15 Tips For Navigating A Construction Project
By Mindy Bacon
Have you ever lived through a major home and kitchen renovation where a microwave and utility sink in the laundry room passed for your family’s kitchen for six months? It’s a hassle, but all that inconvenience was worth it in the end.
Short-term disruptions and inconvenience is what your business will endure if you do a big addition or renovation to your pet boarding kennel or daycare facility. Most business owners must stay open for business during these kinds of projects.
Early planning, constant communication, and team work are keys to successfully navigating the disruption of a construction project. Here are 15 tips for coping with your construction project:
- Discuss business continuity at the beginning of the project and make it a topic of discussion at each design team meeting and, subsequently, at each construction progress meeting.
- Be a proactive participant and provide notice to the contractor of any special needs. Don’t assume they know or understand your day–to–day business operations.
- Consider designating one individual as the business’ “go-to” person when others are seeking information about the project’s construction weekly / monthly schedule.
- Start a list of people who have to be kept informed about the project’s progression such as receptionists, customer service personnel, maintenance departments, and marketing coordinators, etc. These are the people who have to respond to requests for services and information.
- Communicate regularly. Have meetings with staff and other stake-holders as necessary and/or issue written project updates about expected disruptions to regular business operations. Informed and prepared employees will handle inconveniences more easily and willingly if they can anticipate what is coming. They will also be able to smooth the way for your regular and potential customers.
- Identify which departments and services will experience a physical disruption such as loosing access to parking or being denied access to a building entrance.
- Install temporary signage so visitors and customers know where to go for help or service.
- Make a list and schedule of when known disruptions are likely to occur and compare it against known business operations. An example would be if you have a special event every year and this year it falls in the middle of your construction period, you will have to make adjustments.
- Coordinate with the contractor’s onsite Superintendent and the Project Manager. They are the schedulers and traffic cops when it comes to what is happening on the job site. Understand that there will be times when the job site is slow and other times when it is frenetic and crawling with people, trucks and equipment making a lot of noise.
- Know what and when utilities disruptions are likely to occur and plan for them. These may involve electricity, water and sewer, gas, Internet and cable television, data, and telephone service.
- Construction sites can be dangerous places. Know and maintain areas that have restricted access and enforce the rules.
- Don’t wait until an accident happens and involves one of your customers or employees to find out what insurance coverages protect you. In advance of your construction project, contact your insurance agent and discuss your General Liability insurance coverage. Find out if you need to obtain any additional coverage or up your limits for the duration of the construction project. Understand what a Builder’s Risk policy, which your contractor should have, covers versus what your business liability and workers compensation policies cover.
- Address any safety concerns immediately with the contractor. They want to avoid accidents as much as you do. There are occupational safety laws and state regulations concerning worker and site safety that licensed contractors are required to follow. It is very acceptable to have a conversation with your contractor about his or her jobsite safety program. (Sidebar: “licensed” is an operative word here. Don’t use un–licensed and un–insured contractors.)
- This would be a good time to review your own emergency procedures. Do you have new staff members who are not familiar with what to do in case of a fire? Do you have staff members who are certified in Standard First Aid and CPR (cardio pulmonary resuscitation)?
There are excellent resources for safety training. Many local Fire Rescue Departments and organizations, such as American Red Cross, American Heart Association, and National Safety Council offer first aid, CPR and AED (automated external defibrillator) training and certification. The American Red Cross offers first aid for pets training, too.
- Build a shake-down period into the project schedule when you will occupy the new space. Do the shake-down and work out the kinks before you have a ribbon cutting or grand opening.
Mindy Bacon is the director of marketing and special projects manager for Bacon Group, Inc., an architecture firm that specializes in the design of animal care facilities. She is a Certified Professional Services Marketer with 25 years’ management experience in the design field. Mindy may be contacted by phone at 800-961-1967 or via email at [email protected].