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Massage Today
June, 2002, Vol. 02, Issue 06

Step Six: Construction

By John Fanuzzi

This month's topic is the actual construction of your spa. If you have done your homework and worked in conjunction with your spa consultant and interior designer or architect, you should be well prepared.

The more detail you've provided on the design and specs, the easier it will be to get bids that will not be susceptible to huge overruns and misunderstandings with the builder.

Its time to decide whether to choose a general contractor, whose job it will be to coordinate the entire job, including carpentry, electrical, plumbing, tile, painting, finish details, etc., or to serve as your own construction manager (general contractor). With the latter option, you'll bid out and coordinate all of the subcontractors and do most of the pricing, purchasing, and scheduling yourself. You will have to also get the permits as an owner/builder. I would only recommend this option if your job is a renovation and if you have construction or management experience. You will also be responsible for the quality control of your own job. This may also take away from your spa operation planning, but, could save you as much as 10% to 20% of the construction cost.

Whether or not you use a general contractor or not, you will still be shopping for the best quality for the least price. You should get at least three bids from reputable general contractors, or from each subcontractor if you are the general contractor. If your plans and specs are well-prepared, the lowest bid will work fine. However, if your plans are not well-detailed, a low bid could actually cost you more in the end, particularly if there are changes needed that are not detailed enough on the plans. For example if the concrete floor is poured and your floor drain is in the wrong place, the wrong size, or forgotten because the equipment was not specified, this could represent a major extra cost. Sometimes a low bidder can see that your plans are not clear enough and will come in with a low bid, knowing he or she will get the job, but make up for the low bid on the extras and change orders, and at the same time not have to be accountable for delays. In any case, make sure you know the hourly rate you will pay in case of changes. It is also important to require a finish date, with a penalty clause if the work is not completed on time.

You should time your construction to be finished about two-to-four weeks before you open, to allow for a little cushion and to schedule a training period. This overlap will give you the option to train in your own place if the building is done on time; if more time is required for construction, you can still do offsite training. (It is much better to do the training onsite if at all possible.) The extra cost of an offsite training facility rental should be figured into the cost of non-performance to be paid by the contractor. You should also keep an ongoing punch list of incomplete work and withhold a part of your final payment until such work is completed. There should also be a workmanship guarantee clause - especially for plumbing, electrical, and mechanical problems that could arise as a result of improper installation or use of inferior materials.

Make sure that you completely understand your contract before you sign it. If you have any questions your builder cannot explain and you cannot understand, you probably should get legal advice before you sign. You should also have your spa consultant review your contract and final contract plans before you sign, just to be sure. If you been independently creative and have not hired a spa consultant from the beginning, this is your last chance to avoid potentially costly mistakes before construction begins.

Another important bit of advice is to make sure the contractor is licensed and insured, including liability and workers' comp. It is actually legally possible that you could be liable for personal or property damages caused by a construction accident even if you are leasing the property.

Don't forget to put up your "Coming Soon" signs to let the public know your spa is in the works! Next month, we'll change gears and start to talk about the actual business operations master planning.

Only Victory,

John Fanuzzi

Click here for previous articles by John Fanuzzi.


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