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Tenant Improvements : When the Contractor Is Done, His Job Starts

October 04, 1987|BARNETT SUSSMAN | Sussman is a Times real estate writer

Just as an abalone is more than its shell, so a building is more than what you see when you drive by.

Paul Maag turns shells into complete buildings.

But he admits that his work, tenant improvement, is one of the least-known areas of construction.

As manager of tenant improvement for Koll Construction Co.'s Los Angeles division, Maag's work begins after the general contractor has gone, leaving bare concrete floor slabs and bare interior walls.

From this point, working with the tenant's space planner and interior designer, Maag's crews set up the air conditioning, communications, lighting, plumbing, sprinkler and communications systems. They install ceilings, partitions, doors, built-in furniture, and wall, floor and window coverings.

Tenant improvements might also include kitchens, gyms, showers, libraries and computer rooms.

This work can take more than a year.

"Tenant improvement is a highly competitive and specialized service, requiring the ability to obtain, direct and control a large number of subcontractors," Maag said. "Costs for tenant improvements range from under $18 a square foot for open office space to well over $30."

Koll's tenant improvement volume is about $30 million a year, he said.

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