Commercial property construction as an investment

 

When performing construction work to a commercial property it only makes sense to consider these expenses as an investment.

  • Will that investment pay off?
  • Are there other, better, investment opportunities?
  • Will I be able to get this same work later for more or less expense?
  • Will delaying this work accrue extra damages if not performed promptly?

 

These are some of the important questions a property owner needs to consider. At soco construction your concerns make a lot of sense. Many contractors will explain that investing in your building is always a good idea. But I would like to talk about why this is not necessarily true. To break this down better lets divide this discussion up into three major factors affecting your work.

  1.  The scope of work
  2. The quality of the work
  3. When and how fast

 

The scope of work is a key consideration. If you are a an end user the scope of work might be dictated by the business. But that doesn’t mean you can’t save money! Frequently innocent and relatively small architectural mistakes lead to big cost increases. If your project is over 50 thousand dollars in size and you don’t have a contractor you use regularly it would be wise to pay a contractor for a constructability review. A few hundred dollars could save you thousands down the road. Furthermore it may be wise to pay a consultant for a price estimation on the plans. Often times contractors will submit very different prices. However after choosing the less expensive option a customer can find out that a major scope of work was left out and that cheaper option was actually more expensive and less experienced! Lastly if you are a landlord or other type of non end user you have greater simplicity and flexibility. Most tenants prefer core building features such as electrical systems and high security doors to be functioning. They would also typically prefer a credit for the cost of painting the building to do with as they please than to have the building painted.

 

Secondly is the quality of the work. This is a double edged sword as I will explain. Frequently customers will focus on an end product with little concern for sustainability. For example installing an expensive tile over a terrible substrate. The install will look poor and will fail very soon only to be redone at a greater cost. It would have been better to pay twice as much for a job that would last 10 times as long. Or building an expensive new office around a failing electrical or plumbing system. In these examples the customer will achieve short term results but will pay a far greater cost in the long term. The other side of this is putting too much money into something that nobody cares about. To rehash the tile example someone once paid soco construction to install a very expensive tile in a not so great warehouse office despite our suggestion of a sealed concrete floor. The tenants moved in and filled the office with boxes and furniture and there it sits completely covered up. Frequently fixtures and finishes used by tenants will be quickly worn down. Time and time again customers request expensive commercial toilet paper dispensers and paper towel dispensers. But after the lease is expired I come back to find them all broken and the paper products resting on the fixtures. Why not install the simpler cheaper and more attractive versions? For most people they just don’t know any better.

Lastly is when and how fast. Unfortunately the best time to invest in your building is also the best time not to invest in your building. When rents are high and opportunity seems abundant contractors are busy and expensive. When work is slow for contractors it benefits both you and the contractor to keep a steady work flow. Prices are lower and availability is better. However it is during these times that you can frequently make good investments in other property or the the stock market for example. Don’t just invest in your property without thinking. If your money can be put to use elsewhere do it. Wait until the timing is right. Also there is a certain value to be had by planning ahead. Many people will wait till the last minute to contact someone about their project. Then they will set moronic bid dates that squeeze everyone’s time or make unreasonable deadline for finishing the project and therefore drive up the price. Now obviously, there may be other financial circumstances driving these decisions. But countless times customers call and ask for some arbitrary work to be done right away or in a meeting a group of corporate executives will sit there and talk about the project for 3 months and they pay through the nose during the 3 months of construction timeline as everything is rushed to the job instead of working themselves harder to make decisions in the first month and give the contractor 5 months. It benefits the customer to call early and ask the contractor for a price and let them know there are no major time constraints.

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Crossfit Gym Construction

This was a gym construction in which I did the majority of the work and the owner pitched in or used friends for certain things he could get done at the friend price.

Here is a picture of day 1. Someone else did the demo and we just showed up to take a look around.

building a gym

building a gym

Our starting point was to get some underground plumbing done. We had an existing nearby restroom and are merely moving it over about 25 feet.

building a gym

building a gym

We had to relocate some mechanical lines. Material was delivered right away as well.

building a gym

building a gym

Here we had some windows being covered by a wall. So we painted some drywall black and attached it into the window frame to obscure the view from outside.

blacking out window with drywall gym construction

After we reworked the mechanical and poured the underground we started framing.

gym metal stud framing

gym metal stud framing

gym construction metal stud demising wall

 

Here the panel has a bunch of new electrical runs hanging from as we still work.

gym construction electrical

After we double drywall and insulate we are spraying some texture. Some walls are fire tape only because they will be covered with wood.

gym construction drywall texture

Rear wall fire tape

 

Don’t forget to patch the roof!

crossfit gym construction roof patch

The owner and his buddies put in a lot of the finishes such as the high bay lighting, the foil, the paint and the wood. Which is fine with me. Here is the finished product. I think it looks great.

gym construction complete

gym construction complete

 

gym construction complete

gym construction complete

 

 

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Waterproofing second floor restroom

2016-06-24 13.40.45

This job was in Carson a. A customer from a previous job asked me to waterproof a new bathroom installation because of a leak that had gone into the IT room below.

Whenever someone installs a toilet there is a question of whether to caulk or silicon around the base. Here is my two cents. On a first floor concrete installation you should always caulk or silicon around the base of the toilet. This isn’t necessary but it looks nicer and if the ring ever fails you have a second line of defense.

On a wooden sub floor you should never caulk or silicone around the base because if the ring fails water will be trapped and hidden in the sub floor and will cause damage even if there is water proofing. End rant.

2016-06-24 12.59.43

On this job there was a lightweight concrete deck on top of a plywood sub floor. In order to water proof this we used a product called hydro ban. Hydro ban will waterproof a solid surface by merely painting it onto the surface. Judging by the condition of the existing concrete I could determine there was no cracking or deflection in the floor. If the floor is flexing this need to be corrected before attempting to waterproof.

2016-06-24 12.57.55

A plumber had just installed floor drains before we came. It was obvious that any water leakage was around the toilet flange or where the floor meets the wall as naturally there is a small seam at these points. We used a cloth fabric designed for water proofing to cover these points plus the new floor drain and create a completely solid surface to water proof. Then we gave the floor two coats of water proofing material.

Now all the need to be done is too make sure the tile installers do no carelessly or purposely scratch the floor when installing the tile.

This method will stop minor flood or leaks. Obviously if water runs out from the restroom into the hallway the water proofing stop at the threshold of the restroom door.

2016-06-24 13.42.52

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Rain water leaking into side of building

This warehouse is built against a small hill. As you can see in the pictures there are existing rain gutters that run into a concrete v gutter. This is how the water is supposed to tun away from the building. However you can clearly see that soil erosion keeps falling into the gutter and blocking the path of the water attempting to flow away. The long term effect is water pooling along he v gutter and flowing into the space between the building and the hill.

This warehouse is built against a small hill. As you can see in the pictures there are existing rain gutters that run into a concrete v gutter. This is how the water is supposed to tun away from the building. However you can clearly see that soil erosion keeps falling into the gutter and blocking the path of the water attempting to flow away. The long term effect is water pooling along he v gutter and flowing into the space between the building and the hill.

This is the hill funneling all water towards building.

 

rain water intrusion

This downspouts is buried under dirt.

 

Here you can see the gutter and downspouts

 

For whatever reason the owner did not like my suggestion of removing the tree replanting Ivy and building a new curb and gutter. But this was an expensive route so I understand their concerns. My second suggestion was to seal the existing concrete as best as possible and to focus on diverting the water away from this area. The roof drains from this 20+ square foot building all drained into this narrow corridor and essentially had nowhere to go.

The water from the hill was minimal so I focused on a solution that relieved a majority of the problem in an attempt to comprise the budget and the objectives.

sealing water intrusion

The application above is a typical roofing cement. Its not a great solution because even though we injected it into the cracks there will be future movement that will open them back up. But this was a cheap stop gap measure.

Secondly we installed the following.

commercial rain gutters

These are irrigation pipes with custom sheet metal spouts covered by a 1/4 inch screen. These are not pretty by any stretch of the imagination but they serve two purposes. The first is the sloped rain head with the screen allows leaves to flow right off the top and it prevents clogging which is a problem at this address. Second, the piping at the bottom can be run a long distance before draining to a location where it cannot be blocked by soils from the hill.

rain gutter distance run

rain gutter distance run

As you can see every drain or scuppers dumps into this piping system which is secure from clogs.

Finally below you can see a painted section of the gutter where the pipes carry the water far away from the building where it should have been running in the first place.

rain gutter

rain gutter

 

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Roof hatch installation

2016060795155656     2016060795164835

This was a job in Santa Ana Ca. A customer had had me bid a larger 1+ million dollar project for them but had awarded it to another contractor. The project ended up being way behind schedule and way over budget. This is always unfortunate and I really would rather not come in and help out on these projects but I can’t leave the customer hanging so I did do some stuff for them.

On this job the needed a roof access hatch and ladder. They needed it fast and I had a two day window coming up to install the hatch. I hadn’t been to the job in almost a year so I only had some vague notes.

We showed up with lumber for framing, steel for welding and a roof access hatch from bristolite skylights.

The first day we laid out the hatch and cut our opening through the roofing material and sheathing. We then framed underneath with doubled 2 x 10 support around the bottom of the opening. We bolted the roof hatch in place.

Meanwhile we also cut and welded flat strap and 3/4 O.D. Pipe to make a 9′ tall ladder. The access was from an existing mezzanine so we only needed 9 feet.

We additionally welded a guard rail because the unit was being installed close to an edge. We didn’t have any plans but I followed code guidelines for all installation. Plus we did the job very clean and it looked professional so I knew the inspector would be pleased with the work.

The next day we came back and painted and mounted our new installations. The customer was happy and we even moved the condensate line that was in the way without complaining.

On day 3 the roofing company came by and finished it off.

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CSLB has new fees!

Insert witty quote from Benjamin Franklin about taxes here.

I found the new fee schedule here.

 

Application and Licensing Fees June 30, 2017
or before
July 01, 2017
or after
Original Application (exam or waiver for one classification) $300 $330
Initial License Fee $180 $200
Additional Classification (for existing license) $75 $150
Additional Classification (each) (with waiver or joint venture application for original license) $75 $75
Re-Examination $60 $60
Add New Personnel (for existing corporation or LLC) $0 $100
Replacing the Qualifier $75 $150
License Reactivation Application $360 $400
Joint Venture Application total fee for one classification
(Application fee plus initial license fee)
$480 $530
Home Improvement Salesperson Registration Application $75 $83
Asbestos Certification Application $75 $83
Hazardous Substance Removal Certification Application $75 $83
Fingerprinting Fees—Paid to Live Scan Operator
Dept. of Justice Processing Fee
Federal Bureau of Investigation Processing Fee
$32
$17
$32
$17
Live Scan “Rolling Fees”
Each Live Scan site sets its own fee—CSLB does not set the price. Rolling fees are available on DOJ listing of Live Scan sites
Varies Varies

 

License and Registration Renewal Fees June 30, 2017
or before
July 01, 2017
or after
Active Timely Renewal
(Postmarked or received at CSLB [for hand deliveries] on or before the expiration date)
$360 $400
Active Delinquent Renewal
(Postmarked or received at CSLB [for hand deliveries] after the expiration date)
(Renewal fee plus penalty)
$540 $600
Inactive Timely Renewal
(Postmarked or received at CSLB [for hand deliveries] on or before the expiration date)
$180 $200
Inactive Delinquent Renewal
(Postmarked or received at CSLB [for hand deliveries] after the expiration date)
(Renewal fee plus penalty)
$270 $300
Home Improvement Salesperson Timely Renewal $75 $83
Home Improvement Salesperson Delinquent Renewal
(Renewal fee plus penalty)
$100 $124.50

 

Miscellaneous Fees June 30, 2017
or before
July 01, 2017
or after
Duplicate/Replacement Pocket/Wall Certificates $11 each $12 each
Certified License History for licensed or unlicensed contractor, per name researched $67 $67
Certified License History for registered or unregistered Home Improvement Salesperson, per name researched $67 $67
General Status Letter $8 $8
Bond Status Letter $8 $8
Copies of Public Documents $0.10 per page $0.10 per page
Certified Copies of Public Documents $2 plus $0.10 per page $2 plus $0.10 per page

 

 

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New single office

One of the best reasons to call me is versatility. I can do the framing, electrical, plumbing, HVAC and drywall all with the tools I already have on the back of my truck.

This job is a perfect example.

This customer was moving into a new warehouse and was short one office. So they requested I build an 10 x 10 office for them.

Here is a picture of the space before we started. The office is to be installed in this corner.

On this project I did the metal framing and drywall.

Added a single light and suspended ceiling.

Installed a door and a window.

Dropped an HVAC supply and return.

Painted everything and cleaned up.

Here is the office after completion.

The job only took 4 days from start to 100% finish.

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Ring doorbell installation

This was a small job for a friend in long beach. We needed to install a ring doorbell into a building with no doorbell.

We purchased a kit from home depot for a new doorbell chime, Included in this kit was a 16v transformer. The transformer connects directly to a knock out on an electrical box. Using 18v wire typically used for HVAC control I ran the wire to the new doorbell location.2016-04-30 18.03.06

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Floor Patching and Leveling

This job was in Huntington beach California. The customer was a general contractor that had a floor in terrible condition. After consulting several sub contractors and product suppliers I was called to see if I could help patch the floor in a permanent and cost effective way.

Whenever I approach a floor with significant damage I consider the future use of the floor. The recommendations from other contractors were expensive and excessive.This area was owned by a property management company and was going to b used as a retail store with a short loop commercial carpet.

My factors to consider are;

Weather/ exposure – This floor is in southern California which has moderate temperatures and its also indoors so this is the best case scenario. Because the concrete will loose heat through the footing around the perimeter and the soil underneath I know that the top portion suffer only gradual temperature changes..

Installation Requirement – Because this is a short loop carpet the floor will need to be smooth and free of all but the smallest defects.

Appearance or Future Consideration – The landlord did not pay the GC to make the floor brand new. Only to apply materials necessary to accommodate this installation and future installation of a similar type.

My treatment of these types of situations is becoming very routine. The cracks and major holes are cleaned, primed with masonry adhesive and filled with rapid set brand’s Cement All. Cement all has proven both indoor and outdoor to grip existing masonry surfaces exceptionally well.

I also frequently mix pea gravel into the cement all when filling in very large or wide areas to compensate for cement shrink.

Here is the patched floor. These are some spots were the floor was in reasonable condition.

floor patching

floor patching

 

In other areas the floor looked like a grenade testing facility. In these scenarios i mix the cement all in a 5 gallon bucket into a soup and add pea gravel if i can. Smoothing the whole mixture onto the top with a squeegee.

Once all areas are in a reasonable condition I spray the entire floor surface with a glue using hudson sprayer. Then i mix a floor leveling compound and use a squeegee to fix an minor imperfection that may remain.

Typically this will eliminate about 99% of defects wich is good enough to let the floor guys touch up the floor as they see fit.

 

 

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Metal stud framing torrance ca

This was a job in Torrance California. I was requested to build a small metal stud enclosure to finish off an area which had no plan details for another larger construction firm.

This is a fairly typical and straightforward job. I used 20 gauge 6″ joist and studs.2016-04-29 07.02.09

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