For 30 years prior to becoming 405 Yoga, the building was a liquor store in a rough neighborhood in Washington D.C.
“We wanted to go into a location that had some character, that wasn’t necessarily in a strip mall or a commercial shopping center,” said Merideth VanSant, the owner of the studio. “We really wanted to go into an older building and develop it.”
She got exactly what she was hoping for with 405 Yoga’s first space. As she and her partner demo’d the building themselves, old liquor bottles would fall out of the ceiling. They had to remove a 600-pound factory fan. Friends and family were solicited for help. Subcontractors were brought in for items like electrical work. All in all, it was a huge project, and while the demo was done to save money, after it was over VanSant said they never wanted to do it themselves again.
In the next location of 405 Yoga in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, a contractor was hired. But even if you’re planning to do all the build out yourself, VanSant said a contractor should be brought in. “Before you even sign a lease or purchase a space, bring in contractors and make sure you get a price out on how much it’ll actually cost to renovate to your specs, to how you want your concept to look. You definitely want to quote several to understand the true cost associated. This includes things like the HVAC,” she said.
And you need to find a contractor who understands your city’s specific permitting guidelines. If a contractor understands those, mistakes will be less likely when the city comes out to approve your progress, she said.
Another tip VanSant gave in building out and remodeling was to hire professionals where you can. For instance, in 405’s first location she tried painting one of the rooms herself. Not satisfied with the result, she hired painters for the rest of the space. Plus, professionals let you focus on what you need to focus on. “You’ll be able to execute a little bit better because your time will be spent better working on aesthetics and you can pay someone else to execute,” said VanSant. “You can really focus on the high level experience and what needs to go into the space that you can pay other people to use their time to make it happen. When you’re trying to do both, your time and resources are split.”
Plus, she said you’ll often end up paying more in the end if you don’t get a good contractor and subcontractors to start with.
In order to get those good people, don’t choose the most expensive products so you can instead spend money on professional work. VanSant said in the first 405 space, they chose solid bamboo floors; in the second space, they have vinyl that looks like wood, but doesn’t feel or look cheap. Plus, it saved them thousands of dollars. “You can still have a really good product and a good outcome of the build out choosing less expensive products. I think it’s all about execution. Again, choose the less expensive floor but pay a professional to install it,” she said.
If money is still an issue, VanSant gave one last piece of advice: Ask yourself what is most important to you a year from now when your studio is finished with its build out/remodel. “Is it that your students have really solid, expensive blocks and mats? Or is it more important that the grout on your bathroom floor from the people that installed your tile looks perfect?” she said. “If you really are having to allocate funds pretty limitedly, I would probably ask them what’s most important, and then put your money there.”