Biggest barriers to a successful fit-out – and how to overcome them

Biggest barriers to a successful fit-out – and how to overcome them

What makes a successful fit-out? Some of the aspects sound obvious, like good time management and a solid set of plans. But there are plenty of things that can get in the way too – like a global pandemic and nationwide lockdown, although there’s not much we were able to do about that! Luckily, most other barriers to a successful fit-out are a bit more controllable. So what can stand in your way – and how can you overcome these obstacles?

Knowing your budget

Think of the fit-out budget a bit like a home renovation budget – once you start seeing things you like, it’s easy to go above your original expectation. If you go to market with a budget and an expectation that your project is going to sit within that, you’re going to be surprised. We give every client’s budget a health check before they start because it’s so vital that you understand the realistic costs for a fit-out based on your designs.

Rules, regulations, and compliance

Council compliance and building consent are a minefield, continuously updated according to the latest best practices or health and safety standards. There are countless questions that your local council will ask. By their own admission, they’re under a lot of pressure and often behind schedule – so it’s critical you get the right answers to them. Without the correct seismic compliance, fire compliance, structural engineering, or disabled access, for instance, your fit-out could grind to a halt. Get it sorted at the start.

There’s a lot to be said about the back end of building consent, too. Whether you’ve got a restaurant or café, a medical centre, or an office fit-out, it will need to be inspected. Once your space is complete, the council have to certify that the space is safe to be inspected before consultants can come in. Our focus is on getting council in on the planned date, having the paperwork ready, and negotiating with them to ensure that our clients are certified and ready for trading straight away. That’s why timing is so important…

We’re all battling time

Timing is key to a successful fit-out – and delayed fit-outs are probably the biggest issue out there. Since the process can be held up with consents, even well-meaning but poorly executed plans can result in hold-ups of weeks or months. 

For example: You sign a lease with a property owner or body corporate and get 2-3 months rent-free to complete a fit-out. Your designer takes 4 weeks to get plans sorted, which your landlord then has to approve. The plans need to be tweaked and approved by relevant engineers, which takes up another 4 weeks. Then you’ve got another 4-8 weeks waiting for local council consent.

By now those free couple of months have disappeared into red tape, and you’re spending a lot of money with nothing coming in. You’ve still got to send the plans out for tender, and take into account lead times for joinery manufacture, structural steel, and then the fit-out itself can take place. A quality fit-out team will understand this, coordinating trades to ensure quicker turnarounds and helping you manage the process through as efficiently as possible.

The realities of scheduling and negotiation

Another potential block to sorting your fit-out is the negotiation with the landlord. We have to not only meet our clients’ designer’s requirements, but we also have to work with the realities of a busy retail or office environment. That might mean a delivery of steel at 4am, and not being able to work until 9pm at night. To solve that, sometimes there is an option to work behind a hoarding – or at least carry out as much work as possible in this way – but that hoarding might have to put in place each morning and dismantled in the evening.

Let Datum sort it

As you’ve seen, there are plenty of costs and complexities involved in a successful fit-out. Luckily, most of those can be overcome with a well thought-out plan, an experienced team used to working in tricky environments, and a coordinated approach to trades.

From efficient, on-time fit-outs to in-house joinery manufacturing, it’s our responsibility to make your life that little bit simpler – and it’s also our pleasure. Get in touch to find out how we can make your next commercial interiors fit-out easy.