How to build a Supermarket

The construction of the SUPERMARKET has become the craze of the day! Supermarkets specializing in healthy eating, as well as giant mega supermarkets, providing everything from pharmaceuticals to pre-made foods, are being constructed all over the nation. What does it take to construct a small and intimate food boutique, or a giant mega store, that offers everything from soup to nuts?

Some might consider the construction of a supermarket one of the least complicated construction projects in the retail sector, if you have experienced some of the ultra, high end retail fit outs. Others, with their only experience being, the relatively small coordination issues and construction elements encountered in residential construction, may consider the construction of the supermarket a substantial feat of coordination, construction management, and supervision.

Difficulty is always based upon the relativity of previous experience, however, as with any type of construction project, the building of a supermarket requires the basic skills inherent to successfully construct any large commercial or institutional project. In addition to these basic skills, there are special issues, as well as characteristics of a supermarket, that need to be understood, prior to the successful completion of this type of construction project.

In an attempt to summarize the basics of the supermarket industry, I will present some of the most basic principles, as well as some specific particulars, learned from just completing a supermarket in a small urban area of the country.

Estimating the cost of the project. The estimating of a supermarket is no different than estimating any other large construction project. Like any other construction project, with a specific purpose or functionality, it is important to solicit prices from subcontractors that are knowledgeable, regarding the construction of that particular specialty. In the supermarket industry, the refrigeration, mechanical and electrical subcontractors should have experience and knowledge of their particular discipline. It is important to have vetted these subs, to ensure that their pricing will accurately address all of the work required to accommodate the construction of a large supermarket. What normally occurs, is that the general contractor bidding the project reviews the plans and the specifications. If the project involves any type of renovation or addition to an existing structure, a site visit, resulting in the creation of a detailed scope of work, will be required. Once the contractor reviews all plans and specifications, as well as any existing conditions involved, the general contractor develops the scope of work as a foundation to the estimate. A detailed spreadsheet is developed as an outline for the estimate. Once this outline is determined, the general contractor starts the estimating process. The estimating process will involve the submission of plans and specifications to specialty sub contractors, to solicit subcontractor values for the various line items listed on the outlined scope of work. If the estimator does not have, what the industry refers to as coverage, which basically means, at least one sub contractor for each line item in the scope, the estimator is forced to evaluate the line item themselves. This evaluation will include a quantity take off of the material, as well as an analysis of the projected manpower required to complete this line item. Once all quotes from the subcontractors are assembled, and any holes in the estimate plugged by the estimator in charge, the estimate is summarized. The general contractor will then decide on the value of the general conditions . These general conditions are added to the hard numbers, of the estimate, as well as the overhead and profit established by the company. In most situations, this final number is reviewed by the upper management of the general contractor, and the final value of the project is submitted to the owner of the project for evaluation.

If the number is low enough and the owner desires, the owner will issue a contract for construction of the supermarket to the general contractor. This webpage will continue, with the assumption that the general contractor has received a contract for the construction of the supermarket project.

Site and project evaluation. Once the contract is awarded, the general contractor will visit the project site and establish a position for the site trailer, the site fencing, the company signage, order the porta johns, order the temporary power, install the erosion control, etc. The general contractor is now in the operation mode of the project, and the project’s construction will begin.

Procurement evaluation . Any retail job, or for that matter, any construction job, requires a detailed knowledge of material and equipment required to perform the work. The key elements of this understanding is the ability to identify the ” long lead ” items. What is meant by long lead items are items that will require substantial time to obtain. These items might be light fixtures, toilet fixtures, air handling units, emergency generators, etc. Obviously, knowledge and understanding of the construction project, is mandatory in order to identify the correct material and equipment that is considered long lead. For example, the type of items that will be long lead for a retail grocery store;

a.) coolers and floor coffins / these are the numerous coolers that stand on the floor, against the walls, or stationed as islands in the middle of the store ( these are noted as coffins )

b.) light fixtures / light fixtures are a typical long lead item on most construction projects. The light package is a major long lead item and must be coordinated and managed at the onset of the project.

c.) linear diffusers and special ceiling diffusers / in most cases, any special or custom diffusers such as linear diffusers and special ceiling or wall diffusers are long lead items.

d.) specialized stainless steel assemblies / all stainless assemblies must be identified, shop drawings made, reviewed, as well as approved. This take time and is considered a long lead item.

e.) special shelving or gondolas / the shelving in a typical grocery store is mostly a stock item, however any specialization or custom fitting must be identified and acknowledged as a long lead item.

f.) structural steel and miscellaneous iron / if there is any type of miscellaneous iron, such as handrails, or stairs, etc. that requires field measurement, it must be done as soon as possible.

g.) millwork / any type of specialized millwork or countertop work is considered long lead items.

h.) field measured items / it is imperative that the general contractor understand the items that will require field measurement. Such items as millwork countertops, specialized cabinetry, specialized stainless steel, etc. Any item that relies on the accuracy of other finishes, is usually a field measured item. In some cases, if the schedule will not allow the time to field measure and construct the item, the general contractor will guarantee the dimensions. This means that the general contractor will take the additional time and effort to ensure that certain measurements are maintained on the project, guaranteeing that the item that should have been field measured, will fit into the space.

It is recommended that the principle subcontractors be questioned regarding long lead items. A special meeting should be conducted at the beginning of the project to identify all the items that will require time to obtain. This is important, and cannot be over emphasized. Each discipline will have a list of items that they understand to be long lead materials and equipment. The general contractor must identify each of these items, and make sure they are clearly identified on the general contractors procurement schedule. The procurement schedule is a schedule that identifies the scheduling requirements of material and equipment on a construction project. This procurement schedule is coordinated with the actual ordering parameters of each product used on the construction project. If the lights require 12 weeks to be delivered from the approved order into the manufacturer, then the procurement schedule should coordinate with the approval of the light package as well as the ordering, and subsequently to the actual delivery on the project.

If an item lands on the procurement schedule, what should the procedure be to ensure that the item is properly handled, and the material / equipment, is on the project when needed ?

a.) The long lead item must be identified and coordinated into the construction schedule ( when do you need the product on the project? )

b.) After the scheduling of the long lead item is acknowledged, the general contractor must contact the subcontractor or the vendor, and request shop drawings or other submittals for approval.

c.) Upon submission of the shop drawings and or specifications, it is the general contractors job to expedite the review of the submittals, the approval process, and the finalization of all required approvals to succeed in a final ordering of the product.

d.) Once the product is ordered, it is the general contractors job to continually expedite the material, track the shipping of the material to the jobsite, as well as ensure its proper delivery to the project when the construction schedule indicates the material/equipment is required.

The proper management of the procurement of material and equipment is essential to the success of any construction project, especially a retail grocery store.

Field coordination. The interior of a retail grocery store ( supermarket ) is a myriad of coolers, coffins, gondolas, cash registers, customer service facilities, bakery, deli, etc. The coordination of all the elements of the grocery store is essential to the success of the project. What items need coordination?

a.) Coolers / coffins / all refrigeration equipment. Refrigeration is the key element to the construction of a grocery store. The amount of equipment, piping, wiring, ductwork, that is required to properly operate all the refrigeration equipment is staggering. It is essential that all mechanical and electrical roughing is clearly coordinated with the refrigeration equipment. How is this accomplished?

The general contractor, at the onset of the project, develops relationships with the refrigeration, mechanical, sprinkler and electrical subcontractors. This relationship is an important element in the successful completion of the store. The amount of underground coordination that is required to precisely identify where the mechanical and electrical stub ups in the floor should be located, is very complicated. Without a clear team effort, the coordination of these trades will not occur, and the result will be disastrous. It is recommended that coordination meetings be held after each weekly job meeting, to ensure all subcontractors and equipment suppliers are coordinated and on the same page.

b.) Ceiling and floor work. Almost as important as the coordination of the refrigeration sub with the other subcontractors, is the coordination of the ceiling and floor work on the project. The general contractor’s scheduler, needs to understand the importance of where the floor must be installed first, and the sequence of the floor installation, to enable the installation of coolers and coffins to properly and efficiently proceed.   In addition the ceiling should be completed prior to the work on the floor, to allow the work under the ceiling to occur such as shelving installation, stocking of the shelves, etc. , without the hazards of overhead construction . Uncoordinated ceiling and floor work will result in delays setting the coolers and coffins, as well as the need to work over the top of some very expensive equipment. The coordination of the coolers and the coffin installation is extremely critical to the efficient operations on the construction project.

c.) Cash registers and self checkout stands. The coordination of these elements of the store are almost as important as the coordination of the refrigeration systems. The cash registers will require electrical, as well as, coordinated data connections that must be located accurately below the registers, as well as the self checkout stands. Failure to properly locate these stub ups will result in either floor cutting, or the necessity to have power masts or columns located at each point of service. There is nothing as frustrating as having to relocate under-slab utilities such as power and water, due to lack of proper coordination . This is what the coordination meetings are for.

d.) Soffits and specialty enclosures. Every grocery store requires different variations of soffit locations, sizes and specialty walls, for such things as the floral area, the customer service, grill , deli, seafood, meat market, etc. Each store will require overhead soffits that line up with the proper venting and the proper fume hoods. This is especially important to the coordination of all floor mounted equipment, as well as stainless steel hoods, etc.

e.) Sprinkler systems. The requirement for specialized sprinkler systems is also a discipline that must be clearly and accurately coordinated. The use of glycol systems for the exterior loading docks, ( glycol systems are used in areas of freezing temperatures ) as well as anzul systems, ( fire suppression for all the cooking elements of the store ) must be properly scheduled and coordinated. The failure to properly position and coordinate these systems will cause substantial delays in the securing of any certificates of occupancy required. The sprinkler system and fire alarm systems are very important to the stocking of the store, as well as its Grand opening.

f.) Gondolas, miscellaneous shelving. Each store has different shelving requirements and layout. The type of grocery store under construction will determine what type of shelving, as well as where the shelving will be located. It is essential that the general contractor understand the relationship between the installation of these elements of the store and the need to build the project. If the shelving is installed too early in the schedule, the shelving will cause severe delays in the completion of any overhead work required. If the shelving is scheduled too late in the construction schedule, the ability to install electrical connections, or mechanical connections required to illuminate or supply water to specialized custom gondolas will not be achieved.

g.) Dry goods. The stocking of the shelves ( gondolas ) needs to be accurately scheduled and coordinated. The general contractor must take charge of the delivery of dry goods and the stocking of the shelves. In the normal situation, the entire store must have a functioning and certified sprinkler system as well as a fire alarm system. This is normally required by the local Fire Marshal to ensure that there are life safety systems in place to protect the employees stocking the store, as well as the goods on the shelves. In addition to the sprinkler and alarm systems, the proper exiting, proper functioning of exit doors, and emergency lighting will be required. In many instances fully working toilet facilities are required prior to the stocking of the store.

h.) Frozen goods. After the stocking of the dry goods, the frozen goods are loaded into the coolers and the coffins. This is accomplished once the refrigeration contractor has run the systems for a minimum of ( 2 ) weeks, to ensure that all issues are identified and corrected. Obviously, it is important that all the refrigeration systems are properly functioning, prior to the actual stocking of the frozen goods.

i.) Perishables. The last item to be stocked in the store are all the perishable items. These items include the seafood, meats, eggs, milk, bread, etc. These are the last, and final items to be stocked in the store prior to the Grand opening!

j.) Stocking procedure. The stocking procedure for a supermarket is customized, based upon the local building official, as well as the individual managing the stocking of the shelves. However, there is a basic procedure that is usually followed. The initial stocking of the dry-good, or the grocery portion of the store normally commences with an outlining of the store. This is a placement of ( 2 ) items of similar product alongside each other at the front of the individual shelves. This is a specific order that is shipped to the store for this purpose. Once the outlining of the store is performed, one case of each product is then positioned, in a front to back pattern, with the outlining product. Each product will now have one case of each, positioned on the shelving. This will fill approximately 50% of the space on the shelves. At this time, the inventory manager will order the required remaining product to fill the shelves, based upon the space that is still remaining for each individual product. The management and coordination of each product is approximated when the initial ordering is performed, however, the final stocking order is not made. in most cases, until the space remaining is visually witnessed after the first case of product is on the shelves. The stocking manager positioned is important to the efficient management of the store’s manpower and the time required to stock the entire store. Once the groceries are stocked, the separate vendors for soda, candy, etc. are allowed into the store to stock their individual displays. This normally takes place approximately two weeks prior to the grand opening of the store. No matter how precise and coordinated the stocking of the store is, the general contractor must expect chaos to reign on the project during the last few days of the stocking period. There will be countless additional electrical outlets to be installed, detailed millwork to be corrected and coordinated, as well as different vendors, hanging signs, installing cooling oil systems, special code security systems, etc. The final days are guaranteed to be totally out of control, until the opening of the doors on the day of the Grand Opening.

Special Considerations. There are several special construction situations that are considered unique or specific to the supermarket industry. The general contractor should be aware of these special construction aspects of this industry. Some of these considerations are as noted;

a.) Refrigeration / The refrigeration required in a supermarket is essential to the operation of the store. If you consider the number of coolers, both vertical and horizontal that exists in a supermarket, you can appreciate the extent of piping, drainage, electrical and data that is required to properly keep the coolers operational. The contractor constructing a supermarket must understand the workings of these sophisticated refrigeration units as well as the behind the scenes equipment necessary to allow these coolers to properly function. The coordination of the installation of this equipment is critical and essential to the overall success of the project. In most instances, the refrigeration subcontractor is one of the first on the project, once the building shell is erected, and the last to leave the project, after all punchlist items have been dealt with. The term racks is used to determine the multiple compressors and refrigeration assemblies that are basically racked together in mechanical rooms to service the coolers, freezers, etc. These racks are long linear assemblies of equipment and controls and are designated for certain equipment areas of the store.

Understanding the refrigeration cycles as well as the defrost cycles of the equipment within the supermarket is essential to the proper management and supervision of the supermarket construction. The refrigeration equipment is one of the first elements within the store that is activated, due to its inherent nature of requiring operation time, prior to actual functioning time, to ensure that the equipment properly operates once the frozen product is stocked in the coolers. This requirement that the refrigerant equipment, inclusive of the mechanical racks necessary to operate the refrigerant equipment, be operational, basically as soon as they are installed, has several elements of consideration that must be addressed. Condensation build up, building enclosure, heating and ventilation equipment functioning all must be coordinated to properly allow these refrigeration units to gain time in operation. Too much moisture and humidity in the air and the condensation will freeze causing coil freeze up and unit failure. All of this must be monitored and managed to ensure against failure.

Although the equipment has sophisticated defrosting cycles built into the systems, the operation of the equipment during the construction phase places special restrictions and conditions on these defrosting cycles. Careful monitoring and supervision of these systems must be in place to ensure that there is no damage to the equipment as well as the atmosphere within the store under construction is relatively maintained.

b.) Box coolers and freezers / In direct relationship with the refrigeration within the supermarket, are all the box coolers and freezers that are required to properly store all the frozen products within the store. These coolers and freezers are in many instances, installed on the exterior of the structure, and are separate structures inclusive of their own roofing systems. These box coolers and freezers normally have a concrete pad that they are assembled on as well as an epoxy floor installed within the cooler. If there is an extended roofing system, in many instances a sprinkler will have to be installed within these roofing systems.

c.) Dehumidification. The need for dehumidification within a supermarket is essential. The amount of cooling that is circulated around the entire store, will cause any condensation to crystallize and become hazardous on the floors and in the coolers. Without substantial dehumidification in supermarkets, the condensation and the icing will be intolerable, and cause negative issues within the store. Large roof top dehumidification machines are commonly installed on the top of the supermarket. These machines are similar to the equipment necessary to provide dehumidification within enclosed ice skating rinks and are capable of removing incredible amounts of moisture out of the environment.

d.) Exhaust hoods. The requirement for commercial exhaust hoods, as installed within commercial kitchens, has become popular in the newest supermarkets. The supermarket model has expanded to provide offerings of cooked food and short order grilling. These cooking surfaces will now require commercial hoods, as well as commercial fire suppression systems, specially designed for cooking appliances and grills. This is a fairly new concept in supermarkets, however their popularity is causing all new markets, as well as renovated ones, to consider the offering of these types of products.

e.) Hanging soffits and electrical fixtures. With the introduction of grilling areas, as well as short order cooking capabilities, the need for specific and specialized designations for these products and services has been introduced. In many stores the use of a hanging soffit will enhance the layout of the grill, deli and prepared foods areas. These hanging soffits and lights are being used to designate the cooking areas within the store itself, from the larger open areas where the actual groceries are located. The accurate layout of these hanging soffits, and the placement of the grills and cooking appliances, must be carefully coordinated and managed. In the days prior to computerization, this type of coordination would be accomplished by drawing overlays. This was a technique that placed one drawing over the other to ensure that the dimensions and the subsequent layout were coordinated and matched.   Computers are now being introduced to provide coordination among the equipment and millwork on the project.

f.) Gondolas / This is the fancy name for all the shelving found in a grocery store. All the shelving that contains the cereal, condiments, canned vegetables, etc. are referred to as gondolas. The new supermarkets are now starting to illuminate their specialty gondolas with LED lighting, to distinguish the different products on the shelves. In addition to the lighting creativity within the gondolas themselves, the use of different shelving angles, depths, spacing, etc., are all customized, for whatever product is being stored on the shelving.

g.) Cash registers, check stands and self check- out registers. The placement and coordination of all of these elements within a supermarket is important to the successful coordination of the electrical and data lines that must be installed in the floor slab prior to the placement of the concrete floor. The proper positioning of the stub ups, within these pieces of equipment, is essential to a clean and precise installation.

h.) Loading docks. The layout of the loading docks for a supermarket is extremely important to the proper functioning of the store. The layout must coincide with the coolers to allow the frozen products to be directly moved, and stored into the coolers from the refrigerated transportation. Loading docks are normally equipped with dock levelers, bumpers as well as dock seals to seal the truck to the loading dock, eliminating precipitation as well as the hot and cold temperatures to enter the loading dock area. , If the loading docks are heated, then the sprinklers are installed as a wet system. However, if the loading docks are not heated, the installation of a glycol system to prevent freezing is installed .

i.) Compactors . The installation of compactors and specialized garbage removal from the store is another specialty that is particular to supermarket construction. The cardboard compactor is especially important to ensure that all the packaging of the products is compacted and baled for recycling. Each supermarket sells their cardboard to a recycle company and the baling of this material makes this process very efficient and economical.

j.) Grocery cart storage and protection. The need for a large quantity of grocery carts requires the proper storage and management of these carts. Although this is an item that is taken for granted by the general public, the management of the shopping cart distribution, access as well as storage within the store and the parking lot must be coordinated and managed. When should the shopping carts be delivered to the project? Will there be a security ring of wired detection surrounding the parking lot to prevent removal of the shopping carts from the premises ? Will there be shopping cart corrals located in the parking lot to allow customers to park their carts once emptied in various locations around the parking lot? There are several coordination and management issues, regarding shopping carts that must be properly dealt with on a construction project involving a supermarket.

k.) Health Department requirements. The new supermarkets have now included the preparation of foods as well as the cooking of purchased products such as lobster. Due to the inclusion of food prep areas within the supermarket, the local Health Departments are now intimately involved with the issuance of any certificate of occupancy for these projects. What are the common requirements of the local Health Department?

1.) Water temperature in all food preparation sinks and appliances. The hot water temperature is normally required to be at least 150 degrees and can be as high as 180 degrees.

2.) Proper placement of hand paper towels dispensers as well as hand washing detergent dispensers.

3.) Proper temperature controls for all coolers and coffins as well as the placement of temperature gages to identify the temperature of each refrigeration case.

4.) Proper storage of mops and cleaning supplies in accordance with local sanitation requirements.

5.) Proper sealing of all surfaces exposed to food preparation and water used for washing and or food preparation.

6.) Required sprinkler systems for all fume hoods and cooking appliances. In most instances the installation of an Ansul system for sprinkler control.

7.) Proper receptacles for all used hand towels, sanitary wipes, etc.

l.) Cardboard management

The management of the cardboard generated during the construction of a supermarket is a key factor in the efficient removal of waste from the jobsite. All major supermarkets will have a cardboard compactor and bailer installed in the back of house for their own management of the cardboard generated within any supermarket. All the products are shipped in cardboard boxes, and therefore the efficient management of cardboard is a major financial issue with any supermarket. The construction use of the compactor and bailer should be discussed at the time of contract initiation and negotiation. It is essential that the cardboard generated during the construction phase be properly managed. Failure to manage the cardboard will cause excessive dumpster fees throughout the project.

What are the normal specialty departments within the typical modern supermarket?

a.) Bakery Every store needs a bakery, and the development of specialty pastries as well as the fresh baking of breads and rolls has become a major drawing point for the modern supermarket. The smell of fresh pastry will put the majority of the patrons of the store in a great mood and the abundance of bakery products will enhance the bottom line. The baking of specialty cakes is also popular in the modern supermarket and the ovens and baking appliances will need to be coordinated and properly managed.

b.) Seafood / Seafood has become a very popular and necessary specialty department within the supermarket. The profit margin on expensive seafood, as well as the need to offer this product to the public, makes the seafood department very special to the modern supermarket. The tanks required for the lobsters and the ability to showcase the fresh fish requires special design considerations. Plumbing and sanitation within the seafood department must be of the highest standards to eliminate any odors or contamination from the seafood. Specialty grease traps as well as fish boilers are normally installed within the fish market. The ability to cook your lobster is a popular aspect of the successful seafood department at your local supermarket. The seafood department will have its own cooler directly connected to this department to store all the frozen fish and product sold out of the fish department.

c.) Meat market / Like the seafood department, the meat market is an extremely popular department and a very important element of the financial success of the supermarket. The sale of meat is a necessity within any modern day market and specialty meats are especially beneficial to the bottom line of the grocery store. The meat department will have its own separate cooler for all the frozen meat being sold, or the need to store, not frozen , but fresh meat in a cold environment.

d.) Floral department /   The creation of a floral department within the supermarket has become very popular in the past several years. The ability to select plantings and cut flowers has offered another avenue of profit, as well as accommodations to the public. The floral departments have expanded to include various gifts and other specialties of the local region.

e.) Private bank / In many new supermarkets there is a private bank, that leases space from the supermarket. This service has become especially popular to the shoppers in the supermarket and has almost become a standard in larger supermarkets. Banks are clamoring to establish their branch in the local popular supermarket.

f.) Bottle return department. The bottle and can return department has also become an important aspect of the supermarket. With the quantity of returnable bottles and cans, it has become important that all supermarkets provide special machines to accommodate the return of bottles and cans. Normal the bottle and can department will have an epoxy floor and very easily maintained finishes to facilitate a clean and efficient can and bottle return area.

Each of the specialty display areas throughout the store are usually assigned to specialty personnel that are responsible for the set up of their specific area. In most instances there is a major holding company that is responsible for the construction, stocking and operating of the individual supermarket. Once the store is capable of receiving merchandise, the individual specialty personnel set up their own displays. The restocking of these specific specialty areas are then monitored and managed by the same individuals that set up the specialty area.

The Final Certificate of Occupancy

The final certificate of occupancy for any supermarket will consist of all the normal building code requirements for a public facility. These requirements are based on the Local, State and Federal Building codes that are required to be followed to secure a proper certificate of occupancy. In addition to the standard certificate of occupancy requirements, the following are specific to the supermarket project.

a.) Final Health Department approval based upon the standards and requirements of the local health department.

b.) Final Ansul sprinkler test and inspection for all cooking appliances as well as fume hoods.

c.) Final fire alarm testing and approval.

d.) Final sprinkler system testing and approval, inclusive of water flow tests.

e.) Final building department requirements such as exiting, exit signage, no parking signs, etc.

f.) All ADA ( American Disability Act ) requirements throughout the interior as well as the exterior of the structure.

Special suggestions when constructing a supermarket

Whenever you construct a specialized building, there is a learning curve that occurs as you manage and supervise the work. This learning curve will identify several aspects of the specific project, that if and when you construct another similar project, you can use to more efficiently and professionally manage the project. In most cases, a re-play of the same project with the same conditions will not occur exactly as the last one performed, however, there will be several issues and factors that will be similar. Listed below are some of the specific issues and suggestions that should be considered when constructing a supermarket. Maybe this will reduce the length of your learning curve?

a.) The coordination of the underground mechanicals and electrical services is CRITICAL to the success of the entire construction schedule.

b.) It is essential that a clear and concise construction schedule be professionally developed with all the subcontractors acknowledging the schedule. This schedule MUST be included in all subcontractor contracts.

c.) Contracts between the subcontractors and the general contractor MUST have a supplemental manpower clause written into the contract. This is a legal clause that allows the general contractor to supplement the subcontractor if the subcontractor cannot accomplish the schedule.

d.) If there is OWNER supplied equipment and subcontractors, the general contractor MUST be provided the agreements, the owner subcontractors must attend the job meetings, and the general contractor must have legal jurisdiction over these subcontractors.

e.) If equipment is supplied by the owner to the project, this equipment must comply with the procurement schedule developed by the general contractor for the project.

f.) Ensure that all ceiling work including, grid, lighting, sprinklers, tiles, etc. is completed prior to the installation of the gondola systems in the store. Do NOT allow the shelving to be installed until all the ceiling work is completed.

g.) Do not allow the stocking of the store until you as the general contractor are completed with all floor and ceiling work.

h.) Designate an area in the store, preferably back of house, to store all remaining construction equipment and supplies during the time the store is stocking the shelves. Work will still be required and the store will want all construction equipment and supplies gone.

i.) Make it a management goal to manage the waste generated in the construction of the supermarket. There will be considerable cardboard generated from the shelving to the light fixtures on the project. The proper management of the cardboard, either by managing its placement into the dumpsters or having a compactor on the project will reduce the overall dumpster fees considerably when building the store.

Some inherent considerations and observations that should be acknowledged when constructing a supermarket.

a.) Cardboard is a very large component during the construction of a supermarket. Although this was discussed within this webpage regarding the compaction of the cardboard, it is important that any contractor constructing a supermarket understand the importance of proper management of the amount of cardboard that is generated during the construction operation. Both the shelving as well as the fixtures during construction generate a tremendous amount of this material, however, once the supermarket starts stocking the shelves, the amount of cardboard becomes tremendous and its management is paramount to the proper and efficient construction sequencing of the store. There will be a tremendous amount of dumpsters required to accommodate the cardboard and this must be analyzed and financially addressed during the bidding of the project.

b.) Interaction between the store employees and the construction employees. Once the store starts stocking the shelves, there will be interaction between the employees. This must be carefully managed and supervised due to the inherent differences of store workers and construction workers. The proper health and safety of store workers must be considered in reference to toilet facilities as well as break and smoking areas. In addition, the use of safety helmets as well as other required construction safety protection must be integrated with the store employees. The supervision and management of the two types of employees is an important consideration when constructing a new supermarket.

c.) Security of product is important, once on the shelves is another special management issue when it comes to the stocking of the store. Now you will have a fully stocked supermarket amid the hustle and bustle of construction workers trying to finish all the work. The security of the store is paramount and the need to manage the exit doors, loading docks and other means of egress into and out of the store must be carefully managed and supervised.

d.) Final building department accommodations. The interaction of supermarket personnel and material and the requirements of the local building officials and fire marshals is important to the proper and successful opening of the store. What will occur is that the majority of the extra material, both from the supermarket themselves as well as additional remaining construction material becomes scattered throughout the remaining areas of the store. This material becomes an obstacle to maintaining the proper exiting corridors for the building. Management and supervision must be aware that the aisles must be kept clear of all debris and material and all exiting corridors must be maintained to allow the building officials to accommodate the requirements for the certificate of occupancy.

e.) Special meeting with all Department Heads . The general contractor should insist upon a specialty meeting with all department heads of the supermarket. The specialty managers for the bakery, delicatessen, seafood, meats, grills, etc. should all be invited to a specialty meeting, conducted by the general contractor completing the work. Each department manager should be allowed to identify all the specialty arrangements and conveniences that their particular department will require prior to opening the store. No matter how precise and specialized the architects and engineers are in the development of the contract documents, there will be countless items that have been forgotten regarding the final completion of the project. If the general contractor is made aware of these issues several weeks prior to the completion of the project, the contractor can manage this additional work with their subcontractors. It is important for all parties to realize that as many of the last minute work activities required, should be completed prior to the panic of store opening dates. The more information and professional management of additionally required work the less the stress and anxiety during the stores opening.

The design and construction of food stores, whether they are small specialty shops, or one of the largest mega markets in the country, have several items and characteristics in common. The general contractor that bids on these project should have both knowledge and experience regarding each of the specific characteristics required for completion of the project. Coordination and proper management are necessary elements of a successful construction project, however they are even more important in the construction of a food store. Lack of understanding of long lead items, lack of underground coordination of mechanical and electrical, as well as inexperience, can lead to very difficult times for the contractor. Once you have constructed one store, they all have similar characteristics, and each successive store should offer additional efficiencies in management and supervision.

Good luck, and if you have never built one, don’t start without researching and educating yourself on the process, as well as the marketplace. It is a very easy industry to lose money in!

One thought on “How to build a Supermarket

  1. I had no idea that refrigeration would be the most difficult and complicated part of starting up a supermarket. As someone who wants to start their own supermarket one day, I’ll have to remember this so that I won’t be surprised about it when talking to a contractor. I’ll have to be sure to plan out my supermarket’s design and structure beforehand so that once they have the supermarket refrigeration parts we need they can more easily install and construct them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.