top of page

Design & Build: The Process Explained

Office Fit Out Process

Are planning an office fit out? Perhaps your current office needs refurbishment. You may even need to relocate to a new office entirely. Whatever your situation, you're preparing for a workspace design & build project.

At this stage, you're probably feeling excited and overwhelmed in equal measure. It's an exciting opportunity. You have a chance to improve the productivity and wellbeing of your people, as well as the overall performance of your company.


However, this is a huge investment of money, time, and effort for you and your company. There are a lot of factors to think about, risks to consider, and decisions to be made. If you're like many people in your situation, you don't fully understand what you've got ahead of you. You're enthused about the possibilities but also very wary of the unknown.


We've been carrying out office design & build projects since 2008. In this article, we'll walk you through the 8 stages of every design and build project, from strategy to commissioning. By the end, you'll understand the office design & build process, and everything that goes into it. You'll be ready to plan for a successful design and build project.


Workspace Strategy

A comprehensive, accurate plan is crucial to a successful design & build project. However, to create a great project plan, you first need to understand your company's overall workspace strategy. If you don’t have one, then you'll need to create one.


Rather than considering just your upcoming project, a workspace strategy will provide you with a long-term plan. This will ensure your real estate portfolio supports your company goals and needs. It aligns your company’s workspace(s) with your company strategy, culture, and processes.


There are 7 key elements of a good workspace strategy. These are working model, location & size, layout, visual design, technology, culture, and cost. To learn more about what a workspace strategy contains and how to create your own, read this article. You may wish to engage a workspace consultant to help you with this.


Brief Development

Next, you need to create a plan for your upcoming project. To do this, you should consider both your project motivations (what made you decide you need to do this project) and your workspace strategy. Both are equally important. A project plan contains 3 key elements: objectives, milestones, and an initial budget. You may require support from a consult or design and build company with this phase.


Once this is complete, you should also complete a feasibility analysis. Key factors to consider when building your business case include lease costs, operational costs, staff productivity, and talent attraction & retention. Based on this, you may have to adjust your project deliverables, milestones, and/or budget.


The outcome of this stage is a clearly defined & planned project brief. With this, you can reach out to several design & build companies, and shortlist the 1-3 companies best suited to your project.


Concept Design

Your next stage will be to go through this brief with your shortlisted fit out companies. You should spend time working with them to make sure they fully understand it and the thinking behind it.


From this, they can produce start working on initial designs. These designs include look and feel documents, sketches, concept space plans and outline scopes of works. These are not comprehensive, but they will give you an idea of how the fit out company plans to deliver on your brief. It will also indicate what your finished space could look like and how it will be used. You can then select the best elements and create one combined design concept.


Developed Design

From the concept design, you work with your design & build company to refine and develop the design. As a result of this process, you will get a fully-fledged workspace design package that helps you understand how your new space will look and feel.


A developed design will include an initial drawing pack, computer-generated images (CGIs) of the design, and a full design scheme, as well as detailed scopes and costings. This will give you a good understanding of what the final project will look like and what it will cost.


At this point, under the standard pitch design process, you will choose your office design and build company. There is still work to be done before you can sign the contract and begin the build phase, however.


Detailed Design

Once you have chosen your design and build company, you need to further refine the design into a fully deliverable project package. As a result of this phase, you will be ready to sign the contract.


This involves creating a full technical drawing pack, detailing all the material specifications, finalising the project costs, creating a programme of works, and negotiating the contract. It will also be necessary to obtain the relevant licenses and approvals, such as landlord consent.


Once you are happy with the design, programme, and costs, you then sign the contract. Your design and build company will then begin preparations for procurement and project delivery.



Only at this stage, after months of preparation and effort, can the works begin! In this phase, the base build construction is completed. This is generally the longest phase of your project, depending on the size of your space.


Construction includes 5 key elements. These are site preparation, strip out of existing space, build out of new partitions & joinery, mechanical & electrical adaptions, and installing the floor, wall, and ceiling finishes. At the end of the construction phase, your office won't be ready to use, but it won't be far off.



In this phase, the construction works are snagged, approved and certified. First, all the mechanical and electrical systems are re/commissioned and set up for use. Then, you and your design & build company complete a full audit to double-check the works are completed to standard. The works will also be audited and signed off by building control.


The outcome of this phase is practical completion. While there may be outstanding snags, the control of the site is officially handed back to you, and the main phase of the project is declared complete.


Furniture & Relocation

The final phase of your project is to install the furniture and IT, then move your staff into the new space. This is the culmination of months of hard work and effort, bringing your design to life.


First, a furniture installer will relocate any necessary furniture from your existing office and install the new furniture. Your IT team will set up all the technology necessary in the new space. Finally, a removal company will pack all your existing equipment, transfer it to the new space, and set it up. Your workspace is now ready to go!


Planning Your Design & Build Project

You now know everything that goes into an office design & build project and how the process works. You're ready to prepare and plan for your own successful design and build project. You understand the entire process, which allows you to set your project up for success. You'll also be much more confident discussing your project plans with the design & build companies you shortlist.


To take the next steps for your design & build project, read How to Create A Workspace Strategy and How to Build a Project Brief. To learn more about our unique design & build process, visit our 4D Approach page. There, you'll find out about our design & build process that takes you from strategy to aftercare.



bottom of page