Five Reasons Why a Professional Contractor is the Smart Move in the Marijuana Cultivation Business

California is open for business; the marijuana business that is. With valuations going through the roof and an influx of new money you can bet that all facets of the industry are being looked at under a microscope. Constantly changing regulations and multiple growers looking to scale quickly, means working with the right consultant to convert old-school operations to industrial workhorses capable of meeting the rapidly rising demand should be the most important part of your business model along with reducing risk by working with a technical builder. 

Let’s step back for a second. National discussion around marijuana legalization and its possible positive economic impact has landed squarely on California, and rightfully so; its economic impact will be staggering. Estimated to be valued at $7 billion dollars, it is a modern day gold rush.

A recent analysis, conducted by the University of California Agricultural Issues Center at UC Davis, estimated that recreational marijuana sales will command about 60 percent of the state’s pot market — accounting for about $5 billion in annual sales. That means California’s pot market would immediately become the largest in the nation, surpassing that of Washington and Colorado combined ($1 Billion).

Automation is the future of the marijuana cultivation business because of its ability to keep up with the demand created by the legalization of recreational marijuana. Bringing on an engineering and construction firm that knows how to help you through the process will guarantee an increased efficiency. Cannabis cultivators can’t possibly keep all the technical elements in house and “do it yourself”. Bringing on a professional construction company ensures that the environmental objectives are met, ensuring cooling and humidification systems perform to optimize the indoor environment, and do it in a way that is energy efficient. Proper planning and executing takes all gross expenditure risks off the table, and safeguards that the grow facility will be delivered as expected with an eye on the total cost of ownership of the facility. This will be important as the price of the product is compressed over time.

Cannatech Builders is at the forefront of connecting the facilities that support cultivators and manufacturers with their production and business goals. With over 20 years of experience in the industrial construction business, Cannatech Builders understands the total costs of delivering a technical facility, as well as the total cost of ownership of that facility.

Growers or business leaders are not engineers or construction professionals. Wholly 100% of the projects performed by these Owner/Growers result in gaps in the construction scope, which result in an incomplete solution and an extended construction schedule. On time delivery of the facility allows for cultivation to start and cash to flow. Many cultivators buy what they are told is a “complete greenhouse structure”, only to find that critical elements are missing, which need to be subsequently sourced. Consider items such as properly-sized electrical systems that can expand for future growth, well planned environmental controls and monitoring, and network connectivity are often an afterthought, as well as simple things like, missing bracing, connectors, wrong sized openings, and wrong sized elements. These are great examples of mistakes that as a professional builder we see on a daily basis.

Let’s discuss the five benefits of going with a professional contractor instead of building your cultivation facility yourself. Ultimately, these reasons will increase the efficiency and the productivity of your operation. While the upfront costs might seem high, partnering with a trusted consulting firm can make or break the goals you set out for your cannabis grow project.

1.     Lower Equipment Costs

Professional construction companies have longstanding relationships with manufacturers of facility infrastructure necessary for large-scale industrial projects. Because of these relationships, they are able to get you a much better price on equipment and tools necessary to complete your new build or upgrade project. Even though cultivating and manufacturing marijuana products is a relatively new industry, much of the infrastructure and equipment is not different from other large-scale construction projects that professional technical builders are so well-versed in. This holds true for building materials, automation and controls, mechanical and electrical systems, and the most important part of your grow process, lighting.

2.     Mechanical and Electrical Systems Knowledge and Expertise

The success of your facility often significantly rests on ones understanding of mechanical systems. After all, keeping your plants at the correct temperature, humidity, and dew point with optimal lighting is literally everything. While one may be able to perfect this by themselves in a small setting, when you eventually have to scale it, it is best to bring in a partner who knows the “ins and outs” of these systems. Owners are not professional engineers or construction professionals, they do not have the experience to properly build a facility that is efficient and ensures a low total cost of ownership.

Along with system optimization it is imperative for the success of your project that you partner with an expert who is well versed in California’s harsh building and zoning codes. For instance, California Title 24 has some very strict codes for heating and cooling systems in buildings, including greenhouses. In these facilities, the use of cooling equipment with compressors to keep the temperature and humidity to at your preference isn’t always allowed, ultimately requiring the utilization of other solutions to resolve the deficiency. A professional engineer and contractor has this vast knowledge and the expertise to navigate any problems that might arise.

3.     Proper Budgeting and Forecasting Hidden Costs

Companies like Cannatech Builders have years of experience in creating and maintaining budgets for large projects. While a master grower who is an artist at his trade may have no issues in budgeting for what he assumes the up-front cultivation facility will cost, he is likely to have missed the hidden issues and costs that can/will arise throughout the project. Professional construction companies have an incredible amount of knowledge in guaranteeing that the established budget will match the actual build cost. Typically there is a 20% increase in the cost to expand with owners who build without professionals, and always an 100% increase in the time it takes to deliver a complex facility such as a hybrid greenhouse.

This is a great example of nearsighted cutting of upfront costs that eventually leads to a much larger expenditure down the line. Before hiring Cannatech Builders, one of our clients tried to do the control systems with his internal team. He hired an electrician for the infrastructure, and a controls company for the control system’s hardware. It turned out that both of them assumed that the other would be in charge of making sure that both these systems connected, which they ultimately did not, costing the client a large amount of money and time wasted. This is just another headache that can be avoided by going with a professional contractor up front.

4.      Collaboration and Communication

It does not take a rocket scientist to realize that having multiple specialists working together on a project helps ensure the success of the initiative. Collaboration is key in automating growhouses. While a grower is obviously the most versed in their product, the same might not be able to be said about HVAC and security systems.

Ultimately, this is where you see the most value in partnering with a professional builder like Cannatech Builders. Cannatech Builders has a team of technology consultants, engineers, and construction professionals that have been working together for years on similar projects. Proficient in the intricacies of their specific field, they will be able to answer any questions and solve any problems that might arise. And sure, while you could parse this responsibility on to separate entities— electricians, control company’s, etc.—having a centralized construction firm guarantees that the project gets completed efficiently and that communication is at an all-time high.

5.     Preserving Schedule/Project Timetable

Growers rarely have enough construction experience to understand which trade needs to be working and when. The intricacies of scheduling the phases of construction is something integral to the efficiency of the project build. Time is money, and unneeded setbacks due to poor construction planning is an avoidable loss. Also, owner/operators who decide to do it themselves are displacing their revenue producing activity that is core to the success of their business.

It is important for growers to value quality planning as the real means in speeding up production. Understanding the order of what needs to be done; and producing realistic, thought-out time tables, will ultimately be extremely beneficial to the success of a project.

Ultimately, as a grower, you should go with what you feel like is best for your product and business. It is understandable to be skeptical about bringing in a large organization to assist with the future of your previously independent business, but after doing your own due diligence you will be able to see that the increase in efficiency outweighs the skepticism that comes with bringing an outside company on board.

Growing marijuana efficiently and cost effectively is the future of the industry. If you are not currently working toward that goal, you are already behind the curve.

With multiple success stories under our belt, Cannatech Builders is a proven consulting and construction firm helping marijuana enterprises grow their business. Reach out to Cannatech Builders to make your goals realities.