Three Proactive Steps to Ensuring a Successful Build-Out

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Sept. 13, 2016

By: Christian Peterson, Senior Project Manager, JLL Houston

build-outThere’s no question about it, construction projects can get messy. Not only in the literal sense, but in the project management sense as well. Every project is bound to encounter a number of challenges and variables along the way, and the more complex a project, the more potential there is for issues to arise. Engaging a project management team at the beginning of a build-to-suit transaction, or any build-out project, can help mitigate risk and inform real estate decisions without adding significant time to the process.

Here are three proactive steps you can take with a project management team to ensure your build-out is successful.

1. Clearly define needs through discovery

The easiest projects to navigate, estimate and construct are the ones with the most detailed specifications. With a project management team, the process starts with an in-depth analysis of a tenant’s business and definition of project goals with regards to space, time and money. An analysis of the business’ current needs, culture and future operations is done through the process of discovery.

In discovery, architects and designers ask fundamental questions about a company to crystallize the true requirements of a finished space. Major topics like recruiting, branding and general business objectives are discussed for the purpose of determining space needs beyond the number of workstations or offices.

2. Create and review a sample plan

After discovery, comes programming. In programming, the design team creates a comprehensive sample plan. This plan differs from a test fit in that the final product does not just confirm a company can fit in a space. Rather, a sample plan demonstrates how a business will function in a space and how its objectives can be supported by the design.

The report produced from the programming step incorporates detailed and specific aspects of the finished space, all of which are mined in the discovery phase of the project. These aspects include, but are not limited to:

  • The number of current employees and departments
  • Accommodations for future employees and department expansion
  • Various job functions throughout a company and the differing space needs they may have
  • Furniture accommodations related to space
  • Conference and storage rooms
  • Workroom space and printing stations
  • IT infrastructure space requirements
  • Kitchens, coffee rooms, and/or gathering spaces based on the habits of employees

3. Conduct Square Footage Analysis

Once a space is designed to meet the requirements of a business, an accurate square footage analysis can be conducted to provide the tenant and their broker with the true size requirements of a company. The result is that the most fundamental requirement in the real estate search is better informed from the onset.

Together, these three proactive steps take only a couple of weeks to complete. However, the fundamentals established through this process empower the rest of the transaction and ensure a successful build-out. With an accurate square footage and well-defined requirements, tenants are able to calculate the cost of build-out, negotiate TI allowances from a position of understanding, and make an informed decision about their move. Once a deal is closed, the process of completing the space continues from the work that has already been done with the project management team.

To learn more about JLL’s Project and Development Services click here.

To see how JLL applied these principles to its own headquarters remodel visit

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christian-peterson-rAbout the Author

Christian Peterson is a Senior Project Manager within JLL Houston’s Project and Development Services group. With nearly 20 years of experience in commercial construction management, he has extensive experience in coordinating and executing major commercial development programs from start to finish. Prior to joining JLL, Christian worked at several top-tier construction and commercial development firms where he was responsible for establishing design standards, selecting project teams, and managing project budgets and schedules.

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