Office Tenant Lease Renewals Paint/Re-carpeting May Not Be As Simple As It Sounds

by
Chuck Kolb / COR-O-VAN MOVING & STORAGE
&
Jeffrey S. Weil / COLLIERS INTERNATIONAL

It often makes sense for a renewing office tenant, who has been in the same location for a number of years, to consider having their office premises re-painted and re-carpeted. As someone specializing in exclusive tenant representation, it’s usually a fair request to ask the landlord to pay for these improvements, particularly for a space with 7 or more years of wear-and-tear. If there’s a 5–year lease renewal on the table and the carpeting has weathered well, but is just beginning to show signs of age, one question may be, how will these premises look in 2 or 3 more years, when there will be no economic incentive for the landlord to redo the space at that time?

Factors involved in how long office carpeting should last include the following:

  • High–traffic businesses (i.e. call centers, insurance claims offices, etc.) will experience significantly more wear-and-tear than do professional services companies, such as law firms and CPA offices.
  • Lower–grade carpet, generally speaking, will wear quicker than more expensive, higher grades
  • Whether a carpet is installed over pad or glue–down, as well as the original floor preparations, may affect wear-and-tear.

What’s involved in a “paint ‘n carpet job”, where the tenant is already in the space?

Quick Paint & Carpet Jobs
These jobs typically don’t involve reassigning offices, knocking-out/ removing walls or significant construction. They’re typically done for cosmetic improvements. Because the construction isn’t significant, the phases will usually occur over a weekend, with the move-out on a Friday and the move-back on Sunday.

What You Need To Know Is:

  • How big are the phases?
  • Where is the staging area? This is usually determined by the carpet company and/or landlord.
  • When will the contents removal and return phases begin?
  • Will there be painting? Can items remain on the walls?
  • Are they carpeting or can contents simply be moved away from the walls (usually 3-4’), for painting?
  • Will the office contents be going back to exactly where they came from?
  • Who is going to be on-site, overseeing the return phase?

Tips:

  •  Always try to stage on-site & avoid trailer storage – trailer storage is more labor intensive, with more opportunity for damage.
  • If everything goes back “as is”, either request the tenant provide diagrams of each office and/or workstation or allow time for the supervisor to do it, to be posted on the door or cube entrance.
  •  A lot of times, people won’t remodel areas with tile (VCT) floors, so be sure to confirm.
  • Make sure the tenant disconnects all computers, even if the furniture is just being pushed-away from the wall, for paint-only jobs.

Major Remodels Involving “Swing Space
Many times, companies will take advantage of a remodeling, to reconfigure their office. That means different people and departments will occupy different spaces, at different times. Because these projects take longer, companies will often assign a swing space, where the employees occupy a temporary space. Unlike a quick paint and carpet job, the move-out and the move-back are not identical.

Direct Moves – This is where the employee or department moves once, directly into there final location.

Swing Space Moves – This is where the employee or department moves twice, once to a temporary space and again to their final location.

Tips:

  • Always try to stage on-site, avoiding trailer or off-site storage.
  •  Get a detailed floor plan and schedule of who goes where, when, from the tenant.
  •  A lot of times, these involve temporary staging or storage, so inquire and make sure there is adequate staging/storage space for all the contents, etc.

Modular Furniture & Remodeling Moves

Modular workstations can dramatically complicate a remodeling move. It’s important to know what type of carpeting exists and what will be installed. Rolled goods is the traditional type used most commonly and will generally require that all cubicles be completely disassembled and removed. Carpet tiles are usually the less-common alternative, and, though often more expensive, usually can be installed without disassembling the stations. On such occasions, the cubicle partitions can be raised slightly, using a “lift system”, enabling the carpet installers to both demo the old carpet, as well as install the new carpet tiles.

Questions to be answered:

  • What type of carpet exists now & what kind is going back?
  • If carpet tiles, does the carpet company plan on using the lift system?
  • Will the cubicles be configured exactly the same, in the move-back?
  • Are they adding new product to the existing?
  • Is there enough time (usually Friday pm, Saturday and Sunday) to complete all work to be completed?

Tips:

  •  If the lifts can be used, we can make a referral to get it done
  •  Leave plenty of time to complete the install, usually on a Sunday
  •  Look-out for weird start times, like 2 AM……..try to avoid them!

Who Hires Movers For This Kind of Work ?

Many times the tenant will purchase a turn-key project, where the TI contractor will take-on and manage the entire process, including the move. We would be one of various sub-contractors they would hire, to complete the project. It can also be any one of the following:

  • The tenant
  • The TI contractor
  • The building manager
  • The painting company
  • A Project manager

Tips:

  •  Be sure to find-out who will be on-site to direct the movers. This is especially important for the Sunday put-back phase and can defuse potential unanswered questions, that can otherwise result in the need for a return visit, to correct.
  • Don’t assume the tenant knows how things work. Most of them don’t normally work with movers and many of their sub-contractors tend to be somewhat independent. We need more interaction with the tenant than the others.

Miscellaneous

  •  Clearly define packing and labeling responsibilities, because your customer sometimes doesn’t view this like a regular move. They think they can just leave Friday and come back Monday, without any inconvenience. If a contractor is involved, make sure you define these responsibilities. They may have given the tenant an expectation of some kind. Remember, when we report to the contractor, they have usually sold the customer a “turn-key project”.
  •  Instruct the customer and the crew, to make a special note of punch-list items for the construction company, because they generally won’t have time to note incomplete or damaged areas – The time frames are often too short. We’re any easy target and place, to place any blame for damage, etc.
  •  Look-out for special finishes, like marble floors, wood-grain walls, etc. There is usually no time for the contractor to do a punch-list and the mover is often blamed, in an effort to get change orders
  •  Look-out for freshly painted walls. If the paint hasn’t cured, wall protection can not be installed – blue tape, commonly used to install wall/corner protection, can cause problems.

Proper planning and preparation can go a long way toward a smooth outcome, on paint and re-carpeting projects.

Jeff Weil

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