Tag Archives: commercial construction

Bars, Restaurants, and Breweries, Oh my! — Bonus: A Construction Guide to Bars & Breweries

A Three-Part Construction Series

September 19, 2018
collaboration by: Audrey Wilson, Kyle Duce, Loy Maierhauser

Building a happy bar requires the marriage of two important ideas: the overall vibe and the flow. This might just sound like today’s hipster mindset, but in all reality these two ideas are essential to the perfect bar. Think of vibe as the overall vision and concept, or how guests experience the space and place. And flow is all about functionality and efficiency for stronger service and, of course, increased sales.

To understand what that means, we asked a couple of experts. Meet Kyle Duce (he owns Tap Station and Locol in West Seattle, while running Crafted Solutions, a hospitality F&B consulting company, here in Denver) and Loy Maierhauser (a Certified Cicerone, co-founder of Fermentana, LLC, and Tasting Room Manager at MAP Brewing Company in Montana). We sat down with these two and asked some pointed questions so you can have a head start in planning your own bar or brewery.

    
Kyle Duce (left) & Loy Maierhauser (right)

At Snyder Building Construction, we typically build what’s already been drawn and developed, but understanding bar operations should be the starting place for designing (or redesigning) any new bar or brewery. And during the construction phase, we’re always there to help you build it better, find ways to save money, and keep the project on schedule.

Q&A

What should people consider when building a bar that would allow it to operate more smoothly?

  • Kyle: More dry storage / liquor room space! Keeping back up items in an easily accessed storage room will help maintain the clean aesthetic and design of the original concept while allowing for bulk purchases that make a huge difference in bottom line profit.
  • Loy: The bar’s physical design! I love the idea of seating around the whole bar, but you end up with a really challenging fishbowl effect. I know it’s nice to have the additional seating at our bar, but you end up with people trying to catch our bartenders’ attention from all directions, and it can be a bit challenging for them.  We’ve definitely had to troubleshoot the flow issues.

Keep in mind, many jurisdictions require liquor storage to be locked and any plan reviewers will want to understand where this storage is located. Overhead storage may have separate code requirements and fire, life/safety want to know storage won’t block any alarms or sprinkler heads. Consider also that cold beer likes to stay cold and wine is often temperature regulated. As such, plan carefully how you will store your canned/bottled beer and wine supply both behind the bar and in back-up storage.

What are the top three keys to consider when building your new bar?

  • Kyle:
    1.  Clearly identify your concept and vision.
    2.  Never sacrifice functionality over aesthetics.
    3.  Flow of service behind the bar – set up wells to service guests fast and efficiently. Make sure high volume items are easily accessed and the draft system is centrally located. Have a dishwasher close to the service well. Create a work flow based off a busy night that’s efficient for bar staff to move and create a seamless night of service.
  • Loy:
    1. Vibe – What do you want people to FEEL when they walk in? What’s your ideal vibe?  Build it.
    2. Flow – How do you envision people moving through your space? For example, are you going to have a host, or let people wander in on their own?  How are you going to let people know how to flow through your space?  Signage, furniture, staff?
    3. Logistics of your tap lines – This might be obvious, but long beer lines can be challenging to deal with. Long, glycol-chilled lines can still end up causing issues and can be tricky to troubleshoot. Typically, the shorter the line, the easier to deal with, and easier for your staff to change kegs and keep the flow of beer coming quickly on busy nights.

All of these ideas center on planning and designing. Tap line logistics are huge! Shorter tap lines are absolutely easier and keep the beer colder overall. Tap lines aren’t just for beer anymore either. Consider also cold brew, wine, and sparkling water. Signage and furniture won’t go in until the end or even after construction – but many times signage and furniture have long lead times so you’ll likely want to get things ordered and settled at the beginning of construction.

What questions do you for a contractor have about bar construction before you get started?

  • Kyle:
    • Once the bar budget for fixtures and equipment are in place, what is the protocol if budget gets exceeded throughout the build out?

Great question. We always recommend adding a 5% contingency line to your overall budget for this reason! But the heart of this question depends on a couple things. Was this an unforeseen condition or a change to the contract documents? If so, these additions typically move forward as change orders. How costs are managed depends on the agreement with your contractor. Have you set up a hard bid or negotiated job with them? Additional costs are always run by the owner first, however, some changes may be required your jurisdiction which would be required to earn a certificate of occupancy to open the business.

  • Do you have a portfolio of previous bars & restaurants that you have completed? It’s always good to see the work the contractor has completed and what they are capable of.

This is a great tip. Always ask about previous experience! Our team has run the gamut, from multi-million dollar brewery campuses to hole-in-the-wall, local joints.  We’ve got local recommendations for everything from draft systems to bar tops to back-of-building delivery set-ups.

  • What are realistic time frames for every major stage of the build out? How has that been met in the past with previous concepts?

For projects roughly 2,500-5,000 SF in size you’re looking at about 12-14 weeks of construction time. You’ll want to add surveying, planning, architectural design and construction document drawings, permitting, etc… to get a true sense of your timeline. This could add anywhere from 8 to 12 weeks on the front end. Additionally, the exterior signage process has its own permitting and timeline process outside of the construction timeline through local zoning departments.

The 12-14 week construction portion will run somewhat like this: 1-2 weeks for underground plumbing and electrical; 3 weeks for framing/MEP rough-ins; 3 weeks equipment installation/overhead work; 4-6 weeks for paint, tile, lighting, and finishes throughout.

Note, permitting jurisdictions will not allow you to move in furniture or train staff in the space until a health inspection and final building inspections are completed. Consider this timing when building out your opening operations plan!

What are your biggest lessons learned from bar set-up / construction?

  • Kyle: Never cut costs on the importance of good materials and equipment that will withstand the high volume of wear and tear. Consider a durable bar top, reliable refrigeration, and quality draft system. Also, create a highly detailed budget and be prepared to make cuts within the budget, having backup finishes and fixtures in place if needed.
  • Loy: Get some experienced bartenders and servers in to look at your plans and building. Even if builders or owners have some experience in the industry, it’s typically years in the past, and having the people who will ACTUALLY be moving through your space look at it and help you troubleshoot things and generate ideas will be invaluable.

We agree! Partnering with industry folks who have been down this road is the best way to go. They can help you get started on the right foot and follow you through to the end.

For more bar and brewery inspiration, check out: www.hospitalitydesign.com, www.architecturaldigest.com, www.rejuvination.com, www.frankarchitecture.ca

Read part I of the series: The Nuts and Bolts of Building a Restaurant: A Guide for New Owners.

Ready to learn more and get to work with us? Email info@snyderbuilding.com or call us at 720.900.5082.

Top Five Office Designs in and around Denver

Top Five Office Designs in and around Denver

by: Audrey Wilson
May 10, 2018

We’re big fans of great design. In fact, one of our favorite things about being a general contractor is the ability to make 2D plans become the real, 3D spaces that people live, work, and play in. The concept to reality process is humbling every single time.

And offices happen to be where we spend a lot of our time—albeit building them. We’ve written before about what it takes to make an office renovation successful and wanted to celebrate and round up a few incredibly successful office renovations in and around Denver. These spaces inspire us and make our work as general contractors really exciting!

The trend of open concept versus private work space is ever evolving. If you’re interested in learning how this is evolving, check out BisNow’s trend update on designing for office. Not surprisingly, these top five are right on target. A few of these offices were built by other contractors, but we find their design so inspiring that we couldn’t leave them out.

#5
American Cancer Society

     
photo credit: Snyder Building Construction. Used with permission from American Cancer Society.

Size of Renovated Space (in SF):
12,500 sq.ft.

Location:
10065 E Harvard Ave, Denver

About the Building:
Denver Highlands, at 10065 E. Harvard Ave., and One Denver Highlands, at 10375 E. Harvard Ave., encompass a combined 359,023 square feet of office space. Amenities include an on-site Ink! Coffee shop, walking distance from several fast-casual and casual eateries, and a great view of the Rocky Mountains. Check out the view from several exterior patio decks!

Design Intent:
American Cancer Society moved their Denver office to the 10065 E Harvard building this year. As a non-profit, the focus is always on the mission. Thus, the design was developed to encourage employee collaboration and celebrate the dedication to the cause.

What We Love:
We love their mission! American Cancer Society is on a mission to free the world from cancer. We also love they chose a sustainable lighting package, streamlined their finishes and simplified their look while adhering to their brand. They incorporated outdoor patio access into their suite for a stellar view of the Rocky Mountains.

Architect: Waring Associates

#4
Sixth Avenue West – Golden

      photo credit: Used with permission from Sixth Avenue West.

Size of Renovated Space (in SF):
30,000 sq.ft.

Location:
350 Indiana Street, Golden, Colorado

About the Building:
One of the most distinguished office assets in the West Denver submarket is Sixth Avenue West, an eight story, 124,612 square foot Class A office building located in Golden, Colorado. The building boasts attractive floor plates, competitive amenities, outstanding Energy Star Rating, and unparalleled views of Downtown Denver and the Rocky Mountains.

Design Intent:
The brand new, state-of-the art conference center (2,392 square feet) with seating for up to 100, blazing fast Wi-Fi, and HD projector, and an attached catering kitchen was designed to modernize the amenity set for all tenants in the building while keeping the space comfortable for large gatherings and small business meetings alike.

What We Love:
These upgrades offer lots of flexibility for tenants in the building. Tenants now have access to a café area, fitness center, and smart conference room—all great amenities! The view of Golden and the foothills is stunning all day, but particularly at sunrise and sunset.

Architect: Davis Partnership Architects

#3
MicroStar Logistics

     photo credit: Images courtesy of Dan Vorlage, MicroStar Logistics.

Size of Renovated Space (in SF):
15,000 sq.ft.

Location:
Historic Root Building, 2410 15th Street, Denver

About the Building:
The historic Root Building was originally built in 1890 using large wood timber column and beam construction. Today, this building is a staple of the Platte Street neighborhood. Home to several commercial outfits, MicroStar Logistics now occupies the second floor and provides beer keg sales, rentals, service, and logistics for brewers.

Design Intent:
Creating a fun and unique working environment while reclaiming the historic look and feel of the character of the building in their space was a challenging and critical part of the design. The original exterior brick walls were exposed along with wood ceiling joists and decking to bring back that historic feel to the space. Custom steel and glass storefront systems for the offices and conference areas, custom furniture pieces and millwork round out a unique experience for both employees and visitors.

What We Love:
Flexible work space allows employees varied options during the day, as well as access to a custom built shuffleboard table, lounge area, and coffee/beer sampling bar for visiting clients. The space is also highlighted by a full tasting bar featuring some of MicroStar’s clients’ brews on tap. The designer chose a custom, wood-barrel stave accent wall in the reception area which pays homage to the company’s mission. Customized design elements and unique use of the space make this office a great space to spend the day.

Architect: 1ine Studio, LLC
Designer:  XAN Creative

#2
WorkplaceELEMENTS

     photo credit: Photos courtesy of WorkplaceElements

Size of Space (in SF):
30,000 sq.ft.

Location:
intersection of Blake and Broadway in downtown Denver, Colorado

About WorkplaceELEMENTS:
WorkplaceELEMENTS is an integrated interiors partner that provides a comprehensive portfolio of furniture, manufactured construction, floor coverings, technology, and service solutions for the interior built environment.

Design Intent:
The Discovery Center provides a forward-thinking space for our employees to work and thrive in addition to showing our clients and prospects the full array of our product and service-based solutions. We want to demonstrate how the workplace can contribute to achieving the most significant organizational goals: The attraction and retention of key talent, the maximization of productivity, and the right physical environment to promote innovation throughout an organization.

What We Love:
Open ceilings exposed original wood and beams, exposed brick and an open feel makes you feel cozy in a large space. Additionally, the flex space throughout caters to employees’ needs for both collaboration and independent work. A bonus from visiting, the furniture and finishes in The Discovery Center sample what WorkplaceELEMENTS has to offer—thus employees really get to experience their products before designing them into new spaces.

Designer: Slant Interiors

#1
CBRE Denver

     photo credit: Gensler / Ryan Gobuty

Size of Space (in SF):
38,975 square feet across two floors, connected by an internal staircase

Location:
1225 17th Street, Suite 3200, Denver, CO 80202

About CBRE:
CBRE is the world’s largest commercial real estate services and investment firm with five offices across the Front Range offering a broad range of integrated services, including facilities, transaction and project management; property management; investment management; appraisal and valuation; property leasing; strategic consulting; property sales; mortgage services and development services.

Design Intent:
CBRE’s downtown Denver office is part of the firm’s global Workplace360 initiative designed to maximize employee collaboration, mobility and productivity through technology-enabled, free-address and paperless offices.

What We Love:
First and foremost, the view of the Rocky Mountains is spectacular which makes it extra special for those who live and work here in Colroado. Second, the open floor plan mixed with sleek amenities and beautiful finishes make this one to remember. Located right in the heart of Downtown Denver, this office definitely tops out our list.

Architect: Gensler

 We’re proud to have served as the general contractor for both American Cancer Society and the Sixth Avenue West buildings. Interested in working with us? Give us a call at 720.900.5082 or email us at info@snyderbuilding.com.

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.

Bars, Restaurants, and Breweries, Oh my! Part I: The Nuts & Bolts

Bars, Restaurants, and Breweries, Oh my!
Part I: The Nuts and Bolts of Building a Restaurant | A Guide for New Owners

A Three-Part Construction Series

January 30, 2018
collaboration by: Audrey Wilson & Matt Redick

Construction consideration begins before you even ever sign a lease. You want people who not only know how to build restaurants but who knows what matters to you and can support your goals. Building a restaurant is a huge undertaking! Our team has over 25 years of restaurant, bar, and brewery experience and we know how stressful and hard it can be. We pride ourselves in being a general contractor that can support you from start to finish from operations tips, to kitchen layout, vendor management, preconstruction, and launch. We are there for you during the whole journey.

If you’re just getting started, this series may be just the ticket! In Part 1: The Nuts and Bolts of Building a Restaurant we dive into a holistic overview considering the big four: The People, The Places, The Budget, and The Schedule. Keep in mind, we’re based in Denver, Colorado so pricing and timeline could vary based on your location and timing—construction pricing changes rapidly every year.

Buckle up and read on!

The People | Get a good team on board early.

“Hire people because you think they’ll give you the best advice and then trust what they say.” – Matt Redick, Senior Project Manager – Snyder Building Construction

Building a restaurant requires a complete understanding of back of house and front of house operations from the very beginning. While the whole process is incredibly cyclical and evolving, having a good grasp on the big picture as well as minute details (like what’s on the menu!) can have a huge impact on the entire project. That’s a lot to ask at the beginning! Thus, choose an architect construction team (and any consultants) who are well versed in restaurants and get them on board early! Choose one who has time in their company’s work load to really serve you well. Consider there are a plethora of health department and unique building code requirements when building a restaurant, you want partners who will get this right for you. The key? The earlier you get your people together in the same room the better.

“Have you hired your head chef already or are you the chef/owner? Get this key player involved in the design process as soon as you can.”  – Rich Snyder, Owner, Snyder Building Construction

If you’re hiring engineers and/or consultants, we recommend you choose ones with lots of restaurant experience. Deciding whether or not to use a kitchen design consultant is an important factor in the design process. The menu drives equipment and the equipment drives MEP drawings. We often see three common pitfalls with restaurant clients: (1) Not allocating enough budget; (2) Not reviewing the restaurant’s equipment requirements and planning for the right pieces of equipment, thus ending up with incorrect or extra items; (3) Not involving the kitchen designers early enough. Kitchen design companies are experts in equipment and kitchen flow efficiency and they provide very specific equipment power/rough-in requirements—crucial information for the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing drawings. This information is necessary and critical at the beginning to ensure accurate construction drawings are produced for the construction team.

So I know you’re thinking so far, this sounds fairly simple. However, owners/restaurateurs are responsible for managing a whole slew of additional vendors, from equipment suppliers to security, to audio/visual, point of sale systems, beverage services, beer tap systems, specialized lighting, small wares, menu design, signage (exterior and wayfinding) and furniture. It’s a lot to manage especially when you’re still navigating and planning funding, business plans, operations, weekly construction meetings and staff hiring. Let us help you lighten this workload—as restaurant specialists we’ve managed this for dozens of owners and seek to make the experience for you seamless.

Get folks on board early. We cannot reiterate this enough. With your architect and general contractor and consultants on at the very beginning of the design phase, we have the ability to support you more holistically through the preconstruction process, which includes discovery, site survey, scheduling and budgeting. For helpful tips on choosing your team, check out our other blog post “Building Your Construction Team.” Having expert eyes on existing conditions can save much needed headache and money down the line. Which leads us to the next section: The Place.

Side Note: It’s totally up to you as the owner whether you want that team to work in tandem (Design-Build) during design of the restaurant, or have construction documents prepared by the architect before handing them off for bidding, budgeting, and building with the general contractor (Design-Bid-Build). The word “design” can also somewhat be a misnomer—it really refers to the process of an architect creating the drawings of the restaurant. How will it flow? Where is the front door? Where is the kitchen, dining room, flow of egress? Interior design happens concurrently but is a smaller piece of the “design” process. Your architectural drawings are created in multiple stages rather than all at once such that changes/refinements happen more seamlessly. Once you have Construction Documents (the last stage) or “CDs” then in general you are ready for permitting and construction!

The Place | Conduct a site survey to identify existing conditions.

“Good buildings come from good people, and all problems are solved by good design.” -Stephen Gardiner

Whether you’re preferred restaurant location is a brand new building or an existing space needing renovation, conducting a site survey and understanding existing conditions is critical. At the beginning stages of discovery, it is worthwhile for you and your architect to hire mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineers to survey your site.  This will save you money and time during the construction phase. You need to know what your infrastructure is like prior to committing on a space. You’ll likely incur some fees during this phase, but the information gained at this early stage is very important to answer questions about whether or not the space is right for your planned use.

Here’s a handy list of items to consider and check for during your site survey. Not checking for these could add anywhere from $15-$100K right off the bat.

  • Water line tie-in needs to be 1 ½” minimum. ($50K price tag to alter)
  • Electrical capacity to the building needs to be at least 225 Amp service. Most restaurants really require 400 Amp service. (Upgrading service could cost upwards of $15-20K)
  • Is there an existing grease trap to tie into? Are there accurate drawings that show the elevation of the grease trap? (New systems or upgrades may add up to $25K)
  • Most restaurants require a 4” minimum waste line. If not, we’d recommend considering another building or space altogether.
  • Ceiling height & structure (what does roof deck look like if wanting an open ceiling look)
  • Does the building have Landmark Protected status? If so, this adds an extra layer of review and thus, added time before permitting can even begin.
  • If a multi-story building, where are the grease duct and refrigeration lines running?
  • Is there good access for future deliveries to the back of the house?
  • Where will the truck park to pump out and service the grease trap?
  • Will you have a CO2 supplier or a need for CO2 tanks? If so, how accessible is your soda rack for these deliveries?
  • Is there existing storage or space to build in storage?

If your restaurant will be part of a new building, some additional things to consider:

  • Height limitations/code for your roof deck/outdoor patio. This is based on your jurisdiction and considered during the permitting process.
  • Understand what the landlord is providing in their work letter. A lawyer should help review.
  • What kind of HVAC system will work the best for the space? Is there enough flat roof area and structural capacity on the roof for RTU’s (Roof Top Units) or is a Split System going to be used requiring a location outside on the ground for condensers to be placed?

The Budget | Plan for design, consulting, permits, fees, construction, and 10% contingency.

“Cost, schedule, and quality—all three are in play but you can only pick two.” – Age-Old Saying.

A good starting point for restaurant construction costs in Denver is $130-$225/SF for a 2,500-5,000 sf space. However, this can vary a lot depending on the design choices that you make.  Size, for example has an inverse relationship with cost per square foot—the bigger the space, the less cost per square foot. This is JUST construction cost. This pricing does not include architect fees, design, equipment, extensive infrastructure improvements, fine or fancy finishes, training costs, weather/unforeseen conditions or schedule impacts. When you plan your budget, consider all of these costs. In addition, we advise planning a 10% contingency line in your budget—there’s a myriad of moving parts in a restaurant build and it’s just better to be on the safe end.

From an interior design/impact stand point restrooms and interior finishes seems like a great place to spend money. And they are! However, big ticket items during construction are often kitchen equipment, wet areas like the bar, lighting in the space, and mechanical, electrical, or plumbing infrastructure upgrades.

Plan to spend money on all of the following:

  • Construction costs
  • Architectural design services
  • Restaurant consulting
  • Permitting
  • Equipment deposits
  • Long-lead/exotic material deposits
  • Fees for due diligence/feedback from engineers
  • Signage – own permitting process (start early) design fees, etc.
  • Owner items: security, audio/visual, POS, Coke/Pepsi, beer systems, signage, furniture, specialty lighting

Construction costs are usually billed monthly based on percentage of work completed during that month. Thus, you’ll spend the majority of your budget in the beginning and middle of the project as things are gearing up, and then payments begin to taper off as far as design and construction costs are concerned. See the graph below to get a better idea:

Lastly, spending time and money refining design up front before construction starts saves time and money at the end! Changing design elements in the field after construction has begun can easily triple costs for the changes in no time.

 The Schedule | Varies greatly!

“The most powerful force ever known on this planet is human cooperation—a force for construction and destruction.” – Jonathan Haidt

 We’ll dive deeper into scheduling in a separate blog post. For now, we’ll touch on it briefly. For projects roughly 2,500-5,000 SF in size you’re looking at about 12-14 weeks of construction time. You’ll want to add surveying, planning, design, permitting, etc… to get a true sense of your timeline. This could add anywhere from 8 to 12 weeks on the front end. Additionally, the exterior signage process has its own permitting and timeline process outside of the construction timeline through local zoning departments.

The 12-14 week construction portion will run somewhat like this ….. 1-2 weeks for underground plumbing and electrical work (Another reason having solid MEP drawings and information at the beginning is critical! We can’t start without this.); 3 weeks framing/rough-ins; 3 weeks equipment installation/overhead; 4-6 weeks for paint, tile, lighting, and finishes throughout.

Note, permitting jurisdictions will not allow you to move in furniture or train staff in the space until a health inspection, and final building inspections are completed.  If the space is a change of use, or a new space, a CO (Certificate of Occupancy) will also need to be obtained after final inspections. Unfortunately, this is an absolute so you’ll want to plan building your team and training staff for operations accordingly.

Check back soon for Part II for more budgeting, pricing, strong mechanical, electrical, plumbing drawings, and designing for efficient service!

Ready to learn more and get to work with us?? Email info@snyderbuilding.com or call us at 720.900.5082.

 

Water Filtration Systems in Medical & Laboratory Facilities

Water Filtration Systems in Medical & Laboratory Facilities

January 15, 2018
written by: Audrey Wilson

Having just installed a new autoclave at a research laboratory, water filtration systems have been on our mind!

Laboratory sterilizing systems almost always require the use of a deionized water systems. Water that is used to sterilize equipment needs to go through a filtration system—obviously this is an important component for sanitary and accurate lab work. Deionized systems remove impurities from water (specifically mineral ions) through an ion exchange process.

It’s not always as simple as drawings would have you believe. We pulled together some tips to help when installing these types of systems.

Find the right pipe.
First and foremost, you want to clarify the type of piping required by the engineer as there are several types you can use. A quality installer will know to never introduce metallic piping with DI system, because the DI system is removing mineral ions and using metal pipes would reintroduce charged ions back into the water.

 Plan ahead.
Specialized parts for deionized systems can have longer lead times for delivery. Include long lead times with your schedule for procuring/ordering parts and equipment so you’re able to accurately predict installation timeframe. Additionally, in an active lab, it’s important to coordinate demolition, installation and tie in to the system during off-hours. Consistent advanced scheduling with building engineers is a must if you’re working in harmony with regular lab operations. We also had to account for the time required for decommissioning and decontamination of the space to rid the area of residual pathogens.

Install with care.
Avoid overheating the pipe during the fusing process and watch your hanger spacing. Additionally, ensure that proper labeling guidelines are followed. Inspectors want to see these water systems appropriately labeled, sometimes even desiring labels on the walls in the surrounding area in addition to the direct application to the pipe.

Back flow prevention and testing.
Engineered drawings don’t always account for what means of back flow prevention is already in place in these types of spaces. Inspectors may want to see that the existing system is working properly if a new back flow prevention solution isn’t required.

Check your existing conditions.
When improving existing spaces, it’s imperative to know more about the conditions in place. Not only will getting to know the site and systems save you time on the front end, but inspectors may require existing conditions to be upgraded when they come through.

Deionized water systems are just one kind of system you might see in medical facilities. Others include water softener treatments, reverse osmosis filtration, and ultraviolet water purification.

For more information on water filtration systems, deionized systems, medical, dental, or laboratory construction services, contact us at info@snyderbuilding.com.

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.