Commercial Construction projects are a huge undertaking. Whether you are having a new office built for your business, having a shopping center or office park built to lease, or are involved in another type of commercial building project, you know that the key to a successful end result is working with the right people. From the engineers and architects involved in the beginning of the project, to the general contractors who actually construct the building, to the subcontractors who are involved in the finishing touches, everyone you work with is important in your commercial construction project.
Planners and Civil Engineers
The plans for a commercial construction project are usually the most important part of the entire process, so it’s important to have the right people on your planning team.
John Meng-Frecker with E & A Consulting, Inc. states, “E&A planners and civil engineers work with developers, owners, and architects to test ideas and prepare concepts for commercial and land development construction projects. We begin by preparing feasibility and land use studies for a parcel of land, which identify development challenges and yield reliable data on unit densities and infrastructure costs. When projects are feasible, we guide the development team through zoning, platting, infrastructure design and construction. Our engineers can identify the realistic costs of development based on permitting, pre- and post-construction stormwater management and the cost of materials and services. As a full-service firm, we accurately predict the challenges and costs associated with developing commercial, industrial, municipal and residential land.
Our Civil Site engineering department creates purposeful, intuitive, cost-efficient layouts and designs for projects ranging from office buildings and shopping centers to industrial facilities and sports complexes. Large or small designs are provided for grading, drainage, sewer, paving, utilities, landscaping, and stormwater management.
We work closely with our registered land surveyors to identify property boundaries, create topographical maps, and provide construction staking on our projects.
Because erosion control and management of post-construction stormwater are heavily regulated, our environmental compliance specialists and construction management experts review our designs and secure necessary permits, allowing us to manage temporary and permanent runoff water with erosion control BMPs, rain gardens, bio-retention cells and mechanical devices.”
The General Contractor is the head of your project and is crucial to the success of your project. For many commercial projects, contractors have to go through a bidding process. If you are part of the team who helps to determine which general contractor to hire, it’s important to note that the lowest bidder is not always the best choice. Make sure to take into consideration experience, references, past projects and the types of materials they are using in their bid. Going with a quality contractor who will deliver what they promise and back up their work is the most important consideration.
Facility Management Systems Experts
Facility Management Systems are extremely helpful for business owners as they control security systems as well as heating and cooling elements without you having to be on the premises. When it comes to selecting a Facility Management Systems, Engineered Controls is fully prepared to assist in the development of building controls and security performance criteria. Engineered Controls maintains a sales staff that can assist with the preparation of specification, sequence writing, equipment selection and procurement. ECI sales engineers can work with your design team to create an integrated control system to meet your building automation and budget needs.
Pat Killeen of Engineered Controls says, “Furthermore, our team of LEED AP accredited professionals has experience in LEED gold and platinum projects and can work with building owners to meet the certification requirement they desire. Engineered Controls can also help you leverage your new or existing investment in building systems by integrating HVAC, electrical and security equipment and applications from numerous manufactures into one common control network.”
Landscaping is often something that does not get much thought until the actual structure is completed. However, according to Joe Sevening with Sevenings Landscaping Inc., “It’s always a good idea to include your landscaper during the building stages. We can recommend certain pipes be buried under concrete walks and drives to ease the install of irrigation and landscape wires. Having a landscaper on-site can save the owner and builder time and money as we can oversee compaction of soil around the foundation, make sure the correct topsoil is installed in landscape beds and make sure the correct grading is performed to better flow the exit of water.”
Lawn & Landscape Sprinklers
When planning a commercial construction project, there are many aspects that need to be considered regarding the building and site preparation. As with any complicated system and large project, pre-planning and attention to detail can provide for cost savings, efficiencies, and a more satisfactory outcome. Lawn and landscape sprinkler systems are no different. Many individuals are familiar with the concept of roughing in plumbing and electrical during a construction project; similarly, certain aspects of a sprinkler system can be roughed in during the construction and site preparation phases, leading to cost savings, easier maintenance, and better system performance. For example, Heilman Irrigation recommends that the design of the building’s plumbing system takes into account that there will be a sprinkler system. A shorter run from the water main to the sprinkler system will result in material cost savings and better system performance. Proper placement of an interconnect for compressed air will allow winterization without the need for dragging large air hoses into the building. Thought given to controller location will ensure ease of access, sufficient electrical power, and an ability to pre-wire the control cables. Lastly, JD Heilman of Heilman Irrigation, LLC recommends coordinating design and construction activities with your irrigation contractor during site preparation. Sleeves can be placed for cabling and piping under areas that will be paved (such as sidewalks, parking lots, etc). This will save on costly boring and provide ease of repair/replacement should a line rupture under a paved surface. Sleeving also helps to prevent erosion and damage to paved surfaces that can result from a leak before it is discovered. This is an important consideration, since many commercial projects include parking lot islands that will be landscaped and will have a need for irrigation.
Snow removal is an important aspect of maintaining a safe and inviting commercial property. It is, however, an aspect of site design and construction that is often overlooked. JD Heilman explains, “consideration given to snow removal in the design and layout of parking lots, driveways, and sidewalks can lead to a safer property and more efficient (less costly) snow removal and ice management operations.” Thought should be given during the design phase of a property as to where snow can be pushed and stored. Sufficient room should be available to handle large storms, and a drainage basin should be available to capture the melting snow and runoff. Snow storage areas should, whenever possible, be on the downhill side of an area. This eliminates melting snow from running across drives and parking areas and re-freezing. Proper design and layout can maintain a safer property and reduce the need for costly snow re-location efforts.
A final aspect of site design and construction that should be considered is the handling of downspout drains. All too often, downspouts drain into small landscape or turf areas that are surrounded by sidewalks. Without proper drainage, runoff from rainstorms or melting snow and ice on the roof will overcome the discharge area and run across sidewalks. This is not only a nuisance, but can be very dangerous. During the winter, this runoff is likely to freeze and create extremely slippery conditions. Over the remainder of the year, wet sidewalks can still be slippery and lead to water being tracked into a building. Lastly, unnecessary water running across sidewalks, along with the freeze/thaw cycle, can prematurely destroy these surfaces, leading to costly repairs and replacements.
Like most things in life, a little planning can go a long way in providing for a safe, efficient, and attractive commercial property! The sooner you bring an irrigation and landscape professional onto your project team, the more likely you are to realize efficiencies, save money, create a safer property, and bring the project in on schedule.
“The best time for any subcontractor to get involved is at the bidding/print stage,” explains Nancy Sempek with Christensen Drywall. “That way there is a clear understanding of the plans/specs of the job. If there is an opportunity to conduct a “walk-through” everyone can see the scope of work and know how to bid the job accordingly. Typically, commercial buildouts are done with steel framing so my crews are involved in the framing, insulation, drywall and acoustical ceilings. We work closely with the general contractor as to the layout of the walls so that all the rest of the buildout will flow accordingly. After the rough in stage, we are back in to hang/finish the drywall, and lastly, hanging the acoustical ceilings, completing our part of the buildout.”
“During the construction phase of any new building, it is important to use filters as soon as the HVAC units are up and running,” states Grant Wells with The Filter Shop. “Higher MERV rated filters are always recommended so construction dust and other airborne particles do not clog the coils of the new units. Frequently changing the filters during construction is equally important. Once the building is occupied, any dust that managed to get through the filter may end up circulating into the occupied space. In today’s environment, sustainability is a big focus of many companies and proper filtration can help toward “Green building objectives”. Any company that is striving for LEED certification would be wise to install filters having a MERV 13 rating or higher. LEED stands for “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design”. Having the proper filters in place can help toward this important certification.”
Once the building is completed, it’s time to start thinking about furnishings, décor and other finishing touches. Window coverings are an important part of the finished project. Many companies work with architects and developers to help specify and install both manual and motorized styles of blinds, shades, commercial draperies and medical curtains. Working with a company that specializes in commercial projects will help ensure that the appropriate choices are made in terms of color scheme, type, security and any other considerations that may pertain to you specific project. “Many of today’s shading systems incorporate the ability to interface with other building management functions, such as lighting and HVAC, for increased energy and efficiency and year-round employee comfort,” states Walt Grantski with Lifestyle Drapery. Window coverings are not just about esthetics. Work with a professional to best take advantage of what is offered.
Window films can provide your office building with security as well as helping regulate temperature by keeping out the sun. According to Joe Sevening with Midwest Security Laminations, their 3M films are recognized by the American Skin Cancer Foundation. Their security films offer four levels of protection with security lamination ranging from Level 4 (which helps protect against golf ball/baseball hits), Level 3 (smash n’ grab) helps protect against baseball bat/crowbar hits, Level 2 which provides security against wind damage from hurricane and tornadoes and is good for high violence areas and Level 1 protection which shields against explosives, bombs and bullets and is mostly used in federal and state applications.
Security lamination is designed with Nano technology and is comprised of 224 layers of micro thin polyester film. The film is clear and almost invisible to the naked eye and does not compromise the clients’ views. Film is installed to the inside of the existing glass and adheres to the glass at a molecular level.
Flooring is another huge part of your commercial project and the use of the building should always be taken into consideration when choosing the correct type of flooring for safety, durability and esthetics.
If your flooring is going to be concrete, you should consider polyaspartic floor coatings. “Unlike epoxy and other floor coating systems, Custom Concrete Coatings polyaspartic floor coatings can be installed in just hours, not days,” says Shawn MacDonald with Custom Concrete Coatings. “They can also be applied quickly in just about any temperature or humidity level. For the customer, that means quick return to service. Polyaspartic coatings also withstand hot tire attack without failure, have four more times abrasion and wear resistance than epoxies and have flexibility and chip resistance. The standard coatings provide a durable, granite-like finish with numerous color and chip combinations. Other color and design ideas are available. Pool water, chlorine, muractic acid, gasoline, oil and brake fluid will not damage the system.”
Considerations for After Your Building is Completed
It’s important to keep in mind that your work is not done after the building is completed. To make sure it remains in top form for those who will be living or working in it, consider the following:
Depending on the tenants in your building and what you will be using it for, you may or may not have to worry about furnishing it. If this is something you will have to do, make sure you work with a company that is experienced in office furnishings and space planning so the interior of your building is just as attractive as the outside.
Signage is an important part of your finished building, whether you need a sign for a retail shop to attract customers or just want a professional looking sign to impress clients when they visit. Work with a professional sign company that can help you develop something that is appropriate for the image you are trying to convey.
Garbage and recycling
Make sure you are working with a reputable company to provide garbage services and recycling. This is key in keeping your building looking clean, uncluttered and well-maintained.
Your building will look pristine when it’s finished, but what will it look like six months later? A year later? Keeping your building clean is very important, so make sure you hire a company that is skilled in corporate cleaning to maintain your building and keep it looking like it did when it was new.
Obviously, your building will be up to date when it is first built, but with how quickly trends change, it’s likely that the decor or technology will be out of date within five years of the completion date. Make sure you consider this as a building owner and make plans (and a budget) to make updates as necessary.
The types of commercial projects that are built each year span a huge range of types and finished projects. John Meng-Frecker with E & A Consulting shared with us some of the projects they were involved with in the past year.
Pinnacle Bank Headquarters: This LEED project is the flagship headquarters of Pinnacle Bank. The four-story building was completed in 2011 and occupies a landmark location along the West Dodge expressway. E&A prepared a topographic survey, drainage study, civil engineering plans, and post-construction stormwater management plans for the architect’s construction documents. We collaborated with the owner to add drive-thru lanes and revise the parking lot to increase circulation, and worked with the City of Omaha to coordinate public improvement plans for better access to Burt Street. In addition, we met the post-construction stormwater requirement with above-ground detention in a series of landscaped rain gardens that were incorporated into the 165-stall parking lot.
Greater Omaha Packing: This 2011-2012 project for Greater Omaha Packing included a 23,000-square-foot addition to the 228,000-square-foot facility and required us to relocate the main truck entrance to the facility. Our additional services included surveying, securing a Special Use Permit, a project site plan, civil site engineering, landscape design, construction staking, and PCSMP certification. We designed a series of above-ground and below-ground facilities to detain and treat the stormwater runoff in an existing urban environment with minimal unused space. The project required extensive coordination and phasing with the owner, contractor, and other consultants to maintain access, meet grade restrictions, and ensure continuous service to this facility that receives 200 trucks daily.
Westside High School Softball Field: When the Westside School District needed a new softball field to be in use for an upcoming season, they turned to E&A. This project required close design and construction coordination with the Westside School District, the architect, and the general contractor to produce a state-of-the-art softball complex that also included a concession and restroom building, extensive plaza area, batting cages, and perimeter trail. As this field would be used by both Westside and UNO women’s softball teams, this was a fast-tracked project that allowed only six months for us to deliver from the point of concept to finished construction. The key to meeting the client’s timeline was to complete the grading design and obtain a grading permit within the first month of the project, which we did successfully. In addition to collaborating with the architect on the project layout, our services included surveying, civil site engineering, construction staking, PCSMP certification, and the design of bio-retention basins and bio-swales for stormwater treatment.
Cimarron Woods, Trail & Water Park: E&A successfully transformed one of the last large parcels of land in La Vista’s jurisdiction into a single-family and multi-family development that not only met the pro forma needs of the developers but also provided the City of La Vista with the type of project they could point to and say, “That’s what we want a development in La Vista to look like.” Its two large parks contain a playground, ball fields, shelters, a basketball court, restrooms, and a splash park with an extensive trail system that offers an unmatched amenity package for residents. Adding to the existing playground in the park, this project enhanced the design of a water playground that incorporated a variety of features and installed equipment that required minimal maintenance through use of low-flow systems. Our design also incorporated numerous features for children of multiple ages to explore. Along with the splash park, the design created sufficient shade in the adjoining area and a full-use restroom for visitors.