) who in turn hires all of the subcontractors and vendors.   It is important that the GC hires reputable firms to complete the work.  Prior to hiring the GC have them submit a list of all of the major subcontractors who they plan on using on your project.  This will give you the opportunity to research and veto any firms you don’t want on your project. 

It is important that all contractors and subcontractors present the synagogue with certifications of insurance, naming the synagogue as additional insured.