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Which Type of Office Refurbishment is Best for Me?

Updated: Apr 24

Office Refurbishment Classifications

If you’re planning an office refurbishment, you may be slightly overwhelmed. There are so many different considerations and decisions to make before you can begin your project. You have to decide on a budget, work out what it’s possible to achieve with that budget, and build a business case for your refurbishments, all before you can even start designing. There are so many variables and options, it can be tough to know where to start.


At Zentura, we’ve been refurbishing offices across the UK for 15 years. We understand that if you’re starting to plan an office refurbishment, it can be hard to know what is best for your company. Office refurbishments can be grouped into 3 broad categories: strip out & refit, mid-touch, and reconfiguration. In this article, we’ll define each of the 3, and explain how to decide which is appropriate for your business.


Strip Out & Refit

Strip out & refit involves stripping your existing office back to its Cat A state, and then building an entirely new workspace. This means that as well as the full scope of an office fit out, nearly every element of your existing workspace will need to be removed and disposed of first. This includes partitioning, flooring, decoration, kitchen areas, furniture, etc.


These projects are a lot more expensive and time-consuming than less comprehensive office renovations. This is because rather than adapting what is already there, the existing space is completely stripped out. It is then fitted out from shell & core. Extensive alterations or upgrades to the HVAC and electrical systems are often part of these projects.


Mid-Touch

Mid-touch refurb combines some of your current space with new components to suit the changing needs of your business. Because most of your existing office remains, the scope of the work varies a lot depending on your specific needs. Mid-touch refurbishment is often a good option for companies who want to refresh their workspace in a cost-effective way.


Mid touch refurb is a lot less disruptive and complex than full strip out & fit out. A reasonable amount of your office will stay the same (or similar). However, key areas of your office that are worn out, unsuitable, or under-used are replaced. Depending on your brief, certain areas may be redesigned to improve wellbeing or productivity, or to bring your office in line with your brand.


Reconfiguration

Sometimes known as churn works, reconfiguration is the least disruptive type of office refurbishment. This normally involves changing the layout of your office to allow for more staff. Common examples include adding executive offices, removing meeting rooms to allow for more open-plan desks, and removing desks to add collaboration areas.


Replacing worn or broken parts of your workspace is also part of reconfiguration or churn. If you have had a rebrand, you may need to redecorate your office to bring it in line with your brand. If your teapoint flooring is very worn, it may need to be replaced for safety reasons. Rather than transforming your environment, reconfiguration resolves minor or specific issues.


Which Type Of Office Refurbishment Is Best For Me?

Now that you know about these different types of office refurbishment, you’re probably wondering “which is best for me”. While there are many different factors that affect that decision, there are 4 major factors that will control it: brief, budget, state, and urgency. Here, we’ll explain each one, and how it affects your decision.


Brief

The reason for carrying out the refurbishment is undoubtedly the most important factor when deciding which type of office refurbishment is most suitable for you. If you are merely looking to change the layout of your office to add a new executive office or accommodate some new staff, then a full refurbishment is completely unnecessary. On the other hand, if you are looking to transform the way your staff work and collaborate, then merely rearranging your existing furniture will not be sufficient.


When establishing your brief, it's important to first define what is wrong with your office at the moment, and why that is a problem for your business. You can then develop a brief for a project to resolve those issues. While the state of your existing office, available funds, and the urgency of your project will affect what is possible, the brief should always be used as a starting point and a guide for every decision throughout your project.


State

The state of repair of your office is also important to consider when planning your office refurbishment. If much of your furniture is worn, then a reconfiguration won’t fix the ergonomic issues that your people may be having. State not only applies to visible elements such as furniture or carpet, but it also extends to the services such as HVAC and plumbing. It can even include the structural state of your building – if your building has solid walls, it is much more difficult to reconfigure.


The state is usually the defining factor between mid-touch refurbishment and strip out & refit. Normally, an extensive mid-touch refurbishment can completely change the look and feel of your office. However, if your utilities are in a very poor state, you are better to carry out a strip out & refit, as this will prove more cost-effective over time. When carrying out churn works, the state of the relevant furniture will also decide whether it has to be replaced or can be reused.


Budget

Along with timeframes, cost is one of the two major constraints of every office refurbishment project. When setting a budget, it’s important to consider what it is realistic to achieve within the budget. You also need to consider the return on investment, as this is more important over time than the initial cost.


While budget won't change what is best for your business, it will certainly limit what is possible. As well as what the works in your brief are likely to cost, you also need to consider what is right for your business. If the works would cost more than your company can afford, then you may have to scale back the brief or look at financing options. To learn more about office refurbishment budgeting, read our article “How to Set an Office Refurbishment Budget”.


Timeframes

The final factor to consider is urgency. While this tends to be less of a problem for office refurbishments than office relocations, this will still affect what is possible to achieve with your office refurbishment. If you need to make room for 20 new staff that will be hired within two months, you won’t have time for a full strip out & refit.


If you do have any specific deadlines as part of your office refurbishment brief, then you should build your programme back from these to make sure your project is realistic. Even if you don’t have specific deadlines, it’s important to complete your office refurbishment as quickly as possible, as they take a lot of time to manage, and the disruption during the works will reduce the productivity of your people.


Planning Your Office Refurbishment

Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of the different types of office refurbishment and how to decide which is most appropriate for you. Ultimately, the most important thing is to define your brief in terms of what is wrong with your office currently, how to fix it, and how that will improve your company performance. Once you have created a brief focussed on business performance, you can then consider the other factors and how they affect what is possible.


To learn more about preparing for your office refurbishment, download our office refurbishment guide. Depending on the size of your project, it may be a year or more before you the project is complete. Before then, there are hundreds of decisions to make, questions to answer, and details to resolve. With that in mind, we’ve created a 7-step guide to help you plan your office refurbishment. This will take you from defining your brief right through to signing the contract! Download it here.

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