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Before any of the actual design and renovation work can begin, kick off the process by checking in on the zoning by-laws and the logistics of the plan. Consult with the municipality on what exactly is permissible with your building. Review the statuses of certification, occupancy, and any property violations to ensure nothing on record will hinder your renovation plans.

Once you know that there are no legal or logistical obstacles in the way of your plans, break down the steps of the remodelling process into two categories:

  1. Capital improvements
  2. Tenant improvements

Organizing the entire process into these two buckets will help dictate priorities and streamline the amount of time and energy towards the project

Simple Office Interior

Capital improvements

Capital improvements are defined as renovations and investments that increase the overall value of an asset. In the case of a commercial building, examples include:

  • Additions to the number of floors in the building
  • Installing or retrofitting parking lots, at or below grade
  • Adding outdoor space, such as terraces on selected floors of the building

You get the idea. These are additions to the building itself designed to increase the overall value of the building. The key distinction between capital improvements and tenant improvements is that the building owner makes the capital improvements.

Tenant improvements

Tenant improvements, or leasehold improvements, are structural changes to leased office space that are made and paid for by the tenants of the office. These types of changes are typically made to customize the look and feel of the space to match the unique style and tastes of the company currently occupying the space.

How long does office renovation take

The amount of time in a renovation process depends on the size of the job. For example, small projects around a house can be completed in a window of four to six months. Larger projects, especially those in commercial office space, require twelve or more months to complete.

You also need to consider the time and resources that go into planning the renovation. The project begins long before the actual construction gets underway.

A great example of how to think about this process is in this article about renovating a restaurant. The planning phase of the process factors in things like timelines, the number of construction crews, the number of people on each construction crews; capital equipment rentals, and so on.

Each step in the planning process adds to the overall time you need to consider when renovating commercial space. Draft a project management plan that outlines investments in both time and resources that will be necessary to complete the renovation. If project management is not your strength, you can set up a partnership with an experienced firm that functions as the single point of contact for the phases, teams, maintenance, and material planning throughout the renovation.

Luxury Office Lobby with Restaurant

Commercial office renovation checklist

Now we get into the weeds of the commercial office renovation checklist. There’s a lot of work that goes into planning a renovation, and it’s due to the volume of tasks that an experienced partner with connections to proven contractors, pipefitters, architects, millwork, and even general contracting can take some of the load off for your in-house team.

Here’s a quick rundown of all of the items you should include in your checklist.


This is the most important step in the renovation process. Just like when constructing a new office space, the planning phase sets the agenda for how and when the work will be completed.


The design phase actually includes two key phases. There’s the pre-design phase, which can overlap with the planning phase of the process. The pre-designs map out the concept of what the new addition to the commercial space will look like and its key purpose. Once all key stakeholders agree on the concept, the actual design work can begin.

Electrical, plumbing, and permits

Project managers will negotiate working agreements with competent electricians and plumbers to install the proper additions to the new space. Lawyers representing your company will also need to negotiate a permit with the municipality to get the go-ahead for the new addition.

Luxury Office with Cubicles

Pre-construction process

This is the step achieved when all of the deadlines are set, the designs are finalized, and the permits are all approved. It’s an opportunity for everyone to quickly review the plans one more time before the on-site work begins.

Scheduling for office renovation

Setting the completion date happens during the planning phase of the project. Now, the crew foreman works with the project managers to set key milestones for each construction phase of the project. This ensures that all crews are efficiently used in the hope of achieving the final date as planned.

Projections and material procurement

Once the schedules are set, you can start calculating how much materials and equipment are required for the job. Use a pre-forecast budget to ensure the costs remain in line.

Construction and post-construction

With the designs complete, the schedules mapped out, and the cost projections calculated, the true construction work begins. Crews will follow the designs and complete the renovation to code so the post-construction inspections and approvals go off without a hitch.

Modern Office

Why Choose BUILD IT?

Renovations don’t have to fall squarely on your own shoulders. Companies like BUILD IT are available to take some of the burdens off your team and help to manage relationships with general contractors, electricians, city planners, and more.

BUILD IT has helped hundreds of world class brands build office space with iconic designs that match the overall mission of the company. We have proven experience guiding clients through the many services we provide, including:

  • Pre-construction consultations
  • Full service general contracting
  • Project management
  • Millwork
  • Design services
  • And more

Great projects require constructive thinkers and that’s what we provide at BUILD IT. If you’re ready to make your next renovation something to remember, contact our team and we’ll come up with creative solutions to help you hit your deadline. Nothing gets between us and opening day.