We think it’s safe to say this year didn’t go exactly as many of us had planned. With the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, many projects were put on hold, budgets were readjusted, and whole workforces sent home to work remotely.
We’ve all adjusted to this new normal, but as the end of the pandemic draws near and we look forward to resuming normal, pre-pandemic activities, it’s time to start thinking about planning (or unpausing) your commercial construction project. Why? Let’s look at 5 compelling reasons below.
1. Winter is a great season to start planning construction
It’s no secret that the winter season here in the Portland area is usually heavy on rain and darkness. This can cause its fair share of obstacles for constructing your building, but there is a bright side, too. The dreary winter months present the perfect opportunity to get your development and pre-construction planning out of the way, so you are ready to hit the ground running as soon as the sun and springtime arrive.
This also means, if all goes according to plan, your project will likely be finished by the end of summer/early fall, instead of in the winter.
2. Proper planning takes time
When it comes to building a new building or improving an old one, it’s not as simple as buying the space and building the building. A commercial construction project is a multi-step process that takes, on average, between 6-12 months to complete.
As you start planning, it’s important to consider not only your own goals for the new space, but how your customers, employees, and vendors will use the building as well.
Let’s review the basic steps to commercial construction projects.
Step 1 – Planning and development
Proper planning is a key part of any construction project. That’s why it’s the first step! The planning and development stage is when you choose:
- A building location
- A budget
- An architect and a general contractor — or a commercial construction company that does both
Step 2 – Design
The design phase is where all of the building specs — including things like the colors and materials used — are determined. This is also when you’ll get full drawings, detailing the layouts and function of each room.
Once the general design of the building is determined, your project team will determine that the project meets all building codes and create a detailed timeline and cost.
Step 3 – Pre-Construction
Three very important things happen during pre-construction:
- Your project team is identified
- Permits for your project are submitted
- Insurance is acquired
It’s important to remember that permits can and often do take months to get approved.
Step 4 – Procurement
The procurement phase is just what it sounds like — the time when your general contract purchases all of the necessary supplies, equipment, and materials for the project. Additionally, labor is hired during this phase.
Procurement is also the time when purchase orders are completed, which lock in pricing and ensure required specifications for the construction materials.
Now your project is ready for construction!
Step 5 – Construction
This is the phase where your building gets built, or updated. From the foundation to the installation of utilities, framing, roofing, plumbing, electrical…it all comes together here. This process is frequently inspected by the site’s project manager.
Step 6 – Post-Construction
The few final steps of a commercial building project include a final walkthrough, furniture installation, and a certificate of completion issued by the building’s architect. Then, a building official conducts a final inspection. After this, your building is ready for occupancy.
3. The pre-construction approval process is long
Chances are, you expect the actual construction to be the longest part of your commercial construction process, right? In reality, the pre-construction approval can take just as long, if not longer, than it takes to physically build or update your building. Getting all of the permits and paperwork submitted and approved can take anywhere from 2 to 6 months to complete, so the sooner you can start this approval process, the better.
4. Get ahead of the curve on changing building needs
One big thing we see a lot of businesses considering is how their building needs have changed since the start of COVID-19 and how that will reflect in the space and layout of their property. Let’s briefly review a few of the most common changes we’re seeing.
Higher demand for private office spaces
For years, modern office layouts have tended towards open floor plans, with groups of desks lined up together without any separation between them. This type of floor plan has a few major pros: it is cost-effective and helps maximize existing space.
With the dawn of COVID-19, however, this common office layout is likely to change back to traditional office floor plans, with more private offices and closed-off space to prevent extended person-to-person contact.
Reducing the size of communal spaces
This one goes hand in hand with the demand for private office spaces. With buildings shifting towards a more closed-off layout style, communal spaces like the office kitchen, lobby, or conference rooms will likely get smaller (and function differently, with fewer high touch areas).
Not only will this help keep transmission to a minimum, but it will also help building owners cut costs they will be spending on building private offices.
Focus on clean air and air circulation
Due to the risk of aerosol transmission of COVID-19, many businesses — dental offices, medical practices, retail, and restaurants — are starting to look into adding advanced HVAC systems to their build. Not only do medical grade HVAC systems help filter dangerous COVID-19 particles out of the air, but they’ll also come in handy for filtering smoke out of the air during wildfire season in Oregon.
We’ve all seen the guidelines and know that COVID-19 is less likely to spread when outdoors. With that in mind, we expect to see more businesses choosing to build more expansive outdoor environments for their employees or customers to use safely (and in our rainy climate, while keeping dry too).
5. Know that plans may be paused or changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic
If there’s anything 2020 has taught us, it’s to expect the unexpected. And while that likely means we’ve all learned to keep a spare mask in our glove compartment for those surprise trips to the store, that also translates into preparing for possible obstacles with your build. Due to COVID-19 and the changing guidelines in response to its spread, work on your project may need to be put on hold, or it may take longer than originally expected.
That’s why we recommend getting started on your commercial building project as soon as you can — the sooner you start, the sooner it will get done, despite any complications that may arise.
Start your commercial construction project today
As we near the end of the pandemic, it’s time to start thinking ahead. Things might look a little different now than they did 9 months ago, but we’re confident we can help you build a building that meets your goals. Whether it’s adapting your new dental office with COVID safety in mind, updating your apartment complex’s lobby, or building your new retail space from the ground up, we’re confident we have the skills and experience to get the job done right.