Restaurant Construction

Common Issues With Constructing A New Restaurant In South Florida

Building a new restaurant in South Florida comes with many challenges and many moving parts. For these reasons, the construction of a new restaurant should be handled by an experienced general contractor who is familiar with issues including:

  1. Building and health department code requirements
  2. Fire department certifications and code requirements
  3. Handicap regulations for accessibility and seating
  4. Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC)
  5. Plumbing and fire-suppression
  6. Grease trap and gas line installation
  7. Hood and exhaust fan rules
  8. Refrigeration concerns
  9. Drainage and
  10. Walk-in cooler issues.

RCA Contractors can meet these challenges because Max Tripodi, our licensed general contractor, has built numerous South Florida restaurants, including coal-fire pizza houses, formal dining establishments, night clubs with table service and a 3-story beachfront restaurant.

Read: 5 Roles Of A Restaurant General Contractor

Challenges With New Restaurant Construction

Based on our experience, below are descriptions of the challenges that general contractors most often encounter with new restaurant construction.

ADA Regulations For Handicap Access

The 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act protects the disabled against discrimination in accessing buildings, including restaurants.

According to the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund (DREDF), a leading national civil rights law and policy center directed by individuals with disabilities, restaurants and bars should provide the following accommodations:

  • Make at least one entrance (main one is best) accessible, such as through the addition of wheelchair ramps
  • Meet ADA size requirements for entrance and bathroom doorways as well as bathroom stall doors
  • Provide adequate entrance lighting for customers with limited vision
  • Create pathways wide enough for wheelchairs between service areas, such as dining areas and bathrooms
  • Ensure that at least five percent of fixed seating is wheelchair accessible (easy to get to and with tables 28 to 34 inches high)
  • Provide access to upper and lower floors may be necessary if readily achievable with ramps or wheelchair lifts
  • Offer a wheelchair-height counter available if a restaurant only offers stand-up or bar seating and
  • Install visual alarms for people with hearing impairments.

HVAC Issues in New Restaurant Construction

Inadequate systems governing ventilation and air conditioning can severely impact the operation and success of a new restaurant, especially during the summertime.

Incorrect or inadequate HVAC equipment or installation may result in problems, including:

  • Negative building pressure (creates “sick building syndrome” problems such as mold, lack of fresh air, condensation on windows and grills, swelling of entry doors)
  • Front door drafts (affect customer comfort)
  • Hot and cold spots (affect customer comfort, energy efficiency and air quality) and
  • Poor hood systems above cooking and high-temperature dishwashing equipment (causes problems including insect infestations, slip and fall injuries and grease fires).

Plumbing Issues

Restaurants have plumbing issues that most commercial premises do not.

For example, floor drains are necessary for all restaurant areas where water is in use, like by dishwashers and sinks. However, the water from these areas should not drain directly into sewer lines. That’s because a back-up can contaminate and foul the cooking process.

Fire Suppression And Fire Safety Requirements

Most South Florida cities follow their own local fire safety requirements. This includes matters such as requiring fire safety exits which are properly located and easy to identify and access.

Restaurant fire-suppression rules also govern the selection of hood systems. Selecting a quality kitchen hood system which detects and extinguishing flames, including reflash, is critical.

Walk-in Coolers

A key piece of equipment for a restaurant is the walk-in cooler. Issues related to walk-in coolers include requirements for installation, power supply, energy usage, drainage and maintenance.

Common trades involved in new restaurant construction in South Florida include:

  • Surveyor
  • Structural Engineer
  • Soil Treatment – Termite
  • Excavation
  • Shell Contractor
  • Steel & Concrete
  • Landscaping
  • Site Contractor – underground & parking lot
  • Landscaper & Sprinkler
  • Carpentry
  • Pile Contractor
  • MEP Engineer
  • Glass Contractor
  • Doors & Windows
  • Framing and Drywall Contractor
  • Stucco Contractor
  • Roofer
  • HVAC
  • Electrician
  • Plumber
  • Fire Alarm
  • Fire Sprinkler
  • Hood Contractor
  • Acoustical Ceiling
  • Cabinets contractor
  • Flooring Contractor
  • Refrigeration
  • Lighting

Construction Delays And Cost Overruns

Before it is time to begin construction of a new restaurant, an experienced restaurant contractor should (1) meet with the owner and architect to review the plans and set expectations relating to the cost of construction and the construction schedule (2) get the permit and inspection processes beginning (and possibly apply for an early start permit) and (3) talk with vendors and/or order construction materials with long lead times, including HVAC components, lighting and flooring, and framing and drywall and (4) meet with sub-contractors at the job site to discuss issues including the construction schedule and safety requirements.

Questions About Restaurant Construction?

Overcoming scheduling problems, jumping through supply chain hoops, calling inspections, and dealing with municipal red tape are part of a general contractor’s job. Having excellent organizational skills, an attention to detail and experience of constructing a new restaurant are the ingredients needed to avoid delays and to get the job substantially completed on-time and within budget.

If you are considering constructing a new restaurant in South Florida and have any questions, then please feel free to contact RCA Contractors today.  Max is more than happy to answer your questions.

To learn more about Max Tripodi or to learn about some of his past restaurant renovation projects, see Florida General Contractor.


Related: Restaurant Remodeling Services




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