Choosing an Office Refurbishment Partner
When you’re planning an office refurbishment, choosing the right partner to design and deliver your project is one of the most difficult decisions. It’s a decision that can make or break your refurbishment. If you make the right choice, you get an updated office that’s on brand and makes your teams perform better, at a price that’s right for you. Choose the wrong contractor, and you could be faced with inappropriate design, extending timelines, and rising costs.
When choosing a design and build firm, it's crucial to choose the right partner for your needs. There are many different design and build companies out there. There are even other options, such as interior design practices or specialist contractors. These all have different pricing structures, areas of expertise, and customer care. Making sure your choice is correct can be a huge challenge.
We’ve helped thousands of companies across the UK with their office refurbishments. Our portfolio includes occupied churn works to 11,000 sq/ft strip out and refit projects. We know, however, that we’re not the right choice for everyone. This article is not to tell you what our areas of expertise are. It's to help you choose the best contractor for your project. Here, we’ll explain the 11 most important things you need to take into account when choosing your office design & build partner.
The first thing to consider when selecting potential refurbishment companies is their capabilities. They don’t have to have completed a project exactly like yours, but do they have the skills to deliver your project successfully?
It’s especially important to think about what is unusual or unique about your project compared to others. If one of your main challenges is teamwork, then your design team will need to be experts in collaborative working. If you can’t move out of your office during your refurbishment, you will need a contractor with the ability to deliver phased and/or out-of-hours works.
Your refurbishment partner also needs to understand your company culture. A good grasp of the core motivations behind your project is also important. You should feel confident that every decision they make is to help you achieve your objectives.
If a company is trying to push its own ideas regardless of your needs, then it won’t be the right office refurbishment company for you. While it’s easy to prioritise more quantifiable elements such as cost or compliance, the importance of culture fit cannot be underestimated. This will likely dictate the success of your project and your satisfaction at the end of it.
There is more to a portfolio than big names and amazing designs. You also need to consider how that portfolio is relevant to your needs. Having a good track record of projects similar to yours is a good indicator of a refurbishment company’s expertise in your niche.
The satisfaction of those companies is also a big factor. If your fit out company has a good portfolio, they’ll be happy to take you around previous refurbishments they’ve delivered that are similar to yours. References are also more useful than testimonials. They can give unvarnished feedback about what went well and what could have been better. With this knowledge, you can reduce the likelihood of your design and build companies’ weaknesses derailing your project.
There is more to good design than meets the eye. Much like a portfolio, it’s useless if it’s not relevant to your needs. At this point, it's important to consider the thinking behind the design. It’s not all about the moss walls and pool tables. Yes, they can make your office look great, but if they don't help your people to perform better, they are useless.
A great refurbishment company will ask lots of questions to understand the needs of your people and your business. They will then develop a design that meets those needs, not one that follows the latest trends or the criteria for an upcoming award. Remember, the best design is the best design for your needs, not the coolest.
The ability to deliver your refurbishment is even more important than design expertise. To be a success, your project must be delivered on time, on scope, and on budget. All 3 are equally important, and failure to meet one could derail your project.
Your design & build company should be able to give you a detailed and realistic programme before the project starts. This should explain exactly when everything will happen. Your refurbishment partner should also be accountable through regular meetings.
Given that office refurbishments can be very expensive, the cost is always an important factor. There are hundreds of things that can drive the cost of your dream project up or help work it down. There are 5 key factors that will control the cost of your refurbishment project. These are size, specification, services, state, and setting. Check out our article on office refurbishment costs for a full breakdown.
It’s recommended that you set an initial budget before you speak to prospective contractors. This, along with the goals of your project will help to give them a better idea of your requirements. This may change as the design progresses. However, starting with a reasonable figure will save having to value engineer your design later.
However, there is more to the cost consideration than upfront investment. The specification is also important, because this will dictate the value for money that you are getting from your contractor. The last thing you want is to value engineer your project, only to have to undertake expensive repairs in a few months.
It's also important to ensure that everything included in a company’s design is also included in their scope and quote. It would be very frustrating (and expensive) for you if you signed off on an amazing design, only to find half the features weren’t included in the quote. You would then have to pay high prices for them or remove them from the design.
Before you commit to signing the contract, you need to understand what their customer care package is like. Some refurbishment firms will quickly lose interest and de-prioritise you once the contract is signed. Others will be very difficult to contact for teething issues once the project is completed.
You need to consider what your wholistic experience will be like during the project. This is a big investment for your company, and it may come with a lot of disruption and change. You need someone caring and professional to guide you through this process, especially if you are inexperienced. This customer care should also extend after the project, with regular visits to ensure your workspace is working as intended.
Another important consideration when choosing an office refurbishment company is the disruption during your project. This is for both the time taken to manage the project internally and make decisions. The disruption to your entire workforce during the works and as a result of the design change also needs to be considered.
Managing your refurbishment project could take up a lot of your time for several months. It’s important this is minimised, so that you can continue to be successful in your day job. Your people may also be less productive if they are distracted during the works, or as they adjust to a new office. Assessing your refurbishment company’s plan to minimise the disruption to you and your company is a crucial part of due diligence.
During your project, there will be lots of information to exchange and hundreds of decisions to make. Timely and effective communication between you and your contractor is crucial to making your project a success. The best way to assess their communication is to speak to several of their past customers about their communication style. This will help you assess if their communication skills are good enough to deliver your project successfully.
Another key part of communication is accountability. Your refurbishment contractor should be able and willing to give you regular updates about progress compared to the schedule. They should also keep you notified of any changes to the schedule. This will help make sure you are in control of the project.
Financial due diligence is another crucial part of assessing potential contractors’ suitability for your project. How strong is their financial position? Do they have sufficient cash resources to finance your project without relying on your deposit? To safeguard your project against unforeseen circumstances, they will also need cash reserves to ensure it can be successfully delivered.
Another consideration is the size of their company in relation to your project - are they too big to really care or too small to really cope? To maximise their commitment, you will want to find a company whose turnover is not more than 20 times your project value. Otherwise, they are unlikely to prioritise your project enough. However, if your project is more than 25% of their annual revenue, they may not have sufficient resources to handle your project.
Choosing the Best Office Refurbishment Company for You
There are several areas in which to assess your office refurbishment partners’ suitability for your project. Your contractor needs to be competent to deliver your project, with the necessary expertise, portfolio, understanding, and resource. They need to have the right capabilities, in terms of design and delivery, to make sure your project is a success. They also need to be able to do that at a price and specification point that is right for your business. Lastly, they need to be able to support you by providing excellent customer care, communicating well, and minimising disruption.
Having confidence in your fit out company’s abilities to deliver your project on time, on brief, and on budget is essential. First, you need to eliminate unsuitable contractors via a thorough due diligence process. Then, by ranking the best office refurbishment companies according to these factors, you will be able to choose the best company to design and deliver your office refurbishment.
There are many office refurbishment companies out there, from small specialist contractors to internationally renowned design & build practices. If you are a smaller company or have a short-term lease extension, then a more cost-oriented firm will likely meet your needs. If, on the other hand, you are looking for an Instagram-worthy office to put your company on the map, then a larger design-led practice is more appropriate.
We love working with companies with 3,000 to 25,000 sq/ft of office space across England. As experts in hybrid working, we’ve helped numerous companies adapt their workspaces across the UK to the workspace of the future. We focus on creating designs tailored to your needs, delivered at minimum disruption to you. If you’re ready to get started with your office refurbishment, then we’d love to hear from you. Request a no-obligation meeting to get started today!