Alexander Graham Bell said, “Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.”
In my professional experience, I have worked with clients, architects and general contractors for almost 20 years now. I would like to share some steps in the building process that many clients may not be prepared when thinking about a remodel or building project. At K4, we try to inform our clients of what to expect in the process so everyone can be prepared along the way of planning, building and finally moving in to their new space. Below are the top 5 areas that can cause confusion or delays, and anticipating them and planning how to deal with them in advance can help clients that are new to this process better understand how to best manage the outcome of the unexpected.
TIME TO DESIGN AND PLAN
The process starts with finding an architect and aligning yourself with the right partners and the right team. People often underestimate the time it will take to plan and design their new space. Some of our clients have experience in the new home building process which includes meeting a salesperson who works for a reputable home builder, settling on the property, choosing a floor plan, and picking a finish package. In three to four short months, they are already moving into their new dream home. In the commercial industry it usually doesn’t work quite as simply as that. It takes time and research to begin the design process and produce a custom space that will accommodate the work flow of the business and comply with the building code laws. If you have ever seen a reality television show that builds a home in a week and thought to yourself “how did they do that?” It’s actually what you didn’t see on the show that is the answer. There were months of planning and pre-ordering required that took place behind the scenes and the show does not to mention the quality of workmanship that suffers due to the shortened timeline.
The final results will always come out better if enough time is given to the design and planning process.
ZONING, PERMITS AND LEASE AGREEMENTS
So you have worked hard on plans for your new space and now you’re ready to move, right? Well maybe not so fast or at least as fast as you would like. Jurisdictions and counties have to put their seal of approval on what you and your architect would like to build. This can be a process depending on your location, jurisdiction, or if you are submitting for a change of use to the space. The process can take weeks or months depending on the situation. When you work with K4, we will always try to give you a time expectation based on our experience. Our team has worked with many municipalities in many states, and has a general understanding of appropriate timelines.
Once your project has been bid and confirmed that your budget is met, then you can bring your General Contractor on board. Now that you have a General Contractor on board, they will create a construction schedule based on the scope of work of your project, lead times of materials, inspections, etc. The schedule comes out and it may exceed your expectations or it may take much longer than you had in mind. The General Contractor tries to put together a realistic schedule to meet your intended move in date and budget. There are some adjustments that can be made to accelerate a schedule but that usually involves OVERTIME. Overtime usually equates to more money and no one likes to charge more to make up days.
When you receive a construction schedule, plan extra time for your company to move in and get up and running.
CHANGE ORDERS AND OPPORTUNITIES
Change orders are essentially a change in the scope of work and can result in a deduction or (more commonly) an addition to the bottom line. Change orders are the least favorite part of the job for contractors and architects. We spend a lot of time planning, drawing and estimating your project. In some cases, it comes down to unforeseen conditions, like when a contractor finds something behind your walls and has to make it right before proceeding. There are other times when the client enters the space under construction and realizes there is an opportunity that was not a part of the original scope of work and/or wants to do something different. Trying to plan for the unforeseen or forgotten is almost impossible.
Plan for a contingency in your budget so change orders and other opportunities can be a smooth process.
PUNCH LIST ITEMS
The end has finally come and it’s time to do a walk through and make a list of things to fix and/or items that may be missing or that you would like to add. Ideally everyone would like to skip this process and have no items on their list. This scenario is not often realistic, so here are some things to keep in mind to ease your frustration. Your contractor and architect have worked very hard for you and they want you to be happy. However, to fix some items can take more time than you would like them to as some of the items in your building were ordered months prior to them showing up on-site and it can take some time to get those revised items in the door. We wish there was an Amazon.com for building materials, believe me, but at this point in time manufacturers make items custom to order so there is a time frame for processing, production and shipment.
Remember your team’s goal is to have no items on a punch list. We are on your side and want it to be complete as soon as possible!