You’ve found a great commercial space for your business. It’s in a high-traffic area with plenty of parking, the façade is attractive and inviting, it has ample room for both your sales floor and your stock and office spaces, and the rent is reasonable. There’s just one problem: the interior is not laid out correctly for a company operating in your vertical.
Tenant buildout, also known as tenant improvement or leasehold improvement, is the process by which the tenant in a rented commercial space makes necessary changes in order to make the space appropriate for their use. In some cases, it’s as simple as some paint and installing some retail fixtures or a new counter. In others, it’s a full renovation, complete with a new layout, flooring, electrical and plumbing design, and even a facelift of the building’s exterior.
Choosing the right contractor to manage your tenant buildout should be a thoughtful, intentional process. You will be spending a considerable sum on bringing the space up to your specs, and you won’t be able to carry the improvements with you if you decide to relocate later. So, you need to make sure your buildout is handled correctly, that the work is done efficiently and accurately, and that you’ll be able to make a return on your investment.
When searching for a tenant buildout contractor, keep these thoughts in mind.
Choose Experience Over Price
There are probably dozens of commercial contractors in your region that offer tenant buildout services, but they’re not always capable of providing the same level of service. Tenant buildouts are unique projects with their own special challenges. A contractor with a wealth of experience in renovating commercial space will be better able to understand your business’s unique needs and navigate the limitations of your lease.
In addition to their broader knowledge base when it comes to executing a buildout, contractors with more experience also have more support. They’ve worked with their employees for a long time and have built their team into an effective unit. They have solid relationships with local suppliers and subcontractors. They know the local building codes and regulations and will be familiar with some of the rules and guidelines impacting your particular type of operation.
Other contractors may offer lower costs, but by the time you’ve dealt with budget overruns, scheduling problems, regulatory concerns, and the thousands of other issues that a less-experienced contractor doesn’t know how to handle properly, you’ll end up spending more in the long run than if you’d gone with an experienced contractor in the first place.
Choose a Great Communicator
The vast majority of problems encountered during any construction project can be boiled down into one word: communication.
When you’re undertaking something with as many moving pieces as the complete renovation of a commercial space, the possibility for a miscommunication is high, and getting stuck with an uncommunicative contractor can be more than a frustration – it can cost you time, money, and bad blood between you and your landlord.
For a project of this magnitude, it’s vital that you choose a contractor who will be open and communicative through every step of the process. While you don’t need a status update about every single nail that’s driven or every single light that’s installed, it’s not unreasonable to expect that you’ll receive regular communications about project status, be informed of any difficulties or setbacks that arise, and notified any time there’s a change in the schedule.
Even more important than these regular and special updates, however, is how responsive your contractor is. Will they take your calls and answer your emails? Will they get back to you with answers to your questions promptly or leave you wondering what’s going on?
Making sure that your contractor’s communications style matches your own is key to a successful buildout.
It may seem like a straightforward job, but a tenant buildout will always benefit from a contractor who’s willing to explore options beyond what’s standard. There may be cost or time savings that “the usual” is leaving on the table. There may be options for your project that afford you greater flexibility with the space later down the road. There may even be layouts, fixtures, or other features that you’d never considered that would be an even better fit for your location.
Choosing a contractor who has the ability to address a business’s needs instead of just following a generic set of plans opens up a world of possibilities for your project. The more experience a contractor has in commercial renovation, and the more times they’ve had to think their way around a particular space limitation or other issue, the more likely they are to come up with creative and effective solutions for your space.
Cut-rate contractors may be many things, but they’re usually not professional. A professional contractor takes pride in their work, understands that each step of each project is a reflection on their company, and is willing to stake their reputation on making you happy.
They happily answer questions about their past projects, they’re willing to let you speak with previous clients, they give you straightforward written estimates and schedules, and they communicate when there’s any deviation.
A professional contractor is also upfront about their limitations and provides you with realistic expectations up front, instead of promising a lot of pie in the sky that bears no resemblance to reality.
Finally, a professional contractor has systems in place – insurance, construction bonds, etc. –to provide you with security in the event that the job goes sideways and you need to recover a loss.
Finally, you want your commercial contractor to provide quality work. When a project is completed using quality materials, installed competently by a professional construction crew, you’ll see an immediate difference over what a cheaper construction firm might offer. While it may cost a little more up front, your renovation project will serve you better for longer if it’s done right the first time.
When It’s Time to Build Out Your New Commercial Space, JLJ & Associates Can Get the Job Done.
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