When Tenant Construction Worlds Collide, Collaboration Is Key

batsClients entrust their project managers to make smart decisions and keep the project moving.  We are part collaborator, enforcer and peacemaker, psychologist and psychiatrist and a host of other competing analogies.  One important lesson learned is when bizarre and unpredictable issues crop up, how you handle it sets the tone for its resolution and future relations with your project team. While that in of itself is not unique, it is a daily and common occurrence for an Owner’s Rep working on multiple projects that a tenant often does not experience.

I am representing a tenant who is moving into an early 20th century landmark tower and constructing a gym as part of their office space.  Knowing there would be floor load and sound concerns generated by the gym equipment that would likely disturb surrounding tenants, we proactively engaged acoustical and structural engineers to evaluate conditions and design the appropriate structural and noise abatement solutions.

The evaluation process requires access to occupied floors above and below to perform probing, weight drop and other sound, vibration and load tests. Coincidentally, of all the buildings in NYC, the tenant below the target floor happens to be a previous client of mine too.

So far so good. We’ve addressed the concerns of everyone’s needs, the plans were approved and the landlord and tenant below have been very cooperative and appreciative of our due diligence.

So imagine my surprise when I find through third parties that a new tenant is moving in above us and planning on building a model shop directly above some of our private offices with spraying and cutting equipment that will be “extremely noisy”. We now find ourselves in the same boat as the tenant below; somewhat helpless and concerned about future disruptions by the new neighbors. It’s like your quiet house neighbor that moved out and replaced by a new family with a non-stop barking dog. It upsets your world and those confrontations often never end well.

We could have handled this several ways. One is the scorched earth approach with legal nasty-grams to the landlord demanding our world not be upset, or a more collaborative approach.  We took the latter approach by informing the landlord of our knowledge, inquired if the tenant above performed the same due diligence as us to mitigate noise that might disturb and interfere with our client’s normal operation and asked for an open dialogue.

Besides noise abatement from their equipment, another concern was our construction would likely end before theirs commenced.  To avoid post-construction access to the ceilings that would likely be needed, we found ourselves in a unique position.  We asked for the plenum area to be thoroughly coordinated to minimize future disruption and we would include some of their plenum work in our scope of work.  This way most of their prep work can be addressed during our construction (at their cost of course). The landlord responded positively and all parties are working together to minimize disruption.

Construction problems and resolutions can often get testy and our issue could have quickly escalated into a legal battle and ended much differently. But with solid reasoning, inclusiveness and collaboration with all parties, it achieved everyone’s goals of minimal disruption as possible and design teams working together.

Let’s now hope their spraying and cutting equipment is not the barking dog .

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