Doing It Yourself
by Edouard A. Szajna

Part 6 - Laying out your Space

A doctor can bury his mistakes but an architect can only advise his client to plant vines.” - Frank Lloyd Wright

Because you've taken the time to measure your space carefully, this final step should be pretty exciting for you, because you're about to see your new business start to take shape. Once you get back home with your measurements, you have a few options to consider before setting out on your design.

If you’re comfortable with the concept of working with a computer aided designing program (CAD), you can transfer the dimensions into the program and work your floor plan from there. The advantage is that making changes can usually be done with a few clicks of your mouse.

Although there are quite a few programs available out there ranging in sophistication, we've used Turbo CAD computer aided design system with some pretty good success. Although it won't help with planning a sixty-story office tower, it has plenty of advanced features that will make designing your place a breeze.

drawing photoOn the lower-tech side, is the trusty old pen and paper. If you transfer your interior measurements onto a piece of graph paper and then scale out your furniture, fixtures and equipment, you can move them about until you create a design that works for you. Once you're satisfied with the design, just paste the pieces onto your measured drawing and you’ll have a crude, but workable (and inexpensive) floor plan.

This process allows you to understand the constraints of your space. What you can and can’t do. It will also be helpful when you decide to buy your furniture, fixtures and equipment.

As you can see, building-out most retail uses is usually a pretty starlight forward process in a modern building and and can be accomplished with a few people and a healthy dose of sweat-equity saving you money along the way.

Of course, if during this process you start to feel over your head or discover that you need to upgrade any of the utilities or disturb any of the structure of the building, it's time to call in the professionals.


Edouard Szajna has over 25 years of construction and real estate development experience throughout the United States and has held senior level management positions with Starbucks Coffee Company, Wendy’s International, JP Morgan Chase and has done consulting work for Exxon Mobil Corporation.

An expert construction manager and permit expeditor he possesses environmental and geographical expertise as well as strong budgeting and project estimating skills.

Mr. Szajna is a member of both the Construction Management Association of America (CMAA) and the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). $7.49 .com
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