Dental Office

Dental Office

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Tips/Guidelines for Commercial Tenant Improvements and Remodels

After 18 years as an Architect in the business of commercial tenant improvements ("TI's") and interior remodels, I have my fair share of valuable experience to pass along to anyone involved in such a project. I hope the following tips/guidelines help:

1. The Beginning: What is your goal, dream, vision, business model, passion?! Consult your Accountant and Financial Advisor and look at your financial situation, the market, marketing strategies. Are you expanding, opening your own office, partnering, relocating?

2. Lender: This is everything. Work with the appropriate lender for your project type (some, if not all lenders specialize in specific niches or areas of business). Lending institutions differ in what they can offer regarding downpayment, rates, LTV info, payments, etc. We work with lenders to provide necessary information during the process.

3. Location. Location. Location!: Determine your best location for success. New clientele? Will current clientele follow you? What are the demographics for the area (a Broker can help with that)? Does the location have good visibility/access from major streets? What are the adjacent or nearby businesses (will they help support yours)? Is the location convenient for you and clientele? What is your daily commute? What amenities are in the area that can help support your business? What are the signage options/locations for office visibility and advertising?

4. Broker: Work with someone who listens and understands your business/career goals. A Broker can search and give you the information you need to make informative decisions for business success. Your Broker can get you the best deal possible for your space and budget. We work with Brokers to provide necessary information during the process.

5. Architect: Contact an Architect sooner than later in the process to help determine the amount of space required for your needs and budget. An Architect can work with you, the lender and the Broker as part of a team. An Architect can prepare a Space Plan showing how the requirements fit (or don't fit!) into the space at which you're considering. An Architect can consult on design, schedule, process, City Permits, construction drawings, builders, etc. The Architect also works with the Engineers required to complete the plans for a Building Permit. Many Clients hire an Architect after they have already signed the Purchase/Lease Agreement "locking" them in to the space, so the Architect has to "force" the design and "make it work". It would be better to engage an Architect sooner to help in the selection of a space based on the criteria.

6. Design/Construction Drawings "Plans": Coordinate with your staff early in the process to create the best design at the start. Think about any details you want, the day-to-day needs, what works and does not work in your current office. Obtain all the specifications (sometimes known as "cutsheets")/information on any equipment for design and enginering purposes (electrical requirements, exhaust, heat gain, plumbing line, etc.). Get your I.T. person involved for input, server requirements, electrical needs. Get your equipment supplier involved early for coordination and equipment purchase. Follow up phone conversations with emails so communication is clear and accessible/retrievable (memories are short!). Create a folder/file specific to the project to keep documents, drawings, correspondence. CAREFULLY REVIEW ALL design drawings/documents sent to you for review/signature of approval. Call the Architect if you have any questions. Time is money, so the more efficient and responsive in a timely manner you are, the more money you can save.

7. Builder/Contractor: Use a competent Contractor with experience in your project type. Use a commercial Contractor (NOT a residential Contractor for a commercial project - the 2 are entirely different). Take Preliminary Cost Estimates provided by Contractors with a grain of salt. Without ALL of the construction drawings, Contractors can only make assumptions and estimations. Final Bids are almost always more than prelims., so consider a contingency in your budget. Beware - changing the design during construction or adding to it could cost you more money. Give your Contractor timely information on finish selections, flooring, paint colors, cabinet materials/finishes, appliance sizes/types, TV and monitor mounting locations/heights. CAREFULLY REVIEW the Contractor's Bid with the Contractor BEFORE signing the Construction Contract. Discuss ALL project details, expectations, process, schedules (both construction and payment), and what is both INCLUDED and EXCLUDED from the Bid.

8. Marketing/Promotions/Advertising: Consider working with a marketing professional or a graphic designer for logo design, signage ideas, business cards, brochures, etc. Launch or update your website and maintain good, consistent social media presence (Facebook, Twitter, Electronic Newsletters, etc.). Offer promotions, discounts, loyalty rewards, specials to bring in business. Have a Grand Opening and/or Open House to engage the community. Send out post cards or create an ad in a movie theater or radio spot!