When you’ve worked in this industry for as long as we have (15 years and still looking good), you tend to see a few patterns emerge with clients and across a range of projects. Interestingly, the experience of a client does not always provide protection from falling into some of the common traps. At morphos, we like to help our clients ensure the best possible result and experience with their fit-out; so, whether you’ve done it all before or have never been involved with developing a new business facility, here are some of our top tips for starting your office fit out.

Now Careers  – 73 York Street, Sydney CBD

Briefing

A brief is the information you provide to your designer, builder or project manager, as to the requirements of the project, covering everything from cost, timing, functional needs, culture, aesthetic elements etc.

Of course, the better the brief, the better and more certain the outcome, so a thorough brief is a worthwhile investment. Spend some time before you commence a build to define what you want. Maybe start a Pinterest board, write a list, talk to your team or friends and family, think about how the business and its teams work within their respective environment and with the outside world. It is also worth looking at what might not be working so well, what the future may hold and what solutions may be available in new technology and alternative workplace settings.

The Project methodology adopted by Morphos helps its clients investigate all of the relevant issues to be considered and in the depth required to form a sound brief; and by incorporating roles of both designer and builder/project manager, ensure that these needs are retained through the process and avoid surprises that can add to cost or time.

Aesir Corporate – 88 Phillip Street, Sydney CBD

Contingency

Fit-out can be complex, contain a great many variables and involve elements that can change or not be identified until substantial work has been undertaken. For this reason, it is generally not “quoted” as you may be able to do in a simple job, unless (and even then not guaranteed) significant work had already been commissioned and undertaken in detailing and specification, alongside thorough site investigations and often trade or consultant involvement. As no project manager has a crystal ball, most projects start with an “indicative budget”, which is a professionally considered assessment, based on preliminary information in briefing, site conditions and building requirements. No one will be able to guarantee that something unexpected would not eventuate as a project moves forward.

EIS Health – 15 Kensington Street, Kogarah

On a client-side, one thing that you will find when becoming involved in a fit-out is that the deeper you get into it, the more your own understanding of your organisations needs and wishes will develop. While a solid brief will help minimise risk on the need to add elements to the project, the reality is that the project process takes place over several months and circumstance, priorities and preferences can change.

Morphos seeks to prepare its clients as best as possible with budgeting and timing, ensuring that adequate and realistic allowances are made in the briefing and project planning stages, however, in most projects we do recommend a financial buffer and sometimes a little extra time for the unknown or changes that may occur.

As the project moves forward with more concise briefing, thorough site inspections, detailed design and documentation, landlord feedback, input from contractors and or services consultants (particularly for elements such as fire, air-conditioning, plumbing, electrical, data, audio visual and security which for some projects can become quite complex), morphos is able to flag any issues impacting on cost and time and help keep on track.

While no project or business is exactly the same, Morphos will be able to guide on what may be the appropriate contingency for your project.

Get Started Early

In line with the first few tips, being briefing and contingency, it is always advisable to start the process of understanding your needs and obtaining assistance as early as possible. Morphos will often be called upon in early stages when stay vs. go scenarios or workplace/organisational changes are involved, as our assistance there is likely to be obvious.

Unfortunately, we too often encounter businesses that have more certainty of their need to move than start their property search or, worse still, commit to premises before their needs are fully assessed and the suitability of property options considered. Will you fit? Have you allowed for growth, new tech, contemporary accommodation needs and practices? Have you allowed enough time and set an appropriate budget? Do you need to allow make good on exit of the current premises? Are there elements making fit-out in one space more costly or with some disadvantage over another? Have processes in the Buildings fit-out guidelines been factored? Can the premises accommodate your power or air-conditioning requirements? Do the arrangements on landlord contributions work for cashflow?  …and we could go on!

A great place to start for some clients is working with a tenant rep/property consultant that has early involvement; however, none have the ability to provide all the assistance you need, or can offer all aspects themselves, in a manner that for many organisations could be relied upon as competitive.

Morphos isn’t afraid of a little competition and will always be happy to meet and talk about your needs and how we would propose to assist. In fact, we will in some situations provide this advice and some up-front work at no cost or obligation, so there is nothing to lose.

Australian Restructuring Insolvency & Turnaround Association – 191 Clarence Street, Sydney CBD

Read

It might seem pretty simple, but reading (to understand) is often overlooked or forgotten. We would always advise to read the budget, read the contract and associated supporting documents, and to thoroughly review the documentation package.

The Documentation package and scope of works/budget for your new space will show and or list everything that is going to be built, installed or delivered as part of your project. Take the time to read through carefully to ensure you understand what to expect with the final result, and if you don’t get it, that’s ok! Your point of contact, whether it’s a designer, project manager, or builder, is on your side so ask them for clarification. At morphos, we pride ourselves on comprehensive and easy to understand documentation and of course our team will always be available to run through the material prepared and ensure our clients are happy that the details reflect what is understood or expected.

Spencer Travel – 5 Ricketty Street, Mascot

Importance of Communication and Timing

If you’ve ever watched a renovation show you might have some understanding of how fast things can move on site. In a commercial situation, with sufficient planning, strict WHS and building management guidelines, activity is not as hectic as sometimes seen on TV, but where time means money to all involved, progress is brisk. This is great when things go to plan, but not so great when things need acknowledgement or approval; a delay on replying to a query could have a much greater impact on construction than you might think.

Always remember, construction is a joint initiative; the ultimate collaboration, where the client and designer or builder, work together to achieve the end goal: a completed space, ready to move in. Like a game of tennis, if there’s no return, there’s no game; one side can’t do what they need without the other.

We could easily spend more time talking about fit-outs (we’re big fans if you didn’t know), but rather than blather on, maybe give us a call (02 8299 7000) or send us an email (info@morphos.com.au) – we’re always up for a chat!