Managing the construction schedule

Construction schedules and timing for occupancy has been an issue that we’ve seen arise quite a bit in the past few months. As our clients are growing and taking more space, we are encouraging them to understand timelines for building out their space and moving their operation.

It’s tempting to assume that everything will happen quickly and all the stars will align, but that’s not always the case. There are some significant lead-time items that need to be considered and planned for well in advance.

1. The architectural, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) drawings. An architect has to create a full set of plans that show all of the construction that needs to be done to the space. The architect may need a few weeks to create the drawings and there may be a number of revisions based on feedback from the tenant.

2. Permits. The reason to create MEP drawings isn’t just so the contractor knows where to start building. The township also has to review the plans and issue permits. While they try to turn it around faster, town inspectors typically have the right to take six or eight weeks to review the plans.

3. Construction. Building the space takes time… There is no avoiding it. Demolition, construction, and finishes will take 60 days even for a simple project. Complicated or large-scale jobs will take longer. And that assumes there are no delays, holidays, etc.

4. Furniture. The office furniture you specify may be sitting in a warehouse waiting for you, or it may take two or three months for it to be fabricated. And specialty items may take even longer.

5. Telephone/Internet. Telephone companies and Internet Service Providers have gotten faster, but getting set up with connectivity will also take a few weeks.

Some of the above items can be managed in conjunction with one another. For example, the furniture can be ordered while construction is taking place, but I have rarely seen this process take less than four months from start to finish. We encourage our clients to start planning from the desired occupancy date and work backwards. This helps create project milestones and defines responsibilities from the outset to avoid problems at the end.

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