The Alchemy of A Tenant-in-Occupancy Rehab
In a perfect world, when the time comes for a building to be rehabilitated or dramatically reconfigured it stands vacant and ready for a transformation. More often than not, however, the useful life of building interiors, systems, spacial organizations and sometimes even structural elements are reached with no foreseeable option to vacate and any necessary upgrades would have to proceed around occupants and their belongings. This is the definition of a tenant-in-place or tenant-in-occupancy (TIO) rehabilitation, a rather common yet little discussed type of construction project. It is as common as the infrastructural repairs and upgrades all cities and towns must contend with, but due to its non-public nature, you my never see one in action unless you live through one. In this edition of the OCV Arch, we discuss some of the insights gleaned over many years of shepherding projects through this particular, seemingly daunting type of work and offer best practices for those who may be facing a TIO rehab in the not too distant future.
A Sliding Scale
First let’s look at TIO work in terms of three degrees of intensity: targeted, moderate and substantial rehabilitations. A targeted rehab focuses on an area or function of a building, such as the lobby and public spaces, or the exterior building envelope or interior systems such as heating. A moderate rehab would involve entering apartments to upgrade kitchens, bathrooms, windows and doors, in addition to building wide systems improvements. A substantial TIO rehab deals with gutting a building and replacing everything including building systems and may also include a reconfiguration of the interior layout in addition to structural improvements. In most cases phasing of the work is needed. Tenants have to be cleared out of the targeted area, a separation between construction and inhabitation made, the work done as quickly as possible, and then reoccupation of the newly completed spaces may begin.