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Golden Rules for Managing Your Office Fit-Out Costs

Golden Rules for Managing Your Office Fit-Out Costs

Workplace fit-outs and building projects can be daunting. They are also very exciting and rewarding when everything goes to plan. Researching costs thoroughly and managing the budget is the number one priority for a successful office fit-out. Workplace design company Evoke Projects shares the secrets to staying within your budget. Find out how the experts do it!

1. Establish your budget

Start by determining your finished commercial fit-out objective. Are you aiming for a basic, mid-range or high-end finish? Be clear and realistic about your objectives and vision. If your budget is at the lower end, be prepared to compromise on features and finishes. For example, vinyl vs hard flooring, minimal HVAC (heating, ventilation, air-conditioning) modifications vs a new HVAC system, pre-packaged furniture vs custom-made furniture and bespoke joinery.

If you are not sure where to start with budgeting, ask for advice from an experienced workplace fit-out company such as Evoke Projects. There are ‘cost per square metre’ ranges for different locations/options that will help you decide what is right for your business. If you are fitting out a large commercial space, you may decide to split your fit-out project into stages so that you can afford the higher-end finishes.

Construction costs (including walls, ceilings, flooring, electrical and plumbing) are typically 30-50% of the total workplace fit-out cost. Office furniture and fixtures are likely to take up 20-40%. Technology (devices and infrastructure) is typically 10-20%, but this is certainly an expense that can impact the budget very quickly. Many IT solutions come with lot of bells and whistles that you may not fully utilise. It’s worth spending time to research options that suit your needs and budget.

Design and project management costs vary considerably; allow 10-20% of the total project cost. A professional workplace fit-out company and project manager will help you identify cost savings and deliver the office fit-out within your budget. For example, significant cost savings can be achieved by changing the mix of standalone vs adjacent rooms or switching materials.

A contingency fund of around 5-10% is also recommended for unexpected costs.

2. Plan the workplace fit-out project thoroughly

Every aspect of the office fit-out should be planned and costed up front. Prioritise what is important in the workplace design.

Space planning (how many rooms, enclosed vs open plan, use of space), decorate vs structural change, partitioning, technology, lighting, HVAC, storage, furniture, branding/showcase features, timeline… Working with a project manager can make this daunting task much more manageable.

Evoke Projects brings together project managers, architects, workplace designers and builders to value engineer an office fit-out project at the earliest stage. Evoke’s ‘Explore’ phase for every workplace fit-out includes:

  • Establish the project vision and brief.
  • Identify timescale, critical dates and schedule.
  • Space planning, building footprint and review of approved DA, including a site survey.
  • Initial office design concepts including 3D concepts and Virtual Reality walkthrough.
  • Define the scope and present the budget so that you have a clear idea of costs.

These five steps come together to ensure you can make a truly educated decision on the site and office fit-out plans. Understanding the costs and office design concepts before committing will ensure your budget is achievable. It is much easier to stay within a budget that has been accurately and realistically costed.

3. Identify potential cost savings

If the costings are higher than expected, identify potential areas for cost savings. For example:

  • Look at repurposing existing furniture or materials. Filing cabinets can become storage units – remove the drawers, add shelves and new paint.
  • Modular furniture is more affordable than custom-made furniture as well as being flexible and adaptable as your business changes.
  • Remove excessive branding. While branding is important for a new office fit-out or refurbishment, it can be conveyed through feature walls and subtle brand elements. Achieve showcase statement branding with one simple element at the entrance.
  • Architectural features can drive up costs. Dropped ceilings, dramatic staircases and bespoke joinery are wonderful, but they may have to be sacrificed if the budget cannot support them. Put productivity and workflow before aesthetics in an office fit-out.
  • Negotiating inclusions and upgrades with your landlord. If the landlord will enjoy the long-term benefits of your fit-out upgrade, you can negotiate leasing costs.

Be willing to compromise on some elements of your workplace design wish-list.

4. Research suppliers

If you are managing your own workplace fit-out, verify product reviews and testimonials about workmanship before hiring contractors or purchasing products.

If you are calling in the workplace design and fit-out experts, research potential suppliers to find the best fit for your business. Check references and view previous office fit-outs.

Managing a workplace fit-out under one company saves money because the approach is co-ordinated – after all, you don’t want one company putting in a ceiling and another dismantling it to install new sprinklers or lighting!

To start costing your next workplace design and fit-out, please call Evoke Projects on 1300 720 692.

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