By Mike Davies
One of the biggest challenges you’ll face in creating your café or restaurant is making your vision meet your budget.
Ask any seasoned hospitality developer. They will probably tell you that the grand design of their architect was part of the cost problem.
As a hospitality architect myself, I couldn’t possibly comment.
Except to say this.
When you’ve been around the traps, you learn a thing or two. Here’s what I’ve learned that will help you create your establishment without needing to live in a garret eating mice for your first year trading. (Just the thought!)
- Check the permitted uses of your building.
You may own your building outright. Or, more likely, you’ll be on a lease. Before you sign up to converting that barn into a high end eatery, check the permitted uses of your building. Slogging through a lengthy resource consent process to change the use of your building could set you back months.
Read the fine print on your lease. If you haven’t signed up yet, include a provision that says extract and drainage provisions will be provided to the boundary to suit your layout. You don’t want to be digging up yards of concrete floor to access sewers. That café in the bottom of the office block may look like a great opportunity until you have to pay for extraction facilities all the way to the top of the building.
- Check the capacity of building services.
Cafés and restaurants are power and water hungry. If power is in short supply, the cost of a new transformer can run into the tens of thousands. We’ve heard a story of a developer having to route water across a highway to have enough to run their place. These are costly mistakes that could be avoided if you check before you sign on the dotted line.
- Assess your space.
Will your space be big enough to support the daily turnover you need to make a profit? Look at your business plan. The space you’ll need for eating and drinking verses other services will depend on the experience you are delivering. If you’re creating a steakhouse – maybe 40% of your floor space will be given over back of house services like the kitchen, toiles and staff areas. If you’re creating a fine dining establishment this percentage could rise up to 60%. And then there’s the kitchen, storage, refrigeration.
- Set a budget and stick to it.
When you’ve answered some critical questions like the ‘what am I’ [link to ‘your building is your brand’ blog] and ‘how many customers do I need’, assess your budget. Be realistic. And stick to it. For clients who haven’t decided on a budget, we have developed a budget estimate off early stage design drawings. Budget estimates feed your detailed drawings. All of this happens before building work commences, reducing the risk of budget blow out.
- Work with your architect closely on procurement
We offer clients the option to project manage the build as a service. This includes administering, scoping and negotiating with the building contractors. Staying true to the design concept is of course important, but savings can always be made by bidding out the work and evaluating multiple suppliers and contractors.
Taking your architect along for the ride from design, to location assessment, to build, can save you unnecessary costs or surprises.
About Architecture and Design NZ
Bringing expert insight and advice on commercial space and building design. Architecture and Design NZ is co-edited by Mark Bates, Mike Davies and Geoff Glynan, directors at Architecture HDT, specialists in designing and building cafes, bars and restaurants in New Zealand.
Architecture HDT are based in Wellington and the Hawkes Bay.