Office metamorphosis: The owner's not so black as he's painted...

Grants and support or conflict and disagreement – what does the relation between the owner and the tenant look like during renovation?
Paweł Kochański
Paweł Kochański

In the second episode of the series of interviews with experts "Office metamorphosis", Paweł Kochański, Key Account Manager at Interbiuro, will talk about the relations between the owner and the tenants during renovations.

What are the initial relations between the owner of an office building and a new tenant? Do you participate in these talks?

Interbiuro is a company which arranges and realizes office space. Thus, we participate in talks only after the tenant decides to rent a particular place – never during the negotiations or at the initial stage. Our task is to show space designed and created by us in the building to the tenants and to introduce them to the course of work. We show them finishing materials which are the standard in the building and we learn about the individual needs of the new tenant.

Frequently we show round with people from companies for which we have conducted renovation works. They can tell about the process of renovation from their own experience and point out solutions which were applied in their offices. Such reports are usually highly valued by our customers.

Is it popular that tenants receive grants form the owners for renovation works?

That depends on the agreement offered by the owner. Owners frequently offer to cover some of the costs of finishing and adjusting the office to specific needs. The owner gains because the value of his property increases, the tenant gains because he does not need to carry out the design and renovation process on his own, especially that he might not know much about that or simply have no time.

What is also advantageous is the fact that incompatible renovations and the possibility of negative impact on the installations applied in the building are ruled out. Such situations could take place when there is no supervision over the contractor hired by the tenant, when the contractor does not know the building or the standards of installations and materials applied.

Is it possible for a tenant to receive such grants after several years of renting the space?

I often witness situations in which in the case of renewal of the agreement the owner once again covers some of the expenses of changes in the tenant's office. The reason for such actions is the desire to keep the space occupied and the possibility of adapting the space according to the needs of new tenants. Additionally, the costs of remodelling the office are not that significant as the original adaptation.

After several years office space should undergo renovations especially in the communication zones. That is because of the intensity of exploitation of the space, and both the owner and the tenant are aware of that. 

How can the owner help the tenant during renovation works?

Almost always the works are supervised by a representative of the landlord – a Project Manager or a Facility Manager. Their task is to prevent any breakdowns in the building that would be caused by the works in the space rented by a new tenant.

The person most frequently consults on the behalf of the contractor or the client all design changes. He reviews post-completion projects and accounts the investment for the owner.

Owners frequently recommend our company to their tenants as a company which will conduct all the works according to their expectations. Thanks to such cooperation the new tenant can avoid prolonging renovation and ensure that he will move in in time.

How do owners react in case of conflicts emerging between tenants due to inconveniences resulting from renovation works?

Each office building has its site log book which covers among other things the conditions of renovation works, including high-profile works hours, and works which can be carried out on an ongoing basis. When conflicts emerge the owner or his representative establishes with other tenants a schedule of high-profile works and the hours in which they can be conducted.

Such conflicts emerge almost exclusively when a tenant conducts renovation works on an ongoing basis, around the clock. Otherwise high-profile works are carried out after 6 pm. or on weekends when the building is empty.

However, tenants mostly remember that when renovation works were conducted in their office space they also caused inconveniences for other users of the building, and treat the issue with understanding. Still, I must admit that sometimes negotiation skills and the ability to look back are very much needed.

Do you know situations in which the owner did not agree to modernize the space?

The building belongs to the owner and he needs to manage it is such a way as not to deteriorate its standards, thus situations in which he does not agree to conduct renovation works can happen.

To avoid conflicts each client is "drawn into" the given space in a projection of the layout which shows necessary changes that must be introduced in the place. Such projection shows also whether the changes are possible and have no negative impact on the building and other tenants. When those arrangements are refined the agreement can be signed.

The owner does not comment on the colours and the interior design as such changes have no influence on the common space or the installations in the building.

When it comes to interior design, the tenant most frequently leaves that to architects, who use finishing materials to stress the individual character of the office without disturbing the standards of the whole building, in accordance to the owner's requirements.

Does the tenant need to report and ask for the owner's permission with every renovation, even when it comes to small changes (such as carpet exchange)?

That depends on previous arrangements with the manager and the owner. Most frequently, insignificant colour changes just need to be reported to provide space to unload materials and prepare passageway for renovation company. The hours of renovation works also need to be set when there is a need to use the elevator, the way the elevator and other parts of the building will be protected also needs to be discussed.

In the case of such works we often meet with the tenant and the building manager and we settle on his behalf the range and the schedule of the renovation.

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