Commercial Remodeling in Omaha, NE – 2018

We’re all familiar with the significant uptick in construction this time of year, with new buildings going up all over the city. Of course, who could miss all of the dreaded “Road Closed” and “Road Work Ahead” signs either? Not as visible unless you get to see the before and after, it’s also a great time to take on a remodeling project. In yet another installment of our annual two-part series, this month we’ll be covering commercial remodeling projects, and then next month, we’ll focus on residential remodeling projects.

So, you’ve taken stock of your surroundings it’s time for some improvements to your place of business. Commercial remodeling projects run the gamut from replacing the flooring or repainting the walls to completely gutting a building or a new build-out. It could be focused on the interior, exterior storefront and property improvements, or both. There are of course the design elements that you can see, but also equipment and systems that you don’t see that play a starring role in the building functioning properly behind the scenes and may be due for an upgrade. Some projects involve restoration, such as the renovation of historical buildings, which have been quite common in recent years in areas all around the metropolitan area.

Project Phases

Your project will go through certain phases, during which time specific processes will take place. In the traditional project management model, this includes:

Initiation: Exploration of an idea with the goal of examining the feasibility of the project.

Definition: Requirements associated with the project result are specified as clearly as possible, including identifying expectations of all parties.

Design: One or more designs are developed, which is/are used to choose the definitive design that will be produced.

Development: Everything needed to implement the project is arranged and in place.

Implementation: Just like it sounds, the construction process.

Follow-up: Anything else that needs to be arranged to bring the project to completion, such as arranging a maintenance schedule or even hosting a grand (re)opening party!

Rod Berens
Kingery Construction

As you go through the various phases, Rod Berens with Kingery Construction offers the following advice:

“When planning, you’ll be carefully considering the intended use(s) of your space and based on those specifics, how you’ll be enhancing or repurposing it. At the same time, incorporating features into the overall design that allow for flexibility, or flex space, is advised in modern workspaces. For example, there are a lot of really nice portable partitions/walls on the market today that allow you to reconfigure your space. That being the case, you could knock out the walls to open the space up, but you’d still have the option to section it off later if you choose without undergoing construction again.

For larger-scale projects, having an architect and a general contractor on board from the beginning is advised. By applying the expertise of both, you’ll be able to fully explore the possibilities from the two different perspectives. This way, you’ll end up with plans that have great design elements on the creative side but that have also undergone an edit process to eliminate anything that is problematic from a production standpoint, which helps to minimize redesign costs. As far as referrals for both, don’t just go with whichever one is recommended. Instead, do your research on that one and a few others, check out their past work, talk to them to get a feel for how it would be working with them over a lengthy period of time, and decide for yourself.

Remodel work can be a lot more difficult than new construction because there are a lot of unknowns when you get into the project. We enjoy that challenge and have found that to be one of our specialties. With a portfolio of work that includes a wide variety of projects, we’ve got a lot of expertise to offer. Furthermore, our average length of employment is 18 years, and close to 25 years in certain industries, so we are fortunate to have seasoned professionals with a great deal of experience on our team. This has allowed us to take on some very difficult projects over the years. Right now, we’re involved in a lot of large-scale projects that involve building additions. No matter what your project entails, my advice is to work with someone who has experience and demonstrated success with similar projects. Many contractors have niches or tend to gravitate towards certain projects, whether it’s government, schools, restaurants, retail, historic buildings, etc. In order to avoid a scenario where your contractor is trying to figure things out as they go, it’s ideal to select a company that’s done the type of project you’re looking to do before, and the more times, the better.”

In closing, he particularly stresses, “Make sure you have a good set of working plans and specifications to avoid delays and additional costs. Also, exercise caution when attempting to cut corners or skimp on things to save money in the planning stages. Oftentimes in doing so, you’ll just end up spending a lot more later on down the line. It could be during the process when you have to make changes, which may involve different products that require lead time to order and receive, holding everything up in the process. Or, it could be afterward when wear and tear requires replacement earlier than it would with a higher quality product, and you might have to go through the construction process all over again that could involve downtime for your business. Get a good set of plans and specs, involve your contractor in the planning process, and make the important decisions early on so that everything goes as smoothly as possible and you get exactly what you want out of the finished product.”

Getting bids to decide who to select for a project based on cost is common, and it’s wise to exercise caution with that process as well. While very important, project cost is not always the best method of determining which contractor or subcontractor to choose. What may seem like a great deal or a low price upfront may actually turn out to be a costly long-term decision. It’s a professional’s experience and attention to detail that will ultimately give you more “bang for your buck” on the project over time. It’s highly recommended to work with a “known entity.” This is someone who has a proven track record, has an excellent rating with the Better Business Bureau, and can provide references that you are welcome to contact. Companies that are confident in their work and living up to the expectations of their customers will be transparent and up-front about the details during the planning stages, will follow-through with their performance on the job, and will stand by their work afterward.

Justin Kurtzer-Cheever Construction

Justin Kurtzer
Cheever Construction

There are also different construction delivery methods to consider. “Understanding the variations in construction delivery methods is extremely important before selecting one for a construction project,” advises Justin Kurtzer with Cheever Construction. “While there are many different types of delivery methods, the three most often utilized include Design-Bid-Build, Construction Management with variations, and Design Build. Selecting the correct delivery method can have a direct impact on the outcome of the project. Numerous items will factor into your decision, including size of the project, complexity of the project, project type, and overall delivery schedule.”

Decisions, Decisions

Back to the topic of budget, depending on the constraints that are present, it can often be tough to choose which upgrades should be made first and which can wait. By looking at the big picture, it will help you make those decisions based on investing in projects with the most justifiable returns.

While oftentimes a significant investment upfront, increased energy efficiency is a common theme of contemporary upgrades being made to commercial spaces because of its distinct benefits. From lighting solutions to building automation technology, there’s a lot of potential here.

Pat Killeen-Engineered Controls

Pat Killeen
Engineered Controls

“By far, anything considered ‘green’ should be a prime target for commercial remodel work,” emphasizes Pat Killeen with Engineered Controls. “In fact, many of our clients are building owners and managers who are looking for help in developing reliable and cost-effective solutions for their specific energy challenges and reducing their carbon footprint.

Our Building Services group can provide responsive retrofit and energy solutions direct to building owners for those seeking to reduce their energy consumption and improve the performance of their building. Over the past several years, Engineered Controls has performed many large owner-occupied environmental controls, building automation, and security system retrofit projects with minimal disruption to their employees or the tenants of the facility. First, we work with you and your staff to determine the age, equipment status, and present energy efficiency of your building. Then we analyze your existing energy usage and suggest the most cost-effective solution that meets your utility goals.

There are quite a few possibilities for upgrades that could be incorporated to accomplish the goal of increased energy efficiency while also yielding other significant benefits.

A building’s mechanical systems can be optimized by providing supply air and supply water reset programs, automatically adjusting the temperature of the air or water depending on space demands and outside air temperatures. Mechanical optimization programs could also include demand control ventilation programs to provide the right amount of outdoor air required in the building to improve the indoor air quality. Additionally, constant volume air and water systems can be converted to variable air and water flow systems, delivering just the right amount of air and water based on demand.

Regarding a building’s electrical systems, there are a whole host of ways a building automation system or BAS can optimize electrical energy in buildings. The simplest and most recognized way is to monitor a building’s electrical energy usage. For most buildings, electricity is billed two ways: electrical energy consumption (kWh) or the peak electrical energy usage over a specific period of time (kW demand). A BAS has time-based scheduling programs that can be used to minimize the electrical consumption of a building. At the same time, it can also be constantly monitoring the building’s kW demand and as it begins to approach a predetermined peak demand, begin shedding or shutting off electrical loads automatically.

All of these mechanical and electrical optimization solutions are designed to maintain building comfort and maximize energy savings that result in reduced energy bills.”

Along the same lines, you’ve probably heard of smart home technology, and much of the same features are being used in commercial buildings as well. Killeen explains, “Today buildings of any size and shape can become intelligent buildings. With open protocol technology, multiple subsystems can be connected together, on one network, rather than operating them all independently. This maximizes energy efficiency, lowers maintenance costs and provides centralized building control.

Building automation systems provide efficient control of internal comfort conditions, individual room control, increased staff productivity, effective use of energy, improved building reliability and life, quick and effective responses to HVAC and security problems, and save time and money. The systems also provide information on problems in the building, allow for computerized maintenance scheduling, are easy and effective for employees to use, and swiftly detect issues when they arise.

By integrating heating and cooling, lighting and security functions all within one common BAS platform, a building’s power systems; lighting and illumination; electric power and control; security, video surveillance and magnetic card access; heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems (HVAC); outdoor controls; and elevator controls will all be monitored and controlled from one central location.

While building automation systems have been around since the late seventies and early eighties, the addition of wireless technologies and the integration of wired and wireless systems are driving the market forward. There is a great demand for energy efficient buildings, high-tech devices, and enhanced security systems that are now a central component of the building automation system. Wireless technology will continue to revolutionize the BAS market.”

Along with building automation technology, there are also a great deal of options for upgrading your audio/visual system and other aspects of your space that could benefit from the integration of advanced technology.

Doug Seaman-Echo Systems

Doug Seaman
Echo Systems

Doug Seaman with Echo Systems advises, “The changes we are seeing in commercial spaces are driven by both architecture/construction as well as technology trends. Any or all of the following upgrades are great ideas:

Digital Signage and Interactive Displays These allow both internal customers (employees) and external customers to interact with your brand and company story. You could utilize them for wayfinding, meaning digital screens to assist in navigating your way through a building, or the “lobby as marketing tool” concept, where the company story is told with digital video and sound. For any of these suggestions, aside from just a flat panel display, other display formats are available, such as projection systems, standard video walls, and even architectural video walls where the displays are arranged in an artistic layout.

Automated Shading Solutions Shades not only add a beautiful aesthetic to the property but also contribute to energy savings. Echo Systems can design and install an automated shading solution that can also tie in with many other building automation solutions.

Acoustics Sound Masking with the use of acoustic wall and ceiling treatments is a big help in open office environments, lobbies, and conference rooms.

Room Scheduling This provides a visual cue as to room utilization at a glance and also allows for scheduling of quick, ad hoc meetings via touch panels or via email/calendar programs.

With all of our offerings, Echo Systems’ focus on aesthetic integration and attention to detail gives our clients the functionality they want, while blending into their architectural and construction goals.”

He continues, “Our most popular request lately has been what I will call a ‘digital refresh.’ Typically, a client may already have an audio-visual system in place, but its functionality has declined. Or, technology has changed so much since their solution was originally designed and installed that they need an upgrade to current technology. Solutions might be needed in the following areas: PC connectivity, migrating from VGA to HDMI, projectors and screens that are older formats, infrastructure that can no longer handle the new high-resolution laptops and tablets, and adding wireless presentation solutions.

Our second most popular request can be summarized by the following sentence: ‘I don’t want to see any wires or cables.’ The implication is that the client’s A/V systems were neglected over time, or were not designed or installed well. Echo Systems’ focus on aesthetics and integration means we think through even the smallest details about wiring.

The audio-visual industry has historically been an afterthought in the commercial construction world, so unfortunately ‘I wish someone would have told me…’ is something that we still hear too often. Get us involved as early as possible in design and construction. Our $2 million design center was built specifically to address aesthetic integration of technology within the design and construction process. There are always new product solutions and new design methods in our industry, and we want our clients to understand that we are thinking about how their technology can blend seamlessly into their environment.”

Contractor Corner

Now let’s switch the focus from the client who would be looking to remodel to the contractors who work on these projects. If you’re reading this and you’re a local contractor, do you have a plan of action if you find yourself needing equipment to perform work that you don’t own or have access to otherwise?

With an extensive inventory of equipment available for rent locally, Honeyman Rent-All can provide anything that you might need for your remodeling project. Troy Honeyman with Honeyman Rent-All details, “There’s quite a bit of variance in remodeling projects, so you very well may need something that you don’t own or have on-hand. That is where we can be of assistance, as we have a wealth of equipment and tools that are available for rental and our staff is on-hand six days a week to help you find exactly what you need to complete the job successfully. We also make sure that you fully understand how to operate each piece of equipment that you rent and we provide hands-on service.

At Honeyman Rent-All, we take pride in our extensive rental inventory. This includes a wide variety of equipment for specialized projects such as demolition, concrete, drills and attachments, drywall and wallpaper, electric hand tools, floor and carpet, landscaping, generators and welders, hoists, jacks, ladders, lifts, lighting and electrical, measuring and locating, painting, plumbing, pumps and hoses, saws, tractors and trailers, trenchers and skid steers, climate control, cutters, and air equipment. We look forward to working with you to ensure that you have the right equipment and tools for the job so that you can bring your clients’ projects to life!”

To sum things up, whatever you’ve got in store for your place of business, or whatever you need for your next project, there’s a local expert that can help you turn your vision into a reality.