Tag Archives: Colorado

Meet Johnny Jones – Snyder Building Construction’s Newest Superintendent

Meet Johnny Jones – Snyder Building Construction’s Newest Superintendent

April 18, 2018
by: Audrey Wilson

Johnny Jones, Superintendent

We’re thrilled to bring on Johnny Jones as our newest superintendent! He’s already hit the ground running with our retail and restaurant sector.

Johnny started his career in construction in his late teens. He’s worked in everything from tenant finish to ground up with stints in carpentry and worked his way up to be a superintendent, a position he’s now held for nearly 12 years. His hard work doesn’t go unnoticed as he’s received Project Safety Awards from the Denver Justice Center and Project Performance Awards from the Denver News Agency building.

“I want to do a great job for the client,” says Johnny. “I go in as if I’m building something for a friend. In this line of work, I’ve made clients life-long friends.”

He loves working with subcontractors, building a plan, and seeing it come through to fruition. Past projects include Cradles to Crayons, Huntington Learning Center, Andy’s Frozen Custard, Cheers Liquor Mart, and a large, pharmaceutical-grade commercial kitchen.

Johnny is a Denver native and graduate of East High School. He’s played semi-pro arena football and coached local little league for nearly ten years.

Your Budget Will Thank Us — 8 Design Trends to Consider When Value Engineering | Part III: Bars, Restaurants, and Breweries, Oh my!

Your Budget Will Thank Us — 8 Design Trends to Consider When Value Engineering

A Three-Part Construction Series. Part III: Bars, Restaurants, and Breweries, Oh my! — A Three-Part Construction Series

April 12, 2018
collaboration by: Matt Redick & Audrey Wilson

With the infrastructure engineered and a strong team and plan in place, it’s time to talk interiors and finishes. In their semi-state-of-the-union, Architectural Digest notes 2018 restaurant design continues trending toward Instagrammable, well-lit spaces that incorporate natural greenery. Alvarez-Diaz and  Villalon add that experience-driven design will also reign. “There is a shift in restaurant atmosphere, from cozy and rugged to clean and modern. Expect more green in the form of plants and living walls, adding life and comfort,” says Rachael Lyman of Studio Atlantis. In addition to plants, sustainability will continue to be a “green” focus.

 When it comes to saving money during construction, it boils down to two things: (1) plan your best ahead of time; and (2) value engineering, meaning to think critically about your “must-haves” and make tough decisions around what design elements to keep in order to meet your budget. Do the planning up front and then let the design play out. As a general rule of thumb, design changes in the field can cost up to 3x more than making design decisions at the early stages—this is due to plan revisions, time lost, lead times, and extra project management time.

There’s no doubt you’ll end up spending a lot of your budget is on kitchen equipment, any “wet” areas of the restaurant including restrooms, lighting packages, and infrastructure upgrades (mechanical, electrical, plumbing). In the sections below, we look at a few areas of consideration and dive into some 2018 restaurant design trends to discuss what’s happening and identify areas of cost savings (a.k.a. value engineering or ‘VE’).

If you missed Part I of the conversation, check out the Nuts & Bolts of building a restaurant here.

SOCIAL MEDIA DRIVEN DESIGN
Whether you’re building a franchise brand or a local owner/operated concept, brands have to be unique to distinguish themselves. How brands connect to their consumers these days is intrinsically tied to their social media conversation. With your physical store presence, you have to weigh the options of spending more to have a unique brand experience (i.e. a unique Instagram/Snapchat moment) or spending less for a simpler look. When it comes to construction, custom items such as art, fixtures, furniture and features will most likely be more expensive than what you can find off the shelf. Trends shift quickly, so be prepared for an interiors update as soon as five years to keep up with the changes.

VE Option: Keep the structural/built design elements classic or simple. As design trends shift, furnishings are easier than structural/architectural elements to change. Choose the number of custom features carefully—custom work is almost always more expensive.

FEATURE LIGHTING
The lighting package and associated electrical work will be a high-priced ticket item during your construction build out. Long lead times for light fixtures may make it tough to keep on schedule without proper planning with your design and construction team. We recommend deciding on your lighting package early so that material can be ordered as quickly as possible which is your best hope at keeping this activity line on schedule. Added days to the schedule = increased cost.

Certain lighting is required by code. To meet code requirements in Denver, you must plan to reduce overall lighting power consumption by using enhanced lighting controls. This means drawing less power altogether via LED fixtures or changing out light switches to an occupancy sensor switch. In some cases, a fully integrated, lighting-control panel may also be required by the local jurisdiction. Another typical health department requirement is task lighting behind and underneath the bar for employee visibility.

Consider that track lighting offers flexibility in pointing light where you want it to go (accent walls, highlighting art, etc.) and is great for open ceiling plans. Recessed lighting works well for drywall hard lid or acoustical tile ceilings.

VE Options: Choose less expensive ambient lighting and spend your lighting dollars for accent/feature lighting. Choose less expensive fixtures in the back of the house and focus on making impact in guest areas.

NATURAL GREENERY
Having plants in a space can improve ambiance and mood. Consider, however, that with live greenery it’s imperative to maintain and water them to keep plans looking healthy and great. Plant maintenance will add monthly costs, something to think about before you add them into your design.

Adding plants to your restaurant can happen before or after the build out depending on the application within the design. Examples include built-in planters, live green walls, etc. Will plants be hung from the ceiling? If so, how will they be hung? Are you choosing indoor or outdoor planters? If you plan to incorporate greenery into fixed design elements, consider drainage plans, non-porous materials, access for maintenance, ability to provide watering, and proximity to food production to avoid cross contamination.

EXPERIENCE-DRIVEN DESIGN
Jeff Sheppard of Roth Sheppard Architects in Denver gave a talk earlier this year at the Colorado Real Estate Journal’s conference about the importance of experience-driven design. To drive home his point, Sheppard talked about how “airports are the new mall” and how self-service kiosks in restaurants and retail are also becoming more and more prevalent. When you look around, you see some local chefs already driving this experience innovation. Take Five Point’s Birdcall with iPad order kiosks and only a few service staff. And First Draft Taproom & Kitchen where guests pour their own beer and are charged by the ounce. Self-service sparkling water is on the rise as well.

All of these experience-driven design choices require intentional storage, electrical, plumbing, and service flow planning. While you will spend money on building for these, you could save on labor costs once open.

PICKING APPROPRIATE FINISHES
Picking appropriate finishes means choosing what meets the budget, fits the design, and serves its purpose for a long time. Right now, 2018 predictions are bringing back wood and white for a light, open-airy feeling. Along with this, we may see a shift in the decision to use finished concrete as the floor option. Floor tile can be a great alternative to finished concrete and has an incredibly wide-range of possibilities. Be cautious in your choices, as tile cost varies widely and can have long lead times, especially if shipped from overseas.

Picking finishes that look great and stand up to the commercial, high-volume traffic matters. “Don’t skimp on the quality of the kitchen floor. It costs you more up front but saves you money in the end,” says Rich Snyder, Owner of Snyder Building Construction. The back of the house gets heavy use with foot traffic, deliveries, dirt, and grease grime. It’s easier to spend more money up front for an easy to maintain and durable floor. Patching and repairing down the line is costly and disturbs your business. Further, patches may not always match the original quality.

Some common floor finish choices include, finished concrete, epoxy flooring, and quarry tile. Polished concrete is the least expensive, but it’s porous so can stain, will easily break a dropped dish, and is hard on the human body after standing all day. Some local health departments will not allow concrete treatments, so check with your design team if this is a floor you’re considering. Quarry tile is mid-range in terms of price and is very durable, but not as attractive. Epoxy flooring costs a bit more, but can accomplish the goals of looking great, reducing smallware breakage, and increased employee comfort despite all-day standing.

In wet areas of the restaurant (like bar and back of house), another material consideration is stainless steel. Plastic laminate or other less expensive options won’t hold up to the constant wear and tear. Stainless steel kitchen sinks and fixtures can come in a wide range of pricing and it can be tempting to go for the most expensive “Cadillac” equipment package, but it is not always necessary. You can save money by picking less expensive brands because stainless steel equipment and sinks typically utilitarian pieces of equipment. Unless you’re considering an open kitchen, you don’t need to choose the most expensive. All that said, equipment that offers better sustainability in terms of energy or water use typically cost more up front but save you in costs years down the line—and are better for the environment. If sustainability is a priority for you, it may be worth the extra money to invest in this type of equipment.

BRINGING THE OUTDOORS INDOORS
Welcome Spring! Which means it’s time for patios, roof tops, open windows, and door rollups. Read on for tips on these design options to make sure you’ve planned for everything.

  • Roof Top Patios – Structures must support the weight of a specific live load to be used for occupancy. Check with your engineers and building owner/landlord if applicable!
  • Outdoor Ground Patios – Code requires at least 5’ of clearance around the patio for pedestrian travel. You’ll need a handrail or demarcation line around the patio for exterior alcohol service (and an approved liquor license).
  • Overhead Doors – Because overhead and rollup doors breach the inside and outside and require building into the walls of the building, negotiate with the landlord as to whether this is a landlord provided item or tenant provided. Additionally, there are special code requirements regarding clearance to travel and fire suppression lines above and below the track.

SUSTAINABILITY
Did you know that when furniture for the US is made, the wood is typically harvested in North America, is usually shipped overseas for production and fabrication, and then shipped back to sell in the U.S.? The amount of fossil fuels and energy required for that intercontinental supply chain isn’t sustainable.  Housefish, a Denver-based furniture manufacturer hopes to change that by sourcing local materials and making furniture in the city.

Other ways to incorporate sustainability into your restaurant include LED lighting, sourcing local, energy-efficient equipment, and planning for dimmers/controls. Dimmers and controls are great in a restaurant setting because they allow you to change the mood and lighting based on time of day. Divided, rough-use bins are also a strong idea. LarkBurger is a front runner on this idea who feature built-in bins divided for trash, mixed recycling, and compost. The company composts 100% of its packaging when commercially available. You’ll need to plan for service pick-ups to make sure recycling compost is disposed of properly once it leaves your facility.

A/V and ELECTRICITY
While this wasn’t pointed out as a 2018 trend in our research, these are must-haves in our digital world. Convenience outlets and USB ports are integral these days. Further, consider the flexibility of your sound system and are you streaming radio/music? How’s your internet connection and Wifi? Is it public wifi? If you are streaming music, you will want to make sure your internet connection is strong.  Can you put outlets on the guest side of the bar for phone charging and sometimes laptop work? Lastly, it’s never fun if an electrical circuit gets tripped. Make sure your point of sale kiosks are each on a dedicated circuit so that if the inevitable happens, not all of them cut off altogether. Redundancy will save the day!

Other Pro-Tips:
You’ll thank us later.

  • You can’t move in furniture or train staff in the space until a passing health inspection and TCO is acquired. Not following this rule can be detrimental to your move in.
  • Denver has an ordinance that all single-stall bathrooms are to be built as gender neutral.
  • Save yourself stress and partner with an experienced food-service architect and general contractor. You will save time because there are unique rules regarding floor drains, sanitization stations, finish specifications, etc. that these partners can help with.
  • Do the planning up front and let the design play out. Design changes in the field can cost up to 3x more than making design choices at the early stages due to plan revisions, time lost, lead times, extra project management time.

Ready for more? Contact Snyder Building Construction for concept budget pricing or support on building your restaurant at info@snyderbuilding.com or 720.900.5082.

Shannon Campbell Joins SBC as Superintendent

Shannon Campbell Joins SBC as Superintendent

April 4, 2018
by: Audrey Wilson

Our restaurant and retail division is growing! We’re excited to announce we’ve brought on Shannon Campbell, veteran superintendent, to our team.

Shannon Campbell, Superintendent

Campbell began his construction career operating heavy machinery and managing blast operations so naturally his specialties are excavation and demolition. He also has an affinity for floor finishes.

His a client-focused approach and affection for new learning opportunities makes him a great fit our team! It’s possible you’ve already enjoyed some of Shannon’s work, as he was the superintendent for several local and national brands here in Colorado including Maurice’s, Cheba Hut, Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar, Pizza Republica at the Colorado Convention Center, and the BC Surf and Sport shop.

“My approach is to plan the work and work the plan,” says Campbell. “I work with the subs to ensure the client’s plan comes to fruition.”

Shannon is originally from Georgia. Since now in Colorado, he enjoys all the great things the state has to offer including snowboarding, hiking, camping, hunting, and fishing. His favorite place in Colorado is the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, where he lived in Cotopaxi for a few years with his pup Lucky, a 10-year-old American Bulldog.

 

Bars, Restaurants, and Breweries, Oh my! Part II: Designing for Efficiency and Budget

Bars, Restaurants, and Breweries, Oh my! Part II: Designing for Efficiency and Budget

A Three-Part Construction Series

February 26, 2018
collaboration by: Matt Redick & Audrey Wilson

Our first segment ran through the nuts and bolts of building a restaurant and highlighted four areas of focus: the place, the people, the budget, and the schedule. As you saw, restaurants, bars, and breweries are tough work! In Part II, we’ll explore efficiencies in mechanical, electrical, and plumbing design while considering budget, tricks of the trade, and avoiding pitfalls.

Before we jump in, it’s important to highlight there are dozens of types of eateries out there, and we’ve certainly built the gamut. Still, the food service business is constantly changing. We recently heard the CEO of Quizno’s share that there’s a growing trend towards a new market segment, QSR “minus” which includes spaces as small as 500SF for the simple purpose of pickup and delivery only. Clearly a venture of that size requires different considerations than a 100,000 SF market hall.

Some of the most common types of eateries are:

  • Fast Casual
  • QSR +/-
  • Casual & Family Dining
  • Local & Chef-Driven
  • Fine Dining
  • Brewery
  • Bar
  • Gastro/Brew Pub
  • Fast Food
  • Central Market Halls & Eateries
  • Food Trucks

When you’re designing the layout of the restaurant and kitchen with your design and construction team, the type of eatery you plan on building plays heavily into cost and design considerations. From there, space planning, project costs and critical budget efficiencies are ultimately determined by the complexity of the menu and existing conditions. You’ll want to answer some big questions at this early stage based on level of service, kitchen and/or dining area flow, and menu. Some of these questions might include:

  • What overall project goals are most important for you to achieve? These could include project cost/staying within a particular budget, project duration including design, permitting, construction, and startup/training, sustainability of FFE (Fixtures, Furnishings and Equipment), and efficient use of space for service/work flow?
  • How is food prepared, and what equipment will be necessary to create your menu items?
  • Is the kitchen an open concept (i.e. visible to guests)?
  • How big do you need the walk-in cooler to be? Will some food items be frozen creating the need for walk in freezer space or reach in freezers?
  • How many beer taps will you have? Will you need a remote beer cooler? How far do the beer lines have to go if the cooler is remote? Will the lines be run overhead or underground?
  • Will you offer temperature controlled wine?
  • What food needs to be prepped? Do you need a separate area for this or can you use the kitchen space during off hours? What large or powered equipment will be used for prep?
  • Do bakery elements need to be separate for humidity reasons?
  • What kind of storage will you need for dry goods, smallwares, pots/pans, etc. Do you require any special storage areas – empty keg storage, wood for wood burning stoves?
  • Where is the cook line and how large does it need to be? How will it be organized for efficiency for the typical crew size on a shift? Do you want a consultant for this?
  • How will you take deliveries for food products, beer, soda, and dry goods?
  • What is the path of travel for deliveries, employees, and FOH/BOH service?
  • Can we leave certain MEP (Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing) systems where they already exist to save money? What existing conditions can you take advantage of? (i.e. leaving bathroom plumbing in the same location, etc.)
  • Is there specialty coffee service? Where will you store coffee beans and back-up dairy? Is there a separate dishwasher for coffee service?
  • Where are clean dishes stored and dried versus dirties washed? How are tables bused?
  • Where is food expedited out of the kitchen?
  • Point of Sale Computer Stations – Are they hardwired or wireless? Permanent stations or handheld? How many are required for your size of wait staff, and where will they be located?
  • What level of internet service will you need based on your point of sale selections?
  • Does your city have a gender-neutral single stall ordinance?
  • Do existing conditions require building upgrades for ADA code compliance? In many municipalities, depending on the size and cost of the upgrades you may be required to spend a certain percentage of your budget on ADA upgrades.
  • Franchise vs. Owner-Operated – If you’re building a franchise, the franchise may supply you with sample budgets and construction requirements based on historical data.

Michael Racette of WB Engineers+Consultants has designed many commercial kitchens and notes, “During the design and value engineering process sometimes the comfort of the employees is left out of the conversation. Think about working over a hot stove without conditioned air or proper air flow!” Additionally, he says “Don’t forget about designing enough room for water heaters and electrical panels.” These important service areas contain equipment that takes up valuable space, and must be considered when planning for efficient kitchen spaces.

We’d have to agree! Considering comfort for your employees and having a plan for your equipment can prevent running into design issues later on. Having these things planned out ahead of time prevents costly additions after you open your restaurant which is both expensive and a hassle. Can you imagine adding an entirely new electrical panel after the fact? This could require a larger electrical room which in turn means moving or adding walls, relocating equipment, bringing in more electrical service capacity, etc. This is a time consuming and incredibly expensive change.

When designing your restaurant’s layout, a good rule of thumb is that the kitchen’s footprint should generally only be as big as 1/3 of the front of house dining space. This rule of thumb prioritizes dining area so that you are able to have more people in seats spending money. Typically this means developing creative strategies for tight kitchens. Of course, this rule of thumb shifts or changes based on the type of eatery you are building. If you are pick-up only, you won’t need to worry about space for a dining area.

We mentioned this in the last post as well, but setting your complete equipment package early is critical. The equipment package drives the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing design. In this day and age, some equipment companies have the ability to design in a program called Revit which produces 3D models of your space. Many architects do the same. Working with a team that uses Revit is a great advantage to you because you are able to see in 3D how your space will look. The design team can also use Revit to identify potential conflicts between lighting, HVAC ductwork, and sprinkler heads to prevent these problems from arising during construction.  Take it even further by using Google Glasses to take a 3D virtual reality (VR) walk through the space. VR is a great new tool that allows you to more easily think through service/kitchen operation issues before any drawings are finalized or equipment is purchased. What a time and money saver!

Considerations for Building with Budget in Mind
In the construction world, there are two main ways to get started with general contractors. The two main methods of getting your contractor on board are Hard Bid and Negotiating and there are pros and cons of each delivery system.

Hard Bid

The Owner engages an architect and design team, but does not engage a contractor during this pre-construction phase.  Once the construction documents are ready, the project is bid out to multiple general contractors to create a competitive bidding situation.  Each contractor submits a bid based on what has been designed by the design team.

  • Pros: Because competitive bids are being submitted, the Owner can compare numbers from multiple companies and select the lowest qualified bid.
  • Cons: No support from a general contractor during the pre-construction phase. The lowest bidder isn’t always the highest quality builder. No opportunity to value engineer the project before it starts.

Negotiating

A general contractor is secured prior to or early in the design process who can then support you and the design team through pre-construction. The general contractor contributes a construction perspective as design decisions are made to ensure that choices are in line with the overall construction budget.  The general contractor assists with permitting and planning the schedule for the project prior to the start of construction.

  • Pros: Our pre-construction services include surveying/due-diligence of the building, verifying budgets along the way at 50%, 90%, and 100% complete design. We help you navigate design and provide strategic options for maintaining the intent of the design while getting the most bang for your buck (VE or Value Engineering). We can test your design and budget to make sure your construction project is viable in the location/market to begin with and work your broker on negotiating tenant improvement money from the building owner/landlord. When negotiating, we still send the project out to bid with multiple subcontractors for each scope of work for the best competitive pricing.
  • Cons: Additional pre-construction service costs with the general contractor.

If your project is a franchise, both hard bid and negotiating options may be available for you. At the very least, you want a local general contractor to verify your budget to make sure the construction budget is viable in your particular location and market.

A Few Words About Used vs. New vs. Leased Equipment. When getting ready to purchase equipment, think about life cycle of the piece. There are pros and cons to each of these options. Often more sustainable choices such as LED lighting may cost more upfront, but may be a long-term investment that pays off. Used equipment, while less expensive up front and easy to obtain, costs more to deliver, maintain, and install than something new. It may require repairs or retrofits to make it work in your particular situation.  It usually takes more of your time when you purchase used equipment to navigate and organize installation of the various parts and pieces. New equipment has the advantage of being new, better up-to-date technology, a product warranty, easier installation, and included delivery. New equipment can, however, cost a lot more and may have a longer lead time which may be prohibitive to the project schedule. Leased equipment can be a helpful strategy for specific pieces of equipment due to regular up keep and maintenance. For example, commercial kitchen dishwashers require soap refills and periodic upkeep. Leasing the dishwasher then alleviates your need to keep up with it.  The leasing company will take care of refills and maintenance for you. The downside is that by renting the equipment, you’re not benefitting from the capital investment and you will find not all the equipment you need is available to lease.

In the end, due diligence, operational clarity, and planning will create the opportunities for time and cost savings. Thinking critically and asking big questions related to operations and maintenance will serve you well in designing MEP systems that work well and fall in line with your budget.

Bonus! Bonus! Food trucks! Believe it or not, simple food trucks still require MEP and health code inspections just like a restaurant. While this process certainly doesn’t take quite as long, keep in mind equipment and systems and layout matter! As a minimum, you’ll need an approved hand sink, grey water system, and sturdy electrical.

Want more information on building a QSR, Fast Casual, Fine Dining or other type of restaurant? Email info@snyderbuilding.com or call us at 720.900.5082.

Meet our Newest Senior Project Manager, Matt Redick!

Meet our Newest Senior Project Manager, Matt Redick!

January 4, 2018
written by: Audrey Wilson

We’re excited to announce Matt Redick has been hired as a Senior Project Manager to support restaurant and retail construction. He joins Snyder Building Construction with nearly 20 years of construction experience, serving his whole career in the Colorado and Denver general contracting markets. While based locally, his background includes dozens of national brands including Foot Locker, Marriot Resorts, Massage Envy, The Limited, Pizza Hut, Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar, and Sunrise Assisted Living. Locally, he’s worked as a project manager for general contractors on YogaPod, Domino’s, and Beast and Bottle.

His specialty areas include restaurant and retail tenant improvement and new builds. Having spent nine years in the restaurant industry, he brings a unique perspective from the operations side to identify potential problems with layout, restaurant equipment, and kitchen efficiency.

“I also get a lot of satisfaction from watching a project develop from an idea on paper into a fully functioning place,” says Matt. “I enjoy collaborating together to create fun and unique spaces that people can enjoy.”

Matt is a rare Colorado native! He told us if he ever found a place better than Denver he would move, but clearly Denver is the best. In his free time, he loves spending time at his family’s cabin in Berthoud Falls, skiing during the
snowy months, and singing karaoke.


Matt Redick, Senior Project Manager

How to Crush Your Next Tenant Improvement or Interior Construction Project

How to Crush Your Next Tenant Improvement or Interior Construction Project

Tips from Business Owners on the Commercial Renovation Process

May 31, 2017


photo by Becky Dibble, Screen Pilot

A collaboration effort with Screen Pilot (Owners Tom & Becky Dibble)
written by: Audrey Wilson

We’ve been building tenant improvements for a while now. And while we feel pretty strong we know the order of things, the real story is the experience from the client’s perspective. After all, a tenant improvement indicates some type of shift for their business, generally a move toward growth or new experiences–these are moments of celebration!

As a general contractor, our hope is to make the transition seamless, so tenants can focus on their own priorities. However, how do we really know if we are on the right track? What is it like from the client’s perspective? How else can we be preparing and supporting our clients? For fresh perspective, we decided to unveil the other side of the story.

Clients Tom and Becky Dibble of Screen Pilot, graciously agreed to talk with us about their tenant improvement experience. Their hospitality-focused marketing agency recently expanded into an entire floor of a historic building in Downtown Denver and hired us for general contracting.

THE INTERVIEW:

Snyder Building Construction (SBC): Before we dive into your direct experience with the expansion construction, thank you! We had a great time building your new space. We’d love to know more about what takes place inside these walls. Tell us more about Screen Pilot.

Screen Pilot – Becky: We started as a small consulting firm, operating out of a home office, to now, a 20-person, thriving agency who continue to grow their client base. We built Screen Pilot on the desire to create a digital marketing agency that could deliver engaging and enviable client experience with pride and commitment.

SBC: You picked Denver over London, your hometown—I love it.

Becky:  Yes, our roots are firmly in the Mile High City, although we’d like to think an office in London is a possibility, in our future!

SBC: Clearly, the expansion means you’re growing and needed more space. Why expand in a historic building rather than go somewhere new?

Screen Pilot – Tom: Expanding as the only tenant on this floor meant more privacy and a sense of growth that we are experiencing not only in head count but as a business overall. Downtown Denver is burgeoning with new builds left, right and center, and it’s an amazing location on LoDo, we wanted to stay in the thick of it all.

SBC: And you really are so close to everything. 16th street mall, Union Station, some of the most amazing Denver restaurants—having met your team this choice absolutely fits the vibe at Screen Pilot. On the inside, how did you prioritize team needs and decide the floor plan layout?

Tom: We wanted to create a much more open plan space and sectioned off private meeting rooms for client meetings and internal meetings. That way we could accomplish both sense of privacy and collaboration.

SBC: It seems like the finished outcome definitely accomplishes what you were hoping for. On a random note, we were curious, did you have any previous experience with the commercial tenant improvement process?

Tom: When taking the lease in the first place, our initial experience with commercial construction was limited to what the landlord was managing. So very little. On a commercial basis, we had no experience working with a general contractor.

SBC: No way—y’all asked all the right questions! I would have never known. When you started the process, what kind of relationship did you hope to have with your GC? And what were your priorities during the construction process?

Tom: Trust was paramount. If you can’t trust your GC, you may as well do it yourself! We also wanted to mitigate noise for both the commercial and residential tenants in our mixed-use building, but also get the job done to plan, on-time and on budget.

SBC: We couldn’t have said it any better. Trust allows the project to move together smoothly and allows for more conscious decision making when discrepancies arise. This kind of relationship ultimately leads to on-time, on-budget projects.

The construction experience from the perspective of other people and businesses is obviously crucial in a historic, mixed-use building like yours. Commercial tenants are working during the day and families are at home early in the morning and in the evenings.

SBC: Were there any surprises during the process?

Tom: Not really surprises as such, but that’s not a bad thing!

Becky: During the demo phase, pipes and strange electrical wirings were exposed, not a huge surprise due to renovating a building of its age. Thankfully, a quick call from our GC meant an effective and satisfactory outcome so the project was not delayed.

In the end, we had to know how we did overall—the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Tom (in his kind, British accent) simply said, “You guys crushed it. Apart from the standard sticker shock of the cost of commercial construction, which is universal I feel, having you guys running the project has been one of the better referrals that I’ve had for a service provider in a long time. The attention to detail and acute attentiveness to our needs but also running the tradespeople on the job from what we saw was fantastic.”

“At the start of our construction project, the whole team helped pack up our existing office and we all headed home to work. Our company thrives on teamwork and collaboration, so getting back together within the same space as soon as possible was paramount. SBC ensured this happened as efficiently as the project allowed,” said Becky.


photo by Becky Dibble, Screen Pilot

Ultimately, their trust in us made for a great relationship and project experience. We had no idea Becky and Tom were unexperienced in commercial construction. They were always so confident and asking great questions.

Tips from Tom & Becky:

  1. 1. “Select your GC carefully and make sure you have your architects start talking to your GC earlier than you think you need to.” – Tom Dibble, Screen Pilot
  2. 2. Your general contractor’s attention to detail, communication, and level of organization will either help put you at ease or add stress to the transition.
  3. 3. Plan your space to include multiple work environments for varied tasks. Think about open space, private conference or work rooms, and relaxing/collaboration areas.

Thank you to Tom and Becky for trusting us to build your downtown space and for your continued partnership. We look forward to continue watching Screen Pilot grow!


photo by Becky Dibble, Screen Pilot

About Screen Pilot:
Screen Pilot is a Denver-based, digital marketing agency that specializes in telling the stories of hotels, resorts and hospitality brands through inspired communication. Learn more at www.screenpilot.com.

Say Hello to Tristan, our Newest Commercial Superintendent

Say Hello to Tristan, our Newest Commercial Superintendent

May 2, 2017
written by: Audrey Wilson

We are excited to share we’ve brought on Tristan Harmon as our newest superintendent for commercial tenant improvement and new build projects.

Starting as an Army general construction supervisor, Tristan has more than a decade of experience in the field and a natural ability to build relationships with subcontractors and owners.

In his own words, Tristan says, “I strive to bring both civilian and military leadership to our commercial projects. For me, an outcomes orientation and people-first approach is the only way to go.”

We agree! Welcome to the team, Tristan.

His specialties include electrical wiring, subcontractor relations, cost/schedule control, and detailed plan analysis. His most recent role was serving as assistant superintendent for a new $325M, 400,000-square-foot building at Denver Health Hospital in Denver, Colorado.


Tristan Harmon, superintendent

7 Strategies for a Successful Office Renovation

7 Strategies for a Successful Office Renovation

by Audrey Wilson
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Sixth Avenue West – Golden, Colorado

Often referred to as tenant improvements, office renovations provide an opportunity to care for your employees while optimizing for greater efficiency and sustainability in both work systems and energy use. Tenant improvement projects are often triggered upon signing a new office lease. In addition to upgraded finishes, health-conscious amenities, and flexible workspace plans, we’ve seen that the best remodels create a place where employees’ mental, physical, and socioemotional wellbeing is considered. This thinking isn’t new. Big technology companies like Google are known for their innovative, employee-centered spaces. And Steelcase, a global office furniture and interior design firm, has extensively studied the impact workplace environment can have on employee engagement. With the potential for happy and healthy employees, less turnover, increased efficiency, and long-term cost savings, what do you have to lose?

Even with all of the benefits, the reality of construction lead times, potential business disruption, and project complexity can make any tenant improvement process feel daunting. And poorly managed renovations can cost major time and money. It doesn’t have to be that way! We talked with building owners, brokers, property managers, and designers to uncover the most common pitfalls we see time and time again and created some strategies to help you avoid them.

Common Renovation Obstacles:

  • Hiring a non-reputable team
  • Poorly designed plans
  • Scope creep
  • Overspending
  • Stretched timelines
  • Employee dissatisfaction
  • Not considering sustainable design

Don’t fret! Taken holistically, the following tips will help you plan for success:

Strategy 1: Engage the Right Partners Early
“Experience and reputation are the most important factors in selecting general contractors and architects,” says Joe Lamkin, principal at Bancroft Capital. Poor quality partners can make mistakes that cost time and money. Start by asking your broker and/or building owner for general contractor and architect references. Research their previous work and ask people you trust about their reputability.

You’ll want a team invested in your success, rather than a mill. Find partners who understand the importance of communication, who anticipates your needs, and are thoughtful regarding all of your stakeholders. Once you’ve built your team, involve them early! General contractors are great for supporting owners on budget, timeline, and overall design feasibility.

Strategy 2: Develop a Solid Initial Design
Beyond the noticeable finish selections like paint color, flooring materials, and wood varietals, you want the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) drawings and aesthetic components to be code compliant. Older buildings generally need upgraded ADA elements and the MEP programming will be more complex. Your architect is the expert in this area and should ensure the plans are sound before providing the official stamp of approval. When you have stamped drawings in your hand, the last thing you need is a mishap in the permitting process. Every redraw or code compliance issue could add another 1-2 weeks to your construction start date! Lastly, great contract drawings make the bidding process easier and more accurate so you can feel confident in the estimates.

Strategy 3: Clear Delegation & Responsibility
Scope creep can happen when elements have not been fully designed or project details are left undefined. When the scope of work is unclear, subcontractors may avoid responsibility or sometimes double up the work to protect themselves contractually. The best remedy? A strong team from the start. Really good design and construction professionals know to identify and delegate scope responsibility to avoid miscommunication, overwork, and overpaying.

Strategy 4: Budget Realistically and Plan for Contingency
“Many times clients do not allow enough budget for what has been designed and then end up making sacrifices regarding overall quality and durability or timeline,” says Rich Snyder, owner of Snyder Building Construction. For a mid-level commercial upgrade in Denver, be prepared to spend $45-$55 per square foot for construction. In addition to this amount, ensure you’re thoroughly considering the design and engineering processes for your basic trades (mechanical, electrical, and plumbing). A word to the wise, these estimated numbers do not include furniture and fixtures! And of course, actual cost will vary based on your individual project.

More importantly, plan a 5% contingency cost line into your budget. The industry is busy, and unforeseen field conditions are not uncommon. Plan ahead for this and you’ll have a better sense of actual costs for your renovation.

Strategy 5: Plan Ahead to Stay on Time
Do the preparation work to develop strong drawings. Gauge lead times for permitting, material delivery, and contractor mobilization appropriately. Every vendor and supplier is different. We’ve listed a few of our known long-leads based on trends here in Denver. Michelle Miller, licensed architect and principal of Jigsaw Design, noted you should expect timelines of about 10-12 weeks from the beginning of schematic design with the architect to the start of construction. Great general contractors are ahead of the game and develop schedules that are well versed in the lead times for their geographical area.

In Denver, expect 5 to 6 weeks for the design process and the architectural, MEP, and construction drawings to be completed. Add another 5 to 6 weeks for general contractor bidding and contracting. You can also expect typical long-lead items like decorative lighting and commercial furniture to run 8 to 12 weeks and 8 to 10 weeks respectively. These timelines are just a guide, but hopefully provide some insight into the scheduling components that need consideration.

Strategy 6: Get Employee Buy-In
If you’re moving into a new space, and the tenant improvement process is part of the initial lease agreement, the construction phases may be less of a disturbance to your team. Otherwise, if your team is currently occupying the space you plan to renovate, there are certainly things to consider. Will the team work remotely during the construction? Would you prefer to complete construction in sections and keep employees onsite? The general contractor can be an incredible guide in making these decisions as they are the most knowledgeable in terms of lead times, construction planning, potential noise, and disruption.

While the end result is anticipated to please your team, the moving process and relocation can be very disruptive to tenants. If the new space is underwhelming, it could have an opposite effect on company morale. “Team members and building tenants can become quick adversaries if construction noise, dust, and other nuisances become overwhelming,” says Lamkin. Consider involving your team in the early visioning process. Dialogue and surveys can provide insight to what your employees are really looking for. Professional space planners are also available for hire and can help with understanding what your employees are looking for.

Lastly, choose partners who will go the extra mile to inform about the construction process and who are proactive in their approach. Some ways we do this at Snyder Building Construction include: keeping highly disruptive work after hours or on weekends; keeping the work areas clean; using negative air fans with air filters; providing clear notification of construction areas; as well as keeping flow open and not blocking tenant access.

Strategy 7: Consider Sustainability and Health
We partnered with Bancroft Capital to study 51 possible sustainable upgrades for a tenant. Of those 51, we found three that provided good economical and environmental benefits⎼a huge win for the tenant and the owner. These three upgrades included: solatubes used in conjunction with advanced day-lighting controls, and ultra energy-efficient HVAC units. Consider looking into these options for your project as well.

Holistic health encourages physical, mental, and emotional wellness. We’ve seen success supporting employee health through bike storage, prominent staircases, standing desks, water bottle refill stations, and healthy snack vending.

BONUS Strategy
Quality, Time, and Cost⏤all three are in play, but you can only pick two.
This is age-old, industry wisdom. In almost all cases, owners want the highest quality products and performance while sticking to stringent budgets and timelines. The best general contractors, designers, and architects already know this and have your best interest in mind regarding all three. However, no matter how much planning goes into a project, you’ll want to know which two of these priorities mean the most to you. “The stakeholders (owner, tenant, and general contractor) must have a firm grasp on the desired outcome and the driving economic factors of the project,” says Lamkin. Together, your team serves as checks and balances to make sure all project elements are prioritized appropriately.

Want to learn more about how Snyder Building Construction can support your tenant improvement project? Contact us! We provide commercial and multi-family residential estimating, preconstruction, and full general contracting services in and around Denver. Special thanks to our contributors Bancroft Capital and Jigsaw Design, LLC. Audrey Wilson is an Assistant Project Manager with Snyder Building Construction.