How to Maximize Existing Facility Space Until It’s Time to Build

Have you found that your original plans to construct a new facility or build an addition have been put on hold? You’re not alone. As the past year or so has shown us, things can change in ways we never expected, including plans to start a commercial construction project.

Perhaps you now have a portion of your employees who work remotely, alleviating the space confinements you had, but revealing other needs. Or maybe the costs of construction materials have you second guessing whether now is the right time to build.

No matter your circumstance, many of the pain points that led you to consider building in the first place likely haven’t gone away or have simply shifted, and doing nothing isn’t an option. Consider these ideas for utilizing your existing space better until you’re ready to move forward with your building plans.

Repurposing Space

Because of the increase in remote workers, many facilities no longer have capacity constraints for their office workers. Likewise, conference rooms that once held 10 people may now only need to hold three because others participate via Zoom. Offices can be repurposed into small conference rooms equipped with video conferencing technology, such as TVs, speakers, and better lighting, allowing for those conference rooms and other unused space to be repurposed into more profit-driven functions.

In healthcare, for example, unused administrative offices could be turned into exam rooms or procedural facilities to care for patients. A manufacturing facility could repurpose areas to provide specialty services or house new equipment. Removal of walls or demolition of a section of the building to reconfigure space could help ramp up operations and temporarily alleviate capacity constraints until a new facility can be built.

Remodeling Select Areas of a Facility

To some, remodeling an existing facility while knowing they will eventually build a new one seems counterintuitive. However, there are benefits to this approach for some project owners.

If you’re planning on selling your existing facility, a small remodeling job could increase your property value and greatly improve your chances of selling the building faster. Some areas to look at include your exits and egresses to ensure they’re as functional as they can be. Do entryways or hallways need to move to improve flow? Can trucks easily get where they need to go for loading and unloading?

In addition to remodeling and repurposing areas to address immediate needs for your employees, consider updating your outdated waiting area with new flooring, ceilings, wallcoverings, wall art, seating, and a reception counter. First impressions upon entering your building when trying to sell a building are critically important. So is curb appeal. Consider updating your building’s exterior if it’s looking a little ragged — possibly a new facade, landscaping, or architectural detail to capture the attention of prospective buyers.

Address Maintenance Issues

If one of the reasons you were planning to build includes an aging facility in need of repair, there are some projects that simply can’t wait. One such example is tuckpointing of stone buildings. We’ve seen facilities that have postponed this critical maintenance task and actually had rainwater penetrating their walls, creating extensive damage and costly repairs.

Ensuring that maintenance issues don’t progress to the point of failure can alleviate a lot of headaches and will save money by not having to do a total replacement. Consider repairing window leaks with caulking or reflashing, or replacing worn flooring so the subfloor isn’t in disrepair. Up-front maintenance and repairs of the building will improve its resale value considerably and enhance the working environment for your employees.

Consider that some maintenance requirements stem from safety concerns. Enlisting the help of a construction manager to update safety railings, install new security doors, paint rusting surfaces, and maintain exits to remain in compliance with OSHA and ADA standards are just a few of the maintenance projects that might need to be done.

Update Furnishings and Workstations

You and your employees may be disappointed at the thought of not moving into a new facility sooner than later, potentially affecting morale and productivity. In anticipation of an eventual move, consider investing in new furnishings and workstations for select areas.

A professional commercial interior designer can assist with selecting the right materials and finishes as well as layout within your existing facility and the next. Furnishings can be brought with you to a new building and workstations can be reconfigured in multiple ways. Or, if new buyers like what they see, they can purchase the furnishings as part of the sale.

Consider How Much to Spend on the Existing Facility

If you know that you will eventually need to expand or build, it can feel illogical or even wasteful to spend money on your current facility. It’s important to weigh several factors in determining a budget for repairs and renovations, starting with how long you plan on waiting. Do you anticipate moving forward with a new building in six months, or do you need to make something work for a few years? The answer will help inform your budget.

You’ll also need to consider how much property value any changes made to your current facility will add to the building. There’s no single answer, which stresses the importance of collaborating with a construction manager who can help you determine a holistic, overall plan as part of their pre-construction services. They can assess your current facility, make recommendations based on your unique needs, and plan with the future — and your budget — in mind.

Rather than downsizing your plans or scrapping them altogether, consider it as stretching your dollars and right-sizing your project to best serve your business functions and employees until it’s time to build. At The Samuels Group, we work with a wide range of companies, from small family-owned businesses to large commercial entities like hospitals, schools, and jails. Yet many of them share similar challenges when it comes to planning a building project. We’re happy to talk through your building and commercial furniture needs and help you determine next steps in the building or renovation process. Contact us, and download our guide, 10 Questions to Ask a Commercial General Contractor, for other ideas to bring to the table.

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