Building Permits and realistic expectations

part III of our Build a restaurant series

Are Your Project Expectations Realistic?

One of the first questions prospective restaurant owners ask us when approaching us about a project is, “When can we open?” 

As a building contractor, it is important that our clients have realistic expectations going into a project. If you haven’t built a restaurant in the Vancouver area before, you may be surprised by both the cost and timeframe ahead of you. 

Overall, the process is going to take longer than you think, and it is going to cost more than you expect.

Contracting Construction
BjornBar Restaurant

Most restaurateurs are not sufficiently funded to cover all the costs, and the longer a project takes, the more those costs add up. It isn’t just the price of construction that clients underestimate either. Some added costs to consider include:

• Lease rate

As of the time of this writing, the city of Vancouver states that they take about two weeks to set an appointment to receive your plans.

It will then take another two to three months upon a successful intake to have your permit processed. 

Depending on the complexity of your needs, anywhere from four to six months is common. On one occasion, we even had a customer waiting for more than a year for this process to be complete, and they had to cancel their project because of the delays. 

Keep in mind that as of right now, the pandemic is still a factor and can lead to added delays.

construction plan

What Timeline Can You Expect
for Your Design and Permits?

BjornBar Restaurant

So, what is a realistic timeline to follow for the design and permit phase when you are building a restaurant in Vancouver? 

Working with your designer to create a basic floor plan:
2-4 weeks.
Coordinating between engineers and specialty professionals: 3-4 weeks.
Readying your plans for permit submission: 1.5-3 weeks.
Waiting for the city to receive your permit application:
2 weeks.
Waiting for a reply from the city with your acceptance:
2-3 weeks.
Processing time for your permit application after you pay your fee: 2-4 months. 

This adds up to 4-6 months between handling the design and permits. At this point, you still have not even started construction. Only after we receive your building permits can we begin construction on your project.

How Long Does The Construction
Phase Itself Last?

It depends on the scope of your project. If your project costs less than $2 million, you can usually expect a timeframe of 3-6 months. 

When it comes to free lease rent, three months is the standard, and it is what you will likely negotiate for. 

So, you would need to have somewhere between 3-6 months of lease payments available to invest as part of your restaurant construction budget. 

As a contractor, we do all we can to push the process along as rapidly as possible while ensuring quality every step of the way.

construction plan
BjornBar Restaurant

It is important to get every step right, even if it takes a little longer because it will cost you less in the long run. 

We also believe our customers should have the opportunity to budget for costs they may not need than to not know and find themselves scrambling to cover costs for which they were unprepared. 

That is why we tend to give realistic estimates for both timeframes and costs. That way, our clients have the maximum flexibility to handle uncontrollable factors during the pre-construction phase.

The Right Team Can Help Minimize
Your Timeline and Costs

In How to Build a Restaurant in Vancouver, Part 1, we discussed how to put together the right team for your project. 

Assembling experienced professionals helps you achieve the best outcome for your project, but also can help keep your back-and-forth with the city to a minimum during pre-construction. 

The more skilled your architects, engineers, and designers are, the more likely they are to help you put together a perfect submission the first time. 

If the city accepts your plans on the first attempt, that may significantly reduce your time to receive your permits. 

Additionally, you know the phrase “the squeaky wheel gets the grease?” 

Your architect or contractor needs to be that squeaky wheel, propelling your project forward with efficiency.

As your building contractor, we are most motivated to serve you in that role.

Why? Because to make money, we need to start working on the construction of your restaurant. 

So, we do our utmost to influence other professionals you are working with as well as the city to push through any obstacles they might meet and to make your project a priority. If you have a large corporation, you likely have a project manager managing some of these details. 

If, like most of our clients, you do not have a large corporation, you may need someone to take on this construction manager role, and that is something Mercury excels at. We can: 

Help you avoid unnecessary delays.
Help you with making critical timely decisions.
Help Facilitate communication between you, and the other professionals on your team, and the city.

The bottom line is that by working with us, you have an experienced contractor and construction manager on your side who can minimize the time and costs during the planning, permit, and construction phases of your restaurant project.