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5 Steps To Office Refurbishment Success

Updated: Jul 13

Office Refurbishment Success

Office refurbishments can be very complex projects. They can cost millions of pounds, last months, and completely change the way your people work. But if you’re tasked with delivering an office refurbishment for your company, making it successful can feel overwhelming. There are so many different considerations, all the way from budget to compliance.

Without careful and competent management, your office refurbishment will become very challenging. You may have to ask your board to sign off more budget mid-project, which can be difficult (and embarrassing!). Many workspace renovations not only run over budget, but they also come in under scope – the specification had to be cut back in order to minimise cost overruns.

The construction industry is notorious for cost overruns and delays. 69% of construction projects exceed their original budget. 1 in 5 exceed their original budget by less than 10%. And only 25% of construction projects are completed within 10% of their original deadlines

Office refurbishments are no different. All too often we hear of companies that have exceeded their original office refurbishment budget by 30% or even 50%. In many cases, these projects also run over schedule by months. Some of these companies still don’t get everything included in their initial brief!

For your office refurbishment to be successful, it needs to be delivered on time, on brief, and on budget. At Zentura, we’ve been supporting companies with their office refurbishments since 2009. Over that time, we’ve learned that there are 5 essential steps to keep your office refurbishment on time, on brief, and on budget:

1) Define your brief and stick to it

2) Set the right budget before you start

3) Choose your design & build partner wisely

4) Plan the delivery thoroughly

5) Allow contingencies

Today, we’ll explain the importance of each of these 5 steps, as well as how you can implement them to keep your office refurbishment on track. Let’s get started!

1) Define Your Brief

Without the right brief, your office refurbishment will not be a success, regardless of whether it meets your budget or your timelines, or neither. Renovating your office to make it look stunning won’t matter if the new design doesn’t fix the underlying issues with your current office. Installing new graphics and furniture won't resolve a lack of collaboration space or overcrowding.

You need to start by defining exactly what is wrong with your space. In our experience, there are 3 broad reasons companies do an office renovation:

- Their office is the wrong size (too many or too few staff)

- They have the wrong types of spaces (eg not enough collaboration zones)

- Their office is outdated (no longer reflects their culture, or hasn’t changed for years)

The problems aren’t always limited to what is immediately obvious. Rising absenteeism or declining collaboration may also indicate that your workspace needs improvement.

Once you have decided on the key reason for your office refurbishment, it’s important that you keep focussed on it throughout the project. This will help you to avoid cutting out anything important to solve the original problem.

To learn more about the key reasons to commit to or avoid an office refurbishment, check out our explanation of Is Now the Right Time to Refurbish My Office? There, we’ll explain common reasons companies should or shouldn’t refurbish their office, and how to make the right decision for you.

2) Set The Right Budget

Delivering your office fit out on budget will be almost impossible if the budget is too low. Trying to deliver without sufficient funds will mean you have to cut corners or miss parts of the brief. On the other hand, overbudgeting will lead to an over-specified or unnecessarily long project, which is a waste of time and/ or money.

So how do you decide on an appropriate budget for your office renovation? We recommend you start by estimating what it will cost to deliver your project as per your brief. This will keep you focussed on solving the underlying issues. You can then compare this with what your company can realistically afford. It's also important that you consider the return on investment that your office refurbishment will deliver over the long term.

While each office renovation is very different, there are 6 key factors to consider when setting an initial budget:

- Scope: The extent of the works being carried out

- Size: The size of the space being refurbished

- Specification: The quality of the materials used

- State: The current condition of the building/ office

- Services: The current condition of the utilities, such as HVAC

- Setting: The location of your office

To learn more about each one, including why and how it affects your budget, read our article How Much Will it Cost to Refurbish my Office in 2022?

3) Choose The Right Design & Build Company

Once you have defined the key problem(s) your office refurbishment needs to solve, and what you are prepared to spend, the next step is to select a design & build firm. This company will design and then deliver your project.

Choosing a design and build firm is a massive decision that can make or break your project, so it's crucial to choose the right partner for your needs. It can be easy to get carried away with amazing design ideas or low initial costs. Ultimately, however, you need to choose the contractor that is best able to deliver a workspace that delivers on your priorities.

Using their expertise, they may discover that the real problem is slightly different from what you thought, or that the budget needs adjusting. While you can adjust these accordingly, it’s important you keep focussed on what is right for the needs of your business. This will ensure you aren't diverted by their preferences.

Every office refurbishment company has different strengths and weaknesses, but there are 5 key aspects to consider when selecting your design & build firm:

- Expertise: How are they uniquely qualified to deliver your project?

- Portfolio: Have they got a track record of delivering projects like yours?

- Design: Can they create a design that meets the brief?

- Pricing: Can they deliver that design within your budget?

- Customer Care: Will they be there to support you throughout and after the project?

For a detailed explanation of each factor, read How to Choose the Best Office Fit Out Company For Your Project.

4) Plan Thoroughly

The final crucial aspect of a successful refurbishment is on-time delivery. Time overruns can create serious issues, even if the project has been delivered on time and on budget. The longer your project takes, the longer your people's performance is disrupted.

The amount of time you will need to allow for your office refurbishment will vary a lot based on the scope of works. Adding a new executive office and some signage could probably be done across 1 or 2 weekends to minimise disruption. Stripping your office back to shell and core and completely refitting it will obviously take a lot longer. It will also have to take place during normal working hours.

To avoid your project running overtime, your design & build firm will need to create a detailed and realistic project programme. This will include exactly how long each task will take, as well as lead times. During delivery, we recommend you have weekly meetings with the project manager. These catchups will ensure you are up to date on the progress compared to the project programme.

For a 10,000 sq/ft mid-touch office refurbishment, we recommend allowing 8 months to fully plan, design and deliver your project. This would be broken down roughly as follows:

- Planning: 2 Months

- Concept Design: 1 Month

- Detailed Design: 2 Months

- Licenses & Approvals: 1 Month

- Strip Out: 1 Month

- Works: 1-2 Months

- Commissioning: 1 Month

Some of these steps, such as concept and detailed design will partially overlap. Depending on the exact nature and scope of your project, the timeframe may vary significantly. To learn more about what goes into each stage and what impacts the timeframe for your office refurbishment, check out How Long Does it Take to Move Office?

5) Set a Contingency

Even if you’ve set a realistic brief, budget, and timeframe, you should still allow a contingency for each. Refurbishments can be long and complex projects. Your design & build firm may discover issues with the building during the project, which take time and money to resolve. Even if you are working on a fixed-cost contract with LADs (Liquidated and ascertained damages), these contracts will only apply to the initial scope. Unforeseen circumstances or circumstances outside the contractor's control won't be covered by your contract.

In almost all of our office refurbishment projects, our client has requested changes to the design after the contract has been signed. Most commonly these are to upgrade the specifications of finishes or to add additional features. These are rarely a problem, but they do take time and money to deliver.

We recommend our clients allow contingencies of 5-10% for both timeframe and budget. Exactly how much depends on the exact circumstances of the project and how much uncertainty there is. This is not to say you have to use all of that contingency. Set-aside budget can be used to improve the performance of your people in other ways. It is a lot less disruptive to bring your completion date forward than to push it back. Allowing contingencies will give you the flexibility you need to make changes without derailing your entire project.

How To Make Your Office Refurbishment A Success

An office refurbishment offers your company the opportunity to transform your office. You can boost the performance of your people in a cost-effective way. However, without careful management, your project could easily miss the brief, budget, and/ or timeframe. With consequences so high, thorough planning is crucial to make your office refurbishment a success.

As we discussed at the beginning, a successful office refurbishment is delivered on time, on brief, and on budget. The key here is to keep all 3 aspects in balance. It is almost impossible to deliver a project on brief and on time if the budget is too low or to deliver on time if the budget is too low for the brief. Making sure all 3 aspects are realistic and balanced will set your project up for success.

Want to learn more about planning your office refurbishment? To help you understand where your office might be falling short, we’ve put together a list of the top 8 signs you may need to consider an office refurbishment. We’ve also explained the 5 factors that will dictate whether you should refurbish or relocate your office, and the best option for several different scenarios.

Ready to get started with planning and designing your office refurbishment? We’d love to hear from you. Whether it’s a light-touch refresh or a complete redesign, we have the track record to deliver your office refurbishment project with minimal disruption to your business. Book a no-obligation meeting with one of our refurbishment experts today.

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