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­Cannabis Facility Construction Hacks to Maximize Your Square Footage

­Cannabis Facility
PHOTO Ian Miller


­Cannabis Facility Construction Hacks to Maximize Your Square Footage

Designing and building the space for your cannabusiness is no small undertaking. Make sure you have a solid plan in place that allows for possible expansion down the road. Here are some expert tips to take with you as you embark on this journey.

Setting up a brick-and-mortar cannabis business is a big investment. A lot of time and money goes into the cannabis facility construction process, and you want to be sure there’s an ROI. Unfortunately, too many operators make costly mistakes when they design and construct their dream cannabis facility or retail operation. Whether it’s making last-minute changes or trying to do too much at once, it’s easy to get off track fast.

Want to ensure your company comes out of the design/build stage ahead of the game? Here are some top cannabis facility construction tips that will have you seeing green.

Budget for Phases of Development

When it comes to cannabis facility design, it’s best to look at the big picture. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was your business.

Outline different stages for your business plan. Perhaps you’ll start with a certain square footage of canopy, planning for expansion down the road. This will help you meet your financial targets and prevent potential hiccups. “It helps control some of the cost aspects, but it also helps scale the business and makes sure they’re not biting off more than they can chew too early on,” advises Cory Waggoner, CEO and founder of Higher Yields Consulting (HYC). Waggoner’s cannabis consulting firm has completed more than 3.5 million square feet worth of projects around the globe, ranging from personal grow ops to massive commercial warehouse builds.

He says the “scaffolding” approach helps operators efficiently achieve their goals, whether it’s cultivation facilities adding rooms or companies that want to become vertically integrated. This way, systems are dialed in as they begin to activate the facility’s phase two, phase three, phase four and so forth. “They’re better prepared to be able to move into that space as an organization,” he says.

Stick to the Plan

The initial design and business plan for cannabis dispensaries, manufacturing facilities and grows is crucial to success. It may be tempting to switch things up based on new ideas or projections, but even small changes to the plan could result in huge delays—and significant costs. “There’s very little room for error in those designs,” Waggoner notes. “Any change as you’re going through engineering is pretty drastic.”

Say you want to slightly change the configuration of the cannabis cultivation facility. The initial design has everything spelled out to a T, from the placement of machinery to the thickness of the walls. Even a slight deviation could lead to a domino effect.

PHOTO Uuganbayar

Avoid Cutting Corners

With budgets adding up quickly in the cannabis construction phase, operators seek to save money wherever they can. But there’s a big difference between tightening the purse strings and cutting corners. Leaving out any crucial components could spell disaster down the road.

For example, in a cannabis cultivation facility, HVAC and dehumidification tools are often overlooked. However, these systems are integral for plants to thrive. Without them, crops are at risk—and retrofitting could lead to production delays and high labor costs.

“You’re going to end up spending more money than you had originally planned for,” says Jesse Larson, director of design and build at Higher Yields Consulting. “In the end, it’s going to cost you more to save on the front end than it is to adjust on the back end and become more efficient. At that point, you’re making incremental changes.”

Don’t Be Fooled by Shiny New Objects

Innovation is happening at lightning speeds in cannabis—but that doesn’t mean tried-and-true methods should be cast aside. Getting caught up in the bells and whistles of the latest and greatest machines may not be worth the investment. And just because something costs a lot doesn’t mean it will improve your bottom line. Focus on the bigger picture: your team, training and infrastructure. These components will make all the difference, helping to set you up as a top cannabis grow facility.

“You can spend all the money you want on the most expensive equipment you possibly can,” Larson says­­. “But if you don’t have a good balance of employees, people to run the equipment, a good network to support buying the products, then it’s not going to work—it’s just going to be a building,”

Seek Expert Advice—and Science-Driven Data

One of the best things operators can do in the design and build stage is to look to the experts. Setting up a grow isn’t as simple as hanging lights, and retail needs to offer a warm environment conducive to shopping. Budget for consultants and other professionals who can set you up for success.

Leaning into technology is also important. Whether it’s data collection tools in automated agriculture solutions or sales analytics, this information can help guide your journey. Maybe the northern part of your city has water challenges, or the east side sells the most product. Look to available data while planning your next move.

AI & cannabis

Optimize Your Operation With Artificial Intelligence

Incorporating artificial intelligence (AI) into cultivation facilities stands as a groundbreaking approach in revolutionizing cannabis agriculture. By utilizing AI, businesses can implement advanced technologies to scout plants, detect issues at an early stage, and provide corrective action plans. This practice can alleviate human error and also mitigate potential problems, ensuring optimal plant health and performance.

The integration of AI facilitates data collection, offering valuable insights that contribute to overall improvements in cultivation practices. This innovative approach aligns with the evolving landscape of cannabis facility construction, enhancing efficiency and productivity. As the cannabis industry embraces technological advancements and methodologies changes, Higher Yields continues to lead the way in optimizing cultivation facilities. 

The cannabis industry is rapidly evolving, but the key to long-term success is careful planning. This is especially true in the cannabis facility construction phase. Be nimble yet intentional in your development and you’re sure to go the distance.

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