Building For Long Term Profits
Call 305-552-5465, If you have a question or would like to discuss your project. There is no charge for the initial consultation, if you own the Miami-Dade County property and would like to discuss the project you envision in detail.
BUILDING FOR LONG TERM PROFITS
Warren Buffett says that you shouldn’t buy a stock for 10 minutes if you wouldn’t hold it for 10 years. Building for profitability is the same. You shouldn’t build a building that isn’t built to last for the long run, if you intend to own and lease the building.
How do you build a building for the long term?
Most structural problems in a building occur during its construction phase so the likelihood of a structural failure once the building opens is very small. This is why one rarely hears of structural failures. The reason for this is simple. The highest structural stresses placed on a building are those that the building faces during the course of the construction. If a building can survive these, it can normally survive another 100 years at least.
At the same time the likelihood of having water leaks in a building that isn’t detailed or constructed well is very high!
What causes water leaks when the building is new?
Improper installation of the metal flashing in the roofing
Improper flashing at joints
Failure to provide a sealing membrane underneath a walking surface that is a habitable space. For example, a roof terrace with pavers above office space.
Insisting on pitching a roof down to meet a vertical wall, making a cricket necessary (This can be done but it can create a problem in the future)
Failure to provide adequate secondary emergency overflow scuppers and having water back-up to areas which have not been waterproofed.
Improper insulation of pipes that need to be insulated.
Pipes which have been installed incorrectly.
Improper grouting of the tile in the bathrooms
What causes water leaks after the building has existed for several years with no maintenance?
Dried sealant around the perimeter of the windows and doors
Dried, unpainted stucco which has developed cracks
Ponding water (These are puddles of water standing on the roof)
Flashing which has pulled away from the area it was supposed to protect.
A crack in a pipe
Grouting has worn away
Some of these problems are preventable with adequate detailing and timely observation of the defects and correction during the construction phase by the architect/engineering Team.
Appropriate Building Materials
There is nothing that will do more to help a building maintain or appreciate in value more than good and appropriate building materials.
A good reputable roofing membrane is required as the basis of the roof, whether it be a flat roof or the underlayment for roofing tile. This is truly indispensable for a roof that will not leak. There a many good roofs on the market, both single-ply as well as multi-ply roofing membranes. In Miami-Dade County all roofing membranes and other roofing materials must have a Notice of Compliance (NOA) numbers, which means they have been tested and approved by Miami-Dade County Building Code Compliance Office. Roofs must be installed according to their NOA’s.
Public bathrooms need durable, commercial grade tile, both on the floor and for wainscots on the walls, if they are to be provided. Cove base tiles are preferable, but sometimes the cove bases are not available. In this case one needs to decide how much maintenance the bathrooms are going to receive prior to deciding whether the cove bases are required. It is particularly important in restaurants to have the cove bases for hygiene. Dal-tile here in Florida is an excellent commercial grade tile that normally comes with the cove base.
The backing board for the wainscot needs to be cementitious board. The manufacturers of gypsum board came to the realization that moisture-resistant gypsum board does deteriorate over a number of years in wet areas and is inadequate as a backer in showers and similar installations.
Floor tile needs to be ADA compliant. It is very important to have slip-resistant tile, especially in wet areas. Slip and fall cases are very common and can be defended against, if care was taken to provide the right tile for the application. Picking a tile that has the same color throughout is going to keep down the maintenance costs by not having to replace chipped or worn tile. Lighter colors are better for seeing and actually easier to keep clean. Dark tiles are very difficult to keep clean.
Ceramic or porcelain tiles or similar materials can be installed directly on concrete, but they cannot be installed directly on a wood substrate. They must be installed on a cementitious board on top of plywood on top of the wood structure or they will crack.
Public hallways need to have good flooring materials, either commercial tile or granite. Again, they need to be slip-resistant.
Paint is very important. I like flat paint for walls and enamel or semi-gloss latex paint for all doors and frames that are not stained. I personally have been very pleased with the results of Benjamin-Moore Paints. Sherwin-Williams is also a very good paint. And Consumer Reports says that Behr is a very good paint.
Lighting is another important issue. The majority of lighting in a commercial building is either fluorescent or LED. There are even fluorescent lights now which a so white that they can be used in the female bathrooms. This is a critical issue. Women don’t like to put on make-up in green lighting which is the color of the most common fluorescent tubes. Extra care should be taken to provide a nice environment in the women’s bathrooms with the appropriate lighting. Women will feel good going in the bathrooms and not feel like the life has been sucked out of them when they look in the mirror. You want your female tenants to have a good experience when they go in the bathrooms.
Windows and Doors
In a hurricane zone like South Florida, windows and exterior doors should be impact-resistant. In a new residence, the owner has the option of using shutters, but undoubtedly impact-resistant doors and windows add another measure of security as well as resistance to hurricane winds. Swinging doors should swing out wherever possible. Although today there are a few doors approved by Miami-Dade Code Compliance that swing into the interior space, the vast majority swing out. This again adds another measure of resistance to wind loads. However, the hinges must have non-removable pins for protection against burglaries.
Energy consumption is another important consideration. Sunlight is free while electrical lighting costs money and natural resources. The orientation of the building is very important to this. The building should have sun shading devices to maximize indirect sunlight but not allow direct lighting in the summer months in a southern climate, such as the one in Florida. Each façade should be treated differently to minimize energy consumption.
Another consideration is the location of the roof insulation in relation to the ductwork. When roof insulation is used above the roof deck, the ductwork for the air-conditioning will naturally fall below the insulation. But when batt insulation is used above the ceiling, special care must be taken to make sure the insulation is placed above the ductwork. This means that the air in the ductwork will be kept cooler than it would be if the duct were above the insulation. Over 90% of the heat from the sun comes through the roof and not through the walls of a building. This is why it is so important that good insulation be placed either above the roof deck or above the ceiling. Normally, R-30 is used for residential applications in attics and R-19 for commercial installation where the roof is flat.
At the same time, there are other items which need to be address. Here is a good article on the priorities that need to be considered for a residence
The third thing that needs to be done to build for long term profitability is to create a Maintenance Schedule after the Certificate of Occupancy is obtained.
It is of the utmost importance that a maintenance schedule is generated by the Building Management as soon as the building is occupied. Nothing is going to devalue a building more than deferred maintenance.
It would be good for the Building Management to have the A/E Team review the Maintenance Schedule to make sure that all items that need to be included are incorporated into the schedule.
Actually, if the owner puts it in his contract that all subcontractors have to give him all the maintenance manuals along with a maintenance schedule at the end of the job, his building management team will be ready on Day 1 knowing what maintenance needs to be done when.
If a building is built with a good foundation and maintained well there is no reason that the building will not last for a good many years, look good, and appreciate in value.
CALL OR EMAIL
Call 305-552-5465 or Email MLC@UnitedArchs.com to discuss your exciting project ideas.