Commercial Remodeling in 2017 – Lincoln, NE


Commercial Remodeling in 2017 – Lincoln, NE

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.

Rod Berens - Kingery Construction

Rod Berens
Kingery Construction

“Commercial remodeling is more challenging than new construction most of the time,” says Rod Berens of Kingery Construction. “There is a lot more coordination during the project but it is very satisfying to all involved because you get to take something that is old and worn out and make it new again.

Many times the owners have the expectation that the architect will include everything in the plans. However, there are usually many decisions to be made during construction. This is especially true during a remodel project. Once construction begins, items are discovered in the building that were not foreseen. It is my recommendation that owners have money set aside for these items so they do not go over budget.

The speed of the project is often at the forefront, as many owners want the project done as quickly as possible. We meet with the owner and architect to discuss materials and how long it takes to get them so everyone is on the same page. We can help with the speed of the project by suggesting similar materials that do not take as long to get. Many times these items are less expensive because they are more readily available.”

Also regarding materials and budget, he advises, “Individual tastes will vary but to save money in the future, try and stick to timeless looks and materials. This will save money by not having to upgrade and remodel as frequently. There are many upgrades that are smart investments, such as the balance between the return energy-efficient fixtures provide and the initial cost of these fixtures. The cost of LED lighting has come down tremendously in the last few years and is much more affordable to operate.”

Justin Kurtzer Cheever Construction - Headshot

Justin Kurtzer
Cheever Construction

Justin Kurtzer of Cheever Construction also notes, “One constant with commercial remodeling is that there is never an ideal time, but don’t let that deter you from upgrading your facility. While there will be some inconvenience, there are ways to minimize that and keep your operations running smoothly in the meantime. Our team of experienced professionals at Cheever Construction has a proven track record of performing renovations in many different settings, both occupied and vacant. From small jobs with a limited scope to extensive multi-million dollar projects, this has included schools, churches, office buildings, medical facilities, manufacturing and senior living. We can arrange to perform the necessary tasks or as a full-service commercial general contractor, can provide complete project coordination involving sub-contractors – obtaining competitive bids, administering contracts, and supervising all phases of construction. For each request and environment, we have a unique plan of action in place that takes into account all of the foreseen challenges we’ll encounter along the way so that all parties are on the same page.”


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.

Michelle Brinkman-Echo Systems

Michelle Brinkman
Echo Systems

Integration of technology is a perfect example. “Acoustics, lighting, HVAC design and infrastructure planning are all too often overlooked when planning commercial spaces,” advises Michelle Brinkman of Echo Systems. “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.”

She also offers a few recommendations for integrating technology upgrades during a commercial remodel. “Network-based audio-visual systems provide a new way of distributing sound and video throughout a building using existing network infrastructure. This allows more flexibility and scalability. We’ve also had a lot of requests for sound masking, which creates privacy for confidential conversations. With architectural trends leading to more open office environments, there has become a greater need for more white noise. Next, projector technology that replaces lamps with lasers eliminates the need for replacing expensive bulbs and significantly extends the life of the projector itself as well. Finally, wireless collaboration devices allow anyone to come into a meeting room and give a presentation using their own laptop or tablet. We’ve got many more suggestions to offer at Echo Systems, so I’d advise calling us at (402) 334-4900 to schedule an appointment to come see our Experience Center for design and planning ideas.”

Building automation is another example of technology that needs to be successfully integrated into existing infrastructure.

Pat Killeen Engineered Controls - Headshot

Pat Killeen
Engineered Controls

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.”

Matt Collins Oak Electric, Inc. headshot

Matt Collins
Oak Electric, Inc.

Specifically regarding the electrical aspect, Matt Collins of Oak Electric, Inc. also offers his professional advice on integration, focusing specifically on upgrading a building’s lighting. “One of the best upgrades during a commercial remodel is lighting. A thoughtful lighting scheme can benefit your business in two separate ways. First, by simply upgrading your current lighting it can set the tone to motivate your employees. Secondly, upgraded lighting can enhance the visual appeal for your customers, making them feel welcome and comfortable.

Currently, the most popular renovation to lighting is to change standard overhead lighting to LED lights. LED lights are available in a variety of different sizes, colors, and options. LED lighting will bring your office space up to date as well as reducing energy consumption.

For those who are curious about the specifics, LED stands for ‘light emitting diode.’ A diode is an electrical component with two terminals which conduct the electricity only in one direction. With an electrical current, the diode emits a bright light around the small bulb.

Nowadays you can’t have a discussion about energy-efficient lights without mentioning LEDs. I strongly encourage anyone looking to upgrade their lighting to consider LED lighting as it offers the best return on your investment. Not only does it provide the visual appeal, but it will last significantly longer than standard fluorescent or incandescent lights.”


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 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.

Photo-Darin Cielocha-McGill-Restoration

Darin Cielocha
McGill Restoration

“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.


Jon Eicher
ABC Electric

While very important, project cost is not always the best method of determining which contractor or subcontractor to partner with,” advises Jon Eicher of ABC Electric. “What may seem like a great deal or a low price up front may actually turn out to be a costly long-term decision. We believe that our experience and attention to detail will ultimately give the owner more ‘bang for their buck’ over the long term. I always recommend working with a ‘known entity.’ This is someone who a proven track record, has an excellent rating with the Better Business Bureau, and can provide references that you are welcome to contact. ABC Electric is a family-owned local business with more than 80 years of continuous service to the community, spanning four generations. We are qualified to perform any and all electrical service you may require and we are responsive and conscientious. Our success is, and has always been, measured by that of our customers. 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.”

He adds, “It is also important to have all of the professionals who will be involved in the project brought on as early as possible. This will not only allow them to contribute their expertise to the design process, but also help with the accuracy of cost estimates for each portion of the project.”

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 prevalent and accessible in recent times; the technology has come such a long way and installation has become quite the expedient process too.

Drew Coffey J-Tech Solar - Headshot

Drew Coffey
J-Tech Solar

“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.

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.


Dan Klein Jr.
Regal Building Systems

“Generally with respect to commercial remodeling, I find that clients are often concerned with curb appeal and interested in exterior remodeling as it attracts attention to their business,” advises Dan Klein Jr. of Regal Building Systems. “The attention to exterior details needs tasteful consideration because perception and the impression a person has of your business when they drive by or approach your location will factor into their decision to do business with you. Your location is an extension of your business and can enhance or detract from your reputation, so it should be taken into account accordingly. The most aggressive approach would be completely changing your exterior façade, but as a starting point, you could change the color scheme by repainting. You’ll want to stay aligned with the impression your making with your exterior as your clientele enters the building too. It’s important to keep the front desk and lobby/reception areas updated as well so they always look nice and remain inviting. You’ll find that with the interior, there are options of changing the flooring, paint or other finishes, but one can also consider fresh new furniture. These are often high-traffic areas, so you’ll want to pay close attention to the materials with them all as it’s important they stand up to regular use.

Color trends are constantly changing, whether for floor coverings, finishes, or paint. For the most part, they tend to shift in tones annually and migrate to something completely different every 2-3 years. That’s what really keeps spaces looking fresh and up-to-date, so if you haven’t switched it up in a while, it’s something to consider.

We often find that just as in residential properties, there’s typically never enough storage. As it’s often neglected, different ways to add it in have evolved out of necessity, and it’s an area we commonly revisit as tenants change. While not the most glamorous part of a space to consider, it makes the space more functional, helping increase efficiency and eliminate clutter that detracts from the overall appearance.

For those uncertain about what exactly they want to do with their space, a consultation with a contractor will help you generate ideas while also giving you a better idea of the costs that would be associated with those. Prior to meeting, making a list of priorities will help to guide the discussion so that it’s the most productive.”

In agreement on the interior aspects, Jacque Lee of EMO Flooring adds, “It’s important to select materials that are durable and colors that are universally appealing. You’ll want to plan ahead and select materials well in advance of your preferred date of installation due to lead times on ordering and scheduling. Be prepared for a two week lead time on each; getting everything in place more than a month in advance is advised. Our talented interior designers on staff can help you with the selection of not only flooring materials, but also paint, countertops, and can advise on anything else so that there’s cohesiveness with the finished product.”

Branding is also a strong impression-maker, and signage is critical in helping people identify the location of your business. It’s also often incorporated into the interior design to give a distinct personality to the business and cohesiveness with the exterior signage.

Tony Persons Nebraska Sign Company - Headshot

Tony Persons
Nebraska Sign Company

“A company’s brand is what separates them from the competition, making them unique,” advises Tony Persons of Nebraska Sign. “If you’ve spent the money on a great logo design, then you want to be thinking about how you will be showcasing that logo to everyone who enters your space by making sure it’s prominently displayed, and lit in a way that makes it exciting and appealing. This should be planned out before you start your renovation so that you can make certain that you have enough area and structure to support the type of display you envision, and that you have proper power access so you can light it properly.

Being efficient doesn’t have to be the same as being cheap. You can have a sleek, modern space that will appeal to your audience without breaking the bank but it takes good design and planning. You want the design of your interior to strengthen your brand image, and you can certainly accomplish that efficiently without overspending by working with an experienced professional.”

He also touches on what’s been on-trend recently with signage. “Many of our clients are choosing to use large, custom-printed wall wraps to create patterns or artistic murals that give their spaces a more modern feel. It’s an affordable option that stands out as opposed to just a single paint color and can create amazing accent walls. We can take a photo or a piece of art and blow it up to fill an entire room.”

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.