There are many important aspects to your business. Your employees and clients/customers are, of course, at the top of the list, but have you ever considered how large a part your building plays in your company’s success? Your office building may have a large impact on your employee’s happiness and productivity and it could also be adversely affecting your bottom line if it is not an efficient structure. Putting some money into remodeling now could save you money and improve employee retention while also increasing your image and maybe even bringing in more clients.
Once a business owner realizes that his or her office building is no longer meeting their current and potential future needs, he or she may wonder if they are better off remodeling their current building or looking to buy or build a different one. Here are some reasons why remodeling may be the better option:
–Your clients and customers already know where you are. You’ve probably spent a lot of time (and possibly money) trying to tell your clients and customers where to find you. This is especially true for businesses that depend on walk-in traffic. If you move to a different location, you will need to start that process all over again. If you can remain in your established location while still being able to make the changes necessary to your building, remodeling is probably the better option.
–You’ve become a part of the neighborhood. Like those who live in their homes for a long period of time, your business (and staff) have probably become a part of the neighborhood where the office is located. You’ve probably developed relationships with other nearby businesses and have history in the neighborhood. Leaving this, especially if you are considering moving to a different neighborhood, could set your business back.
–Your building is capable of being remodeled. Is your current building capable of handling the changes you will need to fit your needs? For example, if you feel you need more space, is there room to build on? Is the infrastructure there to make any changes in technology that are needed? Is it cost effective to make all the changes you need or will it end up costing more and being less desirable than if you just bought another building?
If the answers to these questions are yes, you should consider a remodeling project.
Which Professionals Should I Work With?
Once you decide a remodeling project is in order, it’s time to begin selecting the professionals you will work with.
The general contractor is the head of your project and choosing the correct one will have a huge impact on how your remodeling project turns out. “If you have never done any remodeling, start by asking for recommendations from those who have already been through the process,” suggests Dan Klein Sr. with Regal Building Systems. “If you do not know anyone who has done remodeling, interview a list of general contractors with a predetermined list of questions.”
Wes Oestreich with Cheever Construction adds, “When choosing a general contractor, first of all review past examples of successful work, talk with references about their satisfaction and experience. Owners could also speak with their peers about who may have done past work for them or with architects they are working with.”
“There are a lot of good remodeling contractors in Lincoln,” explains Bo Jones with Tru Built Construction. “Identifying the size of your project is part of the selection process. The larger remodel companies might not be interested in a small project and a small remodel company might not be able to efficiently manage a large project. Finding the company that fits your needs might take a little asking around or researching websites of companies to see if they have done similar projects.”
If your remodeling project is extensive, you will want to work with an architect. The architect will in turn work with your general contractor to make sure the remodeling is structurally sound and that the additions or build-outs work with your current structure. If you choose an architect first, he or she can also give suggestions on general contractors to work with.
Sometimes, you don’t need a large structural remodel to make your office fit your needs. Sometimes all that is needed is some redecorating. This could include new paint, new floors, new artwork or new furniture. Interior designers can also help with space planning, which can help you better utilize the current space you have and make it unnecessary to build on.
Landscapers are very important to your remodeling project as curb appeal should be high on your list of priorities for your office building. Ken Svoboda with Ray’s Lawn and Home Care has this to say about choosing the right landscaper for your remodeling project: “Referrals and references from colleagues are always the best. Choose a landscaper with commercial experience and their own references. A professional landscaper should be able to provide a project manager with a schedule of services detailing what will be done and when. A good project manager will also ask to see the operation of the landscaper, his equipment, his employees, etc. Good communication between the landscaper and project manager is extremely important. Office telephones, cell phones, emails and texts are all ways that communication can keep pace with a hectic schedule.”
When people (this includes customers, potential customers and your own employees) pull into your parking lot, the first thing they see is your landscaping. What impression are you making? How is this impacting the possibility that you will retain clients? That you will gain the business of new ones? That your employees feel good about where they work? By working with a professional landscaper, you will know the answers to these questions and know you are doing your best to project a professional image to both your clients and employees.
Current Trends in Commercial Remodeling
Knowing the current trends in commercial remodeling can be helpful as you decide what to incorporate in your own project. As the times change, keeping on top of what is desirable in an office space cannot only insure that your employees are happy and your clients are impressed, but also that if you decide to sell the building it will be in tune with the times.
“For the most part, we are seeing less glitz and more elegance,” Dan Klein Sr. with Regal Building Systems says of current trends. “Spaces are more open, less closed off or isolated and colors are interesting and pleasing with a splash here and there for interest. Some fabrics or furnishings seem very trendy, so if you are keeping your space for quite some time, exercise caution to be on the leading edge of a trend.”
Tom Rogge with K2 Construction adds, “A lot of owners considering replacing their boilers or heating/air conditioning units are now going to geothermal. We can install the loop field in a grassy area or in a parking lot either vertically or horizontally. This gives the property owner an opportunity to save about 50% of his monthly utility costs. Replacing HVAC units is very expensive and before an owner does that, they really need to analyze the benefits of geothermal. Our capabilities have really expanded the last few years.”
“The biggest trend we have seen has been a push to reduce energy consumption,” Bo Jones with Tru Built Construction says. “Items such as replacing storefront windows with dual pane insulated glass, adding insulation to the building, installing high efficiency heating and cooling systems, and updating lighting to more efficient compact fluorescent or LED fixtures are popular projects. These items are not always glamorous items that will make the building look better, but from a long term functionality standpoint they are money well spent.”
“We have seen a huge increase in Permeable Interlocking Concrete Pavements,” says Linda Heiman with Reimers Kaufman. “We work with the architect or owner in selecting the best materials for the look they are trying to achieve in the budget they have established. The main benefit of Interlocking Concrete Pavement is stormwater management that is ADA compliant and aesthetically pleasing. The most common use we’ve seen locally is in parking lots. We have access to multiple colors, textures, and sizes to accommodate any project and can help in the design phase as well. It’s a good idea to work with a manufacturer early on in the project to make sure the budget aligns with the design you envision. Often times the manufacturer will be able to recommend alternative methods to help you get the project you want within the budget you have to work with.”
“Many business facilities are seeking to upgrade existing spaces with fresh finishes of porcelain tile, polished concrete floors, improved task and general lighting possibly using LED for efficiency,” says Wes Oestreich with Cheever Construction about current trends. “Trendier wall finishes of stone, faux paint or vinyl wall covering are also very popular.”
Projects to Consider
Energy Efficient Projects
Pat Killeen, President of Engineered Controls, Inc.,explains, “Integrating complex buildings control technologies are getting more cost effective every year. Business owners need to become educated in what technology will do for them (and their employees) as it relates to optimizing the mechanical and electrical systems in their buildings. Engineered Controls can assist them to control the right amount of everything (air, water, electricity and natural gas) to create a comfortable building environment and, at the same time, optimize cost. System integration with other intelligent building networks is where the technology is going.” This system integration will enable businesses to monitor and control all aspects of heating, ventilating and air conditioning, security, card access, video systems and even control parking access to a facility.
Engineered Controls, Inc. is leading the installation of these capabilities from their branch offices in Omaha and Lincoln, Neb. and Des Moines, Ia. Pat added, “Engineered Controls provides customers with products and services to create efficient, safe and comfortable building environments. As a leading Honeywell building control technologies contractor, Engineered Controls offers control solutions for commercial HVAC and security systems, including video surveillance and access control, parking systems, lighting control systems and building indoor air quality.” Contractors and business owners choose to enlist the help of Engineers Controls Inc. for two reasons.
Pat said, “First, our size and experience enable us to do projects ranging from small, to medium and large. Our staff is very experienced in very complicated system integration where we connect multiple systems of different types into one network. Second, we have the capability to handle a variety of scopes of work from automated temperature controls, lighting, video surveillance and building access control and building indoor air quality. We have a well-established service department with front line service providers located in Omaha, Lincoln, Norfolk and Kearney. The closer we can get to the customer the better.”
Working with an electrician who is well-educated and has experience in energy-efficient lighting such as Eric Hoke with Eric’s Electric is also an excellent idea. An electrician can go through your building’s electrical needs and see where upgrades can be made to make your building more energy efficient, helping you save on lighting costs and more.
Sometimes a painting project is all you really need to make your office feel new. “Warm, current wall colors give your clients the feel that you maintain your offices,” says Sandra Larsen with Larsen Painting. It conveys to them that you want them to frequent your business and feel comfortable and welcome there. This increases their impression of your business without saying a word. They can more easily make the assumption you want them to make which is, if you maintain your offices, you’ll maintain your account relationship with them in the same professional manner.
Soliciting quality workmen either through a referral or an association such as the Home Builders Association is a great way to start with a painting project. Have your scope of work in mind so the painter can provide you with an accurate estimate. Do you just want the lobby painted or the offices too? Are you replacing the doors? Will they need to be painted? How about the non-public spaces? Is there trim that needs refinished or will it be replaced and need stained or painted? Do you plan to spruce up the exterior as well? Ask about the process your painter prefers and try to accommodate it he can provide you with the best price. For example, most painters would prefer to perform their work before any new flooring, counter-tops or office furniture is put in place. This is one strategy to keep the cost down by eliminating multiple trips and preventing the potential for damage to your new finishes. Matt, Larsen Painting, Inc. likes to provide detailed itemized estimates based on a meeting with the business owner, measuring the spaces involved and doing a detailed review the plans if you have them. He will be able to give an idea of how long the job will take and when he can expect to perform the work.”
“Both residential and commercial landscapes are based on curb appeal,” states Ken Svoboda with Ray’s Lawn & Home Care. “Adding color, texture and screening is always important. From there, they sometimes can differ greatly. If the commercial project is an office building with several levels, the landscape has to designed to fit the structure, bringing a balance to the size of the building. The use of larger shrubbery and trees are more prevalent. Mass plantings of shrubbery, perennials and trees help bring the size of the landscape into scale with the size of the structure. In most cases, commercial properties are expecting a more low maintenance approach reducing on-going and future costs.”
Maintaining your landscape is also extremely important. “Commercial properties are serviced weekly to bi-weekly depending on the landscape, the budget and of course the expectation of the property manager. If there are perennials in the landscape, dead-heading is required to maintain a well-manicured look. Shrubbery is trimmed regularly to maintain a specific size and shape and trees are pruned as necessary to prevent pedestrian and safety problems from arising.”
If you really want to add some visual interest to your building’s landscape, you can consider bigger projects including ponds, water features and boulders to set it apart from other businesses in the area. Talk with a professional who can help you come up with suggestions if this is the goal you are trying to achieve.
“The Tint Shop and 3M have many ways to enhance your commercial property,” says Keith May with The Tint Shop. “From 3M Solar Control Window Films to the superior strength and protection of 3Ms ScotchShield Ultra Safety and Security Films, and even a wide variety of decorative films with frost finishes, stripes, dots and much more in 3Ms Fasara line of decorative window films. 3M Solar Control Films are great for any building that has heat and glare issues, as well as ‘cleaning up’ the outside appearance of the building by concealing uneven blinds, desks, cords and other eyesores from the outside of the building. 3Ms Prestige line of films gives you ultimate heat reduction without have to alter the outside look of the window much, if at all. This film is virtually clear in some cases but can also be darker. By using 224 layers in the film, the heat is absorbed throughout the surface of the film and bounced between layers until its minimalized, therefore not allowing heat to pass through the glass.”
Water or Sewer Upgrades
Let’s face it, some of the remodeling projects that need to be done are not pretty and it’s likely that no one will even know you’ve done them. However, they are sometimes necessary so that your office can continue to operate safely and cleanly. Water and sewer upgrades are included in these types of projects and it’s very important that you choose the right professionals to work with when undertaking a project such as this.
“We specialize in exterior work, so if the owner needs to upgrade the water or sewer service to the property we can install those conventionally, as well as any changes to site drainage or green space,” says Tom Rogge with K2 Construction. “Something a lot of owners are considering is keeping their parking lots in place and having us directionally drill the new water, sewer or storm water services. That way the parking lots can stay open and in use. We can install anything from 2” up to 24” in diameter without disrupting the surface.
We also have three large Hydro-Vac trucks which are essentially a big vacuum on a truck. This helps the owner excavate up against a building or in landscaped areas without having a big backhoe come in and create a big pile of dirt. We can excavate a 6” diameter hole 15’ straight down if necessary. A lot of times we excavate up against the buildings or around window wells and other hard to reach places.”
General Advice from the Pros
–Building projects are starting to feel the pains of inflation, so it is to the owner’s advantage to consider the entire project, both inside and outside. They need to check out all of their options. We pride ourselves on leading edge construction techniques and equipment. Our people have been exposed to most every situation, so they can handle it. We encourage people to contact us at any stage of a project and we can provide a lot of different ideas for them. As always, the earlier the better. Tom Rogge, K2 Construction.
–Prioritize your needs and compare them to your wish list. It’s easy to look past items such as insulation and lighting as it may not be a concern but upgrading during a remodel is the ideal time to do so. Know where you want to draw the line. With any remodel project it is difficult to decide where to stop. As soon as the new items are installed it makes the old items look that much worse. Also, plan for some downtime. Depending on the complexity of your remodel, there may be times in which the remodel process interrupts your daily functions. In the end it will all be worth it. Bo Jones, Tru Built Construction.
Current Remodeling Projects
— Cheever is currently renovating Lancaster Manor, Southern Heights Presbyterian Church and Lincoln Surgical Hospital having just completed Sigma Chi fraternity and Lincoln Endoscopy. They are soon starting renovations at Eastridge Presbyterian, Pius X High School and Beta Theta Pi fraternity.
— K2 worked with Kingery Construction on some storm water improvements at the Lincoln Surgical Center. This was a project that was designed to open-cut the parking lot, and they could not afford to disrupt traffic for their patients. They proposed directionally drilling the storm sewer and they didn’t have to close the parking lot at all.
— Regal Building Systems worked on The Waterford at Wilderness Hills Blvd Memory Care, a new construction building on South 27th behind Kohl’s. This facility was designed as a memory care domiciliary for Dementia/Alzheimer’s residents. Because of the specialized use of the building, the architectural team, the interior designer and the owner group combined their professional experience and the latest research to develop this plan to provide a safe, comfortable and attractive environment for the new residents.