An incomplete plan for your commercial construction project can cost you big!

We were recently asked us to bid on building out a space on the ground floor of a new high rise that’s still under construction.

In this case, the biz owner had skipped hiring a construction manager, and thought he could manage the design and construction process himself.  

He had built a few other locations and thought he had construction down. 

He completely miscalculated.

I met him at one of his existing locations in an old, single-story building to get a first-hand look at what he wanted built.

He showed me around, then asked me how much I thought his current project would cost.  I said I didn’t know yet.  

He rattled off his cost on the space we were standing in and wanted to use that as a reference for me to guess on his new space.  

I explained a new high rise (with requirements for some trades to be union) is a different animal than his 1970’s era, single story building.

He wasn’t listening.

He went on to say that he was getting a tenant improvement allowance from his new landlord that was more than the buildout cost of the last space, and thought TI should more than cover the cost of his entire project in the high rise.

I said that the allowance was probably intended to offset his cost of getting the new space inhabitable; it wasn’t even a cold dark shell.  

One side of the high rise space was open to the sidewalk.  There was no sewer line stub to plumb to, no electricity, and no AC.  

It was just a 3,000 SF, 3-sided box with a ceiling and floor.

Unfortunately, his plans were horribly lacking.  

The plans called for a split HVAC system (part inside, part outside – similar to residential systems), but the fact that the outside part was to be 9 FLOORS ABOVE our space was only mentioned in an obscure note that wasn’t even in the HVAC section! Sorta an important detail!  

Nor did the plan show us how to get our connections thru 9 floors of apartments. 

He just wanted us to figure it all out and said to ask the landlord

I don’t shy away from a challenge, but a complex setting like a new high rise is no place for guess work.  We must follow the plans we’re given, otherwise we may be assuming huge liability!

I suspected there was a plan, we just didn’t have it.

Getting and incorporating the building’s details into our plans should be the architect’s responsibility.  

However, they just said “not my job”, and convinced our prospect that the contractors bidding should find their own answers – totally absurd!  

Our prospect just didn’t know to challenge them.

The architects abdication of his duties will likely cause big change orders that cost the business owner huge – in terms of days, dollars and sleepless nights – all because he didn’t want to pay a construction manager. 

Sometimes the best deal, is to say “no deal”, and that’s how we exited this one.


Not engaging a competent construction manager, or at least pre-construction manager, is not money well saved!

Success requires planning!  

Spending on experts = Saving