Design Guides | The Worst “I’m Not Sure” When Planning A Commercial Environment By RHDC - March 15, 2020 Properly estimating a project budget can difficult – daunting even – but it may be THE most important component when planning a commercial space. The budget for a project can be a common question mark for Clients getting ready to find their “next,” but it’s critical to have at least a baseline number to work from. While our design experience and knowledge of current construction costs can help us refine pricing, develop a general “per square foot” cost, etc., we need at least a some general guidelines to help us help you. But where to start, you ask? Rather than just throwing a big number out on to the table, we’d recommend splitting your investment into smaller “chunks” to make them more manageable. For example, you could think of professional service fees, permitting fees and construction fees as separate “buckets” of the budget, with additional funds left over for post-construction necessities like operational considerations, inventory and marketing. Once these various” buckets” are established, RHDC can use that framework to figure out how best to allocate those dollars. It bears mentioning that an oft-overlooked “bucket” is the a cost involved with transforming a space into a “blank canvas.” Inexperienced Clients often don’t realize that there will be demolition and renovation costs when moving into an older space or one that was occupied by a different type of business. That’s right – you’re spending money before even beginning to implement a new design. Mechanical costs (think heating, cooling and ventilation) as well as electrical and lighting packages can also be larger expenses than Clients might anticipate. Now, it’s not uncommon for some of these expenses to be negotiated with your future landlord, however commercial real estate conditions can vary widely on a national basis so your mileage on this front may vary depending on where you’re looking to establish or expand. Once we understand what we have to work with spend-wise, design decisions within the environment become much easier to make since we know how various elements will affect each other as we put together the overall concept. Further, if we all agree on a general look for the space, we have a number of strategies at our disposal to bring that concept to life at a desired cost. Tools in this proverbial tool belt include value engineering how fixtures or furnishings are engineered, competitively bidding custom millwork with different vendors or re-evaluating finish and material selection. There’s another tried and tested method of making sure your concept can actually be executed within a set cost, and that’s to get contractors and vendors involved early on in the design process so they can act as checks and balances. Any budgetary red flags can then be addressed in real time as a team, which ultimately helps keep the integrity of the design intact. Exploring more economical solutions as you go—versus waiting until the end of the engineering process to address elements that are over budget—not only saves time, but also helps keep all stakeholders’ expectations in line. There are many ways to bring a concept to life, but without at least a starting budget your project risks being relegated to the dustbin of history, which is not a “bucket” you want to find yourself in! Need some help getting started? Put some numbers together and drop us a line – not only will we be happy to help you work through the best way to get your space built and opened, we’ll also be the first to tell you that you may need to go back to the ol’ funding drawing board!