You've found the perfect warehouse in the city's club district, as well as the funding and vision it takes to turn it into a successful nightclub. For safety and security reasons, it's important to follow all of the necessary steps to transform the building into a functional event space. Doing so should help you avoid legal, financial and structural problems down the road, but it will also help you to focus on the fun and creative aspects of your new nightlife playground.
Make a budget. Determine how much you can spend transforming the actual building and what will you need after that to kick-start events. Your budget should also take into consideration whether you will be renting or buying the warehouse space, plus insurance, liquor and building licenses.
Secure architects and contractors. They should be reputable, trustworthy and have completed jobs of this caliber before. Check references and ask others in the industry for suggestions.
Plan the layout with the architect. You will need a dance floor, bar space, seating, a VIP area, bathrooms, coat check, offices, valet area, security quarters and DJ booth.
Consult with an insurance broker about the type of insurance you'll need along the way, during construction. They may be able to set up a plan for you once the club is open.
Consult an entertainment lawyer about the licenses you will have to secure and regulations (health and safety) that you will have to meet. Include your contractor and architect on these meetings, if necessary.
Keep your investors informed the entire way. Investors can pull money out of the project at any time. Format reports for them that lay out the budget, timeline and current progress.
Secure an alcohol license with the city. If you have an outside area you plan to use, such as a deck, get confirmation on whether this is included -- these areas aren't always covered in a license.
Hire security to keep an eye on the premises while it's under construction. Gutted buildings are popular places for squatters if they know that the building is not under surveillance.
Have a fire sprinkler systems, fire alarm and fire extinguishers installed.
Hire a lighting expert to install the perfect lighting for the club. Innovations in lighting go well beyond the usual spotlights and strobes. Look at all of the options and consult with your contractor about the options that work best with the space. They may also be able to help you with other visual elements, such as smoke machines, mirrors and lasers.
Consult with a sound expert to help you build the sound system. Your choices will depend on whether you will have just DJs or live acts as well. Consult with your contractor about the options that work best with the space.
Hire an interior designer. You may want to include them early in the process, but they won't be able to install very much until the core elements are present. Listen to their expertise, but don't let your vision get lost in theirs.
Hire an entertainment kitchen expert set up your kitchen and bar. You will have to be upfront about whether you will be serving full dinners, snacks, or just beverages; this choice can affect everything. This person may be able to help you choose the alcohol to stock, help hire bar staff and create signature drinks for your bar.
Install a point-of-sale system, including merchant accounts and credit card terminals.
Alana Armstrong started her writing career in 2005, covering street art and graffiti. She currently works as a freelance writer, photographer and artist in Toronto. Armstrong has a diploma in photojournalism from Sheridan College and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in photo media from the University of New South Wales.