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U.S. inflation officially is at a four-decade high at 8.6%. This is starting to affect many different parts of Californians’ lives such as gas, shopping, and business operations. However, it is clear to all that housing and the housing market is where most people are feeling the full weight of these all-time high interest rates. The cost of shelter in California is one of the highest in the nation and the increase in pricing is only making this more noticeable.

First-time home buyers are expected to be the ones who feel the total effects of inflation in California. Interest rate hikes are affecting private student loans, adjustable-rate mortgages, home equity lines of credit, and credit cards. For a first-time buyer that probably has other financial strains happening, alongside looking for a new home, the ability to start their buying journey may feel impossible. Current homeowners who have adjustable mortgage rates are also seeing their rates increase. If your credit score is on the lower side, you can expect to have hardships getting any sort of loan for buying a home. Banks are now being extra cautious about whom they are lending their money to and exactly how much they are lending. All these factors are going to affect the construction industry.

Currently, the demand for housing remains high. We can expect that prices will remain high until further notice. Businesses can also expect interest on their loans to continue to increase unless rates are fixed. Overall costs for business expenses and supply chain pressures continue to increase prices.

As pricing continues to increase, we can expect that fewer development projects will be pursued.

In the construction space, a recent article Inflation: The impact on the construction sector states, “Some contractors and developers are facing increased challenges to secure funding for projects amidst questions about the bankability of projects. In a high inflationary environment, funders will generally be more cautious when offering funding to projects that are high in value, complex, or have long build times.” The author, Kelly Outram, Head of Global Contractor Development, Marsh Specialty recommends “five actions developers should consider:

  • Review project budgets against current pricing
  • Discuss risk sharing with stakeholders
  • Consider supply chain challenges
  • Reassess your material procurement procedures
  • Revisit insurance policies.”

Though much of the future inflationary impact on California residents and businesses seems unclear, it is predicted that the effects of these increases will be felt throughout the next few years. To read more about the effects of inflation in California read this blog post from the LA Times.

About Pro Engineering:

Pro Engineering has provided mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineering design services in Orange and San Diego counties since 1995. During this time, we’ve established ourselves as one of Southern California’s best engineering consulting firms.

Our MEP engineering design team can help you prepare required construction documents for city or state submission for permitting. Even after plans are finalized, we continue to make adjustments and revisions per owner request, city plan check requirements, or to meet engineering goals. Projects can move fast, luckily, so can we.

For more information on how we can assist you with your next commercial construction project, contact us today.

As an architect or developer, you take pride in knowing that you built a safe and resilient home. When people enter it, they shouldn’t have to worry about their personal safety because they know that the construction is robust and will endure the test of time and nature. People are justified in expecting that their homes are safe, and building codes and standards are the foundation of this expectation.

These codes and standards comprise a thorough set of related regulations that govern the construction, remodeling, renovation, demolition, and repair of homes. As numerous as the objectives of building codes are, the main goal is to protect the wellbeing, safety, and health of the public when it comes to the building and occupation of homes.

Building codes are either model or adopted. Model codes consist of rules, recommendations, or suggested practices for others to follow when it comes to the construction and occupancy of homes. They are not legal requirements but may become so if the federal, state, or local government adopts them. Adopted codes (or simply, “codes”) are the decree of the jurisdiction, and they define a minimum standard to which homebuilders must adhere.

A code addresses a specific aspect of building performance. For example:

  • Building code addresses the design and construction of a building
  • Energy code regulates energy conservation
  • Fire code covers life safety for protection against fire and related risks during occupancy

Sometimes, a jurisdiction — such as the federal, state, or local government — may supplement or amend model codes to suit regional needs. Thereafter, they may adopt the model code into law and make it part of the jurisdiction’s building, energy, or fire code. Upon adoption, the codes become enforceable by law to ensure compliance. The relevant authorities may order homeowners, designers, or builders who fail to meet code requirements to make repairs or cease construction.

Failure to heed the orders may lead to a fine, revocation of the building permit or an order to demolish all or part of the building. Likewise, failure to meet code requirements may lead to the cancellation of insurance, serious legal issues, or an inability to secure a connection to utilities. The authorities may deem the home unfit for occupation because it poses serious safety risks. For these reasons, compliance with building codes is imperative.

Code Types and Examples

The following are examples of codes to which all architects and developers need to adhere when building new homes.

Architectural Plans

  1. Demolition Plan listing quantity of hazardous waste (such as asbestos) or materials, if any, to be removed
  2. Foundation and Structural Floor Framing plans
  3. Floor plans, existing and proposed
  4. Exterior Elevations
  5. Structural Material Specifications
  6. Structural and Architectural Details
  7. Typical Cross Sections in each direction
  8. Shear Wall
  9. Stairway Rise and Run, Framing, Attachment and Dimensions of Members
  10. Shear Transfer and Holdown Bolt details
  11. Prefabricated Fireplace with approved listing number
  12. Section R301 Design Criteria

Mechanical, plumbing and electrical (MEP)

  1. Location and size of HVAC equipment
  2. Location of plumbing fixtures
  3. Location and size of fixtures, outlets, smoke detectors, switches, main electrical panels, and subpanels
  4. Spark Arrestors in chimneys
  5. Title24 (California only)
  6. California fire code
  7. Electrical membrane structures
  8. Emergency alarm systems (where required)
  9. California plumbing code

The codes change or are updated every couple of years. While the above lists may not be exhaustive, they give a good sense of the codes any architect or developer should expect to encounter when building new homes. One way to stay compliant and make sure your designs and plans meet all code requirements is to hire an MEP engineering consultant firm that can work with you to create the most robust plans possible.

Compliance Requirements Continually Evolve

As compliance requirements for constructing a new home become increasingly stringent, the conversation around the role of safety becomes more relevant. Consequently, the construction of homes continually evolves to match the design and climatic challenges. Codes are vital in the establishment and maintenance of a building that is safe, sustainable, resilient, and efficient. Well-defined regulations, provisions and guidelines create a framework that safeguards the structure and its occupants.

As energy, building, and fire codes intensify, the standards and code provisions for insulation will become increasingly important. The growing complexity of building envelop design necessitates the understanding of relevant codes and standards in order to design and build competitive homes. From acoustical specifications to fire safety to thermal resistance, the plethora of codes and standards for building a new home will evolve. The development of standards and codes continues to be a collaborative and transparent process that benefits from the innovations, knowledge, best practices, and advancement of all the stakeholders in the residential construction industry.

Coupled with ongoing revision, an effective framework of codes facilitates the consistency needed for the manufacturing and business environment to remain competitive. This consistency is also essential for economic robustness and conducive to advancements in products, materials, and practices of construction. As a result, the construction industry can grow and match the needs of the modern world, serving the people and organizations who contribute to thriving societies.

Work With Pro Engineering to Ensure Compliance

Pro Engineering is a strong supporter of the collaborative process that aims to advance codes and standards. We are a forward-thinking company that aims to drive change and innovation for a better tomorrow. With over 35 years of experience in the industry, we take pride in our team of well-trained and highly qualified consultants that offer services to builders, architects, designers, and developers in the Greater San Diego and Orange Counties.

From design to engineering to construction projects, we check off several boxes. Working with MEP professionals is beneficial whether you’re a building owner, architect, or contractor. We offer a full-service solution that optimizes your building performance, regardless of the size. We help you stay competitive by streamlining your construction process and improving your bottom line.

Pro Engineering ensures your HVAC, plumbing, and electrical engineering run smoothly. Our trained MEP specialists help you design systems that operate efficiently. Either before or during the construction process, we help you design an appropriate MEP layout and engineer it according to the building code. Contact Pro Engineering today, and let’s talk about your project.

Whether you want to do a simple remodel on your home or are a developer who wants to complete a large-scale project, you should expect delays when submitting building plans and plan check renewals in the greater San Diego, Orange, and LA counties. 

While it’s frustrating to deal with delays, it’s essential to realize that this is a national problem. Research from nPlan estimates that delay times have doubled since the beginning of the pandemic, with over 85% of projects delayed

Early incorporation of essential plan aspects such as MEP engineering design services can help offset these delays, but it’s still important to understand why they are occurring in Southern California. Here are some of the reasons for delays and what you can do to speed up the review process. 

Reasons for Building Permit/Plan Review Delays

One of the biggest reasons for delays is the backlog created by COVID-19. During the pandemic, most services in California were either stopped or stalled. Permits continued to flood the system, but construction and permitting halted for all intents and purposes. 

On March 19th, California Governor Gavin Newsome issued a statewide lockdown, leaving many construction projects halted. The governor would later clarify that services critical to maintaining infrastructure were permitted to continue operating, but there was still confusion over what constituted “critical infrastructure”. 

In cities such as Long Beach, some companies stopped accepting jobs altogether because of the long delays. In Orange County, accelerated plan reviews have been discontinued until further notice, meaning that regardless of the importance of a project, everyone goes into the same queue. 

Heavy Regulations Slow Down Projects 

Because of California’s heavy building regulations, permits back up quickly. You need a permit to replace an electrical box or extend a room in California. Building a swimming pool could become a nightmare before the pandemic because of permits, inspections, plan check inspections, etc. Afterward, it became nearly impossible.  

While regulations are necessary to keep people safe, they can also lead to confusion and delays. In Laguna Hills, the regulations for fire sprinklers take up 28 pages. If a developer misses one regulation, it can set a project back months and cost thousands of dollars to fix. 

Many delays happen because of minor mistakes or a contractor missing a regulation buried in guidance documents. This is another reason hiring MEP consulting services can speed up a project. MEP experts know and keep up to date on these regulations and can provide guidance on how to meet them in the fastest and most cost-effective way possible. 

A Shortage of Workers 

Almost every industry in the country has a shortage of workers, and government jobs are no exception. San Jose says to add three weeks to the expected turnaround time for initial permit reviews. This doesn’t include the many other steps required to complete a project. Inspections are also taking more time as city governments haven’t been able to increase the number of inspectors to meet the current demand. 

San Diego is currently taking 34 weeks to issue building permits. They currently have 30,000 projects in review and 800 ready to undergo final check for permit issuance, with another 1,200 applications prepared for intake. 

How to Deal with Delays

If you are working on any construction, building, or remodeling project, you should expect city processing delays to arise. Here are some tips for dealing with these delays:

  • Be patient – processing delays are often out of your control, so it is essential to stay patient and not get too frustrated.
  • Stay organized – keep all your project documents in order so that you can quickly and easily access them when needed.
  • Communicate with your team – let your team members know about any delays so that everyone is on the same page.
  • Keep the city updated – keep the city updated on your project status, so they are aware of any delays or changes.
  • Be flexible – be flexible with your project timeline, and don’t try to force things to move faster than they can.

Aside from these general suggestions, there are two essential things that you need to do if you want to minimize permit and plan check delays. 

First, it’s essential to make sure that you submit everything correctly. Your permits should have all the information needed. One of the primary reasons for delays is that permits arrive with missing information. This requires city workers to review the permits, send them back for corrections, and review them again. 

Earlier, we discussed the challenge of dealing with regulations. One missed step pushes a project back by weeks and significantly impacts budgets. The same applies to the initial submission of permits. 

Second, it’s essential to have a team of experts on your side. 

The Importance of MEP Engineering Companies

MEP engineering design services can help keep your team focused as you work through delays in the greater San Diego, Orange, and LA counties. Most construction and development firms have multiple plans and plan checks in process and under uncertainty. When this happens, it’s easy to let some details slip through the cracks, leading to even more delays. 

Choosing a reputable MEP consulting firm is important. You will want a team of experts that understand the city, county, and state regulations. Instead of spending the time to go through each regulatory process, you can trust MEP engineers to provide you with clear designs that meet regulations, include all necessary details, and will pass through city processing with relative ease. 

These services save you time and money by helping you deliver projects on time and under budget. Delays are costly; by working your way through them more efficiently, you can maximize your time and money while providing timely results to your clients. 

Let Pro Engineering Help You Today 

Pro Engineering has provided mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineering design services in Orange and San Diego counties since 1995. During this time, we’ve established ourselves as one of Southern California’s best engineering consulting firms.

Our MEP engineering design team can help you prepare required construction documents for city or state submission for permitting. Even after plans are finalized, we continue to make adjustments and revisions per owner request, city plan check requirements, or to meet engineering goals. Projects can move fast, luckily, so can we.

 For more information on how we can assist you specifically or to get a quote for your next project, contact us today

Commercial lighting design can improve the productivity and efficiency of employees by providing the right amount of light for them to be able to do their jobs safely. For example, a warehouse where employees are often using heavy machinery will need brighter, more expansive lighting than a restaurant or individual office will. Keep reading for 15 tips to consider for your next lighting design project.

1. Be Aware of How Much Light You Need

Lighting in a space is usually measured in “foot-candles,” or the number of Lumens per square foot. Here are some general guidelines for how many foot-candles different types of spaces should have:

  • Retail: 50 foot-candles
  • Department Store: 40 foot-candles
  • Auto shop: 50 foot-candles
  • Classrooms: 40 foot-candles
  • Factories: 30-100 foot-candles
  • Hallways: 20-25 foot-candles
  • Warehouse: 10-30 foot-candles

A useful equation for knowing how many lighting fixtures you need for a space is: “multiply the space’s total square footage by the suggested number of foot-candles and then divide that number by the lumen output of the fixture you wish to use” (Steel Lighting Co.).

2. Use a Consistent Light Temperature

Lighting fixtures and bulbs come in a range of colors and temperatures. Using a consistent temperature is key to creating the ambient environment of a space as well as unifying the design.

As ConTech Lighting says, “Correlated Color Temperature, or CCT, is a measure of a lamp’s color appearance when lighted. All lamps are given a color temperature based on the color of the light emitted. White light falls into three general categories: warm, neutral and cool, measured in Kelvin (K).

White light with a hint of yellow-like candlelight is called “warm white” (below 3000K); it enhances reds and oranges, dulls blues, and adds a yellow tint to whites and greens.

Neutral white (3000K – 3500K) enhances most colors equally and does not emphasize either yellow or blue.

Bluish white, like moonlight on snow, is considered “cool white” (above 3500K); enhancing blues, dulls reds and imparts a bluish tint to whites and greens.

Warm light makes a space feel smaller, more comfortable and familiar, where cooler light makes areas appear more spacious.”

More intimate spaces like restaurants, residences, bars, and individual offices tend to have warmer CCT than larger spaces such as warehouses, department stores, and large, open office buildings.

3. Consider the Color Rendering Index (CRI)

CRI uses a scale from 0 to 100 percent and indicates how well a light renders color.

ConTech Lighting says, “Color Rendering Index is a measure of how a light source renders colors of objects compared to how a reference light source renders the same colors. CRI can be used to compare sources of the same type and CCT.

A palette of specific reference colors is used, and each R value calculation is the difference between each color sample illuminated by the test light source and the reference source. The group of samples is averaged, and a score between 0 and 100 is calculated, with 100 being the best match between light sources.

The higher the CRI of a light source, the better – and more natural – colors appear. For products to be presented in a true-to-life way, which increases visual comfort, a CRI value of 80 – 100 is recommended.”

The higher the CRI, the clearer and more vibrant colors will appear in the space.

4. Save Energy

LED lights may be more expensive up front, but they last for a long time and are more energy efficient than traditional light bulbs. Using energy-saving options like LEDs will end up saving you and your client money in the long run plus improving the sustainability rating of the building.

Aside from their energy-saving and green benefits, LEDs are also a lot less likely to burst from a power surge or a breach in the integrity of the glass.

5. Match the Lighting to the Work Environment

Again, the amount, brightness, placement, color, and temperature of your lighting design should all compliment the purpose of the space. What will this building be used for? Does it need bright, cool, consistent lighting to allow workers to operate heavy machinery easily and safely? Or is it a restaurant that needs warmer “mood” lighting and accent lights to highlight the art on the walls?

The intended purpose of a space should be the number one influence on your lighting designs and plans.

6. Highlight the Landscaping

Highlight unique and important landscaping features on the outside of the commercial property (if there are any). A variety of techniques can be used to make the landscaping look dynamic and aesthetically pleasing at night, such as uplighting, downlighting, colored lights, and statement lights.

Using warmer-toned lights outside will help the business look more inviting and friendly to visitors. You can blend the lighting in with the landscaping by placing lights in trees or among bushes and even add strategically placed colored lights to emphasize certain features or match the brand colors of the business.

If the building has a long pathway or stairs leading to the entrance, try placing some statement lights such as lanterns or fairy lights along the pathway to not only enhance the aesthetic of the building’s entrance but also provide enough light for people to safely navigate paths and stairs in the dark.

7. Accentuate the Brand

Exterior lights can be a great way to display the brand colors and make the building stand out. For example, T-Mobile’s headquarters in Bellevue, WA are lit up at night with the company’s signature pink color and they stand out from the buildings around them.

8. Don’t Underestimate the Importance of Natural Light

“Every space can benefit from windows that bring in light from outside. Natural light can help boost our energy and overall mood. Don’t forget, one of the key advantages of LEDs is their high CRI value or similarity to natural light. Mixing the two can create a bright and inviting space” (Lumenture). Large windows can help utilize natural light as well as make the space feel more open.

9. Use Layered Lighting

Using “layers” of lights will help you light the space evenly and in a visually interesting way. For example, you could use recessed lights in the ceiling alongside some strategically placed accent lighting and finish the space off with some floor or table lamps.

10. Use Task Lighting Selectively

As ConTech Lighting states, “Task lighting is used to illuminate an area for a specific task, providing a focused, localized, and higher level of illumination. Necessary to the functioning of a space, it is important to use energy efficient sources to reduce operating costs.” Task lighting could be an additional light placed over a workstation or moveable lamps on desks or drafting tables.

11. Strategically Place Emergency Lighting

When creating your lighting design plans, don’t forget to include the placement of emergency lighting, such as exit signs and directional signage. Place emergency lights and signs where they are easily visible and effectively help guide employees and/or customers to the nearest exit.

12. Consider How Long the Lights Will Be On

What are the business hours of the company? Do all the lights need to stay on during operating hours? Make sure to consider these questions when choosing lighting fixtures and bulbs so you can keep your lighting design as energy efficient as possible.

13. Factor in Potential Glare and Reflection

Make sure to account for how light will be reflected off various surfaces in your lighting plans. Surfaces with a higher reflection rate will bounce light back into the space, creating higher illumination.

ConTech Lighting says, “Light reflectance is based on a scale of 0, total surface light absorption, to 100, total light reflection. Spread reflection materials, such as brushed aluminum, have a high, though diffused, reflection, reflecting 5-10% of light. Diffused reflection materials, as simple as a white painted wall, give a uniform brightness, and are good reflecting backgrounds for coves and smaller spaces.” See the chart above for reflection levels of different materials.

14. Use Lighting to Create Contrast

Lighting a space should include contrast, otherwise colors will be difficult to see and the space will appear flatter.

15. Create a Cohesive Environment

Whatever techniques you use when creating a lighting design plan for your projects, the most important thing to remember is to create a cohesive environment that provides the functionality required by the business while maximizing energy efficiency and employee productivity.

Design Ideas for Commercial Spaces

Lighting should always be part of the initial designing phases for any project. Interior and exterior lighting designs have the power to transform.

Pro Engineering Consulting, Inc specializes in electrical engineering consulting in lighting and many other aspects of MEP systems engineering, serving the greater San Diego and Orange County areas. Contact our experts with questions about your next commercial project.

Why Office Layout is Important

In order for an office layout to be considered as being conducive for productivity, it needs to have a balance between private and collaborative spaces. This will allow employees to choose which environment suits them best depending on what they are working on.

In recent years, more and more companies have been converting old buildings into modern office spaces, storefronts, restaurants, homes, and more, usually to take advantage of cheaper rents and more space. Unused warehouses make up a large portion of buildings that are being renovated and repurposed.

Since a warehouse is generally a wide-open, functional space, there are endless ways to turn one into offices. The new layout of the building can be whatever you want it to be, renovating a warehouse is like starting with an empty shell and creating/filling in the insides to fit its new function, provide comfort, and create a cohesive modern space.

Important Considerations When Designing a Warehouse Office Building

When you are contracted to design and create office spaces within an old warehouse, whether the entire warehouse is being transformed into an office building or an active warehouse just needs space for their administrative staff, there are some important things to consider.

  • The size and shape of the space to be designed.
  • The number of people who will be working in the space.
  • The budget for the project.
  • How much customization is desired for furniture, finishes, and other features.
  • The style that best suits the business needs and brand personality.
  • The type of work that will be conducted within the new space.
  • The practical needs of the company and employees.
  • Design features that match the company’s brand colors, messaging, and overall company culture.
  • Natural light sources – are there existing windows and where do you need to add windows to increase the natural light in the space?
  • Practical MEP design needs – where will the bathrooms be located? Will there be a kitchen or kitchenette area or other space that will need running water? Where will artificial lighting be placed? How many outlets and how much electrical output will the company need? How will the space be heated or air conditioned?

These practical and aesthetic requirements of the job should inform your design choices for the space. Below are a few examples of design types you could utilize.

Example Design Style 1: Clean and Simple

The first example of warehouse office designs is a simple and clean look. The materials used are mostly wood and metal. This type of space is often inspired by minimalism and efficiency.

The warehouse is designed to be efficient in terms of space and storage. It also provides a modern look that will attract clients and future employees.

The clean and simple design may use white walls with minimal decoration to make the space feel airy and open while still providing enough storage space for all the company’s needs.

The below images are of an old coffee roasting warehouse that was turned into a collaborative office space by TT Architects in Japan.

Another example is the below image and floor plan of a warehouse-turned-flexible co-working space in Barcelona, created by Appareil for their new office and studio space.

A popular trend in refurbishing old buildings is to use recycled or repurposed materials and objects, as seen in the below warehouse office designs by DH Liberty in London.

Example Design Style 2: Industrial & Creative

Industrial warehouses are not usually known for their beauty. But with some creative thinking and a little ingenuity, they can be turned into something that is both functional and aesthetically pleasing. Creative office space designs have been around for a while now, with some companies going so far as to redesign their buildings from scratch when they move in. These spaces are well known to make employees happier and more productive as the latest research has shown that they help to cultivate a culture of innovation, collaboration, and creativity among all staff members.

The below images are of a large warehouse in Beijing that was converted into the new home of Lens Magazine by Trace Architecture Office (TAO).

Another example of industrial warehouse office design is the below converted warehouse by Overland Partners in San Antonio, Texas.

The next example uses a two-story design and features some of the original warehouse equipment and structure as part of the industrial design. A Berkley, CA-based firm, Marcy Wong Donn Logan Architects were in charge of the project.

A creative design may include features that you wouldn’t expect to see in a typical office building. For example, the below pictures are of a warehouse space converted into offices by Space Encounters, a Dutch architecture firm. The design includes greenhouses that can double as meeting spaces.

Example Design Style 3: Contemporary & Colorful

The last design style examples combine a contemporary office feel with pops of color for a relaxed and creative space.

The below offices were created from an abandoned Brooklyn, NY warehouse by Macro Sea and Marvel Architects.

Another example of a contemporary office design utilizing pops of color is the warehouse-turned-offices by ARRO Studio in Paris.

Designing Corporate Offices in Warehouses

As the need for space continues to grow, many companies are turning to warehouses as a cost-effective option. Warehouses are perfect for office spaces because they come with a lot of open and flexible floor plan options. This is especially useful for companies that have a lot of different teams working together.

Designing warehouse office spaces can be challenging, but there are many creative ways to make it work. For example, you can use furniture that is made out of recycled materials and only use colors and patterns that reflect the company’s values.

For your MEP Design Needs

An important aspect of any architectural design is MEP design and engineering. Pro Engineering provides the MEP design and engineering for commercial projects. Pro Engineering provides these services to architects, designers, and contractors in the greater San Diego and Orange County area.

Contact Pro Engineering Consulting today and get a head start on your next project.