As a landlord, you should think of your tenants as partners.
Therefore, it’s not only common courtesy to consult and discuss new potential building projects with your tenants, but it’s also the law. Your renovations, alterations or new building projects may impede the successfulness of your commercial tenants business. In order to reduce the impact of construction on your commercial tenants, it’s important to consider a few things before shovels hit dirt, so to speak, as many businesses cannot afford to close up shop while an important project is tackled.
Be Open and Up Front
Be open and transparent with your tenants. Chances are, you’ve developed a good working relationship with them over time. They’ve come to rely on you to keep their best interest at heart as the building owner or landlord, and you owe it to them to be open and collaborative with any potential building project, whether they be structural, or aesthetic changes you’re planning to make.
Make an appointment to meet with your commercial tenants to discuss the reasons why construction is a must, and express interest in hearing their responses to the proposed project. Perhaps there’s a high risk that necessary construction will have a negative impact on the profitability of their business – discuss ways around this by perhaps offering a discount on rent for the duration of the construction, or offering to cater to an adjusted schedule. Maybe there’s potential to hold off until the business goes into a quiet shoulder season, so business is impacted less.
This may mean after hours and weekend work for your contractors and subcontractors.
If the construction is purely aesthetic, discuss ways that the construction may be beneficial to the business owners over time. Perhaps you can collaboratively create improved sight lines or pathways that will benefit you as a building owner, and alleviate some of the stresses associated with operating a business in a construction zone.
Bring your contractor into the conversation as well, and communicate with them frequently so open communication becomes the norm. Discuss ideas for increased efficiency, and how to keep customers experiences safe and enjoyable.
Being open and up front about construction with your commercial tenants will make your relationship stronger, and you should try to implement communication logistics so all involved parties are kept up to speed as the renovation progresses and reaches completion.
Keeping a safe and operational environment for your tenant and their customers should be a primary concern of your construction efforts. Customers and pedestrian traffic should be able to navigate through the construction zone easily and safely. Use signage that indicate:
- Applicable caution areas
- Restricted areas
- Potential construction dangers
- Detours and alternate routes
- Parking areas
- Entrances and Exits
Ensuring that all entrances and exit’s are well marked is key to emphasizing that the business is still open dispute the construction zone, and helps to increase problem-free traffic flow in and out of the space. If necessary, outline and tape all uneven surfaces, and construct potential tripping hazard ramps to keep the business accessible for everyone. This will help to ensure that your liability obligations are met.
Try to get the bulk of your prep work done behind closed doors, and store any and all construction materials out of sight to reduce the potential of impeded, cluttered routes.
Keep it Clean
If at all possible, work sites should be closed off from the customer experience. Ideally, they should be separated by a good distance, but sometimes working within a close proximity to customers and the public is unavoidable. Communicate with your tenants to try to complete the bulk of the dirtiest work, like cutting and grinding, to hours outside the optimal customer retail hours, and in a cutting tent, if possible.
If you must operate inside, consider the use of negative-air-HEPA filter vacuums to create inward flow, or the temporary installation of polyethylene plastic sheeting walls, so contaminated or dirty air doesn’t escape the work site.
Daily clean up’s of construction sites are an absolute must. They not only keep the site organized and efficient, but a clean site will help to show your tenant and their customers that ensuring the site is clean and tidy means you’re putting your best foot forward to get the work done with as few interruptions as possible.
Working in an occupied space or business is no easy task, so multiple steps must be taken to ensure that communication, safety, and efficiency is regarded with the highest respect. They will not only make the experience more palpable for the commercial tenants and their customers, but will help to ensure that the requirements of your contractors rigorous schedule are met as well.