Tenant Improvement and Buildout Construction - 3 Questions Every Tenant Should Ask

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If you own a business, you have probably at some point entered into a lease.  In this lease is one of the most important/complicated clauses:  tenant improvement.  This clause will determine how you can customize the space for your business and your allowance for doing so.  Are you asking the right questions about tenant improvement?  

Making your business' space unique and custom to your needs is essential to your brand.  Make sure you are asking the right questions when it comes to tenant improvement.

1. What is a tenant improvement?

Tenant Improvement or TI is done in commercial and industrial properties to accommodate the needs of a tenant.  The most common tenant improvement needs are flooring, ceilings, partitions, air conditioning, fire protection, and security.  


2. What types of commercial improvements is there?

There are three types of commercial improvements:  interior improvement, landlord improvements, and tenant improvements.

1)  Interior Improvements (II):  This type of improvement is for a commercial space to make the interior work for a new tenant's business.  These improvements are made prior to a lease or as part of the lease agreement.  II can include walls, floors, ceilings, lighting, and other interior decor-type improvements.

2)  Landlord Improvements (LI):  Landlord improvements provide an easy turnover for the next tenant.  They are also known as "white box" improvements.  This means that the landlord will make the space clean, repaired, and ready to move-in.  It is the step before tenant's make their spaces unique for their business.


3) Tenant Improvement (TI):  TI, also known as leasehold improvements or tenant development, is the opportunity for a tenant to make the property meet their businesses' needs.  This construction is either done by the landlord or the tenant.  The lease will state who is responsible for making these improvements.  


3. Who should manage the tenant improvement project?

The tenant should manage the project or hire a project manager.  Landlords do not have the incentive to stay within budget or timeline because the tenant improvement allowance is pre-determined.  However, tenants should keep in mind that the invoices need to be sent to the landlord to pay.  Otherwise, there could be complications come tax time.

Your business is about to start in a new leased property.  It is an exciting time for improvement and change.  Make sure you are fully understanding your tenant improvement clause to get the most out of this opportunity.

Are you a business owner who has a tenant improvement story to share?  Let us know in the comments.




Construction Industry Ignorant on Fire Safety Needs by New Civil Engineer

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New Civil Engineer released an article about the Structural-Safety group's Confidential Reporting on Structural Safety (CROSS) report that claimed that fire engineers lack onsite experience and struggle when suggesting robust, yet practical solutions for fire safety needs at construction sites.

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CROSS continued, there is "considerable ignorance across [the] industry of the complexity of fire protection demands in buildings." 

"These factors must be emphasized continuously.  Fire safety must be consistently stressed throughout design, construction, maintenance, use, and very importantly, when there are alterations.  At all staged, the level of fire safety can be reduced by those not understanding the implications of what they are doing," the CROSS report said.

Read the whole article here.

Heating + Water Issues Closing Older Elementary Schools During Cold Weather

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Baltimore, MD -- Four schools in Baltimore, MD were closed because of heating or water issues so far this year.

The city school spokesperson, Edie House-Foster said, "Over the winter break, facilities staff monitored schools to check on heating systems, plumbing, and electricity.  Numerous problems were identified and resolved.  Unfortunately, with the extreme temperatures, new problems can emerge quickly." 

Parents, students, and teachers have been posting about the terrible conditions.  Classroom thermometers are showing 30 degree rooms.  Some classes are taking place in the cafeteria because it is too cold in the classrooms.

The Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen declared a "code blue," which states that the the temperatures are dangerously low.

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"We have many schools with leaky windows and outdated heating systems that have a hard time keeping up.  With extreme temperatures, we have the added challenge of freezing pipes and water main breaks," said Wen.

According to healthyschools.org, temperature has a significant impact on student learning.  According to a study completed by the organization, the ideal classroom temperature is 72 degrees.  When a school is too hot, it reduces test scores by 22%.  When it is too cold, it reduces test scores by 17%.

Students are also negatively impacted by allergies.  When schools properly maintain the HVAC, they have found that test scores increase 17.3%.  Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) impacts allergies.  By having a strong IAQ management plan, allergy symptoms will be reduced and improve attention spans.

What is the difference between tenant improvement and leasehold improvements?

What is the difference between tenant improvement and leasehold improvements?

Navigating tenant improvements can be tricky.  The Balance provides a tips and tricks overview for new business owners.  F.E. Moran provides HVAC and F.E. Moran Fire Protection provides fire protection for tenant improvement projects in Chicago.

4 Heartwarming Construction Stories to Make Your Day

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With the holidays over and the sun not having been seen in what feels like 8 years, we need some happy stories to lift our little vitamin D deprived souls.

I scoured the internet to find the best happy construction stories.  These stories will warm your hearts and make your day.   

1.  San Joe Construction Worker Rescues Kidnapped Baby

This story sounds like the plot of a movie, but it's real.  A construction worker, with the help of a homeless woman, rescued a kidnapped baby.

The father of the baby had strapped his son into the car, but forgot his lunch and ran back inside.  When he came out, the car was missing with his son.

 Via kron4.com. 

Via kron4.com. 

A few hours later, the car was parked outside a construction site with people arguing outside it.  A man, who seemed to be on drugs, was yelling at a homeless woman.  The woman kept signaling to the construction worker, Colin Blevin.  She was trying to get Blevin to notice the baby.

The baby was sitting in a hot car with the windows rolled up.  Blevin began to ask, "Is that your baby?" to everyone around.  He was ignored.  The kidnapper walked away and began to try and break into another car.  Blevin opened the car door, grabbed the baby, and called the police.

A short time later, the baby was reunited with his father.

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2.  300 Plumbers Got to Flint, MI to Install Free Water Filters

Residents of Flint, MI have been dealing with drinking water issues since 2014.  Many people aren't able to use their tap water in their homes.  Some residents can't afford a water filtration system, so plumbers from Local 370 have gone to Flint to install free water filters in homes.

3.  Construction Workers Rescued Drowning Boy

Three construction workers were working near a pond when they saw a boy drowning.  The men were having a meeting when they saw a woman jump into the pond with her clothes on.  It looked odd, so they investigated. 

All three men ran toward the dock and discovered that a woman was trying to rescue a toddler who had fallen into the water.  One jumped into the water and grabbed the boy, setting him on the dock.

But, the boy wasn't breathing.

The men did CPR, which they were trained on for their construction jobs.  

They couldn't feel a pulse.

They kept going.  Soon, the boy vomited and began to cry.

"I got to be a part of it.  That was a blessing, and I've got two brothers because of it," Sean Sumner, one of the construction workers, concluded.

4.  Contractors Work Together to Build 1st Ultra-Accessible Water Park

AGC Charities and dozens of construction firms worked together to build Morgan's Inspiration Island.  It is the first ultra-accessible water park.  The construction involved building a main building, five new pump houses, and a lighthouse.  The charity raised $350,000 in funds for the project.  Linbeck Group was the lead general contractor.

It was the first water park built with special needs in mind.  


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How Technology Can Change Workplace Safety as We Know It

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The construction industry is planted firmly in the ground, building the physical infrastructure of the world. That doesn’t mean, however, that the industry isn’t affected by the 21st-century technological boom.

In fact, construction tech innovation is a thriving field that is increasing productivity, profit margins, and most of all, worker safety. Construction is a high-risk industry, but with the help of technology, it is getting safer every day. 




Hard hats and heavy boots are the quintessential symbols of a construction worker. These safety measures might not be enough, however. 25% of accidents are from workplace foot injuries, and that’s with all the advanced features construction footwear now provides.

It seems as if better construction gear is in order. Enter the exoskeleton. One of the leaders in exoskeleton technology is Ekso Bionics, a company that has been developing exoskeletons for healthcare and construction work for the past ten years. Their construction exoskeletons include an upper body exoskeleton to support the spinal cord and an arm that can reduce repetitive stress injuries from heavy-duty construction tools. 

Another construction exoskeleton is suitX from US Bionics. Their exoskeleton is modular and workers can choose to add on pieces as they feel necessary. The modules include suits for the back, legs, and shoulders. This exoskeleton is designed to reduce stress on joints and muscles while remaining unobtrusive so workers can still carry their tools. Each module can be worn separately or together. 

Smart Wearables

Protective construction gear has long been one of the most relied-upon safety measures. In the modern age, protective clothing is getting smart. Wearable tech can monitor workers’ biometric data including heart rate, skin temperature, and respiration rate. This data can be used to monitor stress and fatigue, alerting safety managers if a worker becomes overheated or exhausted. 

Some wearables can also sense changes in the environment and position, a function that would be extremely useful should a worker get buried under rubble in an emergency. One wearable incorporating location services is a smart vest. It connects to a real-time locating services platform that can allow actuators to slow or deactivate machinery when a vest is detected nearby.

Hard hats and helmets are a popular target for wearable companies. Some of the features included in this technology are fall impact detection, emergency alerts, and sensors.

A smart helmet can incorporate augmented reality technology to allow workers to see plans projected onto the site. This reduces the need to carry cumbersome books, sheets, and laptops on the site, freeing up workers’ hands to focus on safety. The helmet also has a rear camera to give workers eyes in the back of their heads, enabling them to see danger behind them.

Monitoring Systems

Many construction safety measures focus on the actions of the workers. Some technologies, however, target the job site itself. Monitoring the environmental quality for red flags such as air pollutants can alert managers to potential hazards as soon as possible. There are several technological monitoring strategies being applied to construction sites, including sensors and drones.

Sensors for construction sites can detect temperature, pressure, humidity, vibration, dust particulate, and volatile organic compounds. The data can then be used to analyze the environment over time, and to keep the job site safer by detecting hazards right away.

Drones are another major tool for monitoring construction safety and the progress of a project. An aerial view of the job site can reveal faults or hazards on the site that are not obvious from the workers’ perspective. Additionally, these unmanned aerial vehicles can be used to monitor workers to make sure their safety is always protected on site. 

Robotics and Self-Driving Vehicles


Perhaps the most blatant sci-fi motif, robots are coming to the construction site, along with their cousin, the self-driving vehicle. These tools can reduce the need for humans to complete certain backbreaking tasks. Vehicular accidents are also a major cause of injury and death in the industry, and automating them will drastically reduce accidents. 

The past year saw major advances in the area of construction robotics. Construction juggernaut Caterpillar has decided to back tech company Fastbrick Robotics, developing a robotic bricklayer.

2017 was also the public debut of the first self-driving construction vehicle, the Autonomous Impact Protection Vehicle (AIPV) by Royal Truck and Equipment, designed to protect vehicles behind it from rear collisions. Later in the year Built Robotics debuted its Autonomous Track Loader, a self-driving track loader.


Both new startups and established construction brands have been innovating nonstop, and the results are exciting. Companies are learning to protect their workers by leaning into the massive leaps in technology.

Soon, it might be the norm for a job site to be monitored by a drone and a sensor, while workers in exoskeletons work alongside robots. This trend can improve workplace safety forever.

Author:  Vincent West

With an educational background in Engineering Design and a personal interest in all things construction and workforce related, Vince is behind WorkBootCritic.com. He’s a news geek, especially when it comes to keeping up to date with the industry’s biggest developments. 

HVAC and Flu + Cold Season - What You Should Know

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February is the peak of cold and flu season.  If your office is anything like ours, everyone has gotten a bug at some point this season.  In fact, it is the worst cold and flu season in almost a decade.  It is on pace to reach the death toll of 2014-2015's cold and flu season.  During that period, 56,000 Americans died of the flu.

Did you know HVAC can have an effect on colds and flu?

It's true!

Your HVAC filters air throughout the property.  By making smart HVAC decisions, you can reduce the likelihood of cold or flu viruses spreading.

cold and flu season

1.  Change your air filter

HVAC filters should be changed monthly with high-efficiency particulate arresting (HEPA) filters.  These filters can reduce tiny particles in the air that can spread colds and flu.


2.  Moisture in the air

Studies have found that the reason that flu season is in the winter is because of the lack of humidity.  Humidity affects how long the flu virus is stable.  It is believed that the water vapor deforms the virus.  

Add a whole house humidifier to your property, if you don't already have one.  In addition to deforming the flu virus, humidifiers reduce the symptoms of colds like sore throats, post nasal drip, congestion, and scratchy throat.

3.  Keep temperatures warm

Button you coat; you'll catch a cold!  While that is not true, what is true is that warm air holds more moisture than cold air.  As you saw in the previous section, moisture help prevent the flu and reduce symptoms of a cold.   Additionally, bodily natural defenses are less active in the cold.  The silica hairs in your nose, which trap germs, become less effective in cold temperatures.

4.  UV Lights

Did you know that UV lights used in HVAC systems have proven to reduce fungal growth?  It's true.  An NCBI study installed UV lights on certain floors of an office building and, as a control group, not on others.  The UV light floors had reduced fungal contamination in the air-handling units, in the fiberglass insulation, and reduced airborne fungi in the floor space.  

This year, Americans have already lost their lives to the flu.  To keep your home, apartment building, or office healthy - try these four tips for reducing flu and cold viruses with smart HVAC decisions.




Computrols 2017 Distribution Partner of the Year!

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F.E. Moran Mechanical Services and Computrols began their mutually beneficial partnership in fall of 2016. Over the past year, the two companies have partnered on a number of projects, mostly in the Greater Chicago Area.


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When asked about Computrols’ HVAC controls solutions, F.E. Moran Mechanical Services Tom Rogers, said, “I really like the flexibility of the controllers. One controller can do almost anything just by manipulating the software. Also, any point on their controllers can be configured as an input or output. No other controls company can do that.”


Mike Clayton, Computrols’ Manager of Strategic Partnerships, said, “Tom and F.E. Moran Mechanical Services understand and communicate the value of Computrols building automation systems as well as any distribution partner we have. They have become experts at implementing our CSI I/NET integration and controlling large-scale HVAC systems through CBAS.”

Rogers concluded, “one of my favorite parts of working with Computrols is how responsive they are. Everyone on their team is really passionate about the company and that extends to their network of distribution partners.”

F.E. Moran Mechanical Services is a part of the Moran Group of companies which was founded as a boiler and radiator installation service provider in 1931. Today, the business has blossomed into a turnkey construction group that includes HVAC services, custom pipe and sheet metal fabrication, fire protection, special hazard systems, mechanical services, and plumbing.

This is the second annual Distribution Partner of the Year Award given by Computrols. The 2016 winner was Williams Mechanical of Jonesboro, AR. The main criteria for the award is a passionate commitment to representing Computrols products.

To learn more about becoming a Computrols distribution partner, click here to hear from this year’s winner.