Economical Tenant Improvement Construction

By Ken Thomson

Tenant improvement construction is associated with taking an existing building and building out offices and meeting rooms.

Yet the diversity of business activities and technology really takes the reality of Tenant Improvement construction to a much greater level.

The range of tenant improvement construction ranges from simple economical general office environments to renovations of historically significant structures and the build out of mission critical data centers where every component to the building process in evaluated to ensure compatibility with the interior systems.

As with any building project, there is logic to bringing a new office/operation on line. Regardless of the level of sophistication or complexity of the tenant improvement construction, there are basic steps for each project. The steps taken from the initial concept will bring the project to an active operation.

Every business is unique and every business operates differently, hence each TI project will be different. There is a familiar process for each of these, which starts with identifying a need for more space. When identifying this need and developing a facility solution, at some point along the way, the need for professional assistance will become an important to ensure the plan addresses the needs, the function and the Owner's vision. Time and cost are also key components for any construction project.

Architects, space planners, interior designers and some engineers are all professions that are resources for defining and drawing a tenant improvement construction project.

It is the tenant improvement contractor who will complete the planning with budgets and timelines supporting the overall vision.

The sooner a designer and contractor can begin working together on a project, the Owner will have the immediate benefits of the TI project being put into a written plan. In the early stages of concept and design development the sketches can be rough and very general. Concurrent with that the contractor can provide Rough Order of Magnitude (ROM) budgets and a general timeline for the design, permitting and construction of the work. With this model the Owner has all the pertinent information to either reinforce the ideas with the cost and schedule impacts.

In today's economic climate, there is real value to deliver tenant improvement construction quickly, from developing initial expectations of quality, costs and time. At the same time, the Owner needs to have confidence in the design and construction team to deliver the project as envisioned.

Construction is a process, but more accurately, it is the most cost intensive part of an overall plan. The Owner has to increase revenue, improve productivity, and create an environment that will attract and retain customers or support the business objectives of a business.

Working with a team of professionals from the initial concept puts the responsibility of the project delivery with those resources as early on. Work flow, appearance, material identification and selection, durability, site conditions, permit standards, landlord standards, specialty equipment needs, support systems, utilities, working hours and security issues all contribute to the tenant improvement construction project.

Identifying needs and the resources or people to fill those project specific roles will go a long way to ensuring the project delivery is a success.

Some fundamental issues to consider in assembling a team will include how an Owner will want to manage the process. The three main ways of contracting for a project include Design-Bid-Build, the Construction Manager and Design-Build delivery. Each method has its strong and its weak points.

Design-Bid-Build is a traditional method used in public and private work where the Owner is satisfied that the Architect will create a set of construction and bid documents that accurately address the scope of the construction services required. There is no contractor participation in the design phase. The Owner retains responsibility to pay for changes in the scope and delivery.

The Construction Manager model has one party act as Owners Representative ideally throughout the project. The CM interfaces with the design team in the pre-construction phase and then puts the project out to bid, afterwards he manages the construction process. The CM provides budget and timeline information, along with design development and fulfills much of the Owner responsibilities if the Owner is contributing specialty equipment, furniture systems or other critical components the TI project needs to support. The Owner retains the responsibility to pay for changes in the scope and delivery.

The Design-Build method engages a Design Builder, typically a General Contractor to act as the single point of responsibility to design, permitting and constructs the project. The Contractor and the Architect work closely to meet the project objectives. The contractor is involved throughout the design development process, managing design elements, budgets and timelines ensuring the construction delivery addresses all the variables as a part of all the decisions in design that may affect the construction. Changes in the delivery of the improvements are the responsibility of the Design Builder.

There are variations on all delivery methods, yet at the end of the day a successful project is defined by both a positive delivery process and a great finished product. The Contractor and the Design team are an integral part of the project with the Owner.

Facility Builders & Erectors, Inc. delivers tenant improvement construction for commercial, community and industrial users everyday. From adding a storeroom, to constructing a fully functioning commercial kitchen to a Class 100 cleanroom, the FB&E team may be the solution.

Visit the FB&E website to see pictures and project descriptions of completed tenant improvements. Send us an email with any questions you may have on your next project. Facility Builders can deliver your next tenant improvement to meet your industrial or commercial needs.