Real Estate Guide

Commercial Fitouts - 6 Mistakes to Avoid

The fitout process varies according to the commercial real estate client's needs. An empty office space should be prepared for fitout after the previous tenant vacates. The usual fit-out process in this scenario may include fresh paint, new carpeting, design and reconfiguration of base building outlets (including ceilings, lights, sprinklers, exit signage and more). A thorough discussion before engaging a commercial fitout designer should occur. The discussion should uncover any areas in which the client hasn't completely decided next steps. In some cases, the client hasn't considered items that, if left to chance, will certainly create costly, unnecessary fitout mistakes:

Not getting a space audit

A space audit creates the foundation of the commercial fitout. The client must have a vision of how she will use entirely new space or put an existing space to new purpose. Consider current and future space needs. The business may realize, as part of the commercial fitout discussion, that new space is necessary! If the business plans to add new employees or needs a new conference room, the commercial fitout interior designer can make all the difference. The space audit may also include a space plan to consider equipment and furniture positions.

If performing a commercial fitout for investment purposes, adding desirable features to entice future commercial tenants supports return on investment. Don't skimp on the important space audit step.

Forget about writing a brief

Everyone has heard the old adage--forget to plan and plan to fail. This is especially true when planning a fitout. Think through the scope of the new project. Explain precisely what a new fitout is important to the business. While not every business has investors, knowing and explaining why the business needs to commit capital to a commercial fitout is relevant to business leaders. According to Commercial Real Estate Losses and the Risk to Financial Stability, (Elizabeth Warren) "Office space tends to have significant costs during re-leasing, including brokerage charges, downtime, and the considerable amount of fit-out work that needs to be done to accommodate new tenants.

Do-It-Yourself, penny-wise strategies

Engaging a commercial fitout interior design specialist is likely to save the business money in the short and long-run. The commercial fitout may be a complicated endeavour. When in doubt, interview more than one commercial fitout specialist to ensure turnkey package perfection. Your commercial fitout designer is a think and plan-ahead partner. Unlike DIY commercial fitout budgets that tend to expand as the work progresses, the professional asks for, then respects, a project budget. Time is also money, and engaging the specialist keeps the project timetable on track. The fitout interior design specialist should book regular (weekly or as needed) meetings with the business point of contact or senior business leaders.

Overlook building code and regulations or health and safety 'stuff’

Achieving the big picture in mind for a commercial fitout includes the management of vast amounts of detail. Consider sustainability issues. Some plans require building landlord or control approval. (Don't forget: if the commercial fitout you’re planning isn't part of a building you own, your landlord must stay in the loop!) Structural questions may present. Concerns about fire regulations, mechanical and electrical issues all figure into the business's commercial fitout. Avoiding them, or failing to consider them at all, will cause headaches. A professional commercial fitout specialist manages tedious permits and other crucial items.

Fail to think about insurance, at all

Businesses buy insurance to manage known and unseen risks. The commercial fitout designer should have insurance to protect what happens while she's working and performing tasks. She should offer proof of contractors/'all-risks’ insurance; employers liability insurance; indemnity insurance; liability insurance. If the fitout includes purchase of new, expensive equipment, furnishings, art or hospitality service items, make sure to ring the company's business agent to make sure you're properly insured.

Avoid thoughts of how the commercial fitout process will disrupt life

There's no getting around the truth. Business is not conducted as usual during a commercial fitout. It's always a great idea to move into new or renovated space upon completion. Minimum disruption to business operations is important at this time.

This piece was written by Phil Towns, owner of concrete floor sealing company, Cubic 8, based in Perth.

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