Building owners typically include a tenant improvement or TI Allowance (TIA) in a lease agreement. This TIA enables the tenant to customize a commercial or retail space to suit the specific needs of their business. This allowance is generally accompanied by strict rules covering fees (project management, designers and engineers, permits) and actual construction costs.

It is the tenant’s responsibility to ensure all work is completed on time and on budget. Most landlords don’t mind this. They’re off the hook – not burdened by having to choose a contractor or overseeing project management and scheduling. And, at the end of the day, they’re getting an upgraded space. Often with updated materials and more modern fixtures. The tenant is also responsible for covering any cost overruns. Additionally it is the tenant that bears the brunt of the project not being completed on time and delaying opening.

This is why choosing the right tenant improvement contractor is so very important.

Working with an experienced tenant improvement construction company makes a difference. A contractor experienced with tenant improvement projects fully understands working within tight scheduling. A fast turn-around time is commonly required for tenant improvements. We’re often talking a project completion in days; not weeks or months. With change orders and who knows what unanticipated project delays to contend with.

Here are a few tips for choosing the right tenant improvement contractors for your project.

EXPERIENCE NOT ENTHUSIASM: Don’t get us wrong. We aren’t giving a thumbs down to enthusiasm or even something like passion. They’re very attractive qualities. However, when it comes to commercial construction projects – specifically tenant or leaseholder improvements – there’s no commodity more valuable than experience. Especially when you consider all of the aforementioned unique challenges of tenant improvement construction projects. You need someone’s that’s been there, done that. You want a contractor familiar with municipal and state regulations and rules. You want them to have established relationships with local suppliers, subcontractors, and city or county offices. This experience will save you time and money and spare you plenty of headaches.

COMMUNICATION IS EVERYTHING: You want to work with a commercial renovation contractor who first and foremost listens. You also want them to have a good open communication style. The more forthcoming the contractor seems to be when communicating, the more likely it is that the project will proceed smoothly and any bumps encountered along the way will be communicated and worked through.

FIND AN OUTSIDE THE BOX THINKER: For a truly great return on your investment, partner with a bolder more creative tenant improvement contractor. There are plenty of contractors out there with a cookie cutter approach to tenant improvements. They might get the job done but will you be getting the most optimal use of the space with no customization or improvisation?

NEVER SACRIFICE QUALITY FOR COST: Always remember that your best value is in quality workmanship and service. Don’t fixate only on costs when reviewing bids for a tenant improvement construction project. Pay attention to other details. Does the contractor’s proposal demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of the project’s requirements? Does their portfolio of work match what you’re looking for with your tenant improvement project?


H.W. Holmes, Inc. has been one of the region’s go to tenant improvement contractors in Los Angeles and surrounding counties. Whether you’re looking for office tenant improvements, retail build outs, restaurant renovations, or new construction, our experienced contractors are adept at understanding your specific needs and delivering you a result that exceeds expectations and is completed on time and on budget. Contact us today for a free project estimate.