Wolgast Blog

Commercial Building Exterior Remodel Strategy

Posted by Cory Sursely on 6/17/2021

ExteriorWhether a business is a restaurant, office, manufacturing plant, or school, having a building exterior remodel strategy can make a project very efficient and beneficial for a building owner. A plan should include incorporating low maintenance materials, safety elements, easy accessibility, and curb appeal to serve a business well into the future, as well as cut costs, and attract new customers.

Low maintenance material choices, such as fiber cement siding, EIFS, brick, Fullerton Panels or poured concrete, are durable, don’t require painting, or much up-keep in the future. By incorporating a number of these materials, an owner can reduce their maintenance budget and the inconvenience to staff or customers that maintenance crews can create. Additionally, changing to LED lighting and using a combination of uplighting and downlighting can showcase a building and make it more noticeable after hours and be less costly to operate. Even windows and doors are made to be much more efficient over the last decade or more, so depending on when an owner's windows or doors were installed, replacing them could save an owner a lot on energy costs. Choosing hearty perennial plants that can survive many different elements is a great option to keep costs down and elevate curb appeal. Heated sidewalks and heated air at entrances, may not be the most efficient cost wise, but can eliminate bugs entering your building, slips and falls, and less maintenance to keep up with snow removal and wet carpets.

If a business wants to gain more traffic at their building location and/or be inviting and accessible to all types of customers is helpful. Being ADA compliant with your parking lot and entrance is beneficial to gaining new customers if you haven’t had these elements before. Automatic doors, way finding signage, handicap parking near ramps and the building, are all barrier free changes to enhance your building. With changes presented by the pandemic, some businesses could benefit from implementing or enhancing their curbside pickup, too.

It is always good to strategize safety considerations that can help protect staff and clientele. Replacing tall shrubs near an entrance will prevent attackers from hiding and surprising unaware people entering or exiting a building. Installing cameras and again having ample LED lighting can deter attackers from hanging around a building to do unsavory things. And, finally, I’ll include that when guardrails or bollards are strategically placed around a building, as indicated by an architect, it will prevent cars from hazardously entering or hitting your building while protecting the people and materials inside.

Wolgast Corporation is an Employee-Owned Construction Group in Michigan that specializes in commercial construction. We can help you create a strategy and design that will improve your building exterior to be more efficient, long lasting, and attractive. Please contact Michael Shepard to discuss design, strategy, and construction options at 800-WOLGAST or mshepard@wolgast.com

Tags: Energy Savings, Design, Good for Business, Remodel

New Ways to Add Infection Control to Your Healthcare Office

Posted by Cory Sursely on 7/21/2020

doctor-1149149_1920Medical and Dental practice owners you’ve taken a big hit same as most other industries due to the Covid-19 shut down. You’re still fresh to reopening and making the extended measures to provide infection control and start treating patients safely again. Your building facility can be made more effective in protecting staff and patients better, including tools for surface cleaning, aerosol infection control and social distancing.

Learning how to provide services over telehealth tools was likely a “fun” and necessary exercise to treat your patients during the stay-at-home order. Now that you’ve got the hang of it, offices are reopening and incorporating the CDC guidelines to manage infection control. The CDC’s1 steps include:

  • Educating staff
  • Communicating with patients (placing reminders for social distancing and hand washing in your facility)
  • Wearing Personal Protective Equipment
  • Installing ventilation systems to eliminate the aerosols that escape from the mouth, eyes or nose
  • Integrating easy to clean barriers in open spaces
  • Installing UVGI lighting
  • Removing magazines and toys (or other unnecessary items that could be touched in public areas)

You may be wondering how long you can sustain ongoing surface cleaning, social distancing and what you should do with those magazine subscriptions. Especially with some cleaning supplies and PPE in high demand and the varying level of concern by your patients. We have found other tools and materials with which you may not be familiar. These could be helpful in elevating the cleaning and distancing you’re already doing.

You may be aware that UVC Light is useful in sanitizing unoccupied rooms. That’s why the CDC recommends UVGI disinfecting light as an option for cleaning your unoccupied treatment rooms. However, the light is harmful to skin and eyes when exposed/penetrated, so it is critical that the room is empty of people when in use.. Recent, new findings by Columbia University have filtered the Far-UVC light from the UVC as a potential option for cleaning occupied rooms – emphasis on occupied. The wavelength range of the Far-UVC are shorter and don’t penetrate into the top dead layer of skin, or outer layer of the eye, but still are able to destroy the bacteria and viruses. Being able to use it in occupied rooms, they claim, “will prevent the airborne, person-to-person transmission of pathogens such as coronaviruses.”2 When the results are confirmed, researchers believe that it will be great to use in “hospitals, doctors’ offices, schools, airports, and airplanes” to fight transmission of germs.

Additionally, conducting ATP testing can measure the cleanliness of surfaces. In high traffic or shared spaces, the tests can tell you quickly if you are cleaning adequately. It evaluates the cleaning practices and “can be a useful tool to measure the efficiency of cleaning procedures also in environments with very low microbial counts”.

Antimicrobial Surface Coatings have been used primarily on door knobs, countertops, and wall surfaces, according to an article in Architect Magazine, “Materials & Coatings that Reduce Surface Transmission of Bacteria & Viruses”.   It’s also being added to paint and silicon based nanocoatings now. The applied material has self-cleaning functionality and can help with confidence between regular cleanings. However, the CDC has “found no evidence to suggest the products offer any enhanced protection from spread of bacteria and germs and that proper cleaning and hand washing are best for protection”. Contrastingly, there are studies that prove that the silver or other metals used in the material does reduce microbial growth.3 So at this time it should be considered extra protection in addition to a regular cleaning schedule, rather than in place of cleaning.

There are a variety of options for barriers and partitions to separate open areas, however, we found two that caught our attention. Rolascreen can be printed on to create any design that you would like with a variety of options available. It’s also non-porous, easily cleanable, portable, condensable, and lightweight. Also, EverShield Portable Partition System is an efficient way to separate lobby areas or clinics and can easily be expanded with later installments if necessary. These are both good temporary options, also know that there are other fine partition companies that can be found online. If you decide that the partitions should be permanent, please contact Michael Shepard at Wolgast Corporation to discuss remodeling options.

Finally, the N95 masks can be hard to find in the quantity that you’re anticipating. The FDA has identified Hydrogen Peroxide Decontamination Systems are effective in extending the life of N95 masks. The FDA states on its website that certain models of the ASP STERRAD Sterilization Systems can sterilize “compatible N95 masks”, so by verifying the match you can prolong your N95 supply.4

Wolgast is an expert provider of design and construction of healthcare offices. Please call us if you need recommendations for HVAC companies for ventilation, permanent wall barriers, a remodel or a new office built. If you have found other infection control measures that are working well for you, please send us a note so we can share with others.

1https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/dental-settings.html “Guidance for Dental Settings”

2https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-21058-w “Far-UVC light: A new tool to control the spread of airborne-mediated microbial diseases

3 https://www.architectmagazine.com/technology/materials-and-coatings-that-reduce-surface-transmission-of-bacteria-and-viruses_o “Materials and Coatings that Reduce Surface Transmission of Bacteria and Viruses

4https://www.fda.gov/medical-devices/letters-health-care-providers/use-correct-cycle-and-compatible-n95-respirators-when-decontaminating-respirators-sterrad “Use the Correct Cycle and Compatible N95 Respirators When Decontaminating Respirators with STERRAD Sterilization Systems - Letter to Health Care Providers”


Medical Services


Tags: Medical Office Construction, Dental Office Construction, Remodel

Entering Retail Space as a Non-Retailer

Posted by Cory Sursely on 12/10/2019

RetailBlogRetail space is becoming attractive to non-retailers as more of it becomes available.  Likely, Business Owners see a build-out as a quick, easy, low cost way to enter or expand in a market due to space already being established with a structure, vast parking, some foot traffic, and necessary amenities.  Just a little remodel and they can be open for business!

While much of the above is true in theory, there are cost savings associated with having a professional team with background knowledge to lower leasing and, in turn, operating costs.  This “leasing” team of Design/Builder, CPA, and Real Estate Attorney can help an owner negotiate their lease, get regulatory approvals quicker, a build-out estimate, and a distinguishing design for their storefront so it’s easily identifiable among a sea of retail shops, “medtail” offices (redi-med, chiropractic, veterinary, or other health services), restaurants, recreational businesses, salons, and whatever other operation may be nearby.

Mall and shopping center managers are seeking retailers, restaurants, mom and pop shops, and non-traditional businesses to fill their open spaces.  As a lessee, the business owner will have to pay rent as agreed upon in a lease, plus Common Area Maintenance (CAM) fees, possibly utilities and/or taxes, and build-out costs.  A professional leasing team can set up a business owner to have the best lease option, plan for their accounting, and designed store in less amount of time.  Additionally, there are nuances to getting an allowance for build-out costs that factor into your lease amount.  Also, negotiating how the taxes and utilities are covered could affect your monthly rent, too.  Furthermore, it’s a good idea to check out the HVAC equipment that is present to prepare an owner for what heating and cooling costs may be. 

Speaking on behalf of the Design/Builder, the art of the build-out is to identify issues with the space, make sure the utilities are (or will be) where you need them, architectural plans are created to meet municipal/code requirements, and the design helps with branding so a business can be easily found and attractive to customers. 

Wolgast Corporation, has completed retail build-outs for mall, shopping center, and stand-alone customers throughout Michigan.  We can help a business owner to get their design, utility access situated, and build-out completed to save on time and create a professional looking operation, so they can start making sales, seeing patients, or serving clients as efficiently as possible.  Our resources include technology, utilities, engineering, design, and construction.

Tags: Remodel, Retail

Repurpose Your Commercial Office to Be More Modern

Posted by Cory Sursely on 8/22/2019

What Ideas Will Work for You?

Repurpose-1Appearance is one of the triggers that leads to remodeling, but isn’t the only good reason to remodel.  Other reasons like efficiency, reorganizing unused space, right-sizing, and new technology can make a big difference in attracting or retaining talent, saving money and improving productivity.  Furthermore, modern designs that are created with goals of safety, appearance, efficiency, and increased focus or productivity can help you to make your space more useful for staff and enticing to clients.

I did an image search on Google for “Modern Office Design” and what I saw was a lot of glass walls, greys/brown/white shades combined with bright accent colors, short cubicles or no cubicles, wood floors, slat wood paneling, high ceilings, natural light, recreational areas, conference rooms and white boards.  What was missing was fluorescent lighting, storage, and surprisingly, privacy. 

Open floorplans with no offices and high ceilings have become popular for some businesses, especially for those in urban areas where real estate is costly and space is limited.  More staff members can be fitted with a desk when there are no walls involved, but the productivity results are mixed.  If you’ve been wondering, any operation that relies on phone calls or focus for creativity (to name two) doesn’t work well with open floorplans or high ceilings.  Also, the original goal of collaboration has fallen short among those using the open concept due to the introduction of texting and private messaging via social media.1  Instead of collaboration, employees are seeking more privacy and turning to messaging instead of open collaboration, according to researchers in “New Harvard Study: Your Open-Plan Office is Making Your Team Less Collaborative”.  They were able to determine that “Face-to-Face” collaboration decreased by 70% while email and messaging formats increased1

So, what can you do to address the current needs of your future work force and clients?  Whether you plan to have less employees or expand your staff, right-sizing your space to make it more comfortable or to accommodate new equipment can lead to increased productivity as better work flows are streamlined.  Extra space in your building can be repurposed to be a quiet area away from phones and computers, or additional meeting space for focused collaboration.  Additionally, this area can be automated so that lighting and heat controls are adjusted to actual use and to save money on energy costs.

In fact, incorporating the Internet of Things (IoT), or building automation of systems is good to incorporate during an office remodel.  Your office temperature, access control, lighting, and other systems can be controlled from your desktop, laptop, or even smartphone.  Incorporating natural light has also proven to improve morale and cut costs on lighting bills.

We know that the bottom-line is how much more revenue will a remodel bring to the business, or the return on investment.  We can’t tell you exactly how much, but considerations to make include the impact on attracting or retaining talent, the energy cost savings, increased productivity through well thought redesign based on work flows and repurposing unused space, peace of mind from access control, and attracting clients or prospects who are interested in seeing your newly remodeled space.

Wolgast can design your new floorplan and oversee the construction of your remodel, or new build if you prefer.  We will be the single-source of your project applying our building expertise, while you focus on the operation of your business.


Tags: Design/Build, Energy Savings, Good for Business, Remodel

Building Remodel for Energy & Money Savings

Posted by Cory Sursely on 9/24/2018

There aren’t many businesses that remodel every six years, so chances are that if you’re currently ready for an update, you have the potential to save a considerable amount of money by investing in modern, energy efficient products and installations. 

NBS-EnergyWith 29% of your operating expense being spent on utilities1, the energy efficient products that have become available over the last six years or less can make a big impact.  Additionally, there are monetary incentives for making these changes.  We've helped several school clients lower their energy expense and secure incentive money.  As a Consumer Energy Business Solution Trade Ally, we’ve achieved 3rd place for natural gas savings for Consumers Energy school customers and helped Bullock Creek Schools maximize their incentive of more than $125,000 to offset the cost of their new heat-conserving roof, energy efficient light bulbs and other alterations.

It’s good to be aware that some energy savings are now mandated by LARA in the State of Michigan when you build new or remodel (see our blog: Michigan Energy Code).  However, there are varying degrees ($$) of integration to include in your remodel plans that could save more money for your business in the long run.  For instance, office equipment and other mechanical products have become increasingly more efficient even within recent years.  Building systems and materials such as water heaters, HVAC systems, programmable thermostats, windows, insulation applications, LED lighting, occupancy sensors, and toilets are all more efficient than they were in the past 10 years.

Additionally, during your remodel or new build, adding more natural light reduces the need for full time lights, which according to US Energy Information Administration can be more than 17% of utility costs for commercial buildings who haven’t converted to LED.2  Bigger windows, skylights, or light transmitting panels are great for getting the most natural light into an interior space.  Your architect will have further tricks for enhancing natural light, as well.

If you aren’t quite ready for a remodel right now, but are interested in tweaking your building systems to save on energy costs, most energy companies are currently offering free assessments to guide you to save on what you already have in place.  Contact your energy company for a complimentary report.

However, if you are interested in remodeling or building new, Wolgast is ready and capable to be your design and construction partner to achieve these energy and cost saving applications.  Call us today for more information.

1E Source Customer Direct, “Managing Energy Costs in Office Buildings”

2 U.S. Energy Information Administration, www.eia.gov, “Trends in Lighting in Commercial Buildings”, 5/17/17

Tags: Design/Build, Energy Savings, Good for Business, Remodel

Universal Design Can Change Your Business

Posted by Cory Sursely on 1/2/2018

UniversalDesign.jpgIn 2015, there were roughly 53 million Americans1 who were disabled either in mobility, in hearing, or with their vision.  Moreover, there are the aging baby boomers with special needs, mothers with strollers, and an increasing number of people using service dogs who each have different accessibility needs to public places.  Whether you are a restaurant, retailer, bank, medical office, or school (to list a few), you likely already have Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards to meet when you build a new building or remodel your existing one; however, if you aren’t already regulated by Title II or Title III, there are still benefits of planning your building for access to everyone, also known as Universal Design, which is different from ADA.  Some are considering Universal Design an emerging concept of good citizenship, much the same way LEED has done for reducing a company’s carbon footprint.  Compared to ADA which is mandated by the government to provide accessibility for disabled people within publicly used buildings, Universal Design is a choice that a building owner makes to include accommodations not regulated by the ADA to provide easy accessibility to everyone.

Going beyond ADA requirements and adopting Universal Design as a customer service practice can help you target new customers (or staff members) and also assist in marketing messages,  “Hey, we’re here for everyone! And we’ve taken measures to make sure you can easily shop here!”  Such things as having a clear approach to your building, an elevator, wider aisles, open spots for wheelchairs at tables or other seating areas can be enjoyed by many and a relief for disabled people.

For instance, years ago we worked with a national retailer on several of their Michigan stores to design and remodel required ADA updates to their restrooms.  And now through their current and vast remodeling efforts to update their stores, they’re meeting their ADA requirements and incorporating even more Universal Design elements, including: public accessibility, clear paths from the parking lot, expanding doorways, communicating barrier free assistance through labels and arrows, adding braille signage on restroom signs, updating counter heights, expanding turning radiuses in the restrooms, and making space for wheelchairs at select tables.  Some of these items are required, but not all of them are, our client is considering the usage of all its customers for easier access.

In addition, another long standing client incorporated a whole new business model by expanding through partner programs designed for children with special needs—becoming the only entity like it in Michigan.   After planning and enlisting Wolgast Architect, Rick Keith, they added a medical facility with overnight accommodations for doctors, ramps to amenities, and barrier free access for medical attention to their existing establishment, which has helped them to enhance their entire program, and further realize their mission as an organization. 

Finally, being inclusive through Universal Design is undoubtedly more expensive than not including those measures; however, it can help you when it’s time to sell your business or building.  For some businesses, remodeling now to include mandated ADA changes and beyond (i.e. Universal Design) can be sound business for customer service and the long term use of your building.

1 www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2015/p0730-us-disability.html,  “53 million adults in US live with disability”.

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Tags: Design, Good for Business, Remodel

What to Know about Lease Hold Improvements for Your Business

Posted by Cory Sursely on 10/12/2017

LeaseHold2Office Remodel (Part II)

As a business owner or manager, you want to make your working space comfortable,
attractive and efficient for your work force.  Currently popular in office settings is open
daylighting, LED lamps, replaceable carpet squares and work stations with standing options.  
If you don’t own your building, you may feel restricted to make these changes until your ownership
status changes, but it’s more likely that your landlord will be willing to work with you to make updates
and keep you as a tenant.

Lease Hold Improvements

Lease language can be long, tedious, and yet full of important details.  Depending on how long you’ve been in your building, it’s a good idea to refresh yourself on your remodeling stipulations.  There are commonly tenant improvement allowances available, or alternatively, savings on rent for completing updates to your office or shop.  If there aren’t already those permissions included, then leasehold improvements can be negotiated when you renew your lease. 

Typically, the tenant creates a list of the changes they’d like to make and turns that list over to the landlord for review.  The items that are approved and agreed upon are then put into a work plan for contractors to establish a cost.  Landlords prefer to work with their approved subcontractors in order to match the aesthetic already existing in the building.  From there, the landlord and tenant enter into a construction agreement with the allowance and cost pre-determined.  Additionally, there is a clause presented for fixtures that become part of the property.  These include items that would cause damage to the building if removed, so the tenant is notified which fixtures would stay if the tenant ever moved.

It is common for a landlord to amortize the renovation costs over the term of the lease, with the exception of a penalty and expenses if the lease is broken early.

There are other ways to negotiate a lease hold improvement.  For instance, you can negotiate a longer lease at the same rental rate, or if you can convince the landlord that you would like to pay for the remodel, there can be arrangements for a lowered rental rate (less popular).

Maintenance Coverage

One other important item in your lease contract is who is responsible for maintenance of the interior and exterior of the building you’re occupying.  We often see conditions of buildings in disrepair because the tenant thinks the landlord is responsible (or vice versa), however, the opposite is true, so certain maintenance items are neglected for the duration that the tenant is in the building.  The responsibility doesn’t always come to light until there is a more serious (and now more costly) problem.

Wolgast takes on remodels of all sizes and can provide tips for time and money savings, please contact us when you’re ready to design and construct your upgrades.  Whether it is a restaurant, business office, medical office, retail, manufacturer operation or school, we are experts at remodeling most every type of commercial building.  We are currently planning for winter and interior remodels (which is the best time to complete indoor work, if you ask us!).

Tags: Financing Construction, Remodel

The Most Popular Areas of an Office Remodel (REMODELING Part I)

Posted by Cory Sursely on 8/1/2017

And Other Remodeling Insights

The-Most-Popular-Areas-of-an-Office-RemodelThe idea of an “office remodel” covers a broad spectrum of happenings. We’ve completed those that are elaborate and include removing walls to change the layout of the floorplan and others that are as simple as paint and flooring.  I did a quick assessment of the office remodel projects we’ve completed over the past few years and the majority included lighting, new doors, flooring, and bathroom updates.  While we’re capable of completing the more elaborate type remodels that include moving walls and rearranging the layout, the reality is that more often the simple updates and efficiency of new lighting or technology are what is needed most frequently.  It may be that the materials being replaced go through the most wear and tear and need to be changed more frequently, or that they are simple, inexpensive changes to pump a refreshed feeling into an office setting. 

When remodeling an office, the little touches of flooring, doors, trim, and/or paint can add new life through color and a freshened appeal as we found out with our own interior remodel for our Construction Management Department last winter.  The completed transformation of the office involving carpet, trim, doors, technology upgrades and wall covering throughout the offices, hallway, and conference room left our staff feeling renewed and plainly put, refreshed to come to work.  “It’s more modern and vibrant, like we’re in a new office,” stated Judy Rauch, Project Administrator for Wolgast’s Construction Management Team.

Furthermore, the advances that have been made in interior lighting help building owners to save money and also are less harsh on the eyes than the old fluorescent lights we’ve been accustomed to.  The new bulbs use much less energy and don’t need to be changed for a long time, if ever.  When I initially interviewed our Project Managers about common renovations we do, Lighting was the resounding answer as one of the best updates a business owner can do for their office.

Additionally, the need for access to technology and plugging into technology has increased and created a new need for recharging stations and other technological support in office settings.  According to NPS Commercial Interiors blog Workplace Real Estate: Connected + Hardworking, “walls are no longer just space dividers. They can embed technology, lighting and other work tools to ramp up collaboration and leverage more vertical real estate.”  In the article, NBS introduces several products that easily accommodate technological needs into the modern office by going vertical.

Finally, the best office remodeling advice that we can offer is to complete it in the winter.  Contractors, subcontractors and vendors are typically less busy at that time, so demand is less and supply is elevated, and you know what they say about supply and demand.  Besides, we like indoor work the most when it’s cold.  Please contact us soon to discuss your remodeling plans, big or small, and we could* have you renovated by spring!

For more on remodeling information: Five of the Best Reasons for a Commercial Building Renovation

*This is not a guarantee, but we'll do our best to meet your goals.


Tags: Remodel