Phase 7: Possession

In a perfect world, the day you take possession is the day that you would be ready to start building and getting ready to open your brewery.  The reality is that you will likely be nowhere near ready to get things going.  There are usually a list of items you need to decide on, or get answers on that will prevent you from being ready to go on day.  Lucky for you there are things you can do while waiting, that will move the project forward.

Our experience is this:  We applied for a development permit at the end of August, we received our development permit at the end of November.  We submitted our building permit at the end of December, and we received our building permit in March.  We could have shaved a month off this time, but that is about it.  So expect 6 months for this process.  Ideally, you will take possession of your space as close to the day you get your building permit as possible.  The trouble is, it will be hard to find an owner that will give you the time to apply for permits, while tying up their property.  Most likely, you will need to make an educated guess as to whether or not the space will be granted a development permit if the brewery is not zoned in M2 in Vancouver.  Oh yes …. this is where shit gets real!

When you make this decision, it will be the day you take the proverbial step off the curb. The comfort and relaxing life you may have dad, dreaming about all the fun will come right of the rails.  You will be consumed with following your passion, but that will entail details and decisions along the way.

When you take possession, here are the things you should be working towards.

  1. Know your floors:  Thats right, the floors in your space can make or break you, as I have always said.  So get up close and persona with your floors and make them what you need them to be.
  2. Document your process.  You will likely only ever get one chance at doing this, so make sure you document as much as you can with a video camera, camera, etc.  You will be thankful you did.
  3. Test for asbestos:  Very important that you test for asbestos at this point.  In Canada, if you want to demolish something, you need to have a permit that says you have had any asbestos removed from the space.  Ideally, you would do this with a site visit before you even take possession of your space, as the results can take up to a couple weeks to receive.  Once you have this testing done, cross all your fingers, as removal of asbestos can be a concern depending on how much you have.
  4. Asbestos removal:  You will need to pay an approved company to remove any and all of the asbestos from your space, and this can cost money.  Lucky for us we had our landlord agree to pay for this after the fact, and we are thankful for this.
  5. Demolish:  This is easily the most fun part of your building process.  We spent 2 entire days breaking everything down and destructing what the last business created.  It was not only great fun, it was very rewarding.
  6. Clean the details:  We had some tile on walls, wire running here, there and everywhere, so we took the time to remove these items from the space.  All the details needed to do this can be time consuming but very worthwhile down the road.
  7. Quick clean of space:  This could involve power washing, hosing, sweeping, or even vacuuming (or some combination of all these like it did for us).  Open the loading doors and get your place clean.  It will make you feel good about things, and while your space will get even more dirty when your floors are cut open, you are likely a little away from this happening, so it will feel nice to remove some of the dirt from your site.
  8. Get tradespeople through:  Get all the sub trades into your space, so they can gauge what they are getting into, review IFC (Issued for Construction) plans for errors or omissions (they are really good at this), they can give you an accurate fee proposal, and you can hear of ways to save money.  By now, you will have doubled your budget for everything, so stop living in the past, and get on board with the fact that everything will cost more than you thought.  No need to stew about this, just find solutions.
  9. Layout your design on the ground:  Even if you are Frank Lloyd Wright or Frank Gehry, laying out your proposed floor plan with tape will give you a sense of how the layout will really work.  So within a few days after clearing your space, get on this.
  10. Order Equipment:  Your brewhouse has likely been ordered, but maybe your conditioning and fermenting tanks and your packaging line have not been ordered, so work on that.  We have been told that tanks can take about 3-4 months to make it to your facility.  One thing is for sure:  You don’t want your tanks too early in the process and you don’t want them too late.  Ideally, about 2-3 months before you start brewing beer for real, but after the majority of your plumbing and electrical upgrades have been completed.
  11. Paint the walls:  If you plan on painting the walls inside your brewery (we suggest you do), this would be a good time to do it.  Go buy a professional paint sprayer, lots of plastic, rolls of tape, and all the other supplies needed to paint and get cracking.  It is really hard to paint walls inside your brewery when you have all your stainless tanks and equipment inside your space.  So this is the time to do it, when there is nothing of importance inside your space.  For us this process took 3 guys 3 weeks working most every day at preparation and execution.  We had 6,600 square feet of wall space to paint, and we had to guard against windows getting sprayed as well as the ceiling.  If you have concrete block walls like most warehouses do, plan for at least 1 coat of primer and then 2 coats of paint.  Every coat will need to be back rolled so prepare your shoulders for pain.
  12. Layout your finalized floor plan:  When you have decided on the exact location of all your production and tasting room facilities, spend a couple days and lay them out on the ground.  For us that meant getting chalk lines, huge squares, etc to get the floor plan bang on.  When you have finished putting the chalk lines down, spray paint on a matte clear coat art supply paint, to make sure that your chalk lines stay in place.

Now that the pre work is compete, the actual buildout of the space will written about in Phase 8.

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