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September 1999

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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 following items:

  • 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 Typical reasons include: sales are dropping, you need more space, your decor is out of date.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 expenses.
  • 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 handled quickly.
  • Don't make the final payment until everything is completed, including certificates of occupancy.

– by Peggy Jo Donahue



Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.



 

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