What Can Go Wrong During a Construction Renovation?
The Problem with Renovations and the Construction Industry
When it comes to construction renovation, the challenge is apparent right from the start: often, the company doing the renovation isn’t the one that built the structure in the first place.
Because of that, significant complexity can arise for the partners managing the project; architects and design firms responsible for the new layout and finishes; the permit handlers that keep approvals moving smoothly; property owners and managers (if the structure is part of a larger group of contiguous structures or spaces like a strip mall); adjacent tenants or owners; and of course, the client themselves if they’re separate from the property owner. When the unexpected happens, each party stops dead in its tracks — forced to go back to the drawing table to figure out a quick solution.
All the while, the client is facing a delay on the project starting or, if the construction renovation is happening in a closed environment, is losing money due to their facility not being able to serve customers. Clearly, this is far from an ideal situation. But what exactly are the challenges that cause breakdowns or roadblocks in construction?
Research from global consulting firm McKinsey & Company identified a key reason why construction renovation projects fail or suffer setbacks — one that has historically plagued the construction industry as a whole: a lack of productivity. Whereas many other industries have invested in productivity, continuous improvement, and project management solutions to make themselves more efficient, the construction industry has remained relatively stagnant — even taking notable dips over the past decade.
According to their research, 98% of construction projects experience cost over-runs (with the average cost increase being 80% of the original value), and 77% of projects are at least 40% late (by an average of 20 months).
While renovations are not as complex and time-consuming as full-scale construction initiatives, they can still suffer from cost overages, timeline delays, and other productivity challenges. And the risk only increases as more and more locations are added to the renovation program. Let’s explore a few key renovation pitfalls and how working with a proven, efficient construction management partner ensures success.
5 Construction Renovation Pitfalls That Bring Projects to a Halt
Program Management Issues
Let’s start at the beginning. Once an organization has decided to undertake a construction renovation (whether it’s at one, a few, or a few hundred locations), the program itself must be scoped, outlined, and formalized. There are a variety of steps and details to consider in this early stage. Teams and departments must be briefed and brought into alignment on the project, its timeline, the budget, and the work needed from internal and external partners. A vision for what program success looks like should also be established and shared so that everyone has a north star toward which to aim their efforts.
If any part of this phase is not clearly defined, mishandled, or falls between the cracks, the program could start to derail. While minor adjustments will undoubtedly need to be made throughout the program to account for the unforeseen, late-stage breakdowns could send everyone back to square one — adding immense costs to the already sizable investment being made, damaging relationships, and extending the timeline needed to complete the program.
Clear definitions mean successful timelines: When a major telecommunications brand needed floor-to-ceiling remodels for 70 locations, the Stratus refresh & remodel team developed a program that resulted in each site being completed in only two weeks per store. Explore our work for them here.
Permits and Documentation
If you’ve been involved in a construction renovation project before, you know that the number of permits needed can be significant. They vary in complexity and requirements depending on the work being completed. When you multiply this administrative hurdle by the number of locations undergoing renovation, it can make even the most seasoned construction professionals get knots in their stomachs.
Without a proper understanding of the permits needed for a construction renovation, individual projects can get held up for days or even weeks as contractors and others involved in the process try to schedule meetings; obtain, fill out, and return the necessary paperwork; manage the submittal process; and more. And because many local government facilities are still closed to the public, this entire process becomes even more burdensome and time-consuming.
The right partner keeps permitting moving: At Stratus, our construction professionals have completed numerous projects for multiple industries. We work with permit expediters that maintain national databases with municipal permit requirements, allowing our team to complete your construction renovation permit submittals accurately the first time and get them approved on-time — every time. Learn more about our renovation process.
Unexpected Discoveries During Work
Even with the best architects, construction supervisors, and interior design consultants, it’s likely that your construction renovation will run into a few unforeseen roadblocks along the way. Often, this has to do with the systems in a building, such as the plumbing, HVAC system, or electrical. But occasionally, there may be structural issues such as the way specific walls were built, the foundation, the roof, or other elements. This is particularly true when the renovation is taking place inside connected facilities such as strip malls, big-box stores, malls, or professional office developments.
While these incidents can’t always be identified early on, what matters is that your construction renovation partner doesn’t allow it to slow the project down. Experience is essential here, as a knowledgeable superintendent or project manager will be able to not only understand the discovery and what it means for the project timeline and budget but also be able to rapidly identify a solution — while minimizing the impact of that solution. While delays and additional costs may be unavoidable, working with a partner that can help you navigate them efficiently and keep you moving toward your goal can help offset the impact by completing the renovation faster so the facility can start operating sooner.
Solutions at every turn: When a flooring and accessories company was looking to remodel an old Toys “R” Us location into a new retail store, our team encountered numerous unexpected challenges once construction began — but that didn’t stop us from delivering a new location just in time for its grand opening.
Poor Contractor Performance
Whether you’re in retail, the financial services industry, telecommunications, or any other market operating countless facilities throughout your footprint, it’s likely that workers from your organization won’t be the ones doing the construction renovation work itself — or even managing the day-to-day operations involved. You’ll be working with one or more commercial renovation contractors, who in turn are bringing their preferred (or sometimes non-preferred) subcontractors to execute various aspects of the work.
The issue here is that you have to take your construction partners’ word for it that the people executing the renovation are skilled, knowledgeable, and professional. If you haven’t worked with the contractor before, their word, past work examples, and professional references are all you have. And while that might sound like more than enough, there’s still the chance that significant mistakes could be made because the contractor decided to use a less experienced or less expensive subcontractor for a portion of the project. While they’re on the hook for that mistake, it’ll still cost your organization time and money (and administrative headaches in dealing with insurance).
You can avoid this entire burden by working with a single construction renovation partner who works with proven subcontractors and field partners and continually analyzes their performance to ensure they’re the right team for the work at hand.
Proven partners add value: Stratus has built an experienced network of more than 2,300 field partners across the country. Each has proven their skills and continually undergoes performance assessments. This vast network ensures we’re able to efficiently and professionally execute your construction renovation at virtually any scale.
Lack of Technology and Oversight
Last but not least is the importance of technology in a construction renovation program. While you may already have a project or program management system in place for your own industry and operations, you may not have solutions in place that are specific to construction efforts. Moreover, you may not have mobile solutions or online reporting tools that centralize all aspects of your renovation in one place for team members, contractors, subcontractors, and others to access at any time.
This is important because for your renovation to succeed, effective oversight must be in place. That and essential documentation and program details must be accessible at all times so decision-makers — at both the client leadership and construction levels — have what they need to make the most informed choices possible.
Solutions for every need: Stratus offers various advanced brand implementation management tools ranging from tablet-based dispatching tools and mobile field reporting apps to online client portals and customized reporting solutions. Learn more about our technology solutions here.
Work with Stratus for Your Next Construction Renovation Program
At Stratus, our refresh & remodel construction team understands the countless nuances of renovation programs and how to make them successful. With thousands of projects completed annually for multiple industries across the country, we offer the brand implementation expertise your organization needs to improve customer experiences, drive sales growth, and more effectively compete in your market.
We offer W-2 superintendents with vast expertise in multiple industries along with dedicated account and project managers that keep you apprised of the status of your construction renovation at all times. And with our technology solutions, you’ll have access to the data and reporting that you need to keep leaders informed on program status.
But our services don’t stop with renovation alone. Whether you have a few dozen or a few hundred facilities in your footprint, we can support you well into the future with on-demand and preventive maintenance as well as disaster recovery services. Our goal is to keep your brand shining brightly for your customers and communities to see. With infinite possibilities for your construction renovation, we’ll help you identify the ideal solutions you’ve been looking for to make your renovation a sweeping success.
Contact us today to learn more about our construction renovation services.