Whether you’re new to the commercial renovation scene or are a seasoned veteran, some things just aren’t worth leaving up to chance. These six tips are essential to keep in mind if you want your next project to get off the ground decisively — and soar to an agreeable conclusion for all parties involved.

1 Keep the Mission Top-of-Mind at All Times

Every commercial renovation project commences with some kind of overarching mission in mind. So what is it? Let this be your guiding light as you embark on the planning phase as well as every other step in the process. For instance:

● Are aesthetic enhancements the main purpose of your renovations?
● Is the owner’s mission to incorporate new technologies without changing the underlying infrastructure too much?
● Do the early plans call for major structural changes that could benefit from, or even require, a specific kind of specialist, such as an environmental engineer?

This is less of a specific directive and more of a general reminder not to get too far afield of the original vision. Clear communication is key to getting a project finished efficiently. If any miscommunications are occurring during the project, the time to address them and work them out is early in the project — not later on.

2. Evaluate the Site Thoroughly

Successfully completing commercial renovations by definition involves working with a space that’s already being used, already serves a purpose and already occupies physical space in natural surroundings. Sites like these might have specific needs, unique hazards that aren’t immediately obvious and a variety of other variables you might need to plan for in advance. There may even be times when you don’t have access to original architectural or other documents, in which case a full professional survey might be required.
The point considering the physical surroundings is so you can plan for eventualities based on the condition of existing structures, the quality and grade of the surrounding soil, and the presence of nearby embankments that might require special scaffolding or safety equipment. Knowing what you’re in for can help eliminate surprises and cost overruns.

3. Build Some Contingency Padding Into Your Budget

Contractors and clients alike: This one’s for you. Everybody knows the relationship between client and designer can be fraught and difficult if all parties aren’t operating with the same level of transparency and openness. The appearance of wiggle room in a budget is one point where all the financial decision-makers need to be on the same page.

Commercial renovation projects are famous for cost overruns — but you’ve likely staked your reputation, in part, on providing accurate estimates. So what can you do? One suggestion is to work a 10 percent margin for error into each phase of design and construction. Think of it as a buffer zone against the cost, both financial and labor-related, of rework — including paying your workers overtime. With any luck, the project will be a smooth one. However, you’ll sleep better knowing all the parties involved understand contingencies can happen — and they’ve been planned for.

4. Use the Right Equipment Every Time

There’s a right time to “MacGyver” a solution to some stubborn problem, but it’ll never be on the site of a commercial renovation. For anything worth doing, there’s a right and a wrong way to do it — and that includes tools.

Part of this tip involves not overextending yourself. If you’ve taken a meeting about a bid you know you’re not equipped for it, you have a choice to make: Do I lease or buy the required tools, or do I pass in favor of jobs I’m better equipped to carry out?

Maybe you have world-class experience working with concrete for walkways, basements and garage flooring. However, if you try to reduce costs by applying epoxy finishes with 50% solid resin instead of 100%, your finish height will differ from the initial application to finish. Using the right tools and materials can provide your customer with the quality finished look they expect with minimal downtime.

5. Be Aware of Safety Rules and Don’t Take Them Lightly

It can be tempting for construction site managers, contractors and construction workers to overlook simple safety precautions in the course of doing their work if doing so alleviates some inconvenience. We don’t have to remind you that accidents can happen during even the briefest slip-ups. That means not letting anything slide when it comes to safety.

If you’re performing mold or asbestos abatement, you shouldn’t be seeing team members cutting holes in their protective masks so they can work with lit cigarettes hanging out of their mouths. The first time you let somebody ascend onto a roof without a spotter makes it that much easier to let things slide the next time around.

Make special note, too, of the conditions in which employers must pay for and provide personal protective equipment to workers, including gloves, vests and hats, to ensure their safety. This is an unnecessary place to cut corners and risk fines or worse.

6. Don’t Phone-in the Final Inspections

The last mile of any great endeavor can often be the most exacting, the most frustrating and the most likely to result in corners being cut in order to get the job done. There are many reasons to take the final few steps seriously, not the least of which is to ensure your good name lives on in the job you’re leaving behind.

The other reasons, however, are all in the name of safety. Forsaking final inspections because the builder is ready for the next job or because the client is eager to get business back on track can be costly to your reputation. It can also harm your business, your client and even the lives that hang in the balance and which will ultimately rely on this structure for work, life or both.

With these reminders that planning, communication and safety are as vital here as anyplace else, you and your team should be well-prepared for your next renovation job.

Megan Nichols is a technical writer and science blogger. She contributes regularly to sites like Industry Today, Construction Equipment Guide, IoT Times and more. She also updates her personal blog, Schooled By Science weekly with easy to understand science and technology articles. 

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