How long does it take to open a commercial space, 6 months or 2 years? It may come as a surprise to you that it might easily take 2 years from start to finish without prior knowledge of, and planning for, delays! Let’s look at the usual suspects for delay, and affiliated scheduling assumptions, to help you set realistic expectations for the momentum of your project. With the help of everyone on your project team, you can keep the schedule for your permitted construction project to the bare minimum of 6 months.
Your New Space
Variable time will be spent in the space search and selection process for your commercial space, it’s like shopping for a new home – you want it to be perfect. That’s why you’ll also want to take time for due diligence on your new space. Learn more about that here, and why it’s good to establish expectations with your design-build general contractor early.
From the very beginning of a project, there can be delays in correspondence between brokers, property owners, agents, lenders, and prospective tenants. Making an offer can take a week…
Waiting on a response can take 3 weeks.
Counter offering can take 4 weeks.
Legal review can take 2 weeks.
Finalizing the lease can take 4 weeks.
Planning Out Your Space
It’s time to get your space planned out, traditionally with the hired help of either a design-build general contractor (DBGC) or an architectural firm. Plan development can take 4 weeks.
Additionally, the ambiguous permitting process, even handled expertly, can take 12 weeks.
Delays inside the permit process such as comments, corrections, revisions and resubmittals can add 4+ weeks.
Depending on how many different parties on your pre-construction team are making decisions on design and work being done, each person who has to review and approve plans could create an average of a 2 week additional delay. Any revisions will add to City processing time. If it’s a busy time for the City of San Diego (and it is right now), the wait for review and processing will take up to 75% longer than usual.
On top of measurable delays, there’s another month or so worth accounting for, from communications getting stuck in spam folders, insufficient planning and leadership. And just like that, we’re already at 6-12 months into our project, and construction hasn’t even started yet.
A standard TI (tenant improvement) construction schedule is 12 weeks. Insert landlord requirements over the course of project:
Access issues like restricted work hours can add 4 weeks.
Landlord-specific inspections and certifications can add 2+ weeks.
Tenants can, and do create their own plan changes, likely to add 6 weeks.
Building department plan changes resulting from inspector interpretations are common. Due to the documentation process, these can easily add 8 weeks.
Difficulties with rounds of final inspections, resulting from natural and often unavoidable discrepancies between actual building conditions and plan documents, can add another 2 weeks.
You Know What You Don’t Want
Finally, your Certificate of Occupancy has been issued and you’re cleared for your Grand Opening! But this victory might be bittersweet if you were prepared to be open a year and a half earlier, and you’ve since had to throw all your corresponding plans for your project goals and earnings out the window.
So, is there a solution to a majorly drawn-out project calendar that faces multiple inevitable delays? The good news is, you have a heads up, and therefore the option to set expectations and landmarks with your team from the beginning, and make sure those you’re working with are aligned on your needs. Here are some tips you can apply throughout the duration of your project to keep things on-track:
- Start-to-finish project and timeline planning starts the second you identify your space
- Set protocols and and a calendar for correspondence between all active parties
- Integrate with a qualified contractor immediately (before site selection if you can)
- Maintain ongoing collaboration with a qualified contractor throughout pre-construction
- Create and integrate a change-management plan to lessen the impact and duration of plan changes and resubmittals
- Written schedule of responsibilities published shortly after site selection and updated and referenced into / throughout the project
- Periodic (e.g. weekly) meetings with team throughout the project with a rolling agenda, including all accountabilities and next actions
- Language what you do want, and apply the laws of manifestation (also known as the law of attraction)
- Make it happen with a DBGC you can trust!
Article: Deconstructing Pre-Construction
Article: Engaging a General Contractor During Due Diligence (And the First 5 Things to Assess)
Article: How to Apply the Law of Attraction to Business
Article: The TI Permit Process: Avoiding Scope Creep
Article: Who’s on Your Pre-Construction Team?
APSGC: Design-Build Space Planning
APSGC: Pre-Construction Services