Escape Rooms Construction Update. Part 4. Jan 24.
Hello, here's the January update on our construction of a location with three escape rooms simultaneously.
In this update, we have the dismissal of an artist, bills for HVAC repairs and fire sensor installations, finally obtained permits, and a burnt circuit board in the escape room from Time Quest.
The holiday season in our operational escape rooms was, as always, super busy, and was accompanied by a bunch of events at the construction site. I promise myself that as soon as we finish construction here, I'll take a six-month break to catch my breath.
First, the good news:
1. As I expected, having applied for permits in October 2023, we only received them in January 2024.
We got a very conservative reviewer who gave us no slack. After all, as he said, we are turning office space into assembly space, and it doesn't matter that we need occupancy for a maximum of 26 people.
And of course, let's not forget about ADA improvements. This is when you must invest part of the cost of the renovation in improvements for people with disabilities, even considering that you already have everything ready.
Want a life hack? If you already have all ADA improvements in the bathrooms, then indicate incorrect dimensions of the sinks on the plans and don't mention that you already have ADA bars in the toilets, and propose to install new sinks and ADA bars. Usually, this works.
Next, we await the first inspection, hoping for minimal changes.
2. We have completed Alice in Wonderland by Indestroom.
As I've said before, we're rebuilding this escape room from scratch, so we knew what we were doing. But this time, the decor turned out insanely cool thanks to cooperation with artists, which we'll talk about later. This escape room is now my personal “postcard picture”. We can launch it as soon as we pass all the inspections.
As for the other escape rooms, progress is ongoing at its own pace. By my estimates, the airship and pirate ship are 70% ready. We plan to launch the games not all three at once, but one a month.
This way, we can gradually fine-tune processes, find bugs, and make improvements. But most importantly, this way we'll earn more money - first, all clients who have already played our other games will play the first new escape room, then a month later, when they want to play again, the second will open, and then the third. It's better than having to choose one of three right away.
Now ABOUT F*** SH***!!
3. HVAC repair, which was broken before we moved into the location, and which we had no chance to check in advance, and when we did check, we thought the problem was minimal. In reality, the problem cost us $8000, and according to the contract, we are responsible for HVAC (Thanks NNN), only because it was broken before us, we might be able to get some money from the landlord.
4 new emergency strobe sensors - $5000. Due to the new walls at the location, we had to install them. In 4 years, installation prices have doubled! Terrible.
4. One of the three artists working on Alice did not complete his work on time, did not give us a W9, and after his dismissal from the project (when I literraly gifted him 30% of the payment for the work) he caused drama on social networks adding me to black lists. Thanks to chatgpt for the drafted contract, where this scenario was outlined. Instead, our in-house artist completed the work, and it turned out awesome. Again, it's good that I anticipated that not all 3 creative individuals on the project could work equally well.
5. We burned an important board in the escape room from Time Quest.
How? Just mixed up the wires when reconnecting - always label all wires and triple check them. Fortunately, the Time Quest team anticipated such a scenario and we had one (last) board in the set, connecting remotely, the guys helped us fix everything. But you should have seen our faces when we realized what we had done and tried to estimate in our heads whether we burned one board or several (then it would have been worse).
The main thing I want to recommend from my experience - if you are just opening your first escape rooms, building three escape rooms at the same time is a very bad idea. It's difficult, labor-intensive, requires a lot of effort. And the time to open each escape room adds up, even with all our experience, builders, and artists, each escape room takes 3 months, and all 3 escape rooms take 9 months.
It's much better to open the first, start earning, then open the second, and build the third with the earned money.
Another thing, when you already have other escape rooms that can support and finance the construction, and you have experience in escape rooms and know what to do, in such a case, of course, it makes sense to make an effort, push, and build the entire location in one year. At the same time, writing off the maximum from taxes.
Thank you all for your attention, I remind you that I also conduct personal consultations, where I answer all your questions in two hours. You can sign up for them here.
The next post will be after the inspections.