If you own a commercial building, keeping it in top condition is crucial to maintaining your tenants’ safety and satisfaction, as well as attracting new ones. Making repairs can be very costly, when you add them up over time, and while renovating your building may seem daunting, it’s necessary to ensure your property remains profitable, up to code, and appealing to tenants. With this comprehensive commercial building renovation checklist, we will guide you through the entire process, so you know what to expect from start to finish.  

In this article, you’ll learn about the commercial renovation process, from the planning stage all the way through construction completion. 

Commercial Building Renovation Plan 

It is often the case that when things fall apart during a renovation project, it can be traced back to the planning stage or a breakdown in communication. Addressing all of your expectations, goals, project priorities, and budget requirements before breaking ground can save you time, money, and disappointments when construction begins.  

Get a Professional Assessment  

If you’ve made the decision to renovate your building, you’ve clearly noticed some things that need an upgrade. Perhaps you want to add an ADA bathroom, install a new HVAC, and replace the roof. The first step to the planning stage is obtaining a professional assessment of the structure, to ensure that all necessary improvements are included in your commercial renovation project. For instance, there may be faulty pipes that will need to be addressed before your brand-new flooring gets installed.    

Establish Goals 

Establishing the goals of your commercial renovation project early on will help ensure that the finished product meets your expectations. This stage of planning is all about the “why” of your project. 

Energy Efficiency   

If you are renovating your space to replace damaged, worn, or outdated features, it may also be a time to address your desire to reduce your energy costs and carbon footprint. Renovating your commercial building with the goal of creating a more eco-friendly space can lower your energy costs and increase the overall value of your property at the same time. Some of the most effective upgrades you can make to your property during a renovation include:  

  • LED Lighting 
  • Solar installation 
  • Insulation upgrades 
  • Smart HVAC Systems 
  • Tankless Water Heaters 
  • Low-Flow Water Features 
  • Adding Windows and Skylights 

Future Expansions  

Adaptability is a key factor in ensuring your commercial property can continue to meet the needs and expectations of a constantly changing market. If part of your “why” is increasing the value and profitability of your commercial building, renovating with the possibility of future expansions in mind is essential. There’s a difference between telling the architect that you want a more open floor plan and telling the architect that you’re looking to hire another 10 people and need to add more workstations without changing the footprint. Or you may have plans to expand the footprint in six or ten years. With this crucial information, your team can help you make choices that will support your short and long-term goals.  


It’s so easy to get carried away when you start turning a critical eye to your building. The snowball effect can take over. During the pre-construction planning phase, it’s a good idea to decide which renovations are the most important and which features are essential to the vision you have for your commercial space.  

Allocate Your Budget  

Once you have a professional assessment of the property, and have prioritized your renovation goals, you can establish a more accurate project budget and allocate it accordingly. This allows you to realistically estimate costs by line item and adjust based on your available budget.  

Choose Your Team  

Choosing the best commercial contractor for your renovation project will require some research and due diligence. You’ll want to investigate their reputation and their experience with projects of similar type and scope. When looking for the best commercial renovation team, use these tips to ensure that your project is in good hands:  

  • Verify they are fully licensed and insured 
  • Read their reviews 
  • Review their portfolio 
  • Check their availability 
  • Don’t hold back on asking questions  

Commercial Building Design   

Depending on the scope of your commercial renovation project, there are a few things to consider having the design team incorporate into the building plans. Along with the myriad of aesthetic upgrade options, consider all the renovations you can make that will assure tenant loyalty and secure the long-term profitability of your commercial property. 

Address OSHA and ADA Requirements 

When you’re embarking on a renovation project, it’s the perfect time to review your OSHA and ADA requirements, so that any gaps can be addressed in the design. This may mean adding a gender-neutral bathroom, a break room, soundproofing, a ramp to one or more entrances, or security lighting.  

Consider Tenant Morale 

This is a good time to address tenant needs, such as lighting upgrades, improved HVAC, partitions, etc. One of the best ways to add value to a commercial building and ensure its long-term profitability is to keep the space up-to-date and appealing to tenants.   

Consider Visitor Experience 

Visitors may not spend as much time in the building, but those first impressions really matter. For a retail space or restaurant, design elements that will help visitors feel safe, welcome, and allow them to easily navigate the space will go a long way to extending their visit—and spending. They will also be more likely to return. Making good choices for lighting design for your commercial space will be the easiest and most effective way to engender these feelings.  

Construction Phase 

Your construction team will be responsible for pulling any necessary permits, ordering materials, and demolition. Your responsibility once construction has begun is confined to keeping good lines of communication with all concerned parties. During construction, you’ll have scheduled check-ins and updates from the construction firm. You may have some more decisions to make, if there are supply chain issues, or other roadblocks. Remember to continue to keep all the stakeholders up to date with the progress of the project. 

Communicate with Employees, Customers, Tenants, Neighbors 

Communicating early and often with tenants, employees, and customers will help them to be more patient with the construction process. They might better tolerate the noise, dust, and disruption, if they are kept updated with timelines. Seeing a rendering of the design, or just knowing the various improvements they will be enjoying will help get their cooperation and understanding. In addition, it’s best to keep your business neighbors updated, if they experience any disruption or inconvenience. 

Final Inspections 

Once construction is complete, you will accompany the contractor for a walk-through. During this post-construction inspection, any items left unfinished or need adjusting are compiled on a “punch list.” This list will then be completed by the contractor before the final inspection. At the end of this final inspection, if everything has been done according to the renovation project contract, then the project is deemed complete. The contractor will then provide you with a substantial completion certificate. Upon acceptance of this certificate, the final payment is made to the contractor and tenant(s) may move in, or return, to your building. This is also when any warranties begin.  

Choose an Experienced Commercial Building Renovation Contractor 

At DRF Builders, we partner with you for a smooth renovation experience, start to finish. Whether you’re renovating a retail space, restaurant, office, or service business, we will work with you to ensure that your vision translates to the finished product, while staying within your budget and your timeline.   

If you would like to learn more about any of our commercial construction services in the Boise area, contact us online today.