I’ve been working on a mid-sized fit-out and office move for a client recently which inspired my next blog.

The Chicken and Egg Office Fit-Out

It happens pretty much every time I have carried out office fit-out works for a client or an employer and it can be complex and equally frustrating to get your head around the process, and the all-important timings of getting the go-ahead for your works.

What am I talking about?

More or less everything in the process is “what comes first, the chicken or the egg”; but something has to come first before the next steps can be taken and there’s a large dependence on actions and decisions being made in a sequential, timely order to progress.

The classic example is when it comes to the consent to carry out the works or more formally known as the Licence to Alter (LTA) which is usually required from a direct and/or superior landlord before you can start.

Roughly how does it work?

Let’s say you decide to carry out works to your floor or premises, which includes the removal and addition of partition walls (non-structural), some power and data changes as a result and consequently changes to some of your life safety systems and air-conditioning (Mechanical and Electrical).

The first thing you’ll likely want to do, and your seniors will want is quotes – how much will it cost to do this work?

Before you can establish that, you’ll need to select contractors and have plans in mind, or for them to draft some conceptual plans. In order for them to do that, they’ll need to-scale space plans (of your existing space, most ideally in a .dwg file otherwise known as a CAD drawing). Without this there may be a fee and a delay in getting a scope of works and design together to base a cost on.

This is the first potential stumbling block as a number of people struggle to find their plans, or get hold of those for a new office showing the current or “as built” layout. 

Additionally, your contractors will likely require M&E drawings as per the current layout, again in a .dwg format or .pdf at the very least. This is so that where there are changes that impact your M&E systems and/or the building’s life safety systems, they can review and re-design as required to ensure regulatory compliance.

They will also need to know if there are any incumbent providers for these services and installations in the building, that for example, the Landlord specifies must be used for such works/amendments or installations.

This may be another block or a delay to timing as these can sometimes be difficult to track down (although they shouldn’t be!) and ensure they are up to date.

Most of these files should be provided by the building (if it’s a new, empty space) or via your Operation and Maintenance manuals if you already occupy the space. These should be updated each time works are carried out.

And then what?

For the consent, you will need a design of the changes proposed and all of the M&E designs to go with it – and for those, you’ll need time to get information gathered, site visits booked in and drawings drawn. Once you have all of these drawings, the design work can start; plotting changes around your new space but all of this, of course, comes down to timing. It may also be the case that until these design works are done, you cannot get concrete costs for the works, therefore cannot obtain internal sign-off on them!

Once you’ve submitted your LTA pack you’ll need to allow more time for the Landlord(s) to approve it, they will likely give it to their building management firm to review who may come back to you with queries.

Once approval has been granted, you’ll need to allow additional time for your elected contractors to mobilise site (get all their tools, materials and labour ready to get started) and book them in with the building with RAMS (risk assessments and method statements), insurances, permits to work and parking arrangements etc.

If, of course, things don’t flow in this manner it will become challenging to get works started without a fair amount of chasing. It’s good to have this in mind when you are going into a fit-out project so that you can manage your internal stakeholder’s expectations, as well as your own!

For further information on the fit-out process or to ask for our support with your project, please contact info@bw-oc.com.