Tenant Improvement (T.I.) Projects can often times be very challenging however rewarding after completion. Understand from the beginning that the Landlord and Tenant’s goals are the same; to produce the most functional, and attractive workplace as possible, for the least amount of investment. Remember we are all on the same side.
Get PM involved early
Involve your Property Manager as early in the process as possible during the space planning, so that they can point out possible pit falls, location concerns, and limitations of such things as: size, location, weight, functionality, costs, etc. The PM knows their property more than the architect and can help detect costly challenges within the design, before it goes to the final Construction Document. If you and/or the architect are determined to not make a change or alter the plans then, I would suggest that you label that particular item or finish, as an add alternate, so that it can be easily removed from the overall pricing estimates, should it become an issue later.The PM knows their property more than the architect and can help detect costly challenges. Click To Tweet
Keep the Architect and designers on a short leash
Often times, both architects and designers try to “Over Design” your needs. Everyone likes to spend someone else’s money, but it is your job to rein in the costs for your benefit, so that the space doesn’t go over budget, and becomes an issue later. If there is an Improvement Allowance (within the lease), or a LL/Tenant threshold of costs that you are willing to spend, you need to express this to the design/architectural team, that they need to be conservative in their selections of finishes, and to stay under that threshold/budget. In addition, it is also very wise to include at least a 10% contingency for unforeseen obstacles, and expenses that will cause the project to go over budget.
Get multiple estimates
Another valuable way to save money is to competitively bid out each of your projects to at least three comparable contractors. Make sure that you have a working knowledge of the quality of each contractor to ensure that you are going to receive the quality of work that you expect and demand. Gathering multiple estimates makes sure that even your favorite contractors aren’t getting greedy or sloppy on their pricing. This practice also makes sure that the contractor doesn’t miss something big that causes your project to be over budget.
Inspectors are people too
Once your project is under contract, you will have inspectors to deal with from several different divisions of the permit office. Try to remember to treat the inspectors with the same respect that you would extend to a Policeman or State Trooper. Be humble, understanding, and feel free to ask questions when there is an issue or correction that is brought to your attention. The Inspectors are most of the time open to resolving issues and helping you complete your project without too many obstacles or “Road Blocks”. They just want to get their job done, and sometimes need to enforce a code issue. What you may not know is that there are sometimes “gray areas” in the codes that leave it to the inspector’s interpretation. When a minor correction order is given, try to be understanding, but don’t be afraid to ask questions, or even ask the inspector if there are any different ways to correct the infraction. At least you might be able to save a little time and money, but you also get the inspector thinking about the code and other ways to correct or make him happy with the change. At the end of the day they are people too and most of them are just doing their job and trying to make sure that your project is safe for your employees, visitors and to your building, and will be fair. You may be surprised that they may give you a break or an easier, less costly way to correct something if you just ask.
– Greg Leverton, Senior Property Manager, GPE Management Services – Phoenix, Arizona