Considering moving your small business into new premises or renovating an existing office or retail space? Fitout costs can rack up alarmingly if you don’t search for savings wherever possible and keep a beady eye on the builders.
Daniel Malton, director of office fitout firm Symmetry Commercial, has some tips for trimming the tab.
Ask the owner
Good tenants are gold and a savvy landlord may be prepared to put their hand in their pocket if it increases the chances of you hunkering down in their premises for the long haul. Ask if they’ll chip in on the fitout costs before you begin, Malton advises: “Bargain hard – it’s a renter’s market.”
Check the lease
Budgeting to spend thousands getting your new place of business just so? Failure to check out your lease obligations may see you landed with an unexpected bill of equivalent size to restore it to its former glory when it’s time to move on.
“We’ve seen lots of people sign leases without negotiating their end of lease ‘make good’ obligations,” Malton says.
“This can cost a company tens of thousands of dollars ripping out expensive fitouts at the conclusion of the lease. This is something that should be looked at before you start work.”
We’ve seen lots of people sign leases without negotiating their end of lease ‘make good’ obligations.
Set a budget
Hoping to spend as little as possible getting the place set up but haven’t specified a figure you’re willing to spend? If they don’t know your maximum budget, it’s impossible for the project team to stick to it, Malton points out.
“Clients should be clear about this so the designer and builder are not trying to second guess or quote options that will never be accepted,” he says.
“This can waste everyone’s time at the concept stage.”
The fewer walls, the cheaper the fitout.
Embrace the cloud
Server room, wiring, air conditioning to keep the computer kit cool…putting your IT in the cloud can save on space and fitout costs, not to mention software and hardware upgrades down the track.
“Go cloud if you can,” Malton says.
Wide open spaces
Does every employee need four walls and a door to call their own or can your enterprise operate effectively in an open plan setting? Big savings if you answer yes to the latter.
“The fewer walls, the cheaper the fitout,” Malton says. “Try to keep it open plan and if you create rooms, have them serve more than one purpose, such as staff break-out areas that can also be used as informal meeting areas for clients.”
Sylvia Pennington is a Brisbane-based freelance journalist who writes about small business, information technology and personal finance.