Commercial Remodeling in Omaha, NE 2017
There are many reasons why one might consider a commercial remodel – repurposing existing space you occupy, adding square footage or desired features, making a new space your own, updating critical components, repairing worn or damaged aspects, or you just feel like a fresh new look is in order, among other possibilities. As you can tell from this brief rundown, there’s much variation in the types of projects that fall under the umbrella of commercial remodeling. While there’s a lot of ground to cover, we’ve compiled some of the most important things to know going into this type of project thanks to our local industry experts!
Defined as the detailed coordination of a complex operation involving many people, facilities, or supplies, working out the logistics of a project and understanding the process is important. Planning, organization, and management will be critical to getting the results you desire. We’ll explore this in more detail later on, but for now, it deserves a prominent spot at the forefront because it will need to be thoughtfully considered at the very beginning for everything to go smoothly throughout.
There are many different components of a commercial building, inside and out, that contribute to daily operations. Many of these are dependent on one another to function properly, and since everything in an existing building is already in place, if you are modifying that it should be done with care and forethought.
The goal is two-fold: To make the requested improvements to incorporate new things, but also to restore harmony so that everything continues functioning as it should once the project is complete.
Integration of technology is a perfect example. Acoustics, lighting, HVAC design and infrastructure planning are all too often overlooked when planning commercial spaces but then the need arises to incorporate them later on down the line. The same holds true with other components you might want to add during a remodel. A more sensible approach is to use a design-build construction process and involve your audio-visual systems integrator as early in the design process as possible.
Building automation is such technology that needs to be successfully integrated into existing infrastructure too.
Pat Killeen of Engineered Controls details the possibilities, explaining, “There are several trends that are beginning to surface in the building automation system (BAS) industry. 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. Studies show that by 2018, it will be the integrated control systems that will show the greatest growth. The largest segments of expected growth are HVAC, which comprises 30% of the market, and security and access controls, which comprise between 40%-50% of the market.
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.”
He also notes, “By far, anything considered ‘green’ should be a prime target for commercial remodel work. Building owners and energy managers are looking assistance from contractors like Engineered Controls to help in developing reliable and cost-effective solutions for their specific energy challenges and reducing their carbon footprint.
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 about of air and water based on demand.
Regarding a building’s electrical systems, there are a whole host of ways a 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.”
Oftentimes a remodel will be in order to accommodate the growth of a business when another location isn’t being considered. There are generally two options to consider: a buildout or an additional building on the property. For those who are considering the latter, a pre-engineered metal building from Talon Steel Buildings is a great option.
Alternatively, your goal may not be to add more square footage but rather, to utilize the space you do have more effectively or to repurpose the space for a different use. As previously mentioned, many existing commercial buildings are being renovated from dated compartmentalized designs to the trendier and more modern open floor plan.
“If you’re renovating a building with the goal of opening up the space, it’s critical to consider the actual structural support of the building and make the appropriate plans to transfer the load,” advises Darin Cielocha of McGill Restoration. “There are different types of strengthening systems, and many employ very innovative methods.
Another example of a common improvement that is problematic for older structures is upgrading a building’s equipment to updated versions. Originally, they simply weren’t built to support the weight of the larger, heavier equipment available today. This also necessitates planning to transfer the load in addition to the installation of the equipment.
For those who are considering a project that involves restoration of any kind, as a rule of thumb, you’ll want to make sure to take into account how the existing structure will need to be modified to accommodate re-design. While we specialize in giving the exterior of aging buildings a complete facelift, we also consult on a lot of projects involving modifications to the interior of older buildings.
You’ll also want to keep in mind that when restoration comes into play, from an architectural and engineering standpoint, the building will need to be brought up to today’s commercial codes by the time the project is completed. If your goal is to preserve the older look but to give it a more modern appeal, it’s well within our means to do so. But when you’re working with an older building, it’s not just as simple as going right into the demolition process. Structural integrity is fundamental and you’ll want to plan your project and budget with this in mind.”
With the varying scope of remodeling projects, the same variance is true with respect to cost. It’s important, as was already advised, to plan for the unexpected. Also, while the savvy business owner is always looking to get the best deal, that isn’t always synonymous with the lowest bid. Looking past the number into the specifics of what each company that you’re considering is able to offer is advised. Similarly, you’ll want to take the time to get several bids for comparison, which will help to further inform you about the possibilities for your project. There may be someone out there who is able to present an approach that others haven’t for whatever reason. It’s best to partner with subcontractors and trade professionals who can bring value to the project without sacrificing quality or cutting corners to do so.
Depending on your budget 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.
Take energy consumption for example. By making upgrades that increase energy efficiency first, you’ll have a return on that investment that you can allocate to other improvements later on down the line. The use of solar energy to power commercial buildings has become much more popular in recent times; the technology has come such a long way and installation has become quite the expedient process too.
“Technological advances in renewable energy resources have made them much more versatile,” advises Drew Coffey of J-Tech Solar. “There are many benefits to investing in the modifications to your building so that you can utilize solar energy as a power source.
Today, solar power is more advanced than ever and the installation costs continue to drop. It is an incredible way to help the environment, not to mention the significant cost savings it provides, among other upsides that can have a significant impact on a business’s finances and operations in general. The typical solar system will pay for itself within a 10-year period, and it’s not uncommon to save between $15,000 and $20,000 in energy costs during a 15-year period. Most companies will finance their solar panels over a 5-year period, with the majority of those reporting around a 70% reduction in energy costs. Energy expenses can be tricky to pinpoint, but with solar, you will know exactly how energy will factor into your budget.
Our team at J-Tech Solar will manage every aspect of the project from start to finish. We’ll handle all required permitting to install your system, covering all structural and electrical requirements. We’ll then work with your utility company to complete all interconnection and net metering requirements. Our experienced crews can rapidly and accurately install your system, almost always within 48 hours.
Solar power is a brilliant way for businesses, regardless of their size, to go green and increase their profit margins. By reducing overhead and operating costs, companies are able to increase their budgets in other areas and help leave a legacy for our planet.”
There are a few basic essentials that will make a world of difference when it comes to updating your place of business, inside and out. For the inside, the options are vast and as such, there’s much variance depending on the space and budget – from a change in the coat of paint, flooring and finishes, or furniture to undergoing a complete renovation.
As far as the outside, they are the roof, windows and doors, siding, landscaping, signage, entryway and parking area. Regular upkeep and replacement should be performed on these areas as necessary to ensure that you’re making the best possible impression on visitors and passersby. And it’s not just about how it looks, but also that everything is in working order and appears well-maintained in general.
“In our industry, form will follow function,” explains Jim Hannum of A United Automatic Doors & Glass. “If it doesn’t work right or fulfill its practical purpose, then form is wasted. As for useful and beautiful renovations for storefronts, there are existing high-volume entries and accesses that face the North or South. Subject to the blasts of cold air from the North or furnace-like winds out of the South, either of these can be very uncomfortable for employees as well as for customers. One solution we recommend would be to design and build out a vestibule with insulated glass for buildings facing North and tinted glass for buildings facing the South. With this strategy, we would then build the access for entry on the East and West sides of the vestibule.
Our inventory consists of products that will add great curb appeal while also improving energy efficiency. We now carry a high-tech Stanley Green Door with special sensors that would optimize the automatic function of the doors to be the most user-friendly and energy efficient. Having a mutual long- term vision for the practical function and beauty of the building is our goal for our building owners and property managers.
Popular upgrades and renovations vary quite a bit these days, but many have the goals of multi-purpose use of their space, increased energy efficiency, and/or cosmetic improvements. Lately, we have been doing a lot of glassed-in conference rooms within an office building or space where meetings occur. Many of our clients want an easy to access, well lit, and yet, quiet place to gather for business meetings. Our clients want, and thus we deliver, beauty and efficiency through our glass designs, access, entry technology and security offerings.”
Specifically on project logistics and coordination, Hannum also offers the following insights: “Something I’ve seen over the last 35 years is the lack of communication between the construction partners from each area of responsibility. In other words, the design partner will incorporate a design that is difficult or almost impossible to implement on the construction side. When the construction partners begin their assignments, they discover that to meet the design specifications, it could compromise the building’s structural integrity. It’s recommended to give all parties the opportunity to look over the design as a feasibility check, just as a courtesy. This minimizes changes that might need to be made in the middle of a project. Changes must be approved by the owner, which can slow down the project as well as making it more costly. It’s frustrating for the owner or project manager to make late changes due to design and build issues. These changes can also affect morale, and more importantly, can put the project behind schedule. By allowing certain trusted partners to be included in the process, the project will go smoother. We consider ourselves not only partners in the construction phase but also a partner to keep costs down. This is another way we have built trust throughout the years.
Being patient, thoughtful and knowledgeable of the other construction partner’s roles and their timing on the job is a part of being respectful of the other trades and is a key to the successful completion of the project. Another important aspect is to be clean and efficient throughout the job. And when things don’t go right, focus on a solution instead of blaming the other contractors. That being said, a ‘good sense of humor’ comes in handy once in a while.
Communication remains a key to a successful commercial remodel, renovation or upgrade. We recommend frequent communication between design and the implementation of the project.”
Commercial remodeling projects vary quite a bit in scope and intended purpose. There’s an array of major and minor improvements that can really help you set the tone and get noticed in a good way, enhance function, or both. Many of these won’t greatly impact your ability to conduct business in the meantime, and if they do, those are things that are much needed or will be well worth it when all is said and done. Sometimes it’s easy to let things such as this go by the wayside in favor of other items that you’ve deemed to take priority, but keeping up with the appearance of your premises is truly just as important as anything else with your business. If there’s something you’ve been thinking about doing to improve the property your business occupies, seeking advice from the local professionals is a great place to start.