Wolgast Blog

Building Remodel for Energy & Money Savings

Posted by Cory Sursely on Mon, Sep 24, 2018 @ 11:29 AM

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 equipment/products that have become available over the last six years or less can make a big difference.  Additionally, there are incentives for making these changes.  We have helped several school clients lower their energy expense and also secure incentive money back.  As a Consumer Energy Business Solution Trade Ally, we’ve achieved 3rd place in the past 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 lightbulbs 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 implementations 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: Good for Business, Energy Savings, Design/Build, Remodel

Universal Design Can Change Your Business

Posted by Cory Sursely on Tue, Jan 02, 2018 @ 10:20 AM

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 Thu, Oct 12, 2017 @ 09:56 AM

Office Remodel (Part II)

LeaseHold.jpgAs 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 Tue, Aug 01, 2017 @ 10:49 AM

And Other Remodeling Insights

FMC_1130w.jpgThe 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.

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Tags: Remodel