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Lobby: the key to upgrading your building.

You're an owner who is about to make an important investment in your older building - modernizing it with a handsome new entranceway and lobby.

How do you make certain that you'll not only be pleased with the end result but that the work will be completed within budget?

Read the following four questions if you're interested in the answer: 1) How do you find a good architect or designer?

Unless you're very visual, don't rely too heavily on a designer's schematic drawings. You're far better off personally visiting at least a half dozen of his or her projects. If he or she can only come up with one or two, that's a serious shortcoming. You want someone with extensive lobby experience because this type of restoration/renovation is very specialized and involves a number of unusual code provisions. You also want someone with a proven track record for staying within budget on this type of work; otherwise you'll end up spending a lot more than you anticipated. In short, you want someone with considerable experience whose aesthetics are akin to yours. A good designer never compromises his or her aesthetic integrity or creativity even under the most difficult conditions. 2) How do you pick the right contractor?

Ask the architect or designer you've just chosen to make some recommendations. Also talk to other owners who have renovated their lobbies. Here again, see a contractor's work in person and shy away from first-timers or those who have limited lobby experience. Don't be overly impressed with a "name" firm, especially if they've earned their reputation in other areas. Make sure your contractor have done lobbies and a lot of them! 3) How much time, how much money?

Restoration work is relatively slow because you're working with craftsmen. It's not unusual for a lobby to take from six to twelve months to restore. Stay away from promises of three-month transformations, if you're looking for quality and long lasting value. Renovations are somewhat faster but not much. As a general rule, renovations takes twice as long as new construction.

Never ask a designer how much to budget for a lobby. Instead, decide what you'd like to spend and see what he or she can come up with within your budget. Here again, a designer's experience in lobby restoration can be a major asset in keeping costs under control and getting real value for your investment.

Another key to holding down design costs is to stay in close touch with your designer and be very honest in what you like and don't like about his or her early sketches. This will help accelerate the desired end project. Never authorize presentation quality drawings until you're absolutely certain about the design concept. 4) How Do You Avoid Tenant Problems?

A major lobby restoration or renovation is certain to cause a degree of inconvenience for tenants over a lengthy period of time. Many owners have found that a nice way of neutralizing potential discontent is to get tenants involved in the renovation process as early as possible. As soon as sample boards and renderings are ready, a tenant breakfast is held to unveil plans for the new lobby. Positive talk, pleasing plan, bagels and coffee ... often the ideal ingredients for a smooth renovation.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Hagedorn Publication
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Review and Forecast, Section IV
Author:Sokolski, Josephine
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Jun 24, 1992
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