Written By Doug Rusk, Architect
A recent office tenant improvement we performed for a national insurance company showcases a great example of why some businesses are more successful than others. When you’re an insurance business that focuses all day on helping other businesses and individuals with risk prevention, damage protection and safety & Loss control, it’s no surprise to find they are just as smart at handling their own office tenant improvement in a similar way.
So when Mary, their regional Project Manager, needed a reputable General Contractor for her company’s 2875 SF office tenant improvement project in Mesa, she called Joe Harris, managing partner of AZ Construction, LLC. Joe’s first move was to confirm this project qualified for the “Permit By Inspection” program offered by the City of Mesa for minor tenant improvements projects. His second move was to retain Doug Rusk, a principal with DESIGNLine Architects, LLC ASAP, who he knew would make him look good to his client by expediting their design/permit submittal package. And because our client Mary provided a detailed specification package that described all their project goals, Doug’s design team needed only 21 business days from signed design contract to obtain City approved building permit in order to start construction. And Joe’s team needed only 20 business days from building permit approval to finish construction so the tenant could move in.
Overall, the tenant improvement scope of work on this project was relatively straightforward:
- Removed several decorative walls and ceiling elements in the main room.
- Remove the old ceiling work, and replaced with a new 11’-4” high T-bar ceiling, modified layout of lights and mechanical as required.
- Removed glass door wall in order to open up the front entry.
- Built 3 new walls to create one new office and two conference room. Painted Orange contract color on new office walls shown on left in photo above).
- Added all the necessary electrical outlets, power panel updates, lighting and data lines necessary for 12 cubical work stations.
- Updated paint and flooring throughout entire 2875 SF space.
Have you noticed the growing number of unattended office lobbies these days? In order to create efficiencies in our tenant improvement, we down sized the fancy lobby and instead positioned one of the typical workstations to act as the reception (see image above).
After removing the curved, multi-height ceiling elements and added the new office and conference room (see left side of top picture), we installed a new single height ceiling grid. We saved $1600 by carefully designing the new ceiling grid and lighting so that we didn’t have to move too many fire sprinkler heads. Per Mesa Fire Department codes if you relocate no more than 9 fire sprinkler heads, then you will not be required to submit complete fire sprinkler design drawings to the City of Mesa.
So if you’re business will benefit more exposure, consider some of the moves our subject insurance client performed:
- Find a prominent corner location on a busy intersection with a gas station next door. – Provides great drive by exposure to drivers waiting at a stop light.
- Locate your business between nationally franchised restaurants on one side and a Fed-Ex type postage delivery store on the other side. This will provide continuous walk by traffic that will build familiarity to your brand.
About the Author
Doug Rusk is the principal at DESIGNLine Architects, LLC located in Gilbert, Arizona. We specialize in residential and commercial tenant improvement for small and medium sized businesses with expertise in space planning and interior design consulting. We’ll provide your General Contractor a thorough preliminary design packages that will enable an early construction cost estimate to confirm your budget quickly.Doug Rusk, Architect DesignLine Architects, LLC Gilbert, Arizona 480-710-3861 www.designlinearchitects.com
If you haven’t already heard… the City of Mesa offers a “shortcut” to obtain building permits for minor commercial remodel. This special program, called “Permit By Inspection” (PBI), will significantly shorten the Plan Review and Permit Approval process – if your project qualifies.
Permit By Inspection (PBI)
The permit by inspection program (PBI) is a voluntary alternative to the standard construction document plan review and building permit approval processes for special projects of certain building uses, occupancies and degree of complexity. The PBI program is intended to provide a stream-lined approach to building permit plan review review and issuance in which senior building inspectors review construction documents in the field and approve the issuance of the building permit. There is a 20% premium for the PBI process on top of the regular building permit fee and other fees.
Benefits of the “Permit By Inspection” (PBI) Process:
There are currently no written criteria to determine if your project will qualify for the building permit by PBI process. To learn more, call Clyde at (480) 644-4273.
If your project does NOT qualify for the PBI process, the regular Plan Review Turn-Around Times at this writing are:
Over-The-Counter Plan Review
The City of Mesa also offers same day over-the-counter plan reviews for the following projects types:
A Mesa architect will help you avoid many common mistakes that are made with construction projects. No matter what kind of space you need today, we’ll make sure it’s designed for your needs in the future. This will give you future function built into today’s home addition. To discuss your Mesa building permit needs, contact Doug Rusk at 480-710-3861 or email us at email@example.com.
Chandler is one small business richer since a new bread making business, Gratifying Grains LLC, opened this week. The new Mother and Daughter owners, Betsy Moore and Megan Moore, said that “because they only planned on a minor remodel, the City of Chandler offered us an expedited process to obtain our tenant improvement building permits.”
But they’re not the only ones. Many new Chandler businesses, who are planning to apply for a minor commercial tenant improvement (TI), have recently utilized this special Chandler program called the Small Business Assistance Program. According to Betsy, “this terrific program significantly shortened the plan review time and building permit approval process for us. “ Because not all construction projects will qualify for this program, she recommended that people call Martin Perez at 480-782-3138 for more information.
Small Business Assistance Program
The Small Business Assistance Program is similar, but slightly different, to the Permit By Inspection (PBI) program offered at other Southeast Valley cities. Here’s how it works. A four member team from the Development Services staff, called the Small Business Assistance Team, will visit your new tenant space, and then mail you a written letter that identifies any issues of “significant importance” that might have the potential of costing you time and money. This team is available at no cost and is intended to assist the small business community by helping clients navigate the City’s planning, building permit and licensing process.
There are currently no written qualifications to define a “minor tenant improvement”. To learn more, call Martin Perez at 480-782-3138.
City of Chandler Transportation & Development
Phone: Call Martin Perez at 480-782-3138 to answer expedited method of obtaining building permits.
May Need a Phoenix Building Permit, if you’re:
You May NOT Need a Phoenix Building Permit, if you’re:
A Chandler architect will help you avoid many common mistakes that are made with construction projects. No matter what kind of space you need today, we’ll make sure it’s designed for your needs in the future. This will give you future function built into today’s home addition. To discuss your Chandler building permit needs, contact Doug Rusk at 480-710-3861 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. building permits, Building Permits, Building Permits, Building Permits
“We just want to convert a storage closet into a small break area and move a few walls. “
“How much do you think it will cost for our remodel?”
Clients call me with questions like these who are considering the remodel or relocation of their Gilbert business. After the prospective landlord offers a tenant improvement allowance, I’ll get a call asking me to confirm if the offered will be sufficient to cover any costs incurred during the commercial remodel, hoping they will not have to come out of pocket to pay for the construction and design work.
Yes the question is simple, but the answer is never easy and usually followed by a series of disclaimers, taking away all value to the answer.
When lease negotiations start to move quickly, the prospective tenant can understandably become very frustrated when they are asked to execute a contract before fully evaluating their financial commitments. And when the cost of the tenant improvement cannot be established upfront, it makes the decision more difficult to accept any lease offer.
Many Gilbert businesses these days are choosing to make a few minor revisions to their existing office space instead of building a new office building or even undertaking a tenant improvement. Whether dividing up office space to sub-lease a portion of it, or making changes that improve productivity, or attract customers, companies are searching for ways to increase revenue with minimal expense.
Despite the fact that your tenant improvement design may appear to be the same as your last one, in truth it has never been built before. Many of the workers that have been hired for your project may not have ever worked together in the past. These new workers may require training in order to address the special conditions of your unique space and be required to interpret a design they have never seen before. It is this diverse combination of workers as well as the unique conditions of your project that drives the fluctuating, unpredictability in labor cost.
Moving walls for tenant improvements is not as straightforward as most people think.
Actually, walls are not moved at all.
Many subcontractors (trades) are needed to relocate even one wall, so a General Contractor (GC) must be hired to coordinate the necessary sequence of events amongst the various trades. The GC will hire framing, drywall, HVAC, electrical, cabling, flooring, and demolition trades, and charge a management fee about 10 – 30% above and beyond the total trade’s fees. A minimum amount is charged to make it worth their effort, so small tenant improvement projects in Gilbert can cost more per square foot than large projects.
So back to the all important question, “How much will it cost?”
Generally, the Design/Build approach works like this:
Doug Rusk is the principal at DESIGNLine Architects, LLC located in Gilbert, Arizona. We specialize in residential and commercial remodeling for small and medium sized businesses with expertise in space planning and interior design consulting. We’ll provide your General Contractor a thorough preliminary design packages that will enable an early construction cost estimate to confirm your budget quickly.Doug Rusk, Architect DesignLine Architects, LLC Gilbert, Arizona 480-710-3861 www.designlinearchitects.com
If you’re building a minor residential or commercial remodel in City of Scottsdale and need a building permit, there are special programs in place that will significantly shorten the plan review and permit approval process.
If you meet the following criteria and have a form of payment with you, you may be eligible for an Over the Counter Buliding Permit. The building permit may be processed while you wait, depending on the complexity of the project. Plan check and building permit fees vary depending upon the type of work being done and the valuation.
1. For smaller residential remodels/additions, the City of Scottsdale offers a convenient over-the-counter plan review and building permit process, available Monday through Friday, 8 AM to 4 PM, opening at 10 AM on Wednesdays. Plan Review is completed over the counter at the One Stop Shop.
Over The Counter Plan Review
- Home Remodels or Additions less than 1000 SF – no second floor additions.
- Patio additions and enclosures.
- Carports enclosures into garages or livable space.
- Garage conversions to livable space.
- Non-habitable accessory buildings less than 1000 SF.
- Solar panels that are in compliance with City of Scottsdale placement guidelines.
- Properties with non-conforming structures and/or properties, requiring additional research, may be submitted for a standard 20 day review.
- Projects zoned Environmentally Sensitive Lands (ESL) must be submitted for a 20 day review.
- During busy waiting periods, only one plan per customer will be honored.
2. The City of Scottsdale is now processing minor Commercial Tenant Improvements (TIs) using a two-tiered process that will allow certain types of TIs to be reviewed, and building permits issued, either same day or within 15 days of submittal. building permit, building permit, building permit
Over The Counter Plan Review
- 2,000 sq. ft. MAX
- Group B or M occupancy ONLY
- Single-story, non-structural
- No use changes
- Do not require a Use Permit
- Do not require a Use Permit
- Ask for a Counter Plan Reviewer
15-Day T.I. / Commercial Remodel Review
- Groups A, B, E or M occupancy ONLY
- Non Structural
- No use changes
- No Use Permit required
- No exterior work* (other than roof mounted equipment that is fully screened)
3. Projects north of the CAP will require some planning input before approving for over-the-counter review. Please ask to speak with a Planner.
4. Fire Sprinklers - Any residential improvement that involves 25% or more of the existing structure; and/or adds more than 25% to the original structure, requires that fire sprinklers be installed in the entire home.
5. Building Code – Any residential improvement that involves 50% or more of the existing structure; and/or adds more than 50% to the original structure, requires that entire structure must be brought up to the current Building Code standards.
6. Water & Sewer improvements may be required.
If your project does NOT qualify for the Over The Counter Plan Review process, the regular Plan Review Turn-Around Times at this writing are:
- 15 business day review – Tenant Improvement (See item #2 above)
- 20 business day review – Downtown Projects less than 3,000 sq.ft.
- 10 day expedite review (100% of building permit fee)
- Super expedite review with negotiated turn-around time (200% of building permit fee)
- 20 business day review (5 days for master plot plans)
- 5 day expedite review (100% of building permit fee)
- 10 business days
- Get Your Sign Permit Approved in One Review – 10 Steps!
To learn more, call 480-312-2500 at the One Stop Shop 7447 E Indian School Road, Suite 105, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
Please Note: The counter plan review is usually available on TUESDAY and THURSDAY (only) from 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM. To learn more, call (480) 350-8341 to verify availability of services.
For more Building Permit specific details related to cities that you live or work, click on one of the following links: Phoenix, Tempe, Gilbert, Chandler, Mesa, Scottsdale. building permit, building permit, building permit
A Scottsdale architect will help you avoid many common mistakes that are made with construction projects. No matter what kind of space you need today, we’ll make sure it’s designed for your needs in the future. This will give you future function built into today’s home or office remodel. To discuss your Scottsdale building permit needs, contact Doug Rusk at 480-710-3861 or email us at email@example.com. building permit, building permit, building permit
Are you a small business owner who loves working from your home, but has recently found your kitchen table too small for meetings? Maybe your current leased offices are just getting too small for your new hires and new equipment, but you’re just not sure it’s the right time to relocate? It might make sense to consider a tenant improvement on an existing or new office space.
- Reduce overhead costs with a lower lease payment. With office rents plunging, there’s never been a better time to be a tenant. Many tenants are finding that nearly everything is on the table — from rental rates to lease terms to the size of the security deposit. And you don’t necessarily have to go through the expense and headache of relocating to get a deal. To strengthen your hand at the lease negotiation table, let your landlord see that you’re shopping around. And even if there are several years left on your lease, it can’t hurt to ask for an early renewal in this market.
- Enhance worker creativity and communication with a larger space that has more natural light. And redesigning the “flow” of the office might create a more flexible work environment that may mean removing or reconfiguring the layout of some office walls.
- Find a new location. Some businesses will benefit from better customer visibility, and others who don’t rely on foot traffic, will benefit from a more convenient, low-cost, utilitarian location.
Successful business is about change. If you are business owner who’s having growing pains, you’re not alone. Here are a few tenant improvement ideas that might make sense:
1. Reinvent your present office by hiring a registered Architect to help you make the best use of your space. With just a little creative thought your office layout could be more efficient.
2. If your current office is running out of space, move to a building with a bigger office. Starting fresh in a new building will allow the design of your new office to anticipate every need and want.
3. Just when you think you’ve got the space you want, your business will change again. Progress is cyclical. Finding an office with some flexible space could make sense for the future.
4. Convert an unused room in your home into a storage facility, warehouse or a second office for employees.
5. Utilize business centers. These temporary offices provide a traditional office space for you to work in, and usually come with amenities like internet access, videoconferencing, conference space, office equipment like copiers, and even receptionists.
DESIGNLine Architects works with small and medium sized companies that have changing needs – a point in their development where the use of a building often starts to become a big factor. We are trained to design space around a specific use, making sure that everything fits. Many of our clients have limited resources and we have learned how to do a lot with very little. To set up a Tenant Improvement Design appointment contact Doug Rusk at 480-710-3861 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.Doug Rusk, Architect DesignLine Architects, LLC Gilbert, Arizona www.designlinearchitects.com
Compiled by Doug Rusk, Architect
It’s been said that image is everything. So when your customers walk into your office lobby, it should make a professional impression on them. Enhancing the image and branding of your commercial offices doesn’t have to cost a lot. There are many cost effective tenant improvement ideas listed below that we call “memory points” that will help your customers remember you, and improve the probability of that all important repeat business and referral. Making only a few of these small changes will significantly transform your office space for the better.
* Adding texture and color to the wall directly under your reception counter is a great investment. Like the front entry door, your reception desk can be very impressionable to your customer. And depending on your office’s current theme or style, stone, brick veneer, wood or metal accents could be added. Limit your palette to 2- 3 materials and colors.
* Upgrading the counter top material of the raised portion of your reception desk will focus your investment to just your customer’s reach.
* Adding a few new plants and painting the walls with a splash of sophisticated color is a very cost effective tenant improvement.
* There are many ways to add dramatic architectural elements. And surprisingly they can be cost effective tenant improvements. A Phoenix architect can provide invaluable insight and design ideas.
* By inserting a few columns, beams, arches or lowered ceilings with wood or stone accents into your lobby, your customer can’t help but see your company’s image as more successful and professional. And the limited use of diagonal or curved element will add just the right amount od architectural drama needed to strengthen the room’s focal point.
* By adding these distinct architectural elements, it will improve your customer’s experience and help them remember you.
* Adding some architectural details to the existing T-bar ceiling in your lobby or conference room is a small, but effective, enhancement.
* Adding three (3) pendant lights over the reception desk is a very cost effective tenant improvement idea.
* Make your lobby more inviting by reducing the harsh florescent lighting and providing the ability for both bright and dim light.
* Open the conference room up to the lobby with a glass wall. Both rooms will feel larger and this cost effective tenant improvement will also help convey your corporate policy of transparency.
* Add etched glass (or frosted film) to your conference room window located at a person’s sitting eye level. This cost effective tenant improvement will provide privacy and reduce visual distractions.
* Hanging a world map on a prominent wall will convey a “global” image.
* Add or enhance your company’s sign and logo behind the reception desk.
* Modifying your window coverings will make a significant change, softening the window wall and absorbing sound where many hard surfaces exist.
* Enhancing you lobby’s coffee table will improve the center of the seating area. And your customers will also love more comfortable seating, if required.
* Enhancing your company’s monument sign out on the curb and freshening up the landscaping are also good ways to improve your company’s image.
Keeping your existing customers and finding new ones are top goals of most business owners, right? Implementing at least one or two of the “memory points” listed above will add value to your Tenant Improvement. And improving your customer’s experience of their office visit will help them remember you in a professional light, and improve the probability of that all important repeat business and referral.
We’d like to share four “design tips” with anyone who is thinking about venturing into a Tenant Improvement for their commercial office or retail space.
In many ways your business is your home. It’s where you and you staff spend most of your waking hours. As you work with your Architect consider in detail each room; who will use them and how they’ll function.
- In the same way that the kitchen and the family room want to be interconnected, you want to customize your commercial space so it better fits the interactions of your staff and the functions they perform.
- The operations manager of a popular Wine Bar and Bistro, for example, noted recently how productivity improved after the layout was reworked for their wine retail area. The new layout greatly improved the customer flow in the Bistro area for both the customers and staff.
If you run a business, you own a brand. Whether done consciously or not, you have positioned your brand in the market and have an opportunity to emphasize that brand in your Tenant Improvement.
- The appearance of your lobby room, the signage and detail around the entry, and even your bathrooms should mirror the core values and the culture of you, your staff and your business.
- If you’re planning a remodel of your Dentist office, for example, then you might want to create a casual, comfortable social atmosphere, because that’s the primary market you’re targeting.
- On the other hand you may instead want to create more of a formal, professional, no nonsense atmosphere, because it meets your clients needs and the key attributes and benefits they desire.
- So, as you work with your Architect to draw up plans, take time to define your brand. Look at what you stand-for personally and as a business, and what differentiates you from competitors. Just going through the process of defining your brand can help you make distinctive design decisions that not only improve flow and function, but may inevitably help your business grow.
There is no such thing as a “typical” tenant improvement. Each project has a different set of requirements that are determined by many varying factors. This graph illustrates some approximate construction costs based on historical data that you can use as a reference point when considering a standard office improvement. These figures are general and will most likely change based on your project’s scope and special requirements.
Again, we hope the estimated, ball park numbers to the right will help you come to terms with a realistic budget.
- If you talk to the right Architect, they will help you identify your budget and design goals, and offer a low cost conceptual design package that will be complete enough to allow a qualified General Contractor to develop a +/- 20% cost estimate for your project. Our goal is to provide a low cost option for you to confirm your budget, before moving forward.
- And when the final drawings and specifications are completed and the project is bid to the subcontractors, very accurate costs are locked in, assuming no design changes.
Doug Rusk is the principal of DESIGNLine Architects located in Gilbert, Arizona. DESIGNLine Architects specializes in office tenant improvements and residential design. We will ensure your Office Tenant Improvement will look more attractive and welcoming to your customers, while also increasing efficiency for you and your staff.Doug Rusk, Architect DESIGNLine Architects 480-710-3861 E: email@example.com W: www.designlinearchitects.com
If you are planning to update the building for your business, like plumbing, electrical or move bearing walls, your municipalities’ building department requires an Architect to submit Phoenix tenant improvement construction drawings for building permit approval. Not only can DESIGNLine ARCHITECTS provide the design and construction drawings, we will submit them for you and work with the municipality to get them approved as quickly as possible.
We will help you avoid many common mistakes that are made with construction projects. We will also help you to make decisions that will enhance your business by guiding you through the entire remodeling process from concept to completion.
Most business owners underestimate the number of decisions they need to make their Phoenix tenant improvement successful. Proper planning helps you avoid the confusion.
Whether consulting with your architect or contractor for ideas and advice, there are a variety of decisions you’ll need to work through. A tenant improvement doesn’t have to mean opening more space; it could mean being more strategic about the space you already have. At DESIGNLine ARCHITECTS we offer an alternative Design/Build approach that will pin down the cost question quickly, so you can make the decision to move forward.
How do I get started?
To set up an appointment contact Doug Rusk at 480-710-3861 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. tenant improvement process can be an intimidating. DESIGNLine ARCHITECTS will ensure your Phoenix tenant improvement look more attractive and welcoming, while also increasing efficiency and comfort for employees.