An office fitout can be a daunting project for any business. For many of us, leading such a project is a once in a ‘professional lifetime’ task. There are many moving parts and the project can easily end up in a logistical nightmare. Finding the right contractors, designing the right spaces, moving employees to their workstations. There are just a lot of checkboxes to tick. In order to be well prepared, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to write a detailed guide to support you every step of the way.

Things to understand before getting started

There are many different sources of information in the commercial real estate industry, it’s a very difficult industry to navigate in. Some basic industry terminology can help you save time and money in the long-run. Before talking to anyone, it’s good practice to have an idea about the concept, design, budget and project timeline.

Delivery method

Before you start talking to anyone about a fitout, we advice you to read up on so-called “fitout delivery methods”. Selecting the right method depends on your specific requirements if you need a high-grade custom fitout, a design and build contract might be the best method for you. If you like to outsource your project to a tenant representative, the construction management delivery method might be best for you. Or when you want a slick design from a pre-selected interior designer, finding your builder on a fixed budget with a lump-sum tender hiring method might be better. To understand more about delivery methods, read this article where we compare the 3 different delivery methods.

Project budget

Once you know what delivery method suits your requirements, it’s time to get an idea about your budget. The typical office fitout cost in Australia ranges from $500 to $2000. You can use NEOGO’s project cost calculator to get a rough estimate for your project.

Find an interior designer

Sometimes an office that looks great from the outside can be a bit hard to settle into and feel comfortable in. Interior design and architecture can make a huge difference in how a space feels and operates. That’s why it’s important to get the help of an office interior designer. When selecting the right office designer that understands your business and can create a space where your business thrives, there are 2 main options that correspond with your preferred project delivery method.

  • A specialised office designer
  • A design and construct fitout company

Which choice you make depends on your budget, timeline and project requirements. At NEOGO we recommend finding a design-build fitout builder as this will make projects logistically less complicated and budget overruns are also less likely to happen.

Find, compare, and hire the right fitout company

Let’s start with finding the right fitout builder. In Australia alone, there are over 4000 companies in the commercial fitout industry. This makes it difficult to select the right partner for your project.Let’s start with finding the right fitout builder. In Australia alone, there are over 4000 companies in the commercial fitout industry. For someone new to the industry, this is the most daunting process. How do you determine which contractors are available? Do they have the right paperwork? Are they interested in your project? Should you choose a small or large builder? There are many challenges to overcome when hiring the right partner.

Neogo makes the hiring process very easy: Simply submit a project brief on our website once. We connect you with pre-selected builders. You can even arrange property inspections.

In order to determine which builder suits your requirements best, we recommend asking the following questions:

  • How long have contractors been in business?
  • How do they deliver projects? (Design and build, Lump-sum tender or Construction management)
  • Do they offer any additional services, such as internet installation and server rooms?
  • How many projects, and what size projects have they completed?
  • Do they have ISO certification for quality, environmental and WHS?
  • Are they associated with any associations?

Look for the HiA, Master Builders and ASOFIA logos

Check for association memberships

Although it’s not a guarantee for high-quality work. Builders and contractors who are part of any of the below industry bodies are typically better equipped to deliver the standard you expect for your project.

HIA (Housing industry Association)?

HIA is Australia’s largest official body for the home building industry. Contractors who are members of this association are typical working in the residential industry. However, they can be great partners for fitout projects in small offices. HIA trains contractors and tradies to get their mandatory builder’s license by testing their experience, technical qualifications, skills and knowledge.

Master builders Australia

The Master Builders Association counts over 32,000 members nationwide and support the entire Australian construction industry. Among many issues, they advocate for safe work standards and help contractors with their finances and legal.

IFA (Interior Fitout Association)

The interior fitout Association represents over 600 members nationwide and is the leading voice for the industry. Their code of ethics keeps builder, suppliers and contractors honest. The association advocates for quality workmanship, high standards of service and professionalism among their members. Builders who are members of this association are typically specialised in commercial fitout projects.

 

Discuss requirements with several builders to develop a detailed scope of works

Reach out and discuss your project requirements with your shortlisted contractors. During this time you’d like to gather input from them as well. You might be leading this project for the first time, but most builders have a lot of experience you can learn from. In order to get an accurate estimate, require builders to inspect your premises. There are many factors that increase the costs of your fitout projects depending on where your office is located.

 

For instance, if you’re on a busy street, you might need a traffic management plan. But also simple things of where a skip bin or dust exposure for the surrounding offices are factors that will be included in your quotation.

 

Make sure builders/designers understand:

 

  • Project timeline
  • Project budget
  • Project location
  • How many employees there are now
  • Headcount changes in the future

Ask for concept drawings and general cost estimates to select the partner to work with.

Once you’ve discussed the scope of works with all builders, collect rough cost estimates, and ask for concept drawings. Space planning is extremely important, so make sure to do this step right.

 

Select the partner and develop a detailed design and quotation

Once you’ve received a good spatial plan with a (ballpark) cost estimate within your budget it’s time to select a contractor and get them to create a detailed plan and written quotation.

 

During this period, make sure the contract and plan stipulate:

 

  • What happens to cost savings and budget overruns.
  • The formal way to request project variations (RFV)
  • Work sections included

Get your landlord involved early

Firstly, depending on the supply and demand in the market you might have a really good negotiating position when fitting out an office. There are a few things you could consider negotiating on before signing the lease.

 

  • Early access to the property and rent-free period during fitout construction phase
  • Some landlords contribute to the fitout project cost.
  • Reduction in rent when installing a high-quality fitout.

 

If you negotiate a fitout contribution, you should discuss clear terms about what event triggers this contribution. Your landlord may select to contribute when:

 

  • The lease is executed
  • The security required under the lease has been provided. (ie. a bank guarantee or security deposit)
  • Insurance policies have been taken out
  • The plans have been submitted and approved by the landlord. In this case, the landlord often decides to pay the cheapest quote provided.

 

In addition and probably more important is to get written consent from your landlord to commence construction. This is also the perfect time to talk about the make-good. This will help you avoid running into issues when moving out of the building again.

 

Organise Statutory Requirements

There are a few compliance documents you’re required to submit to the council. Usually, your builder should be aware of these documents. But it’s recommended that you are aware of what’s needed so you don’t run into unexpected problems.

 

Does the building require rezoning?

This depends on the previous use of the building. Usually, the leasing agent will know whether you need to enquire about this. It’s probably not a big issue, but make sure you have double-checked this.

 

Do you need a certificate of Design Compliance (CDC / BA3)?

A certificate of design compliance is a formal certificate from a registered third-party building surveyor declaring that all drawings specifications and technical documentation for your office are compliant with the building regulations.

 

Do you need a building permit (BA1)?

After the CDC has been approved you’ll require a building permit. When working with a reputable builder, they will 100% take care of this. You’ll only have to double-check.

 

Commence fitout and build custom furniture

Once, the legals have been approved, your landlord has given you written consent and you’ve agreed on the terms and plans with internal stakeholders and the builder. Construction can begin.

 

Important: make sure there is electricity on site before commencing construction.

 

It might be a dead giveaway, but make sure to notify your neighbourhood. Notify them about the noise levels and the time that builders will be onsite. Most builders are used to working outside regular business hours to accommodate your neighbours so there shouldn’t be any issues here.

Notify partners, organise internet and amenities

As builders are in your office, make sure to organise your office relocation logistics. There’s a lot of simple activities that you can conduct to make sure your relocation process goes smoothly.

 

  • Notify partners and suppliers
  • Pick the move date
  • Distribute keys or access codes
  • Organise internet access
  • Moving boxes for staff
  • Update address on Google and website

Furnishing the new office

Time to furnish your office. Make sure your furniture is compliant with all the Australian regulations.

 

Final audits & site handover

Before moving into your new office make sure the project is 100% finished. Builders will charge extra for anything that happens after handover. When the handover has happened the builder is no longer responsible for anything that happens.

Move into your new office and make-good old office

Commercial lease agreements will include a make-good clause. This clause specifies that tenants are responsible to remove their fitout when they move out. The make-good clause contains all the mandatory items that need to be removed when leaving the premises.

Need help with your office fitout project?

Neogo connects high-quality fitout contractors with customers who need them. We have a comprehensive network of builders who specialise in different fields; including retail, office, medical, and industrial. Neogo is the first step towards creating a space to represent your business.

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