Best Buildout advice for non builders...

GreenCat

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Oct 25, 2004
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Minnesota
Posted: Mon Oct 25, 2004 1:38 pm Post subject:

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Hello, My first time ever on a chat board. Sorry If I screw up. I am opening a coffee shop from scratch. I have not signed a lease yet, but the spot I want is an empty shell. Need to build out all from scratch. Does anyone have info on building on the cheap, but not looking cheap? I need something like Decorating Cents or Design on a Dime for small business!

I have a detailed floor plan for my equipment layout, but the construction bid costs are enormous! What can I do to cut costs? I can paint, but don't know construction. I never hired a contractor before, even for home repairs. What should I look for/watch out for? Please share any or all of your favorite thrifty startup tips and advice, or help me find the right book or website with the info.

My original plan was to buy an existing shop, but this location is too fab to pass up!

Thanks all!
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I'm opening a coffee shop from scratch on a shoestring budget - new construction build out. What's the best thrifty thing you did in your shop that makes you smile every day? What did you do that you wish you'd never done?
 

makjava

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Sep 3, 2004
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Where in the midwest are you ? I, too am in the midwest, Nebraska to be exact. Make sure you understand local building codes. In my area, you must be a licensed contractor to work on commercial buildings. My advice is to get several estimates - and check references - any chance you have a friend or 'a friend of a friend' that is licensed ? I have heard too many horror stories from people trying to save a few bucks going with a low ball contractor -- and ended up with lots of headaches and spending more $$ than if they just would have hired a reputable contractor to start with.
 
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GreenCat

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Oct 25, 2004
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Minnesota
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Makjava, thanks for your reply. I am in Minneaota. Good advice. I know the codes. I am working with licensing. the construction firm is licensed. In fact they just finished building the clinic that the retail space is connected to. so they know the systems. I know they could do a great job, but it would not be on the cheap.

I just hate paying retail, so I am anxious. I had a few ball park estimates, and only this one detailed estimate, so I will take your advice to heart and get more detailed bids.

We can save some $$ by leaving part of the ceiling exposed, and going with carpet in some areas instead of tile. It will be an art themed whimsical shop.

I've had Crane coffee in Omaha. It was good. Email me privately if you are near there. I will be down at Thanksgiving. We could have coffee and share tips....to AVOID future horror stories....
 
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GreenCat

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Oct 25, 2004
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Minnesota
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Everyone leave a tip.

My bid came from the first contracting firm. $150-175,000.!!!!!!!! This includes a 15% contingency since it is not a final final design yet. It includes all equipment, furniture, bathroom construction, plumbing, HVAC electric and wall construction, plus $7000 contractor fee and $14,000 supervisor fee. This bid made me cry! I feel it is insanely high, and they only charge that much because they CAN somehow get away with it.

I have already called two more contractors for bids. I am wondering if I should hire out each part myself. Electric, plumbing, HVAC, carpentry. I don't want to fall into the trap of making mistakes and then paying more in the end anyway.

I find out tomorrow if my loan will be aproved. Everybody pray.

Does anyone know of other websites or chat forums where coffee shop owners and start-up folks find and/or share info?

BUILDOUT TIP: Know the city restaurant and ADA codes first to help you design an accurate floor plan. Have the city approve your floor plan before beginning construction, to prevent having to make costly changes.

Come on folks. Let's all leave a tip or two. I know we all know something about saving or cutting costs!
 

espressomaniac

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Jul 8, 2004
67
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Tacoma
awsome

This post was just made for me, hehe :grin:

If you are going cheap, you are going short term, I assume your plan is to cash in on a few shots of espresso and take a serious effort to put forth something substantially more impressive after the fact.

Time frame to have to reinvest for the real deal: estimated 6-10 months

Your first requirement is to keep the health department happy, this way you are up to code, no worries and no games, equipment, ie. sinks, plumbing systems, etc. can be purchased used if you don't mind doing alot of cleaning, as long as it gets the job done, then go for it. Second set is your construction. As a kiosk builder myself, I know all about the cabinetry end and build in modular formats so they can be put in place and not "built" into it. This not only allows you to rearange, but you can take it with you. In this case, your goal is to just cut every possible corner, and much of it will require using the existing structure of the building to make the cabinetry stable.

Making things look good on the other hand is a different matter, so expect to make mistakes and expect to have to do things more then once. At least you are working with basically crap material wise so it's not a huge loss, but there are a few things you just have to do a little research upon.

I'll break it down, trying to keep it as brief as possible.

Flooring, - stick-em tiles, and only then if the current flooring needs work., as long as it's mop-able, you'll be good to go, if it's beat up and will require extensive work, then I'd opt to hit it with a belt sander and use the garage floor coating paint they have that seems to be pretty popular. The goal is to create a non porus, cleanable surface and nothing more at this point.

Cabinetry, 1/2" particle board, you can even have home depot or lowes cut it to size for you, just use a heavy layer of non porus paint to the exposed areas, instructions for the hinges and handles on the doors are included within the hardware you buy itself. You can also use those cheezy home depot counters if you want to avoid laminating a counter, alternatives would be sponge paint with a minwax clear coating, or, use hardwood and simply minwax that as well. Along the edging, they make wood edge banding that just irons on. The design itself, well, just plaster a strip of wood to the walls to act as a mounting plate and L bracket each divider "square piece of wood" onto it. You'll need a square, level and measuring tape to do so, but afterwards, you are just laying down a piece of wood, and can glue it in place if you want to get even more hands off.

Walls, Paint/goodwill pictures, chalk board, general crap you'd normally see hanging on the walls at any local cafe. The idea here, cheap.

Ambiance, you may have to sacrifice your home stereo system to the cafe, but sound will make up for a budget operation, I'd keep the lighting more dim as well to go in sinc with it all. Let your equipment and signage accent the area and when you are ready to put forth some real money into it, you can easily tear out what exists since there wasn't anything into it in the first place.

Theme, in order to give you even more breathing room, I'd be creating it to resemble more of a comfortable livingroom the average joe would be hanging out in, your goodwill hunts will prove to be much more fruitful going with it big time.

Well, I just wanted to give you my 2 cents, feel free to email or PM me about it, email is quite a bit faster since I check it more often.
 
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GreenCat

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Oct 25, 2004
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Minnesota
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Build-out advice

Thanks for the info. I am still working on the opening phase. Was rejected by three banks , and finally approved for a loan. I found a contractor who can build for far less than the original quotes I got from the big firms.

I hired an interior designer to help me choose my colors and to help me visualize the whimsical, yet fun and inviting theme.

I hired a sign maker, but will be reimbursed thru a STAR grant for signage. Signage will be very professional.

Tables and chairs will be matching and new. I will have a front counter made, but will eliminate back counters in favor of stainless steel work tables, to cut costs. My feeling is that what the customers see first, and where they sit should be professional looking and nice.

I will save money on painting the floor in the entry and customer areas. It will be a dark solid color with designs and words painted on top, and then covered with a cement floor sealer. We can add rugs where needed.

Quarry tile behind the counter and in the bathroom.

Home-made dark sillhouettes will hang in the upper windows. We have a corner storefront with tons of windows. My artist son will create some framed art for sale. Customers will provide art for some walls.

What should I do for menu boards? Black boards or whiteboards?
thanks
 

ourcoffeebarn

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Nov 8, 2004
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Wisconsin
Hi I am a carpenter by day and a coffee website owner/ roaster by night I work in the Twin Cities and live in western WI If you have some specific questions about construction or coffee drop me an E mail and maybe I can help.
 
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GreenCat

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Oct 25, 2004
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Minnesota
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Thanks for the offer, but I don't have any specific questions, yet. When the questions come up, they usually need to be answered immediately. Right now I am reviewing the sign guy's designs, and trying to figure out which software to buy. I'll post a new question for that one.
 
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