13 Ways to Make Your Office Renovation a Success

So, you find yourself with the daunting task of moving your offices to a new space.

If you are concerned that this can be overwhelmingly complicated and difficult and could be a disaster, well… you are not entirely wrong. But, of course, it could be a fantastic opportunity and a huge success that wins you tremendous admiration and respect.

Think of this is as making a huge feast for your team to come together and enjoy… every work day… for years. (No pressure).

The good news is that with a strong team you can make it come together. Here are a few tips that are guaranteed to help.


Gather All Your Information

Gather all the information that you can about your office needs, both current and future.  Not just how many offices and desks but also, What’s the office culture?  Do you need quiet spots and lively spots?  How do teams like to work?  What gets their creative juices flowing? Where can someone have privacy?

As the host of the “feast” you will become the expert on what makes your guests happy.


Hire an Architect

Hire an architect with experience in office work. When comparing keep in mind that a great design and support throughout the project is where the value is. Y ou may think you only need “a set of plans” but they can act as your guide through the whole process as well.  How much will they visit the project?

Think of them as the menu and meal planner that can shape the entire event and save you loads of time and money–probably not the place to skimp.


Communicate with Your Architect

Take time with your architect to communicate what you are doing and work things into the drawings.  Adding or changing later is costly. Ask for 3-D drawings so that you can understand what you will be getting.

Your thoughtful planning will make a big difference to your “guests” and will be part of their work experience for years.


Manage Your Timeline

Throughout the process a critical responsibility is to make timely decisions for the project to move forward efficiently for everyone.  Weigh choices against your original project goals.  Consider the relative importance of the decision relative to how much time it deserves.  If you need more time or information request it and then move forward.

It has been said that “90% of a meal is presentation.” Don’t discount the value of design to “make the place”.


Get the Right Test Fits

Connect your architect and broker as a team early on.  Use the architect’s skills to make sure you get the right space -test-fit layouts and their input help ensure you fit comfortably. You might need more floor area one building than in another because of column or window placement.

Everything builds on these initial decisions so take the time to get the most of your team.


Remember Lighting & Acoustics

As much as the finishes and layout, lighting and acoustics can be key to a productive and inviting office.

Like spices, these can make all the difference between good and great.


Hire Good MEP Engineers

MEP Engineers design the Mechanical (air conditioning) Electrical, Plumbing systems. Like the engine of your car, you want it done well so you don’t have to think about it.


Check on Permits

Keep an eye on the permitting process.  Be sure to plan for the consultant’s fees and timelines in your budget and schedule.  Certain neighborhoods or buildings may take longer to get a plan review than others.   When everything else is ready to go this can be a setback.

Imagine getting a visit from the health inspector in the middle of the meal. You get the picture…


Bid to Good Contractors

Bid to qualified contractors with good references and a track record of success.  Read the fine print in their proposals and don’t be taken in by the lowest number.  Review the contract with your lawyer and architect.  Be sure it spells out everything that you are expecting, especially costs and timing.  How will they be reporting progress to keep things moving?

Even with a menu and recipe, the quality of the cook matters. A lot. How will they run the kitchen and report to you?


Visit the Site

Visit the site often, with your architect if possible.  They can visualize what it going to materialize and describe it to you before it happens when it’s much harder to change.

Step into the kitchen and avoid any surprises later.


Review Submittals

While you might be judging progress based on the site, there should be loads of drawings and catalog cuts submittals from the contractor to the architect and engineer for approval.  Make sure things get reviewed carefully and ordered in time.  Again, this is the last chance to make sure everyone is on the same page.

“Did you mean broccoli or broccoli-rabe?”


Coordinate Owner-Provided Items

Owner-Provided items are those that you as the client are supposed to buy or contract for the construction of the project rather than purchase through the contractor.  While furnishing elements will save you the contractor’s markup, it will also make you responsible for the coordination and selection.  A common one is hiring a low voltage vendor to plan out and run your data cabling, security, AV systems. Get these folks on your team early on so they can provide input.  Other Owner-Provided items might include decorative lights, custom-made elements, appliances, etc.

“ Uh oh…was I supposed to bring a dish?”


Prepare Your Punchlist

The date at which the Contractor’s work is basically completed, meaning the place is built and fully functional, it is considered Substantial Completion.  This date typically marks the start of your one-year warranty period.  Prepare your punch list of fix-its carefully with your architect and have your contractor agree to it as a condition for getting their final payment and commit to when they will be done. Schedule regular follow up meetings and until they are done.  Also, be sure to get training and manuals on all the new systems.

These are the little adjustments before (or after) the guests arrive to make it just right.