The blueprints are approved. The budget is planned. It’s time to rip out that old carpet, splash a new coat of paint on the walls, and start anew. Wait! Not so fast. Before the first hammer strikes, you need to conduct communication due diligence by working with your property manager and considering how your remodel will impact neighboring tenants.
This step is important for a few reasons. Maintaining good neighbor relations is in everyone’s best interest to ensure leases are renewed and the building is a pleasant place for employees to work and clients to visit. If neighboring tenants get into a tizzy over loud noises or lack of parking — no matter if you or your construction crew are to blame — troubleshooting on the fly can implode budgets and blow timelines.
Following are five ways to conduct yourself before and during a remodel to make sure everything goes smoothly, stays on time, and keeps within budget.
1. Be aware of your neighbor’s business needs.
Become knowledgeable on the types of businesses that surround the space to be remodeled, and the potential ways your remodel would prevent them from doing their jobs. For instance, if you are next to a law firm, loud noises during the day may interrupt a deposition, or make conference calls impossible.
2. Select subcontractors who value professionalism.
Subcontractors working in a professional environment with heavy foot traffic should conduct themselves in a professional manner. Their appearance should not be disheveled or dirty, they should be cautious not to track debris outside of the job site, be aware of appropriate language and conversation topics while working, and they should be courteous to passers-by.
3. Reserve highly disruptive work for business off hours.
Demolition, sawing, varnishing, plumbing, cabling, flooring installation, and the like are loud, messy and odorous tasks that should be done during the off hours of tenant business. This means between 6 p.m. and 7 a.m. for most businesses. However, if you are located next to a car dealership that tends to have large sales on the weekends, this may mean Monday and Tuesday. Save money by finding subcontractors who are willing to work nights and weekends and don’t charge overtime. Many small, independent shops operate this way due to the nature of their clients or their family situation.
4. Consider reserving mildly disruptive work for business off hours.
Moving furniture can require locking an elevator for the day, which takes away the neighboring tenants’ fastest mode of transportation in the building. Powerwashing a building’s exterior can clean the building, but splatter dirty water onto cars in the parking lot. Finding subcontractors who can be flexible around your schedule will keep your tenant community happy and your bottom line in check.
5. Maintain a two-week notice rule.
Your property manager will help you plan around other tenant business needs and serve as your communication channel during your remodel. When you give property managers at least two weeks notice before you need to work during off business hours, or need accommodations during regular business hours, it gives them time to determine the best way to manage it.
A remodel is an exciting time. It can set the stage for a growing business and can improve a property’s value once completed. Every project has its unique challenges, but when you are up front and honest, come in prepared, and commit to being responsive, you will find the right balance between keeping neighbors happy and keeping your project teams efficient. In the end, you will be able to enjoy your finished space, you’ll have the support of your neighbors, and you can share your newfound construction knowledge with others as they eventually undergo similar updates.