Solutions to 3 Surprisingly Common Renovation Problems


Even if you love your office space, from time to time, an update is a good thing. Putting in new carpets, taking down a wall to combine two rooms, rewiring to update cables and allow top internet speeds—change is a good thing in business.

Unfortunately, when it comes to renovation projects, often the only thing that you can reliably expect is that things won’t go as expected. Your calculations beforehand might be off, or something happens mid-renovation causing you to go over budget. The contractors you hire promise quality work and fail to deliver. Work delays prevent you from following the timeline you set in advance.

It’s important to know what to do when problems inevitably arise. To help out, we’ve put together some tips to avoid or deal with three of the most common problems that come up in commercial renovations.

1. Going over budget

One of the first steps in approaching an office renovation project is to lay out plans and determine the cost of the project. The problem is that when it comes to enacting those plans, it almost always costs more than expected. Your original plan needs to be scrapped, because over the course of the project, you realize that the wall you wanted to remove is load bearing; suddenly, there are additional design costs.

Once the space is updated, you realize that you still need to bring in an interior designer to make sure the space looks great when clients visit the office. When you expand the office to bring in more workers, you forget to account for the extra parking that will be necessary for those new workers and have to factor in a new parking lot. When you’re putting in a sprinkler system to water the landscaping outside and you discover you have an infestation of moles, requiring you to hire a lawn pest control service.

There are so many moving parts in a renovation, from design to construction, and it’s almost certain that one of those moving parts is going to break down. When it does, it’s going to cost money.

How to deal with or prevent it:

When you’re planning out your budget, establish solid budget contingencies as well. A good rule of thumb is to start with a 10 percent design contingency. As the work progresses, you can gradually lower it. The same is true when it comes to construction costs. Also plan for construction workers  who may need to work overtime to meet your timeline.

Have an experienced construction professional work with you from the very beginning to help you manage your expectations. That way, you can begin planning early on to prevent yourself from getting stuck halfway through a project with no money later.

2. Missed deadlines

If you are renovating an active working space, then any construction project is going to be disruptive. If the project is not complete by the time you initially planned, that disruption increases exponentially. Workers who are willing to to make concessions during construction can quickly become unhappy if they’re asked to extend those concessions indefinitely. If you are planning an event in the space and the space isn’t ready, it can disrupt important plans. It’s important for renovation projects to finish in a timely manner to keep things running smoothly.

How to deal with or prevent it:

One of the best ways to prevent a missed deadline is to keep your expectations reasonable from the very beginning. You can convince your contractors to do a rush job, but you will have to be prepared for them to make mistakes, which could further delay the project. Just as when you are budgeting money for the project, it’s wise to put a small cushion of time in your deadline to account for unexpected delays.

When you draft your contract with the renovators, include a clear set of milestones and a schedule for when each step should be complete. If something is overdue, immediately reach out to them. Also realize that moving your staff into the newly renovated area will take time, so build that into your own schedule, too.

3. Substandard workmanship

Imagine this: You spend months designing and enacting a project to update your office. Your workers are displaced for weeks, or even months, as the construction takes place. Finally, the builders declare the work done, and you sign off on the project. A few days after the construction crews have cleared out, you notice a lot of little issues that you didn’t notice before—drawer handles coming loose, floorboards that are creaking or coming loose, light switches that don’t work properly. By this point, though, the construction firm has moved on to their next project.

When you spend so much time and money updating your office, you want things to be perfect. And while it may be possible to bring the workers back to make a few changes, it’s an additional hassle, it’s more disruptions to your employees’ workflow, and at this point, it may be difficult to get the construction firm to cooperate.

How to deal with or prevent it:

One of the first things you should do to prevent this sort of situation is research each construction crew you are considering thoroughly before you even begin the project. Reach out to other companies for recommendations, and study online reviews of their work carefully. Ask for examples of work they have done, then take the time to see it.

Once you have hired a construction firm, follow up regularly throughout the renovation process. Watch out for problems and double check each stage of construction. Keep an eye on little things, such as the number of shelves in units and the sturdiness of construction on fixtures.  Do a thorough check at the beginning, middle, and end of each phase of construction. If possible, bring a coworker or employee for an additional pair of eyes. If you notice anything amiss, bring it to the construction foreman’s attention immediately.

There is an old saying that among the qualities cheap, fast. and good, you can pick any two. It’s a fair barometer, and you may need to adjust your plans accordingly. Still, by keeping tabs on the project and keeping your expectations reasonable, you can still manage a quality project that is completed within your budget and in a reasonable amount of time.

Author Bio:

Carol Evenson is a consultant specializing in real estate and home renovations. She works with individuals and corporations within the US and UK.

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