What Can Go Wrong on Sign Projects?

May 2015-General Signage-What Can Go Wrong on Sign Projects headerWhat Can Go Wrong on Sign Projects?

    Custom-manufacturing a product for a client takes on many facets, and signage projects can sometimes have their share of challenges. Over the years I found most difficulties, especially those encountered in the more challenging sign projects, stem from inadequate communications.

Here are some tips to avoid problems:

May 2015-General Signage-What Can Go Wrong on Sign Projects pic 1ALLOW TIME & COST TO THOROUGHLY CHECK CODE
    If it’s an exterior sign project, check the zoning ordinances in the jurisdiction where the signs are to be installed to verify maximum sign area, overall height restrictions, quantity of signs per site, set-back, allowances for certain types of signs, etc. On interior jobs, make sure your signs are ADA compliant. Holiday Signs utilizes a knowledgeable full-time permits manager to help with sign regulations and permits. Sign buyers sometime under-estimate the timing needed for code research prior to design and the permitting process prior to manufacture and installation.  

  Across our service area of Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland, and Washington, DC, we generally allow 1-2 weeks for localities to approve permits, varying slightly by locality, and the median permit secural fee is around $400, more or less according to the area and what is required for permits.  In rare instances we find out that an Overlay District or some other special circumstance overrides the sign ordinance that we weren’t informed about when we initially called for code research. This requires us to go back to the customer with new drawings for approval and then back to the locality for approval. Just make sure to allow enough time and cost up front for permitting.

    Most custom electric sign projects can take at least 6-8 weeks or more to complete, but if we know of a special deadline, we try to May 2015-General Signage-What Can Go Wrong on Sign Projects pic 2work with clients to make special sign project turn-around times. It’s best to be up front with the sign company with a drop-dead date, and it’s best for the sign company to be up front on whether or not it’s possible to make the deadline, and to offer acceptable back-up plans if unusual things like weather, power outages, site access delays, epidemics affecting employees, material shortages or damages, etc., crop up.

    The question often asked after a divorce is, “Why did this happen?” The question you never want to ask after making a significant sign investment is, “Why can’t I read my sign?”

    Both questions usually arise from problems in the 2-way communication process. All parties should never assume things are going smoothly on a project; verify they are with approved sketches and contracts. If you or your sign consultant believes there may be an issue with visibility, or contrast, or color, go a step further and pay a little extra for special samples, prototypes or demonstrations that prove design effectiveness without a doubt before final production.
May 2015-General Signage-What Can Go Wrong on Sign Projects pic 3    Everyone should understand their responsibilities in completing the sign project. Sometimes the customer will pull their own sign permits; take care of masonry work; remove existing signs; and so on. It’s best to make it clear up front who will be doing what on a complex sign project. 

    Addressing questions about small details like: “Do you know there may be an extra engineering fee required by the jurisdiction for sealed drawings?” to “Who will dispose of the old signs after the new signs are installed?” to “How are change orders handled?” are all important types of up-front questions to ask early on.  



Do You Have a Project Need Like any of These?


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What are the Leading Maintenance Issues with High Rise Signs

May-2015-Dominion-High-Rise-Building-Signs-Norfolk-VADominion Enterprises: Limiting the Cost of Maintenance Issues with High-Rise Signs

May 2015-Technically Challenging-Dominion Highrise russell manning

Photo by Russell Manning


  Maintenance issues with high rise signs are the same as any other electric signs: electrical problems in the power supply or wiring, lighting failures, bad sensors, or some type of sign damage stemming from accidents or the elements are the most common. However, making repairs for these issues at closer-to-ground levels versus roof-top levels makes a big difference when it comes to cost.

  Dominion Enterprises, based in Norfolk, Virginia, USA, moved into a new high rise building in downtown Norfolk and needed to brand it and make a 24/7 statement for the corporate headquarters. Holiday Signs was selected as the contractor for the project because of our technical expertise with signage for high rise applications.


   One critical and overlooked aspect of a high rise sign project is the impact of design on the future costs of sign maintenance and repair. The design and manufacture of signs installed at high elevations is significantly different than signs installed at ground level. Issues of strength, structural integrity, illumination, visibility, reliability, and serviceability are all magnified due to higher wind loads, tougher service environment, much greater viewing distance, and limited or significantly more difficult access to both the front and rear of the sign. Even more importantly, signs installed at a company’s headquarters become a symbol of the company itself and require the boldest designs, best construction and reliable performance to make the appropriate statement high above the city. 

May 2015-Technically Challenging-Dominion Highrise text box 600HI-RISE SOLUTIONS

May 2015-Technically Challenging-Dominion Highrise twilight 2

Photo of building at twilight by Russell Manning

  Considering all this, Holiday Signs proposed a solution for effective corporate identity signs at this location that included provisions for efficient maintenance. When the architect and general contractor considered our proposal, they liked that our approach used LED lighting and accessible power supplies while a competing sign manufacturer recommended a neon lighting system with transformers installed inside the letters. Neon is a poor choice from a basic electrical cost standpoint, but reliability and maintenance cost concerns from using a neon system for this application far exceeded the concerns about excessive power costs.

  Another important element of our solution that set us apart involved our recommendation of gray and red as the daytime colors of choice, considering the building color and achievement of the best possible contrast. We suggested 3M Dual Color Film for the face material so the logo would shine white during the night. The competing firm proposed all white graphics for both day and night setting up poor contrast for the letters during the day against the light-colored cast stone walls which would lead to a pale projection of the company’s corporate brand.


  To ensure the finished product did its job, we prepared prototype models of the lettering prior to final production with three levels of lighting: one was as specified in the design drawings engineered by others; another was what we recommended for lighting; and a third was a sample halfway in between one and two. By presenting actual lighted samples at nighttime on the wall 32 stories high to the CEO, CFO, and other Dominion executives, we showed them without a doubt how to best illuminate their image and successfully brand their new building to the City of Norfolk.

FEB 2015- We Work in Your Town- Norfolk pic

Big scale project! This photo begins to explain the costs involved with high-rise sign installation and maintenance work. The more you can do up front in engineering and design to lower future maintenance costs, the better. (Pictured: Holiday Signs employee working under the big “D”.)

May 2015-Technically Challenging-Dominion Highrise pic 800 4 squares


  Holiday Signs was founded in 1973 by Henry Moore and makes some of the most breathtaking custom electric signage in Virginia. Since purchasing the company in 2001, Robert Morin has continued the company’s mission of being the leading custom electric sign company in Central Virginia and regularly serves clients in Richmond, plus the close by areas of Tidewater, and Northern Virginia.

  From historic renovations like the iconic Hotel John Marshall sign to the breathtakingly modern VCU Siegel Center’s digital displays just a few blocks away, Holiday Signs has the skills and experience to take your brand to new heights!  Below is a montage of some more high-rise sign projects we’ve tackled over the past several years:


May 2015-Technically Challenging-Dominion Highrise pic montage

 HJM photo by Jim Smith

Another interesting article about a  High-Rise Electric Sign Project in Virginia:


Article about interior high-rise scoreboard installation and its challenges:


Article about restoring a historic high-rise sign:





 May 2015-Technically Challenging-Dominion Highrise


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What Are The Problems With Digital Signs?

APR 2015-What are the Problems with Digital Signs headerWhat Are The Problems With Digital Signs?

APR 2015-What are the Problems with Digital Signs pic1NOT USING THEM
  The biggest problem involving digital signs is not utilizing them for your business or organization. If zoning allows them and traffic counts indicate digital displays would work in attracting more business to your location than cost, then there’s a problem if you don’t consider their many possibilities.

  For those wise people already using digital signs, a common problem is under-utilizing the technology. LED’s overtook incandescent bulb technology years ago, yet there are still companies operating the old bulb-type units at great cost. Another problem is not utilizing full-color technology. Now that prices of full-color displays have dropped to former one-color price ranges, many people limit their potential for impact of sign communications by continuing to broadcast their messages in the monochrome world.

APR 2015-What are the Problems with Digital Signs text boxDESIGN    
  I see so many examples of digital signs that you just can’t read. It takes a knowledgeable project manager to guide the sign buyer through the process of selecting just the right sign for his unique purpose and environment. In many cases pixel pitch, or spacing between LED’s, is too wide for the viewing zone. There is a church in my town that purchased a board with 26 MM pixel spacing when it needed at least 16MM or less spacing to be readable from where it sits just off the road with a 30MPH speed limit. A 26MM unit may work fine high in the air, off the road with a 55MPH speed limit, but not where it sits.
  Another element of design is overall aesthetics. Framing or lack of framing can make a difference in looks. Problems in aesthetics, in my opinion, arise when shapes, sizes, colors and designs of all components just don’t mesh with each other or your building’s architecture. Usually message displays are only one component of a free-standing sign. The way the message board relates to the branding signage is very important, and something both you, your customers, and the community have to live with after it’s installed. (SEE: Our Approach to Selling Signs-ENVIRONMENT)  


APR 2015-What are the Problems with Digital Signs pic 2

How a digital sign looks when part of a row of LED modules is out.

    Overheating kills cars, trucks, people, and signs…if left unmanaged. Fortunately, all top brands of digital signs are engineered to manage heat generated by the sign and the elements. Hot weather and direct sunlight can challenge the engineered heat resistance of any type of outdoor electric equipment, but there are several ways to deal with it.
  If a message center is equipped with ventilation fans, inspect them before a hot spell sets in. The leading manufacturers of electronic sign equipment typically post instructions about this on their website, or check with the local sign company who sold you the unit for advice.
  If the display is equipped with air filters, most digital sign brands recommend you check on those while inspecting the ventilation fans. Filters may need to be cleaned or replaced. Dirt and dust can clog them in the same fashion as air filters on your car or lawn equipment, so frequent inspections are suggested if your sign’s operation area is overly dusty.
  Make sure all of the display ventilation openings are unobstructed and allow free movement of air in and out of the display, and in areas surrounding the display. If you’re contemplating a purchase, ask about whether your digital sign unit is designed to have special spacing between structural poles and other adjoining sign cabinets. All reputable brands typically offer a 5-year parts warranty and some include labor, but if not installed to the manufacturer’s specs, heat issue repairs may not be covered.
  See https://holidaysigns.com/maintenance-cost-of-digital-signs-2/ for 5 THINGS THAT CAN GO WRONG DURING ROUTINE OPERATION


Case Study: Digital Entrance Signs for the City of Manassas

Case Study: Green Top Sporting Goods

Case Study: Altria Theater Marquee

Case Study: Puritan Cleaners


For further study (click on Newsletter for Link):

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How Much Does Sign Replacement Cost?

April 2015- General Signage- Cost of Electric Signs headerHow Much Does Sign Replacement Cost?


  There are some electric signs around Virginia you just can’t replace: like Richmond’s pre-Depression era Hotel John Marshall’s historic rooftop sign, or the historic marquee at the Virginia Repertory Theater. In cases of historic signage, restoration is always the first option to consider versus total replacement.


  But most signs don’t reach antique status before they need to be replaced or retrofitted. Such is the case with signage for most of our commercial customers: Among our wide-range of retail customers utilizing electric signage, we help banks and credit unions replace signs in single or multi-location image upgrades and acquisitions; lend a hand to healthcare customers re-imaging former retail and industrial spaces to new clinics; serve shopping center developers by upgrading their center’s street-appeal.

  In lieu of complete sign replacements, we sometimes replace only certain components, such as changing out neon or replacing old manual or bulb-type electronic message boards with new LED technology.

rockwell square signs

Five big triggers for sign replacement:

1-Wear and Tear: Signs, like any exterior structure, fade and deteriorate given enough time and eventually need repair or replacement. You can compare an outdoor sign to your car. Since Holiday Signs uses quality acrylic polyurethanes like the auto industry, the time it takes your car’s finish to lose its luster is the same timeframe your sign starts going downhill.

2-Damage: Replacement may become necessary after a delivery truck hits a sign, or a severe windstorm blows out a face or knocks over a structure. Since most custom electric sign fabrication takes weeks or months to complete, don’t forget to ask the sign company to provide a temporary banner while the new signage is being fabricated. That way your customers won’t forget who and where you are.

3-Technology Changes: Older sign technologies like incandescent-bulb electronic signs, manual message boards, or neon signs are commonly replaced with newer, more economical technologies, like LED message centers and LED lighting.   

4-Identity Changes: New logos, slogans, color schemes or building upgrades can spark the need for new signs at one location or multiple sites across a region in our service area. (See Pearson Auto Re-imaging Case Study.)

5-Entity Changes: When new companies move into spaces of previous businesses, all the signage needs to be changed out usually quickly and smoothly.

sign replacement text box

Levels of sign replacement:

1-FACE CHANGES: Depending on the condition and color of sign cabinets and structures, sometimes the only things needing replacement are the removable sign faces. Often, it’s a good idea to invest in re-designing or at least re-painting the cabinets and sign structures along with face changes to make the greatest impact. Professional sign companies will typically conduct a field survey to get the exact dimensions for new faces and measurements for any desired upgrades for the cabinets and pole covers. At the same time, they can check for any needed sign repair work such as lamps, ballasts, sockets, wiring, and light sensors. The average Richmond sign-service labor rates vary by company, level of equipment and workmen needed, but normally range from $100-220 an hour. Material and labor cost to make new sign faces depends on design level, size and height of sign, number of faces and type of face material. Updating cabinet or structure colors adds cost, and changing the design of the structure requires more investment. To get a feel of pure face-replacement cost, we recently replaced the faces for a Virginia retailer’s 2-sided average size pole-type electric sign with embossed polycarbonate graphics and pan-formed edges for $4,000 plus an extra $600 to straighten the existing poles and repair part of a concrete foundation damaged in a windstorm.

2-Technology Upgrades: SEE: “How Much Does a Digital Sign Cost?” and “What’s the Cost to Upgrade Message Boards?” and “LED vs NEON”.

3-Complete Sign Removal and Replacement: We recently re-branded a former video store into a retail health clinic. We removed a fairly large pole sign, leaving the concrete footer below grade, for about $1,200, and then designed, fabricated and installed a comprehensive building-mounted sign package of channel letters and awnings, swapping out channel letters and recovering old awnings for an additional $23,000. Every building is different, and signage that fits one application won’t fit the next, so it’s hard to nail down an average range for such customized sign projects. Sign replacement projects range in the thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars in cost, depending on the scope of work. Contact a project manager for a more detailed quote to fit your exact application. (See Great Examples/Costs of Shopping Center Sign Upgrades and Replacements.)

What’s the Cost of Signage Design?

cost of design header

What’s the Cost of Sign Design?

cost of sign design va chris murphey

Holiday Signs designer, Chris Murphey, at work on a sign detail.


  When I first started my career in construction and signs, I was a civil engineering technician in Bethesda, Maryland; then an architectural draftsman in Charlottesville; then the primary design and sales person at my own custom sign company in Waynesboro, Virginia. I understand sign design, and it is such a unique field, blending so many trades into one project. Just like commercial buildings, signs need foundations, electric power, steel, framing, exterior finishes. I guess the only things different are HVAC and plumbing, although we have designed and built signs with waterfalls! And if you consider cooling fan systems in certain brands of electronic message centers, signs kind of have HVAC components as well!
  These days I’m involved with the marketing and sales of custom electric signs all across Virginia, Maryland, DC, and eastern North Carolina at Holiday Signs, located in Chester, Virginia, just several miles south of Richmond. Many times customers ask, “What’s the cost of sign design?” The answer depends on the size and scope of the job and varying levels of design drawings are required for different sign projects. But there are three main design phases involved in a typical sign design:


Signage design specialist, Darin Bramwell of Holiday Signs, sizing up a new project.


Phase 1-Engineering  
o    Site Survey and Photos
o    Details of sight lines
o    Construction options

Phase 2-Preliminary Sketches
o    Selling an overall concept
o    Showing various options

Phase 3-Finalized Drawings
o    Final Presentation Drawings
o    Permit Drawings
o    Shop Fabrication Drawings



  Determining sign design fees depends on the sign company or sign consultant you use. Most electric sign companies charge for their design services on an hourly basis, but some sign design consulting firms determine their fees as a percentage of total construction cost, the way many A&E firms often do. (Read about average costs of custom electric signs at this link.)
  Around the Raleigh-Richmond-Washington,DC areas of the southeast, where our sign company is located, the average rate for sign design by in-house electric sign company designers is about $60-$125 per hour depending on the sign designer doing the work. The more seasoned and experienced the designer, the better quality of work and costlier the designer. We utilize a team of skilled designers that work from our office and manufacturing plant in Chester. Our in-house prices are less than many alternatives and we have one of the most well-rounded sign design teams in the Central Virginia region.  
  As a rule of thumb, sign design generally ends up being about 7% to 13% of the overall sign construction cost on large projects, although this may vary by firm and project. (Sign construction costs include any scope of the project where project management is required from initial meetings and surveys to final installation.)

cost of design drawing
  The most important element of customized sign design/build projects is being able to effectively coordinate ideas between the owner, the architect, the city or county, and other parties involved. Good, effective design is one thing, but the end product has to convey what the original design concept was all about. You should work with a sign company who is able to look at all the parts and pieces in advance to make sure they will all go together as planned. If you miss one part, you have to do a lot of manipulation to make it all come together. The value in utilizing an experienced sign company is an important aspect for consideration when considering a custom sign designed specifically for your site.


The Holiday Signs Project Management Team with questions!


Any of these signage designs look familiar?

(Click on pictures for individual case study articles.)

mwv nightfishwww.holidaysigns.com-pioneer-custom-electric-signs-richmond-virginia Augusta Health EMC Picturewww.holidaysigns.com-richmond-virginia-complex-signageAltria Theater 2-21-14 041Floor & Decor RichmondJanuary 2015-Technically Challenging- VCU GYM pic specialwww.holidaysigns.com-richmond-va-city-entrance-signs-entry-monuments-municipal-communication-digital-signage-systems-VA-MD-NC-DCwww.holidaysigns.com-northern-virginia-church-sign-companiesRoanoke Airport Wayfinding Photo4







(Click on a city below to see some of our work in your area!)

Charlottesville       Chesapeake       Fredericksburg        Harrisonburg      

Leesburg         Lynchburg       Newport News       Roanoke     

South Boston/Halifax      Staunton/Waynesboro      VA Beach    Yorktown     


What is the Cocooning Effect?

Shopping Center Repositioning

Re-Branding a Retirement Community

Turning Eyeballs into Smiles

Green Marketing

Site Lighting and Your Brand

Flexible LED Case Study

Custom Awnings

Richmond Executive Airport

Branding Grace Church

Shopping Center Makeovers Boosting Economic Development

Branding an Anniversary at Kings Dominion


Holiday Signs – 11930 Old Stage Rd. – Chester, Virginia 23836 – (804) 796-9443


Thanks for Visiting!!  Please visit again soon!


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cost of signage design



What’s the Cost of Electric Signs ?

April 2015- General Signage-Richmond-VA-cost-electric-type-signage

What’s the Cost of Electric Signs ?

Realizing the many different applications may give you a better understanding of the range of investments that can be made in electric signs and the value of those investments as part of your overall marketing strategies. A basic set of channel letters, as pictured above, was installed at the storefront area of a local veterinary hospital. Average single storefront channel letter jobs like this typically fall in the less than $5,000 – $10,000 range.


Price tags on electric sign projects usually follow the level of technical challenges involved. Thus, the cost of electric signs can vary greatly since signs are custom-designed and fabricated for the sites on which they will be installed. Customized electric signage for the top of a 20-story building lighting up at night to advertise the brand across the city costs more than a simple set of channel letters for the walls of a single-level veterinary hospital down the street.



At first it may appear this set of channel letters is pretty similar to the lettering for the Vet Hospital pictured above. But big differences occur in size, installation processes, and even with the construction of the letters themselves. Although these letters appear white at night like the vet’s letters, they are made with special 3M films that produce a blue logo color by day, then turn white during nighttime viewing. The signs were also specially engineered for low maintenance and ease of access when maintenance is needed. Six figure investments are typical for these types of extremely technically challenging projects.

Our typical customer is usually part of an executive management team within these key industries looking for exterior or interior branding solutions for their buildings or sites:

  • Commercial Development
  • Financial
  • General Retail
  • Healthcare
  • Industrial
  • Institutional


Our projects generally fall into these categories:

  • Signs for high rise applications
  • Highly customized Iconic signs
  • Historic restoration projects or other sign renovations
  • Signs for multiple sites in need of re-branding after acquisitions
  • Signage systems for large campuses
  • Signage with electronic messaging components
  • General free-standing signage
  • General wall-mounted signage

April 2015- General Signage- Cost of Electric Signs text box 1WHAT DRIVES COST?

Electric sign projects can range from several thousand dollars to several hundred thousands of dollars, but why the huge price variations, and what are the primary factors that drive cost?

  1. SITE CONDITIONS: Consider the place on your property where a sign will have the most impact and return the most response from your investment. What type and size of sign would fit the spot and do the best job? If you need to brand a multi-story building, then probably the best spot for signs is high in the air. Costs for both manufacturing and installation escalate the higher things get. Manufacturing costs increase because of size. The farther away an object is, the smaller it will appear; so signage at a distance is a lot larger than you think. And the larger the sign, the more materials and labor are involved in making and installing it. We recommend our customers consider prototypes to nail down best results prior to the manufacture of final signage for high-profile www.holidaysigns.com-manassas-washington-dc-sign-installation-crane-serviceapplications. We also recommend that signs for hard to access areas like rooftop walls, be manufactured in a way most economical for service and maintenance. These suggestions usually mean spending a little extra up front to avoid a gush of dollars spent later for maintenance and repair.  
  2. NUMBER OF SIGNS: More times than not, one sign won’t do the job. A four-sided building usually needs signage on at least two or three sides. A typical commercial lot has more than one entrance, so free standing signs are usually required to be duplicated in some fashion to cover all the main entry points. Campus sign projects utilize a large quantity of signs of various types. More signs, more investment, but sometimes the cost per sign is less due to the possibility of ganging some of the steps involved in production.
  3. OVERALL DESIGN: The purpose of putting up signs in the first place is to get your business noticed. So the more customized and eye-catching the design, the better. Sometimes the graphics can serve as the eye catchers but many times the shapes of the signs themselveswww.holidaysigns.com-reston-virginia-retail-electric-signs-design-manufacture-install are the best way to get attention. Whether you use standard box type signs or custom shapes, the amount of customization always affects the level of impact and cost.
  4. MATERIAL CHOICE: Will you use traditional colors and materials or produce something that is visually outside the box? Also, how long do you want your sign to last between maintenance periods? These questions help you select the best materials for your sign. Options like stainless steel, glass block, or cut stone are all good investments to add pizazz. LED lighting versus neon reduces maintenance and operating costs over time.
  5. LIGHTING EFFECTS: Will the sign be a traditionally illuminated light-box type sign, or will you choose to use custom effects like backlighting, edge-lit components, or other interesting lighting methods for special effects?
  6. ELECTRONIC MESSAGING: If you want the ability to both brand your site and interact with the customer with calls to action, then adding a digital messaging component is a wise investment.

Contact a Holiday Signs Project Manager to discuss a specific project’s cost.

Further Research:

  • Our Approach to Selling Signs:

                Part 1-Finding Your Unique Image
                Part 2-Budgeting for Digital Signs
                Part 3- How to Stand Out and Blend In at the Same Time?
                Part 4-Sign Viewing Distance and Sight Lines
                Part 5- Sign Prototypes and Demonstrations




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cost of electric signs – signage – price of signs – value of electric signs – making an investment in electric signs

Typical Cost of Shopping Center Sign Renovations?


www.holidaysigns.com-richmond-va-sign-renovation-pricing What’s the Typical Cost of Shopping Center Sign Renovations?

October 2013 Digital Messaging-Shopping Center EMC's JD final photosGLAMOUR LOST?

  If your shopping center’s signs have been around more than ten years, this article may help you ponder a sign renovation project. Replacing or upgrading signage at shopping centers is a good way to turn humdrum entrances and storefronts into dazzling attractions. Styles change and weather just does what it does to deteriorate their former glow over time. Even if your current sign system hasn’t been around too long, it always makes sense to renovate if the change will have a profound influence on attracting more business.


  The typical shopping center signage package consists of:

  • Free-standing project ID signage: The free-standing signs at the center entrance(s) is/are usually the large pylon or monument type. To renovate a pylon, the outer shell is stripped off to the steel and concrete structure and, if in good shape, a new sign is slipped over the old bones. The average cost to renovate a free-standing sign within our service area varies but examples below can give you a better feel for the average cost ranges of typical projects. Adding a digital component increases the investment and potential for better communications and more business for tenants. Renovating monuments usually costs less than pylons. 
sign renovation examples rockwood before after pylon

A total investment of about $73,000 renovated two entrance pylons and a row of tenant wall signs at Rockwood Square, providing a modernized look that gets the attention of both customers and prospective tenants. Prior to the makeover, the center had a high vacancy rate, but after all the renovations it is now 98% full, much of which is attributed to new signs!


June 2014- Branding- Shopping Center Repositioning brook hill

These dated Brookhill Azalea center entrances were transformed into fresh, new multi-tenant identification signs that compliment each other and inspire customers to shop. The new signs allow tenants to broadcast 24-hr customized digital messages to potential shoppers passing by for an investment of about $55,000 a sign.


  • Pad site signage: Many shopping center properties with pad sites can have both free-standing signs and building-mounted signs at tenant pad site locations. Renovating signage at these sites ranges depending on what’s involved. Custom awnings, multiple sets of building-mounted channel letters, over-sized pylons, digital messaging, and parking lot directionals all add cost. 

Augusta Health, of rapidly expanding Fishersville, Virginia, occupies a former Blockbuster Video building that they had us transform into a new outpatient clinic in Staunton, Va. We replaced the channel lettering and stripped the old blue awning fabric and replaced it with new maroon awnings with back-lit graphics advertising the clinic’s range of services. The total cost was less than $25,000 and work was fast-tracked to successfully meet their grand opening deadline.


  • Individual tenant store signs: Most retail center tenants use wall-mounted signs at their storefronts. The most popular tenant storefront sign type is channel letters. Store branding can also be conveyed using box signs, and then there are many other creative options including flush or three dimensional spot-lit signage, graphics painted directly on the wall, and custom awnings.

Channel letter signs are the most frequently used signage by shopping center tenants. There are many lighting options for various effects and letters can be individually mounted or attached to raceways that are usually painted to match the wall color. Channel letters are a very economical way to promote a store’s brand and merchandise. Contact us for quotes.


sign renovation examples-rockwood tenant signs

One way to improve an overall look is to keep tenant signs consistent and uniform regarding colors and layout. The new sign backgrounds are opaque, so at night all that is seen is the copy and the lighted sconces giving the retail center a classy look compared to the old hodge-podge image portrayed by standard illuminated white-background box signs.



  Here is a summary of the primary factors that drive the cost of shopping center sign renovations:


  • Quantity of signs
  • Size/Design/Height
  • Use of digital sign equipment
  • Condition of structure and foundation
  • Custom embellishments to be used


  • Quantity of signs
  • Size/Design/Height
  • Box Sign versus Channel Letter construction
  • Form of Lighting: Internally-Lit, Face-Lit, Halo-Lit, Non-Lit
  • Embellishments


Two Real-Life Retail Center Renovation Success Stories…



  Prior to its makeover, Rockwood Square Shopping Center had a high vacancy rate, but after all the renovations it is now 98% full, much of which is attributed to the new signs according to Gary Modjeska of AREA Properties. “Signs were a very, very important part of the repositioning of the property,” he said.

  Since the property was not a high end center, the client wanted signage that would not be too expensive for potential tenants. Gary worked with Holiday Signs to come up with a new design for the center’s signs. Before renovations, the center had plain, rectangular-shaped box signs with flat faces and poor hodge-podge designs. The client originally planned to replace everything with channel letters but asked us what we thought. We suggested nice design for box signs that would include some architectural amenities, and if there was a tenant change all that would need to be done is swap out a new face, keeping a new tenant’s costs down in the future versus them having to come up with money for a new set of channel letters.

  The Holiday Signs design team utilized an interesting lighting sconce detail for the box signs and the main pylons that tied all thesconce detail signage together. The detail also appears on the under-canopy signs as well. The owner liked the idea of keeping all the tenant signs consistent and uniform regarding colors and layout. Sign backgrounds are opaque, so at night all that is seen is the copy and the lighted sconces giving the retail center a classy look versus what they had before with standard illuminated white-background box signs. Adding simple architectural details and keeping all signs consistent in design supports a unified theme that is attractive to customers and has helped the center grow and thrive again after the re-imaging.

  By utilizing box cabinet signs for the center’s tenants versus channel letters, it makes them all consistent, easier to change, and less expensive than custom channel letters. If not a high end property, lower upfront costs attract and keep more long-term tenants, and there are many creative options to keep costs down while promoting a consistent and eye-catching sign design.


  Holiday Signs added two large full-color Electronic Message Centers (EMC’s) to an existing double-faced entrance pylon at Towne Center West of Richmond. It’s located next to a 1.3 million square foot Super Regional Center, so competition for shoppers is intense.

IMG_0357  Prior to adding the EMC’s, most of the inline tenants had limited visibility to the 25,000+ cars that pass by the center each day. They spent countless advertising dollars to draw customers into their shops, but only produced limited results. Anxious to increase their tenants’ visibility and draw in new customers, the developer hired Holiday Signs to help.

  Holiday Signs specializes in helping developers and shopping center management revitalize the signage for their centers. Many times we recommend updating signage with new designs, graphics, tenant panels or fresh paint but in this case the main identification sign was only a few years old. A thorough analysis suggested the addition of two new EMC’s to the existing pylon would give the tenants their much needed visibility.

  Once the EMCs were in place and the messages started rolling, tenants began to see an immediate increase in traffic to their stores.









Interested in cost ranges for various sign projects? Then, read these:

How Much Does a Digital Sign Cost?

What’s the Maintenance Cost of Digital Signs?

What’s the Operating Cost of Digital Signs?

What’s the Cost to Add Message Boards to Signs?

What’s the Cost to Upgrade Message Boards?

What’s the Average Sign Project Lead Time?

What’s the Typical Cost of Sign Renovation?








What’s the Typical Cost of Sign Renovation?


What is the Typical Cost of Sign Renovation?



  What is the typical cost of sign renovation? Although there’s always a cost, investing in commercial renovation projects that include quality signage will definitely improve perceptions of your business or organization. For customers, renovations indicate store vitality and growth. For employees, working in a modernized and well-branded store can improve team building and generate more enthusiastic workers and job candidates. Signage plays a big role in remodeling and while updating stores may be costly, dollars invested in upgrading retail spaces and signs can dramatically increase the perceived value of your brand.

  Replacing or upgrading signage can be challenging and requires many moving parts and pieces. Consult with custom electric sign companies who can advise you on the latest trends, approaches and strategies in retail sign renovation and find a reputable and reliable sign contractor who meets deadlines, is licensed and insured, and fully understands applicable sign codes. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. (To help get you started, contact Holiday Signs!)



  Place yourself in the customer’s shoes to gather input about the shopping experience that can help with sign design and placement and convey these ideas to your sign consultant early on in the remodeling process. Choose a sign company that understands your construction team is serious about meeting deadlines to keep your remodeling project on track. Hiring a contractor who consistently meets deadlines, understands all the good-better-best options applicable for your project, and finishes your project on time and on budget is essential for minimizing costs.


  Here are 10 sign renovations completed by Holiday Signs with approximate cost ranges to get you in the sign renovation budget ballpark. (If bolded, click on project names or pictures for links to detailed case studies.):

Budgets under $10,000-

  • Capital Ale House: Renovated signage and custom awnings after change of restaurant ownership.

www.holidaysigns.com-harrisonburg-va-cost-of sign renovation

Budgets between $10,000 and $25,000-

  • Augusta Health Outpatient Clinic: Converted former Blockbuster Video space to clinic.We created a set of channel letters and custom, back-lit awnings that wrapped three sides of the existing building.


  • Eastern Mennonite University: Upgraded campus wayfinding signs. The old signs were faded and beaten up, and we replaced them with new designs that reflected their updated branding.


Budgets between $25,000 and $50,000-

  • Franklin Federal Savings & Loan: Re-branded a previous bank building with a new brand. The project included enlarging a brick monument sign, plus creating several sets of channel letters and parking lot directional signs.


  • Floor & Decor: We worked with the developer in renovating their new retail tenant’s main identification signs at a highly visible corner lot.


Budgets over $50,000-




  • Towne Center West: Updated main shopping center identification sign with electronic message centers.



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*Some material above adapted from 7-15-2014 Quick Books feature by business writer, Bridgette Austin.

What’s the Average Sign Project Lead Time?

Holiday Signs VA

What’s the Average Sign Project Lead Time?

www.holidaysigns.com-va-electric-signs-richmondWhat’s “AVERAGE”?

  First of all, what does the term “average sign project” mean? If “sign projects” range the gamut from the “I’ll Work for Food” marker-on-cardboard signs to the mega-digital signs at New York’s Time Square, then where does the average sign project fall?

   Instead of focusing on what’s average, let’s consider the usual sign project stages. That should help answer the question,”What’s the average sign project lead time?”


Stages That Determine a Sign Project’s Lead Time:

  Conceptual Stage: Customers realize there is a problem and some type of sign project needs to be contemplated. This stage www.holidaysigns.com-richmond-va-nova-how-to-get-a-sign-permitinvolves various meetings that consider current challenges and possible resolutions with help from our sales staff, another sign consultant, a collaboration of professionals, or independently by our clients. Depending on the type of project, importance, motivation, budget, and other factors, this stage could range from a few weeks to many years.

  Preliminary Design Stage: Customers take a closer look at what could work to produce the most effective results within the existing conditions of code, budget, audience, viewing zone, desired ambiance, surrounding architecture, etc., etc. In this stage, customers may want to see prototypes to help nail down decisions. This stage typically ranges from several weeks to several months depending on the scale of the project, level of design, and whether or not prototypes are used.

  Final Design Stage: Once preliminary designs are approved, the project moves into final design, where working drawings are produced for sign manufacture and installation. This stage usually moves fairly quickly, again depending on the project scale, usually ranging from a few days to several weeks.

  Permitting Stage: Depending on the locality, permits can take time, and it needs to be factored into sign lead-time estimates. We generally allow for 1-2 weeks for localities to approve permits, varying slightly by locality. Usually the more dense the population the longer the permitting will take. So obtaining sign permits in Northern Virginia (Fairfax, Arlington, Prince William, Stafford, etc) generally takes longer than say Chesterfield, Hopewell, Colonial Heights, etc.

April 2015- General Signage- Average Sign Project Lead Time text box

 In rare instances we find out that an Overlay District or some other special circumstance overrides the sign ordinance that we weren’t informed about when we initially called for code research. This requires us to go back to the customer with new drawings for approval and then back to the locality for approval.   April 2015- General Signage- Average Sign Project Lead Time Relationships with localities go a long way and often help expedite the permit process. Our good, established relationships create great channels of communication and can make any required revisions go much faster.

  Manufacture Stage: Unless a permit waiver is signed, which can allow production to start in advance of receiving a permit, manufacture can’t proceed until permits are approved. Once it’s a go with the locality, production can be scheduled. Since there are jobs in production ahead of the new project, it may be several weeks until its slot comes up in the production schedule. Most small electric sign projects, like a set of custom channel letters, take about 3-4 weeks; larger projects take at least 4-8 weeks or longer. Signs for large projects are sometimes done in phases that may last more than a year.

  Delivery and Installation Stage: Holiday Signs does an excellent job in coordinating manufacture and installation of projects. Arrangements are made for deliveries and installations quickly after sign production is complete. Things that can delay installation range from weather to construction delays on the project itself where areas are not yet ready for signage, etc. Typically, installations do not take as long as other project phases, ranging from a few hours to a few weeks on bigger jobs. Projects involving masonry bases, concrete foundations or multiple facets take longer to coordinate than say installing a simple set of channel letters.

  Summing it up, a typical sign project at Holiday Signs can take from several weeks to several years to move from concept to reality. We hope you will allow us the opportunity to find solutions for your upcoming signage problems!


Do You Have a Project Need Like any of These? (CLICK ON PICTURES FOR CASE STUDIES):

mwv nightfishwww.holidaysigns.com-pioneer-custom-electric-signs-richmond-virginia Augusta Health EMC Picturewww.holidaysigns.com-richmond-virginia-complex-signageAltria Theater 2-21-14 041Floor & Decor RichmondJanuary 2015-Technically Challenging- VCU GYM pic specialwww.holidaysigns.com-richmond-va-city-entrance-signs-entry-monuments-municipal-communication-digital-signage-systems-VA-MD-NC-DCwww.holidaysigns.com-northern-virginia-church-sign-companiesRoanoke Airport Wayfinding Photo4




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What’s the Cost to Upgrade Message Boards?

www.holidaysigns.com-richmond-va-cost-of-upgrading-message-boardsWhat’s the Cost to Upgrade Message Boards?


Backup_of_Blog Blurbs 10-1SPONTANEOUS PEOPLE
  Have you ever made a spontaneous retail purchase? I recently bought a gift after an electronic message sign told me roses were on sale and it just happened to be our anniversary. Since this kind of thing happens to me often, I firmly believe that digital messaging works. Academic studies back this up, showing that 50-60% of on-premise purchases are spontaneous. It pays to have a way to trigger spontaneity at the point where most people pass your store, so clearly street-side advertising signs are smart ideas. But the question is, “What’s the best way to get my message out there and if I’m using banners or manual reader boards now, what’s the cost to upgrade my existing messaging system to digital options?”
www.holidaysigns.com-richmond-va-cost-to-upgrade-message-boardsBANNERS COST MORE THAN YOU THINK
  The most common barrier to scrapping static messaging systems and going digital is perceived cost. Businesses opting to hang out a banner or two a month to carry their message may be spending more than they realize. The average 32-square foot banner costs $160-$320 in Central Virginia, so a typical annual banner budget to promote a mere 12 messages a year could be as much as $1,920-$3,840 or more per site. Occasionally add in a few 10′ high vertical flag pennants that average another $400-$600 each, and the 10-year cost for this changeable messaging system could easily reach the $20,000-$40,000 range. Compare that with the cost of an average 32 square foot electronic message center of $18,000-$35,000 (plus the cost of electric), that blasts messages as quickly as every 4 seconds, 24-hours a day, and banners aren’t any less expensive. Also consider the appearance of your messages: while banners sag and get torn up in the wind, digital promotions remain crisp and bright.
www.holidaysigns.com-us-cost-to-upgrade-message-boardsMANUAL-CHANGE MESSAGE BOARDS
  Businesses that use some form of static message system understand roadside messaging works. It’s just that some systems are better than others. Choosing message systems is like choosing any other system. A young couple with a starter home bought three window AC units for $750 to cool most of their house. The units were extremely noisy, it was hard to regulate an even temperature, and they soon felt the pain of getting them in and out twice a year. Comparatively, a decent central air system for their house cost $3,500-$4,500. Over ten years the cost for the window units was still less than the central air system which used less power, but results measured in comfort level would have greatly exceeded the extra cost.
www.holidaysigns.com-richmond-va-cost-of-updating-changeable-message-sign-to-digitalGOING DIGITAL
  The average 32-square foot manually-changeable sign unit costs $4,500-$8,500. The average 32-square foot electronically-www.holidaysigns.com-richmond-va-How Much Does a Digital Sign Cost changeable sign unit costs $18,000-$35,000. Is it worth it? Consider the added value of upgrading to digital:

1.    Provides multiple, customized messages to reach diverse demographic groups with a variety of goods and services (not just the same static message for long periods);
2.    The movement and brightness of digital gets more attention;
3.    Since 50-60% of consumers make last minute purchase decisions, quick-changing digital messages ups the chances to reach them with the right message at the right time;
4.     Creates new advertisements quickly and inexpensively;
5.    Viewers can understand an image much more quickly than words;
6.    With digital you don’t have to worry about an employee’s safety as they update copy in parking lot traffic or bad weather;
7.    Digital software is equipped with spell check features so there are no embarrassing misspelled words in public;
8.    No worries about not having enough letters for the messages you want;
9.    With digital the wind won’t blow letters off your message;
10.   Ability to pre-schedule messages and not worry about who’s going to change the sign.

  Of all changeable message systems, digital systems are the best value because of their 24-hour visibility, on-going attention, aesthetics, message changeability and adaptability for targeted marketing strategies. 

Read these essential articles as you compare static and digital messaging options:

November 2013 Digital Messaging-6 Benefits of Digital Signs-Part 1 picture

 Part 1- Connecting with Your Community







January 2014 Digital Messaging-6 Benefits of Digital Signs-Part 2

 Part 2- The Value of CO-OP Advertising







January 2014 Digital Messaging-6 Benefits of Digital Signs-Part 3

 Part 3- Blast Your Message to the Masses!







January 2014 Digital Messaging-6 Benefits of Digital Signs-Part 4

 Part 4- Advertise on Your Own Network







March 2014 Digital Messaging-6 Benefits of Digital Signs-Part 5-Time & Temp-SALES

Part 5- Time & Temperature Worked







 part 6Part 6- Promote Loss Leaders