CONSTRUCTION AND TENANT TURNOVER
Now that your development plans have been submitted and approved, your permits issued, and you’ve closed on the property, it’s time to start building. This is where the contractors and builders will bring the commercial development to life.
Overall Construction Coordination
As a commercial real estate developer, the construction aspect of the project revolves around managing and coordinating the construction stage, as opposed to actually constructing the building. Working with general contractors and subcontractors, the overall construction coordination often consists of:
Weekly Construction Calls and Reports
As a way to stay in direct contact with general contractors, a developer’s construction department will generally take part in weekly update calls. These status updates focus on the overall progress of the development, while going over upcoming schedules and time frames. Additionally, the calls will address any major issues that may hinder the timely completion of the project.
In addition to the weekly construction calls, written progress reports are submitted by the general contractors to the developer in order to address the project status, schedules, etc.
Handling RFIs from Contractors and Architects
During the construction phase, commercial developers are also responsible for managing Requests for Information (RFIs). These requests often come in because not all construction documents may address every single matter of the construction process.
These requests are issued in order to help contractors get clarification on project details or ask for a decision to be made on particular elements.
Before any digging or hammering, it’s important that the developer, general contractor, subcontractors, architects, and other involved parties are on the same page about the overall construction plan and the expectations.
These meetings should be used to:
Establish the appropriate roles and responsibilities
Determine special project needs and requirements
Establish quality expectations
Define problem-solving measures
Develop a schedule of project meetings
Address questions and concerns about the construction phase of the project
The plans and guidelines that are discussed and laid out in the pre-construction meeting will help you navigate issues down the road and ensure you’re on course for a successful project.
General Contractor Mobilization
Generally, the first step in beginning the actual construction of the commercial project is mobilizing crews to the site. This entails organizing and planning to get contractors, equipment, and materials to the site in order to start work.
At this same time, permits are typically pulled for the property, including building, electrical, plumbing, mechanical, etc.
Once you’re ready for your plans to become a reality, survey staking is one of the first steps you will take.
This is the process of taking a planned development and physically mapping it out on the site. Generally staking is used to represent the property lines, inner and outer walls of the building, the storm and drainage flow, and concrete features such as driveways, sidewalks, and curbs.
During staking, you’ll also likely take soil samples from the site. A soil engineer will test to ensure the subsurface soil conditions match the conditions of the initial investigation, and may modify design recommendations as necessary.
This is the stage in which the actual ground on which the new development will sit begins to take form to adequately construct the new building. Earthwork in excavation and backfilling of soil up to required depth is required for the construction of the foundation and trenches.
Earthwork can involve steps including:
Importing and exporting of soil
Compaction and density testing
These are the main steps in preparing the site for proper and safe building construction.
Pad and Foundation
Once proper earthwork has been completed and the ground is set, the construction process will move into setting the building’s foundation.
The initial step is to excavate for the building’s footings – elements that are put into place in order to ensure a stable base that will support the future load bearing foundation walls. Taking into account the composition of the surrounding soil, you’ll excavate a trench in order to set the building’s footings.
From there, crews will dive into laying the forms, setting rebar, and pouring the foundation for the building. The foundation is designed to provide support for the entire structure.
The building construction is when the property you envision begins to take form as you add structure to your property. Frames, walls, roofs, and all the major components of building the “bones’ of a commercial real estate development. Some major work involves:
Site utility work includes preparing the property to connect to public utilities. These including water, sewer, electric, and gas.
Framing consists of creating the broad pieces that will give support and shape to the building. This may involve either a wood frame, structural steel, or concrete.
Depending on the type of roof, this may involve elements such as building out the rafters, ceiling joists, trusses, insulation, structural deck, and the appropriate roof covering.
Involves preparing the installation site by setting either setting a pad or installing a rooftop support structure. The ductwork and electrical is also prepared for interior connection.
The interior work that goes into a new commercial development involves many of the details that customers and occupants will see and deal with on a daily basis. The interior work is what takes the building from being a bare shell, to a habitable development. There are a lot of minor details that go into this step of the development process, but the major interior work that’s performed is:
Doors and Hardware
Beside the construction of the building itself, work must be done on the surrounding property in order to make for a complete, well-rounded commercial development. Some of that on-site work includes:
This is the process of distributing dirt in a strategic way to ensure the proper water runoff and to prepare the site for additional work, such as paving and landscaping.
Paving and Striping Parking
Once the site is properly graded, you can move forward with paving the parking area. The parking area should be smooth, contain a level, compacted base, and have proper drainage. Then, upon proper paving, the lot can be striped.
This involves installing irrigation, planting decorative or shade trees, bushes, flowers, gravel, or any other elements that add to the visual appeal of the property.
Refers to work outside the property site that is meant to support the new development. This includes infrastructure such as access roads, sidewalks and curbs, and other supplemental utility work.
Upon completion of each project, inspections must take place to ensure that the major elements meet all municipal codes and ordinances. While periodic inspections take place during the construction phase, final inspections must be performed to assure that the buildings are safe for occupancy. Elements inspected include:
Structural and Building envelope
The close-out of a project typically involves developing a detailed schedule of duties including punch lists, equipment testing, start up procedures, and occupancy. Close-out may also involve gathering and retaining critical records and documentation for the project, in case there are any questions or issues to be addressed after project completion.
The close-out process addresses everything from the work performed by contractors to returning of rented equipment. It’s to ensure that your new development is more than prepared to be turned over to the tenant.
The construction punch list is used to address any unresolved tasks or issues before final occupancy. It’s used as a control measure to ensure the quality standards of the developer and future tenant are met.
The punch list usually includes a plan for completion of items including any minor repairs to finishes, cleanup, or any outstanding installations.
Certificate of Occupancy
Once the project meets all the final inspections, codes, and ordinances, the appropriate municipal agency will issue a Certificate of Occupancy for the property.
Issuance certifies that the property is suitable for occupancy by the proposed user, or type of user, and that the building complies with the plans and specifications that were initially submitted and approved.
The “final step” in the commercial real estate development process: tenant move-in. As it implies, this means the property is prepared for the tenant to set up shop and eventually open for business. The project has officially gone from conceptualization to construction to handing over the keys.