Click Here for Part 1, and Here for Part 2.
“The architect… did not consult with the doctor on budget expectations or share industry average construction costs prior to starting the design.”
Who’s the decider?
A major issue that designers (mostly independent) struggle with is the notion of not invented here. By this, I am referring to ideas that you’ll have about how you want the space to look or flow. Many designers feel that they are the professionals and WHATEVER they say is what should be done.
I understand where they’re coming from. It’s tempting to insist upon applying all my years of experience to any given design but that experience has afforded me a process that incorporates your needs and ideas and ultimately leads to better design.
The reality is that your ideas are critical to the design process and whomever you choose should welcome your input. I tend to take a devil’s advocate approach with clients. Every idea should be both valid and challenged.
If you are working with someone that can take your project from start to finish, it is more likely that you will see more of your ideas come to fruition, since a big picture view means they’ll be able to see the advantages and logic behind your ideas.
Some changes are likely but the possibility of incorporating some of your own ideas and desires becomes much simpler as we carefully consider your space, clientele, type of business and other needs.
And the runner up is…
If the major lesson of getting started in your new practice is LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION, then the second lesson of designing the space is TIME, TIME, TIME.
You should take your TIME in the overall design process, as the end result will greatly impact your productive space. Taking time up front in design can save you COUNTLESS dollars once you start building.
Getting your store fixtures (in the big scheme) is a very small part of the design process and can take place quickly if you are using “stock fixtures”. Custom fixtures means lots of design and build time. A good design firm can help you decide where your time will be best spent.
Once upon a time…
A client asked us to review plans that had been drafted by a high priced architectural firm that had never done an optical space. Upon first glance, the lab was in the back (not near the dispensing area for quick access), the professional space took up almost the entire store and left very little space for reception and selling.
With close to 50% of practice revenue coming from eyewear sales, having 15% of the space to accommodate that work is not logical. The architect, being used to doing high end projects, did not consult with the doctor on budget expectations or share industry average construction costs prior to starting the design.
It only took moments looking at the finish schedule to see that the lighting was going to take nearly 60% of the total budget the client had shared with me for the whole project. The reception desk had a rather tight radius and was to be covered in large marble tiles (just because it can be drawn does not mean it can be built). Since tiles don’t bend, this was going to be both a challenge and not likely yield acceptable results.
To make matters worse, the project was started before the client had dialed down all the final details.
Sometimes less is…umm…less
The client started changing the fixtures, locations of fixtures, colors and finishes to save costs after the project started. In this case, the contractor was quite happy to accommodate because each change order was accompanied by a $250 charge PLUS return or cancellation fees on the originally specified materials PLUS the markup on the new materials. As you can imagine, this did not really reduce the price of the project. Instead, it created a space that cost a lot with downgraded materials.
Happy client experiences
We iron out details prior to construction start or even seeking formal bids. Getting a bid from a floor plan without a finish schedule and reflected ceiling plan with specifications for the space is set up for a very frustrating guessing game that could impact your business for years to come.
Allowing too many variables is not the way to start your new business. When all the details are dialed down, your estimates of cost will be more accurate and the suppliers can check stock on the finishes to make sure lead times are not affected by back orders, discontinued colors, etc.
Careful pre-planning minimizes change-orders to issues related only to site conditions… things beyond the control of you and subcontractors. I strive for maximum change orders of 5% of the original bid/estimates from the general contractor.
The best professional design takes approximately 4 to 6 weeks. The pace of completion is dictated by planning. On-the-fly decisions slow the process. During the entire process, you’ll have financing and other details to juggle, along with your regular work.
Taking time up front and being involved through the design process will give you comfort knowing that when construction starts, you can stay focused on what you do best….eye health and fashion.
This is part three of a series. Part one is here. Part two is here.
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