Now that construction is finished at the Atlanta Tech Village, it’s a great time to reflect on some of the construction lessons learned. As our team didn’t have any prior commercial construction experience, we learned a ton and made a number of mistakes. Many entrepreneurs will have an analogous experience when doing a customized build-out of a traditional office.
Here are a few construction lessons learned from the Atlanta Tech Village:
- Make sure it’s clear that the budget includes both hard costs (like actual construction costs) and soft costs (like architect fees) — we went way over budget due to not understanding this and communicating that our budget was for hard and soft costs
- Allocate a significant portion of the budget to furniture (quality commercial furniture is more expensive than expected) and technology equipment (routers, access points, ethernet ports, etc)
- General contractors aggressively bid for the primary work and make much more profit off of change orders, so work hard to get the plans right the first time (we made way too many change orders as we didn’t know what we didn’t know)
- Never renovate the building during the day while having it occupied at the same time (construction noise was louder than expected and had to be moved to nights and weekends, which was a significant premium)
- High density seating environments, as is popular with tech companies, requires a complete overhaul of the heating and air systems to support the increased number of people, which adds significant cost
- Older buildings often have deferred maintenance, which results in unexpected expenses during a renovation (we had to replace the main water pipes and elevators)
Renovating the Atlanta Tech Village was a great learning experience and I’m pleased with how everything turned out. I have a greater appreciation for commercial real estate developers and the process.
What else? What are some other construction lessons learned from the Atlanta Tech Village renovation?