Renovations are messy affairs, often fraught with hidden problems capable of inflating costs and expanding schedules. Controlled environments, requiring a myriad of construc-
tion parameters supported by significant building
system controls and structural considerations, make
any renovation process messier.
Document, then document some more
Before starting to plan your renovation, pledge to keep
and organize documents that may be useful for future
projects. Develop your document retention, filing, and
retrieval system plan. Yes, be thinking now about the
unknown project following the one you’re about to
undertake. Sound convoluted? Not at all.
There are serious costs associated with failing to
keep adequate records, whether A/E plans or as-builts,
when the next renovation project rolls around. Save
yourself, or your successor, some headaches by organizing the project’s electronic files. Don’t become a
hoarder of useless information, but think before hitting
that delete key, and take some time to set up an organized document storage and retrieval system.
Build a strong internal team
When undertaking a renovation project, resist the
urge to go it alone with your core staff. As part of your
pre-project planning, and before developing your
actual plans, develop a strong internal team, inclusive
of necessary skill sets across your organization. When
building your internal team, think outside your organi-
zation’s facilities and operations boxes. There are many
skill sets that may deliver benefits through the course
of a renovation project.
Communications is at the root of many issues
throughout the life of a project. Bring your Corporate
Communications and Government Relations group on
board early to guide strategy, provide counsel, or serve
as spokesperson, and develop contingency plans in the
event of a major crisis. You don’t want to be bringing
your communications team up to speed in the midst
of a crisis, especially in today’s instantaneous, 24-hour
news frenzy, nor do you want unauthorized and uninformed people acting as a company spokesperson.
A well-crafted PR plan informs the public, regulatory boards and agencies, and your employees of your
intentions and plans, while dispelling misinformation
and negative rumors. If your company is publicly traded, it’s important to keep investors informed. Ensuring
that key government officials are briefed about your
company’s growth plans and business challenges is
always good insurance.
Bring your organization’s legal team into the mix.
By cultivating their relationship to the renovation, they
can do more than review contracts, and you can avoid
the issue of legal team blockades out of an overabundance of caution by ensuring they fully understand the
project and its objectives. However, try to staff the slot
with someone with some entrepreneurial blood in his/
Security, environmental health & safety (EH&S),
R&D, and finance all have unique support roles to play,
from initial project conception through construction.
Bringing these key team members on board at project
conception will go a long way to ensuring a seamless
and streamlined process.
Ensure there are clear roles and responsibilities.
Most importantly, develop a structure where appropriate people are vested with authority to make decisions, and that authority is understood throughout
the organization. Nothing slows down a project more
unnecessarily than client inability to make a decision,
or a client decision matrix so layered and complex that
it cumulatively adds weeks, not days, to a project.
Katherine M. Everett,
PE, LEED AP
SMRT Architects and
Q:My company is considering undertaking a renovation project. Could you outline some key items to consider, and watch out for? A:“The road to success is always under construction.” Lily Tomlin
Renovation of existing
buildings to accommodate changes of use can
pose many challenges,
from inadequate ceiling
heights, to hidden structural flaws and abandoned utility runs.
All images: SMRT
Architects and Engineers