Reap Project Awards With Renovation Challenges

June 2, 2003
Our June issue features this year’s Modernization Award winners – projects that truly exemplify the industry’s spirit and commitment to restore, renovate, upgrade, and/or adapt the buildings that reside in our landscape. Jackie Jennings, president of Johnson & Jennings General Contracting (, a leading San Diego-based general contracting firm specializing in corporate office, retail, healthcare, and industrial facility tenant improvements, offers further insight into making modernization work for you. Defining Project GoalsIn a renovation’s planning stages, the project owner needs to develop an enduring vision of just what the facility should be after the renovation; then, develop project goals to fulfill that vision.Questions to ask include the following:What factors are driving the renovation (i.e., upgrading systems, installing new technology, upgrading finishes, new tenants, changes in space function, desire to enhance aesthetic appeal)?Is the goal to upgrade the building to reposition it in the market and command higher rents?What are the quality expectations for various aspects of the build-out?Can the budget realistically support those expectations? Maintaining Communication To achieve desired goals for any renovation, ongoing communication among all parties is critical. To help minimize the impact of renovation work on office operations and tenant nerves, facility managers and the renovation’s project team should work collaboratively to develop strategies that address potential headaches. What issues will affect the schedule of the project? Will work take place while the building is occupied, or will it involve phased moves? Executing a Realistic Schedule The key to an effective project schedule for a renovation is to keep it realistic. There exists a misconception that because renovation work involves an existing building, it should be quicker than new construction. A schedule should be developed after careful evaluation of all issues (i.e., weather concerns, tenant disruption) that drive the timing of a specific project. A well-thought-out schedule can serve as an important tool not only in controlling construction, but also in communicating the details of the project plan to the facility executives and tenants.Preparing for the Unexpected Once the project sequence is in place, the project team should develop plans to handle potential disruptions. The contractor should coordinate all subcontractor activity and communicate daily with the facility executive. Interruptions and system shutdowns should be scheduled well in advance. Further, it is wise to set aside a contingency budget of approximately 15 to 20 percent, as even the most carefully planned project can be hit with a few surprises.

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