Remodel Without Regrets
Planning Prevents Poor Performance
Store remodeling can be an adventure with a happy ending or
a wild ride without a destination. It all comes down to planning,
says Arthur Lasky of Arthur Lasky Architects, New York City,
who gave a seminar on the topic at the JCK International Jewelry
Show in Las Vegas in June. Here are five steps to a good experience:
1. Before the Design
Lasky recommends keeping a notebook for planning, including the
- Why you're remodeling. Typical reasons include: sales are
dropping, you need more space, your decor is out of date. If
you stay focused on the problem, you'll be more likely to stick
to your goal.
- Information and inspiration. How do your competitors create
their images. Read about industry and general trends in store
design, lighting, fixtures and showcases.
- All possible solutions. Can you expand or do you need a new
store? Is extensive renovation the answer, or will a "fluff"
job (cosmetic changes) suffice?
- Parameters and goals. Go into your first meeting with an
architect or designer with the following information: how many
square feet you require (offices, bench area, sales area, security
equipment, storage, corridors, walls) and your budget. Consider
what you can afford, available financing, related costs, including
new security equipment, and a 10% contingency for unexpected
- Your timing. Add extra time in case of snafus. Accept your
vendor's estimate of how long the project will take.
2. Design Phase
- Get sketches and samples of material to check the quality.
- Get construction documents, including working drawings of
where things will be, specifications of who will make what you
want and how much it will cost.
- Make sure your vendor has coordinated all your needs, particularly
security and requirements of your local building code and landlord.
3. Construction Documents
- Have an attorney review the contract for protections, including
penalties, bonuses, damages and insurance.
- Ask the project director for a schedule of work by phases.
Beware of vendors who won't be specific.
- Resolve every problem before construction begins.
4. Bidding and Negotiation
- Choose three or four equally qualified vendors to bid on
the job. A cut-rate, low-overhead vendor can always give you
lower prices, but will it be the quality you want?
- Consider using a cost estimator, who will give an independent
estimate of what your budget can buy, in addition to estimates
you receive from vendors bidding on the job.
- Obtain estimated breakdowns of all costs, including what
subcontractors will charge and the vendor's equipment costs,
overhead and profit.
5. Construction Phase
- You and the vendor should decide when, how often and with
whom you'll communicate as work progresses. Assign one person
in your business to be project coordinator so all information
is filtered through the same person.
- Get construction changes in writing, including those you
suggest and ones the vendor suggests. Be sure costs are included
so you can make an informed decision.
- If you pay in phases, hold back a small percentage of each
payment, so you have some recourse to get last-minute details
- Don't make the final payment until everything is completed,
including certificates of occupancy.