ning that went into the creation of that office space. And it most
likely started with a commercial real estate broker.”
It’s common knowledge, she says, that both small and large
companies use the services of a commercial real estate broker dur-
ing the search for office space. But, she argues, what most don’t
realize is the importance of the relationship between the broker
and the architect or interior designer who will work on the project.
“An effective collaboration between the two can make or break
a project,” Savage says. “How? An architect or interior design con-
sultant can guide the client in selecting the right site, planning the
project, and managing their expectations. In today’s workplace
atmosphere, many brokers see the value in bringing the designer
in to help streamline the process—and the earlier the better.”
In her experience, landlords typically use their own architect
for Test Fit plans—which are floor plans used to confirm that
the program requirements can be met within the space.
Whether tenants are looking for new space, expanding existing
space, or downsizing in place, using the same designer to create
all of the Test Fit plans means a better comparison of the
“A consultant is sometimes better equipped than a broker to
speak to the efficiency of a building or floor plate, and this
knowledge ultimately impacts the cost of the space,” Savage says.
“So calculating accurately how many square feet a tenant will
need is imperative. And building efficiency can have a big impact
on cost, as well. A tenant that needs 15,000 usable square feet in
building A may be able to use only 14,000 USF in building B, just
because of better column layout, window spacing, and depth of
floor plate. At $30-plus per rentable square feet, that’s a tremendous difference over the life of the lease.”—Jennifer LeClaire
An initial office buildout can cost in the tens of millions of dollars
and takes the work of a major contractor to bring an owner’s
vision to reality. But what happens when it’s time to add to the
building or to update the workspace?
Real estate professionals and property managers have become accustomed to handling
updates and remodels ranging from a $25,000
reception desk to a full
interior renovation or
addition costing $5 million or less, but that’s usually when one starts
thinking about seeking bids from small contractors. However, in today’s environment,
that’s no longer always the strongest option.
While many major firms do not invest the resources into catering to smaller projects, some do. And because these larger firms
may represent the stronger alternative choice, managers might
consider interviewing both larger and smaller firms.
The advantages of going with a large contractor instead of a
smaller firm for a project are numerous and are led by the financial capabilities of the large firm.
The resources needed for a $50-million to $150 million project
are with the larger firms, from full-time safety managers, full-time
quality managers, departments with BIM (building information
modeling), the financial and bonding strength that come with
doing larger projects that $10 million-a-year contractors just do
While some may assume a large general contractor would be
more expensive, volume of work can give it buying power, process
efficiency and technical expertise that, when combined, allows for
competitive pricing in a smaller market.
And, a large contractor is not likely to be swamped by a design
change or something that was unanticipated in a bid, and is more
likely to carry insurance at levels that are not financially viable to
smaller firms. The large firm isn’t as likely to end up out of business
because of changing conditions on a job or in the market.
Further, if a problem comes up after the warranty period, a
large firm more likely will be better positioned to make repairs.
Large firms have the employees, including on-staff crafts people, to deal with a variety of projects at the same time. Those
self-performing techs are ready to go on days that a smaller firm
might be dealing with scheduling issues brought on by multiple
projects and the scheduling of subcontractors beyond the
smaller firm’s control.
A well-organized large firm
most often has its own trades
people for carpentry, drywall
and demolition on staff. That
means a project won’t be
dependent on the tight scheduling of subcontractors who
could be dealing with limited
personnel for multiple jobs at
the same time.
The technology front often
leans heavily toward a larger
firm helping in the planning
and pre-construction phase
by providing modeling and
estimating early on, giving
real-time solutions. When
construction starts, large
firms often have supervisors equipped with tablets in the field,
which typically is beyond the capabilities of a smaller firm. That
means they can quickly go through punch lists, with photographs available on their handheld device at the very location
they are referencing.
Major firms also have the availability of BIM. Trailers onsite
frequently are equipped with modeling software systems,
enabling problems with design to be dealt with at the site. This
technology results in saving time, saving money and minimizing
an owner’s overall risk.
Steve Beck, a vice president at PARIC, manages the company’s special
projects group. He may be contacted at (636) 561-9500. The views
expressed here are the author’s own.
By Steve Beck
Consider the Benefits of Tapping a Larger Contractor
The advantages of
going with a large
contractor instead of
a smaller firm for a
project are numerous
and are led by the
of the large firm.
BRICKS AND STICKS