The commercial property market has had its ups and downs over the last 18 months due to uncertainty in the economy, Brexit and the unexpected general election. Thankfully, the North West is faring relatively well with an active construction sector and property prices still showing healthy increases.
One trend that we have really noticed over recent months in particular is people investing in upgrades and improvement works to their existing properties. Whether this has been driven by economic uncertainty, with people preferring the perceived ‘less riskier’ option of improving existing property rather than moving, or whether the lack of good quality commercial buildings available to buy in suitable locations is also proving an influential factor, we’ve certainly seen a big increase in major redevelopment works.
Although such projects can be fruitful for all concerned, there are many junctures at which things can go wrong – and seriously!
Here are 5 things you should consider when undertaking property improvement and adaptation projects:
If you are planning improvement works to a site from which your business is already operating, you will need to sequence the works sensibly to ensure business continuity. This is more difficult than it sounds – staff often don’t like change at the best of times so disrupting their ways and means of working whilst perhaps being in a more cramped temporary working environment can be troublesome. Professional planning and coordination is required to ensure the least possible downtime for your staff and to maximise profits whilst the works are undertaken at your property.
There is so much legislation to be aware of these days with consideration needed with regard to Planning Permission, Building Regulations, Asbestos Regulations and the Construction (Design & Management) Regulations. The CDM Regulations relate to health and safety and require a Principal Designer to be appointed, which is usually a professional consultant.
Finding reliable contractors is notoriously difficult. Do seek recommendations and be sure to ask for examples of recent work – going to view previous projects in person if possible. Ensure that they are competent in undertaking the Principal Contractor role under the CDM Regulations and that they have appropriate insurances in place.
Be aware that the price you’re quoted at the outset of a job may not be the final figure you end up paying! Unless provided with drawings and specifications, contractors will make assumptions and exclusions when quoting for a project – so it’s important to have a detailed written schedule and then all parties know where they stand from the beginning. Ensure that all aspects are accounted for, so that surprises aren’t encountered later down the line!
Building projects often overrun to time or exceed budget so unless you’re prepared to be flexible, you’ll need to keep a close eye on both. You’ll also need to account for the project overrunning if you’re relying on a set end date for your business’ needs. Whilst project management services can come at an additional cost than trying to oversee the works yourself, additional spend is often recouped several times over if a project is delivered on time and to budget.
Lea Hough offer a full range of property consultancy, from assessing feasibility of works, design drawings and specifications, tendering to contractors through to project management. For more information or to speak to one of our Chartered Surveyors about a commercial property improvement project, please contact us.