Commercial Tenant Improvements (T.I.) 

Commercial Tenant Improvements (T.I.) 

Commercial Tenant Improvements (T.I.) also known as tenant finish, is the heart and soul of our business.  Our team has specialized in tenant improvements and finishes for over 19 years. We have worked closely with tenants, landlords, investors, and commercial real estate brokers.

While there are different types of interior commercial improvements, we have separated them into three distinct categories: Interior Improvements (II)Landlord Improvements (LI), and Tenant Improvements (TI).

Definitions of Interior Commercial Improvements

Interior Improvements (II):

Modifications of a commercial space made by either the building owner or tenant. Interior improvements are the customized and/or standardized alterations a building owner and/or tenant makes to commercial space prior to a lease or as part of a lease agreement. These include changes to walls, floors, ceilings, and lighting, among others.

Landlord Improvements (LI):

Modifications of a commercial space made by the building owner prior to tenant improvements. Landlord improvements, also known as white-box improvements, are the standardized alterations a building owner makes to commercial space prior to a lease agreement, in order to configure the space for a quick turnover to a tenant for Tenant Improvements. These include changes to walls, floors, ceilings, and lighting, among others.

Tenant Improvements (TI):

Modifications of commercial space are made by either the building owner or tenant in order to configure the space to accommodate the specific requirements of the tenant. Leasehold improvements, also known as tenant improvements (TI), are the customized alterations a building owner makes to commercial space as part of a lease agreement, in order to configure the space for the needs of that particular tenant. These include changes to walls, floors, ceilings, and lighting, among others.

There are several synonymous terms for Tenant Improvements that are used within the real estate and construction industry. The use of these terms is not necessarily interchangeable and can be confusing if not used properly. These terms include Tenant Finish, Leasehold Improvements, the initial’s (TI), Commercial Construction, Interior Improvements, Construction Improvements as well as Commercial Remodeling. The most used term in the industry is Tenant Improvements (TI). The definition of TI can vary slightly as viewed from different Industries.

Successful franchise construction management

Successful franchise construction management

Avoiding roadblocks during pre-opening activities

Franchise construction management is a unique type of production administration. A project manager (PM) needs to wholly understand the intricacies of construction, complexities of design, and manage the difficulties of a schedule. The PM also needs to be able to fully appreciate the level of participation from the client (franchisee and franchisor). The participation of the client is incredibly critical in the pre-opening activities.

Every franchise is different. As such, each one has different levels of sophistication and complexity in their contribution during the construction phase. All of which affects who provides what and when also known as a responsibility matrix. During pre-opening activities, the end of every type of construction project is eerily similar; an overabundance of workers and a mad dash to get to the finish line.

Successful franchise construction management

Four key franchise construction management elements that help in avoiding roadblocks during pre-opening activities

Brand Compliance

In most cases, a national franchise representative will visit the job site just prior to the opening to do an inspection. Not only are they looking for construction deficiencies such as HVAC air balance and levels of drywall finish, but also strict adherence to the design documents and specifications. Ultimately, the national representative is responsible for brand compliance. Brand compliance safeguards continuity in stores and locations throughout corporate and local partnerships. Brand compliance also reinforces franchisees following specific standards.

Furniture, Fixtures, Equipment (FFE)

For most of the construction process, you normally will not see any of the franchisee’s furniture, fixtures, and equipment. This is to safeguard the materials against damage and to streamline delivery costs and the timing of when they are needed for installation. This is more critical during pre-opening activities. It can seem the floodgates have been opened and the space becomes cramped and there is nowhere to move. My advice is to plan the delivery of this equipment to an adjacent space or an outside storage container. Bring in each item as needed. This will free up space for the skilled tradesmen to finish out their work and punch list items.

Employee Training

All the while construction work is being completed in the store, the franchisee needs to commence training their employees. This is a critical process that doesn’t get discussed often enough. The construction work needs to be far enough along to allow the employees to begin learning their job. Because expedited schedules are the norm, the general contractor must obtain, at a minimum, a temporary certificate of occupancy (TCO) permit that gives the franchisee permission to train. There may be restrictions in the TCO such as not being open to the public or can’t turn on the equipment that generates heat. In any case, there needs to be time and space appropriated to the franchisee for this necessary training. Learn more about drywall finishes.

Final Cleaning

Don’t jump the gun and schedule a final cleaning. It is best to keep the job site tidy and free of debris during the last few days of a project. Using floor and wall protection as well as temporary corner guards of casework, equipment and doors are highly advised. However, save the final cleaning for the day before the grand opening. It will sparkle and smell fresh for the employees and most importantly the customers.

It is critical to schedule an on-site meeting with all subcontractors, suppliers, construction workers, superintendents, project managers, franchisees,s, and franchisors just prior to the pre-opening work. Establish protocols on who needs to be where and when, so as not to interfere with the work product of another. A detailed day-to-day schedule is necessary for this last push to the end and will improve your chances of success.

About Construction DesignWorks, LLC

Construction DesignWorks uses its hands-on approach and design and construction expertise to create and develop a winning design-build team that is specialized for each customer. Their complete turnkey building solutions align with the unique business needs of various types of real estate.

Contemporary office remodel should incorporate occupant connectivity

Benefits of biophilic design

Out with the new, in with the old. Yes, that’s right. We can learn a thing or two from architectural design from as far back as 600 B.C. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon are considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. It was a true wonder and remarkable feat with a rising series of gardens alongside a great palace.

It was meant to combine the building with nature. In modern times it is when a contemporary office remodel incorporates occupancy connectivity. The current term for this is biophilic design.

Biophilic design is a concept used within the building industry to increase occupant connectivity to the natural environment through the use of direct nature, indirect nature, and space and place conditions. Used at both the building and city-scale, it is argued that this idea has health, environmental, and economic benefits for building occupants and urban environments, with few drawbacks.

Although its name was coined in recent history, indicators of biophilic design have been seen in architecture from as far back as the Hanging Gardens of Babylon mentioned above.

When planning a construction renovation, a principal objective of the building owner is a successful guest experience-driven tenant improvement. One way to be effective is with biophilic design, but first, we need to understand biophilia. Biophilia is an intrinsic connection between people and nature. A couple of examples are how a crackling fire, soothing wind through leaves, and crashing waves captivate us and have healing effects.

Five ways to introduce nature into your space when doing a contemporary office remodel


The presence of water will enhance the user experience by seeing, touching, and hearing the water. It’s been long known for its calming effect.

Construction services company in Kansas City

Construction services company in Kansas City

Construction DesignWorks is a self-performing general contractor

Is your general contractor a paper contractor or do they self-perform any of their services? A construction services company would typically be the latter. A ground-up services company typically would be providing 100% project management services which are closely defined as a paper contractor. General contractors that specialize in commercial tenant finish as well as building reconstruction services typically self-perform a portion of their work. Self-performing offers benefits such as lower costs, higher quality, and improved schedules. The general contractor has a much better labor force than a subcontractor.

Construction services companies that self-perform provide specialty services


Commercial metal stud framing is much different than wood studs you find in the residential construction industry. Not only are the materials different, but the installation techniques are very different. You normally do not see a crossover of commercial to residential framing because they are so different and are in their own different specialties.


Subcontracting drywall (gyp board) work has its advantages. It also has its pitfalls. Not much can go wrong during the hanging phase. Gyp board finishing is where the craftsmanship is most noticeable. Self-performing the gyp board finish can make or break the final product and help make the construction services company successful when delivered with a high degree of quality and attention to detail.

Finish Carpentry

Levels of finish carpentry vary greatly between carpenters, crews, and companies. While one finish carpenter might specialize in building cabinets, another might be an expert in hanging and trimming doors. Self-performing finish carpentry gives the construction services company a much larger range of products and options for clients and architects to choose from. A new brewery may require a highly customized bar top and front that a casework and cabinets company may not be able to produce.

Acoustical Ceiling

The ability to install your own acoustical ceiling tile (ACT) systems can be invaluable since this is completed toward the end of the project and needs to be coordinated with lighting, fire sprinklers, audio speakers, and HVAC supply registers. This coordination of different disciplines toward the end of the project can kill a schedule and prohibit the project from being turned over on time.

There are countless specialty areas a general contractor may self-perform in addition to these four areas. Fields of construction such as tile and flooring installation, insulation, data, low voltage, and painting all offer value and scheduling advantages to the project. The ability to self-perform may just be the deal maker or breaker; serious consideration should be made by the owner and architect when interviewing and evaluating a construction services company for a new project.