Planning a Parking Garage Project
As a property manager or building owner, it can be daunting to take on a parking garage repair project. Parking garages are often large, have a lot of different components and if not properly maintained, they can be riddled with costly repairs and pose a serious threat to the safety of your tenants or visitors. One of the biggest mistakes that property owners make, is not planning for repairs. Parking garages are built quite differently than a normal structure and require an extremely specific set of skills to properly repair. Making sure you have a Professional Engineer and the right contractor in place can make all the difference.
Who do I hire for this work?
First, a Professional Structural Engineer will be required for plans and permits. A Professional Engineer with parking garage experience can provide a cost estimate and assist with the bidding process and construction oversight. They are also a great resource to recommend specialty contractors who are the right fit for the parking garage project. However, an engineer is not always necessary. Some smaller repairs and maintenance work can be performed without plans or permits being required.
Next, retain a specialty contractor with experience in garage repairs, manpower, equipment, and budgets. They understand the challenges, coordination and how to successfully perform the work. The wrong contractor can cause more disruption to tenants and require a lot of oversight, which means more money spent. Another mistake to avoid is trying to do it yourself with in-house maintenance personnel. Most of the time, the contractor will end up re-doing the work. When taking on a parking garage renovation project, it is best to leave it to the professionals.
How much is this going to cost?
The engineer will conduct an inspection, possibly perform some probes or other testing, and prepare an estimate based on their findings. Ideally, the property should have a capital plan in place and have funds set aside for these types of expenditures. If there are extensive damages to be corrected, the manager may need to apply for a bank loan. For smaller projects, ask a qualified contractor directly for a proposal.
How will this affect the parking and traffic situation?
The construction and renovation of a parking garage is typically performed in phases. This way, some parts of the garage may still be able to function during construction, while trying to minimize the impact on the use of the garage. The right contractor will guide you through each construction phase to ensure proper traffic pattern adjustments. The amount of area provided to the contractor and the number of phases will ultimately dictate the length of the project and have an impact on cost. More phases means higher costs. A good rule of thumb is to anticipate providing the contractor with 50 to 100 parking spaces per phase to perform the work.
How will the Tenants be Impacted?
After you have acquired the plans and proper permits, those who live or work in the building who utilize the parking garage should be notified of the upcoming working. They should have a clear understanding of how long the duration of construction will last, what the new procedure is for parking and where the displaced vehicles will be able to park.
There is a strong chance there will be a noise impact on the tenants nearby. Typically, jack hammers, grinders, saws, and other loud machinery are used. This will affect residents or businesses inside of the building. If this is an office space connected to the parking garage, the easy solution is to perform construction work on off-hours or weekends. However, that comes with a price. Weekend and overnight work results in additional costs. Unfortunately for residential buildings, there is not much that can be done from a construction or phasing standpoint. Early morning and late nights will have to be avoided to maintain some sense of normalcy for the residents.
How long will the project take?
Minor projects can take between several days to a few weeks. For larger more comprehensive projects, they could take between 4-18 months based on the size of the garage and the amount of work that is required.
How can I avoid costly expenditures in the future?
Two words: Preventative Maintenance. Your parking garage maintenance contractor will put together a plan of action and on-going maintenance to protect the value and integrity of your real estate investment. Routine inspections and procedures will go a long way in preventing costly and dangerous issues in your parking garage structure.