Tenant Improvements – 5 things Owners should expect from their General Contractor

Usually, by the end of a large Tenant Improvements project or renovation, you’re so relieved that the work is completed it’s very easy to overlook some important things your General Contractor should be providing you.  We’ve spent many years fine tuning our turnover packages to insure that they contain the necessary information our owners will need after we’ve gone.

1.  Training

Your General Contractor should provide training for your facilities and maintenance staff or office manager.  This training should include things like where the electrical panel is located and how to reset a “tripped” circuit breaker, how to operate the thermostat, and where the plumbing and fire sprinkler shut off valves are located .

The most important training your General Contractor can provide you is how to clean and take care of your finishes.  Most Tenant Improvements have special finishes of some kind but specifically things like your carpet, drapes, wallcovering, wood flooring, tile, etc will need to be cleaned eventually.    There’s nothing worse than having your brand new finishes ruined because the your staff tried to “clean” your recycled teak wood floors with something abrasive.

2.  Attic Stock

It may not seem like a bid deal, but having some of the leftover finishes around after the project is completed is very important.  Just stash the ceiling tiles, carpet, wallcoverings, lamps, and paint in your storage room or closet.  This way, in a few months or even a year, when you need to replace that area of carpet that’s worn or replace something that’s been damaged, like a ceiling tile, you’ll have something that matches perfectly.

It is also important to note that the finishes are labeled and stored properly.  There’s nothing more aggravating than having to sort thru and open up multiple paint cans to find the right color to touch up that office wall…

3.  Closeout Package

This should be handed to you in a folder or a bound booklet so the information is not easily lost or misplaced.  This folder should have copies of all the permits, inspection cards (with the final sign offs of course!), 1 year warranties from all subcontractors and extended warranties from manufacturers ( if required), and Operation and Maintenance Manuals ( basically, if it has a moving part it should be in this manual).

Typically manufacturer extended warranties will generally only apply on water heaters, auto door operators, HVAC units, and certain kinds of metal paint finishes.

4.  Emergency Call List

This is something you will want to keep handy as you are certain to use it in the 1st year after your tenant improvements are completed.   If something breaks, you’ll need this to contact the General Contractor.  In case of emergency, say the faucet is leaking in the lunchroom, you’ll need this list to call the plumber quickly.

5.  “As-built” Drawings

These drawings should be full sized and RED lined with any changes made by the General Contractor or their subcontractors.  For Tenant Improvements projects the plumbing, electrical, and HVAC trades should have detailed changes (i.e. circuit breakers, t-stat locations, pipe sizes, piping and/or duct runs, etc.).  These drawings will be very important down the road should you decide to renovate again.

You should also receive any and all engineered trade drawings (i.e. fire sprinklers) or subcontractor shop drawings that the General Contractor used when building your space.  This will be helpful if you decide to have another cabinet built and would like to make sure it matches the existing cabinet.

If you are an Owner and are looking at tenant improvements projects in the future, hopefully these helpful tips make sure you get from your contractor what you’ll most certainly need after their work is completed.


Steve Richardson


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