As contractors, we have had clients come to us at varying stages of their projects, ranging from the initial planning stages to asking us to take over an already underway project. We take pride in our ability to adapt to a project’s unique needs and requirements no matter what stage the project is in when we are introduced. However, we have found that not incorporating a contractor in the early stages can often lead to preventable increases in cost and time.
Business owners often plan to find and hire services only when their respective roles are required. For example, when building a new restaurant, the business owner will first want a visual concept of its appearance, so they hire an architect and interior designer. Once the general look and layout are finalized, they must be converted to a building plan, so an engineer is hired. Only when the plans are completed and ready to be built will the client try to find the right contractor for the job.
While it seems logical and possibly even cost-saving only to hire professional services as needed, we have found that this common mistake will increase project costs and time more often than not.
While architects, designers, and engineers each have their invaluable roles in any project, the contractor has the sole responsibility of making sure that the project gets built. With that responsibility comes an understanding of the unique location characteristics that might not show up on the documents and floor plans that architects and engineers are asked to create the design specifications from. When it comes to installing commercial kitchens and building restaurants, it is essential to thoroughly understand the ins and outs of the location before finalizing any plans.
Quite often, we will receive plans for a thoroughly planned out project only to find out that parts of the plan are incompatible with the architecture of the building or that heavy machinery in a specific location would significantly increase the project scope. The issue is that these problems are discovered and resolved in the “contractor phase” of the project, meaning that it's challenging for someone other than the contractor to build up the required experience and knowledge to account for these potential problems in the planning phase.
Here are a few real-world examples we have experienced that show just how costly and time-consuming it can be not to involve an experienced contractor in the early stages of your project.
1. A restaurant build where the engineer designed the kitchen with grease interceptors and general plumbing installed below ground. However, they did not know the building had slab bands in the floor, so coring out space for the plumbing and grease interceptors would not be feasible. Because of this, a redesign of the kitchen and bathrooms was required. This cost money for the redesign and extra time as the new plan required resubmission to the city for approval.
2. A business requires a 200-Amp service to run the appliances necessary for their business. The business owner found what they thought was a good deal on real estate and created a design and building plans for their business. When we were hired, it was discovered that the building unit only had 100-Amp electrical capacity. The cost from BC Hydro and building electrical room upgrades exceeded $200,000. This resulted in a dramatic concept change for the business.
3. An existing commercial unit required a kitchen exhaust. The engineer and architect designed an ecologizer layout but did not account for the building lobby and structural column that was in the direct path of the designed ductwork. Because of this, a significant redesign was required, which caused a dramatic increase in the overall scope of work.
We understand that it is unrealistic to expect a business owner to understand all of the ins and outs of a commercial construction project. As contractors, we take responsibility for delivering a completed project. This means that any errors or oversights that happen during any stage of the planning process end up as problems that we need to find solutions for.
While we take pride in our ability to find efficient solutions to any problems that may arise, we strongly advise that anyone looking to build a commercial location collect all relevant information about the site before initiating any design work. This is why we recommend selecting your contractor at the earliest stages of your project.
Mercury Contracting provides pre-site assessments for businesses all around North America. We are happy to learn about your project and can help develop a detailed checklist of what to look out for when designing for your specific location. We will create AutoCAD plans and full mechanical, electrical, and structural reports for the designers and engineers so you can rest easy knowing that they can design and develop a plan with a complete understanding of the site. This will drastically reduce the potential for any future problems for the project, and the architect and engineering team will have an easier job.
If you have an upcoming construction project, get in touch! We are excited to learn more about what you have in mind and look forward to offering our knowledge and experience to help your business succeed.