If you have been following our blog (and we hope you have) you will have seen a recent post about questions you should ask before hiring a contractor. This time around, we are turning the tables and asking our potential clients these questions.
In our experience, franchisees that call us may have much of the initial groundwork completed, such as sealed plans and a site chosen. The questions below come from the conversations we have had with restauranteurs who are ready to choose a contractor and begin building. These questions enable us to understand where the potential client is in the construction process, so we can best tailor our advice to meet their needs.
Do you have plans for the project that are sealed by an architect?
Having sealed drawings is the linchpin for getting your project off the ground. They are key to starting the permitting process, developing a cost estimate and evaluating a site, among other aspects of project planning. The franchisee might be working with a construction consultant from the parent company or, in the case of an independent owner, from an architect they have retained.
Do you need assistance with the permitting process?
At AMS, we are licensed in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia and Tennessee. We have completed projects in many municipalities within those states. This gives us a unique perspective into the sometimes daunting permitting process. We know how to navigate local processes and how to contact the appropriate people when issues arise.
Do you feel comfortable letting us review the plans?
We are willing to look at your plans and let you know if we see potential issues, or if anything is missing. There are times when an architect who is not experienced with food service design draws plans that are deficient in some way with respect to health regulations or equipment placement within the kitchen design. Having us go over the plans enables us to catch problems on paper well in advance, rather than halfway though project when cost control is easier to implement. The same is true with a site visit. We can let you know if there could be potential issues or bring up things commonly left out such as grease traps. As an example, we were involved in a fitup project where utilities shown as complete on the plans didn’t exist in reality.
Have you had an independent review of your lease?
A commercial lease can be a very complicated document and, in addition to legal counsel, it is wise to have your construction professional take a look to see what the landlord is responsible for with respect to construction. This is especially important in fitup projects where interior changes are involved. Knowing what the landlord will be providing can greatly impact the project costs to the lessee. Being sure before a project starts can prevent time delays caused by disputes, and keep costs on budget by reducing the number of change orders.
Have you submitted an application to the health department?
Few things can hold up a project more than not having the appropriate permits and approvals. From the beginning of a project, the experience of the contractor can have a direct impact on the final approval from the health department as well as the granting of a certificate of occupancy. Our decades of work in food service construction give us the ability to spot potential problems before they arise during the building process. This minimizes the cost by correcting issues early and helps make the health inspection process go smoothly.
By asking these five questions, we can help make the process of building a restaurant as painless as possible and get a client to their grand opening smoothly.
If you are considering a restaurant upfit or ground-up construction, contact us to discuss how the experienced team at AMS can help you plan and build your next project.