Work With Me: Why Brokers and Architects Should Join Forces


I once heard an associate joke that “behind every good broker is an architect.” She wasn’t too far off base. With the many responsibilities a broker has to juggle, having another professional to call for support can be a welcome relief. Following is a list of eight great ways for brokers to utilize a commercial architect:

To get a jump start—Today’s hypercompetitive business world demands two things: speed and accuracy. An architect can develop a macro-program and workplace strategy to compliment the broker’s efforts and to give a big picture view of the parameters—rentable square feet, neighborhoods, circulation, the number of offices versus conference rooms—they need to work within to zero in on potential fits and keep the deal moving along.

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For real-time data—The right information arms a broker with the data they need to nurture, and ultimately close, a deal. An architect can provide “hard costs,” such as estimates on construction, as well as “soft costs,” on engineering fees and moving costs, for example. This assessment gives all parties an estimated budget and quality intelligence on all of the disciplines that affect a move, expansion or creation of pre-built suites.

To be more dense—Density and efficiency are more than just buzz words: rising costs and limited inventory means everyone must maximize their space. Open office plans and benching configurations tie into this trend and create a collaborative environment. Best of all, these layouts allow 20 to 30 percent more people to comfortably share a space. An architect can advise a broker on ways to increase density and realize efficiencies, guide them through the test-fit process and, ultimately, obtain a certificate of occupancy. Most importantly, the architect can balance the need for a design that is both attractive and efficient.

 To finesse the finer points—An architect can be a broker’s best friend, creating a positive buffer between landlords and tenants and protecting the interests of each so they can come to a mutually beneficial understanding regarding costs and design, whether it’s a turnkey environment or customized offices where costs need to be negotiated between the two parties.

 To get it right—Architects can confirm the rentable square footage of a given space, either as a watchdog for the tenant during negotiations, or for the landlord to make best use of its property. Either way, an architect can provide much-needed third-party validation.

To review work letters—Need to go over the finer points of a lease? This is where an architect can provide value, analyzing the ins and outs of the work letter, which is essentially a menu of finishes to be used in an office. Whether a landlord is building out a space or the tenant wants to make sure it is getting the best quality construction for the dollar, those details—paint, carpeting, lighting fixtures and more—need to be fleshed out early on and put in writing.

Because self-certification equals speed—Brokers often ask us, “Will you, as the architect of record, self-certify your construction documents and submit them to the Department of Buildings for my client?” We—and many of our peers—reply, “Sure, why not?” Taking responsibility for our own drawings makes it more likely that all will be in sync and code compliant, something we want as much as our clients. The benefits are huge: bypassing the examiner’s process saves weeks of waiting or coordinating with expeditors. This saves time, money and potential hassles.

For a shoulder to lean on—Trust is everything in this business and brokers need to know they will get to the closing table. The right architect will help a broker get his deal done without missing a step. Equally importantly, that architect will be a source of quiet counsel, keeping confidentiality at the heart of the transaction. Architects are often privy to a client’s plans and know who plans to look for a new space and where before the major news outlets. Brokers deserve the ability to work with an architect who will keep those plans under wraps. So, go ahead and program the phone number of an architect you know and trust into your speed dial. While they may not be the first call you make, with all of the support and resources an architect can offer, they probably should be!