The Planning Step of Building a Warehouse

Here are 20 step by step tips and ideas to help you create the warehouse you need at a price you can justify. From industrial tents which retract, through to portal frame structures with loading docks and conveyors to fully equipped and racked out facilities.  This is the place to start your successful design and build warehouse project. Building a warehouse that works for you requires thought and experience for the best results. There are huge choices in warehouse design and construction with a range of models and equipment, one of which will be right for you. This step by step outline guide will alert you to some of the fundamentals to ensure you manage your warehouse project effectively right from the first step you take.

10 warehouse disasters to avoid

  1. Plan: The Professionals will keep you right? – Wrong, wrong, wrong! The professionals are not here to keep you right, they are here to carry out instructions and to take instructions – your instructions and then follow procedures that they have learned. Rule 1 know what you want or take what you are given.
  2. Read the small Print: Just because it is concrete it does not mean it is load  bearing. Beware of clauses that state that it is up to you to ensure your structures are suitable for the installation. Lighting warehouse That means if it fails it is your fault. They mean it!
  3. Know the Regulations: You are very unlikely to be able to see your foundations.  If you think you can you are probably looking at a floor. A concrete floor is about 250mm thick, it is the ground bearing pressure that makes the difference. You won’t get this information by guessing but you will be required to account for it.
  4. Ignorance is Expensive: A foundation is up to 300mm below the floor, usually at the base of a major load bearing member like the frame of a building. They are up to 1500mm cubed and weigh over 1000kgs each, for an average warehouse.
  5. Don’t make Assumptions: Don’t presume that because it is a big steel column or quarter of a meter of concrete that it will take anything you want to hang or stand on it, it won’t. So don’t have afterthoughts about suspended gas fired heaters, cranes or mezzanine floors – after thoughts are expensive. Remember people who quote will normally put the lowest price in to get the work, with a specification that matches.  The only thing you can safely assume is if it is not specifically mentioned it is specifically excluded. You should assume architects will have very limited knowledge of technical equipment, they are good with materials and creating attractive space, they don’t spend 10 years qualifying to design a standard portal frame building, but they will make it look a little more pleasing on the eye and design fish ponds in the reception or decide to route assembly conveyors through the administration offices, they are full of creative ideas (BMW)!
  6. Understand the People Limitations: Be sure you know what you are going to put in this building. You may not need an architect at all, a structural engineer will provide the right materials and advice to achieve the creation, a builder will erect it and none of these people are specialists in industrial applications. They are specialists in only their respective work.  You need a materials handling engineer or a specialist in your industry, or both. In other words pick an appropriate project leader.
  7. What you get for your Money: The cheapest steel building will last 10 to 15 years before it needs attention    Even modern cladding won’t last forever, refurbishment is never cheap.  Single skinned buildings are for sheep or goods which don’t mind damp. PVC clad buildings will last 50 years with up to 4 cheap skin changes and still be in good condition – much cheaper than several coats of paint and a completely new outer steel insulated skin. Marquees are for parties or weddings. Industrial quality steel framed independent structures are the lowest cost, highest value asset you can own, you can take them with you and put them up anywhere. Think through what you want to do. Steel buildings can actually devalue your site.  Be careful.
  8. Check things out properly: Don’t use low budget builders or cheap buildings for high profile work that must comply to statutes, you won’t have enough information to get it through building regulations and you might finish up paying for a great deal of unbudgeted and hidden cost. The time to get this information is day 1 before you pay. Never pay a penny for anything you can’t see or own. Exercise caution with progress payments, there are many ways of safely concluding these transactions.
  9. Beware of hidden Costs: Classic unbudgeted and hidden costs that will torpedo your project include: poor ground conditions, not enough water, gas or electricity to service your building, long queues for service provisions, professional fees, local authority fees, landscaping and other local authority orders at the planning stage- e.g. lifts for disabled access, rateable car parking and a whole host of other hidden planning conditions. A basic list of about 30 in the UK, most of which you will never have heard of until they broadside your bank account. If you are in a heritage area you will need specialist advice.  Unless you are a multinational, money no object company, be very wary of heritage tags, you might find your project hijacked by the local archaeologists for the next 5 years or turned into a nature reserve for great crested newts.
  10. Never max out your Budget with no spare Cash: Put a contingency of at least 50% onto your project if you are a novice, 20% if you know what you are doing and 10 to 15% if you hire an agent or professional to help you.  Only a professional as cool as ice puts on 5% and then only if he has been doing the job all his or her life or you can sub out the whole thing to a principal contractor or construction company who will rake in a handsome margin for doing so, but at least you will have someone to sue to get what, after all, is your own money back.

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