Convert Your Office Space

By Ken Thomson

Tenants Improvements is the process of taking an existing building space and improving it, modifying it, upgrading it or changing it to meet the needs and requirements of the Tenant (or the Lessee). At Facility Builders and Erectors, we separate these modifications into two categories, general office tenant improvements (TI's) and Process TI's.

General office tenants improvements consist of those offices and related spaces to support any and all functions that a business performs. In some cases, it is where the offices are the business end, such as engineering, legal, accounting and other consultant businesses.

Process TI's is where the business activities take place. The Commercial environment, is the location where the public comes to see your business offerings. Showrooms, retail shops, restaurants, bars, theaters, dance studios, grocery stores, tire stores, and other places the public visits fall in this category. The Industrial market includes manufacturing, warehousing, distribution, trucking and transportation of all types.

In both categories there is a need to identify space for the support functions needed to operate the business. This can include simple and obvious things such as restrooms and lobby space or t complex and sophisticated to include data centers, computer operations, classified clean rooms, commercial bakeries, laser-cutting tables, "clean" electrical services, or R&D laboratory requirements.

Facility Builders and Erectors (FB&E) recognizes that every business is different, even those businesses in the same industry. Therefore, every TI will be equally different.

In developing a plan for TI work, it is important to understand the needs and business objectives driving the needs. Local code requirements, landlord standards, right to approve work, improved energy efficiency, quality and type of finishes all factor into determining the right solution.

There is not always a ready answer for the questions of cost on each TI project or how long it will take. Prices can vary from $50.00 a square foot to $500.00 a square foot or more. However, a discussion with a contractor well versed on the design build construction can quickly hone in on a range of costs that can help plan for such a project. How can there be such a huge swing in costs for similar spaces? It's a good question that is asked every day.

Let's say there is a need for 3 offices. Office A is for the clerical activity. Office B is for secured critical file storage and requires a 2-hour fire rating. Office C is for an executive who needs a quiet office.

The finishes are critical; each room needs a different type of door. Clerical office door and frame - $350.00. High security 2-hour rated door and frame - $850.00. Executive office door with frame $3,750.00

If the rooms were 15 x 20 or 300 square feet, then just the door cost per square foot would be A: $1.17, B: $2.83 and C: $12.50. This is just one element in putting together a TI solution. All components of a tenant improvement are evaluated. The flooring requirements for a commercial kitchen are different than a professional office.

Every construction project goes through a similar process of defining the objectives, budgeting and scheduling. Since all three are critical elements in a decision making process, FB&E can provide early budgets, time frames and assistance in defining project objectives.

Once a project is defined, it can be designed, permitted and constructed. At each point in this process, the validated costs and time schedules will allow the Owner to continue or modify the plans to meet the business objectives, whether they pertain to layouts, interior finishes, costs or time requirements.

Having a contractor early on, working as the lead Design-Builder or in conjunction with an Architect, ensures construction costs and values. It also ensures the project schedules are integrated into the plans. Once permitted, then work can begin as soon as possible.

Whether it's 5,000 square feet or 100,000 square feet, defining the right team to work on your tenant improvements is a critical step. The Facility Builders & Erectors team is highly conversant in all aspects of tenant improvements. For over 20 years FB&E has been providing a full spectrum of tenant improvements to Southern California business. Do you have a unique project that needs to be done right? Ready to talk about it?

Call Ken Thomson or Steve Sindelar at 714-577-8060. Let's see if our services can meet your facility needs.