Tenant Improvement Contractor With 30 Years Experience

By Ken Thomson

Is it time to construct new interior spaces to address important business objectives? Determining who is a qualified tenant improvement contractor has a lot to do with the structure of the improvements.

Evaluating tenant improvement contractors raises many good questions. There are many questions to ask that range from complex to the most basic of information. The nature of a tenant improvement project dictates the best methods for delivery.

What is the right structure for your tenant improvement construction project?
Structuring a project is simply creating a temporary organizational chart for the duration of the project. In all projects, there are three key roles: the Owner, the Designer and the Contractor. The Owner is at the top of this organizational chart because he or she determines the project needs and the resources to develop the work.

How the project is organized below the owner, is highly influenced by a number of factors, including the complexity of the project, the involvement of the Owner, and the critical elements of the project. Critical elements can be what it looks like, how it functions, cost and how long will it take. How much time and effort will be required of the Owner personally as well that of his staff? The Owner time commitments must be balanced between primary business activities and these project needs. If the tenant improvement work is a critical production environment, it is the department head's most important focus to ensure the build-out will perform at the levels intended. Then this spent is essential for the project success. Identifying the Owner team of stakeholders in a project is an important first step.

How the Designer and the Contractor relate to this project organizational chart is the next set of options. Defining how these individuals play into the deal may be best determined after knowing whom these individuals and the best way to acquire these services. The optional structures to consider are a Design-Bid-Build, Construction Management, or Design-Build process.

In the Design-Bid-Build process, the Owner hires the Architect, the plans and specs are developed, at which time the plans are submitted for permitting. At the same time, the Owner puts the plans with contractors to bid on those plans. When the bids are submitted is when the costs for the project are identified, as well as the schedule to build. The Owner then contracts with the Contractor to construct the improvements. The Owner is responsible of changes in the scope of work and manages both entities throughout the project.

If the Construction Management process is considered, the Construction Manager (CM) is engaged early in the design process to provide the budgeting and schedule information and can advise potential cost impacts during the design phase. When the plans are complete, they go to permitting and the CM will put the project out to bid. The CM will also finalize the price after the bid and permit process, and then a team will constructs the improvements. The Owner contracts with the Designer and the CM separately and manages both team members. The Owner remains responsible to both entities throughout the project for changes in the scope of work.

The Design-Build method integrates the Design and Construction under one agreement, with a contractor who is familiar with this type of delivery. The Design-Builder is responsible for the Designers performance as a part of the project. Costs, schedules and detailed plans are all worked on concurrently to deliver the final construction solution. A Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMAX) is established early on in the process and when specialty trades are bid out the Owner benefits from the cost savings. The Contractor, who will be actually building the project will project continuous cost feedback to the design effort, assess the "constructability" issues in the performance of the work and ensure this is factored as needed into the design and budgeting. The Owner enters into one agreement, which would have phased releases of the work.

While a lot of effort is devoted to these delivery methods, each has variations and its pros and cons. Ultimately, it needs to meet the Owners objectives, which are usually, what is the "best value" for the project.

Having an open discussion with both architects and potential tenant improvement contractors can help formulate the right structure. Ultimately, a designer and the contractor must deliver the improvements. How this team interacts with the client and each other, finding solutions, addressing Owner needs and expectations, timing and cost management are all key elements in delivery of a true value driven project.

Facility Builders & Erectors, Inc. delivers tenant improvement projects every week for a diversity of applications throughout Southern California. Acting as a General Contractor, a Construction Manager or as the Design-Build contractor depending on specific project requirements is all a part of meeting Owner needs.

FB&E projects include manufacturing, processing, vehicle maintenance, distribution and general and custom office environments. Visit us at https://www.facilitybuilders.com or call Ken or Steve at (714)577-8060. Finding the right structure is a key step in ensuring a great project delivery.