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Office Fit Out Project Management

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Q/ - Why Do Contractors Always Seem To Charge More Than Their Estimate?
Well, the clue here is in the last word of the above headline - 'estimate'!!
(Dictionary definition: approximation, estimation, guess, guesstimate, ballpark figure.) In other words, no better than an educated guess. (And not even that sometimes!)

So what can the average consumer do to protect themselves - and/or their company - from falling into this potentially disastrous (and costly) scenario?

First Step - Get A Well Written 'Scope of Works'

The absolute first thing to do is to compile a 'Scope of Works' or 'Schedule of Works' for the works required. (It doesn't have to be too technical at this early stage but it should contain detailed descriptions of every element of the work so that each builder/contractor has the same information on which to submit a fixed price tender. e.g.

Item 1: (Existing office partitions)
Carefully dismantle existing aluminium framed solid full height demountable-type partitioning to General Office & clear from site. (Including 1 no. door & frame)

Item 2: (Existing office furniture)
Carefully dismantle as necessary all existing office furniture to General Office & clear from site.

Item 3: Allow for making good
Make good to existing floor, wall & ceiling surfaces and finishes following dismantling works to best results.”
Work through each element of your project in this way until you have included everything that needs doing.

Avoiding The 'Tender Trap'

Once you have a written the entire 'Scope of Works' in this fashion the next thing to do is compile a short 'tender list' from a longer list of builders/contractors who have either been highly recommended by someone you know well and whose judgment you trust, or from among contractors whom you know have previously carried out very similar work of the same type and size as yours. (There's not much point approaching very large contractors if your project is miniscule relative to their size and turnover - they probably wouldn't be interested anyway!)
On the other hand you don't want to be dealing with a 'one-man-band' working out of the back of a white van either! So, where possible, try to match the 'tendering contractors' - no more than two or three - with the size and type of your project and their proven skills in this sector.
Then, invite each contractor on your 'tender list' to submit a "fixed price lump sum" for the work you have described in your 'Scope of Works'. (The reason it's called that is that you want leave some room for a conscientious contractor to submit alternative suggestions which may either save you some money and/or be of a better quality.)

Comparing 'Apples-with-Apples'
Once you have received back all of your tenders carefully go through each one with a 'fine tooth comb' comparing the cost for each element against one another. If you're not sure whether something has been included or not 'phone the contractor and ask. But ALWAYS, ALWAYS make sure that you get WRITTEN confirmation of any amendments and/or additions to the tender as a result of your call!
Once you are satisfied that your chosen contractor has submitted the best price (it may not necessarily be the cheapest but maybe the most inclusive) then send them a WRITTEN letter of instruction setting out such matters as:

(i) when you'd like the work to be started and - even more importantly - when you'd like it finished;
(ii) the agreed final price for the works and the method to be adopted in the event of any changes to the Scope of Works
(Basically, you always need to be aware that if you change anything at all in the agreed 'Scope of Works' - no matter how insignificant it may appear to you at the time - it could well cost you disproportionately more than you thought it would because the contractor may have had to include things such as 'out of sequence working' or 'non-productive time' in any claim for variations or change orders he may submit.)
In A Nutshell

* Write a detailed description of the work to be done.
* Compile a short 'tender list' of suitable, experienced contractors.
* Invite selected tenderers to submit a 'fixed price lump sum' tender.
* Ensure comparison of 'apples-with-apples' between each tender.
* Obtain WRITTEN confirmation of any amendments or additions.
* Set out the terms & conditions in your instructions to the successful contractor.
* DON'T change anything once the work has started unless you really have to.

By following the above suggestions strictly to the letter you should have a much better chance of finishing your office fit out project on time and on budget with a minimum of hassle, heartache and stress all around!

Why Re-Invent the Wheel?

However, if the thought of trying to 're-invent the wheel' in such a relatively short space of time before your fit out project 'goes live' - and at which point it really is akin to 'holding a tiger by the tail' - then you might want to consider outsourcing the task to experienced office fit out project managers such as WFA.
With more than 35 years' experience in the industry (with many of those years spent working at the 'sharp end' as Design & Build Office Fit-Out & Refurbishment Contractors ourselves) including projects for many 'blue chip' organizations such as BT, esure, Heineken, Marks & Spencer, National Health Service Confederation & Sothebys, as well as a host of lesser known names, WFA are expert at planning, implementing and managing ALL aspects of an office fit out, office refurbishment or business relocation from start to finish - allowing clients to get on with what they do best - making profits for their own business!


Before taking the final plunge - and before it's too late - why not have a brief, no-obligation chat with one of our friendly, knowledgeable experts. Our experienced office fit out project managers and cost consultants will not only be able to point you in the right direction from 'Day One', they will also be able to advise on the most cost-effective and efficient means of arranging the office fit out and move with the least amount of hassle & heartache for you.

No Charge For Initial Consultations! - References available.

For a friendly, helpful chat about how we can help you to avoid the many hidden pitfalls of an office relocation or interior fit out call us FREE on:
0800 458 6578 or email: info@whiteheadfrancis.co.uk

To read further information on this topic follow the below links:

Project Management
Relocation Management


Whitehead Francis Associates