How to Choose a Fit Out Contractor
Even amid the COVID-19 pandemic, office interior design plays a critical role in creating a productive work environment. Sustainable design improves employee health while increasing productivity and lowering operating costs. We recommend researching before beginning your search for a dependable commercial fit-out contractor.
Finding the best contractor for your interior fit-out requires some legwork. The last thing you want to do is choose a company randomly and then be surprised by problems that may arise later. You are not just selecting a contractor; you are selecting a partner who will implement your ideas and collaborate with you and other team members (e.g., interior designer/architect) to bring your vision to life.
Choosing the Right Fit-Out Contractor
When selecting a contractor to oversee your fit-out project, these simple steps can mean the difference between complete confidence and sleepless nights. Here are some pointers to help narrow your search for the ideal interior fit-out company.
What You Should Do
1. Prepare a Detailed Brief
Before the project begins, hire experts to create detailed guidelines. It should include information about your company, employees, needs, and facilities. Discuss the fit-out with your team. The brief should consist of a schedule and budget.
2. Obtain the Required Permissions
Ensure that your fit-out contractor is knowledgeable about any regulatory approvals that may be required and that your proposed works are by health and safety and building codes. If you don’t own your office space, make sure your fit-out contractor gets permission from the landlord.
3. Do Your Homework
Research is vital. Determine which commercial fit-out contractors are the best in your area.
Make use of the resources listed below:
- Internet research: business and industry websites, news articles
- Customer referrals
- Industry associations
Concentrate your search on companies with a reputation for honesty, professionalism, and industry knowledge.
4. “Think Green & Sustainable.”
Consider contractors with a long-term vision who can design and deliver energy-efficient, environmentally friendly, and cost-effective designs. Research has shown that “green offices” increase profitability due to higher employee productivity and lower operational costs.
The criteria to consider are sustainable sites, water efficiency, optimized energy performance, minimized energy use, use of materials with recycled content, waste management, and indoor environmental quality.
5. Create a Shortlist
After you’ve completed your research, you’re ready to narrow down the companies that offer interior fit-out services in your area. How do you choose among them?
Prepare a list of 2-3 companies with whom you’d like to work and who can execute your vision and offer improvements. You may need to add to or remove from the shortlist.
6. Do Background Checks
Check the Portfolio: Assess the company’s portfolio to determine the breadth and relevance of its experience.
Obtain Client Feedback: Contact previous clients (at least three) and ask them to rate the contractor on critical deliverables such as quality, responsiveness, value for money, service level, and delivery on a scale of 1 to 10. If the overall score from the three clients is unsatisfactory, you know that contractor must be removed from your list.
Check Financial Stability: Make sure that any company you are considering has the financial resources to complete the project and can negotiate the best prices for materials and services on your behalf.
Pay On-site Visits: Go to their most recent completed project because a contractor is only as good as their most recent.
Pay Office Visit: Pay a visit to their place of business. A visit to a company’s premises can teach you much about it. Are they well-organized? Do the employees appear to be happy and engaged? Is the office in good shape?
7. Request Proposals for Design and Fit Out
Distribute the design brief to your shortlisted companies and request that they submit a proposal by a specific deadline.
Evaluate them on the following criteria:
- Understanding of the Design Brief
- Work requirements or considerations
- Cost breakdown
- Options and their associated costs
- Timetable for delivery with milestones
- Assumptions exclusions
- Contract terms and conditions include insurance, liabilities, payment terms, and conflict resolution terms, among other things.
- Follow-up or after-delivery service, if applicable.
8. Interview Candidates
Interview your candidates and pay close attention not only to their responses but also to how they respond.
Conduct phone and in-person interviews to thoroughly assess the people you will be working with.
- Do they have the knowledge, experience, and collaborative attitude?
- What is the mechanism in place for weekly written and verbal reporting?
9. Criteria for Selection
Create a scoring chart and assign a score to each company on your shortlist based on key deliverables such as design proposals, client recommendations, budget, timeframe, and experience.
After doing all your research, don’t forget to trust your instincts.
Working with any company entails far more than just nuts and bolts. Cooperation and collaboration must be ingrained in a company’s practices and people. All else being equal, choose people you like and trust because they will make communication and project management less stressful.
What to Avoid
1. Do Not Set an Unrealistic Budget
Hire the best contractor you can afford at all times. Reputable, experienced fit-out contractors can provide you with a clear budget that includes cost breakdowns and a list of options.
Always consider cost efficiency; never take the cheapest offer.
- Hiring a low-cost contractor can be a costly mistake because low-cost contractors are not the best at generating accurate bids.
- A bid that appears low at the outset may not have considered additional cost variations that may occur during the project. It will result from either a deliberate attempt to “lowball” the bid or inexperience. Knowing that change orders are a given in any project will help you save money in the long run.
- Change orders require a contract amendment, which has time and cost implications. Few interior fit-out projects are completed without change orders, but they can be costly.
- Hiring an inexperienced, low-cost commercial fit-out contractor may result in more change orders than hiring someone with experience.
2. Do Not Set an Impossible Timeframe
What has been said about budgets also applies to work schedules. Money is equal to time. Any contractor who gives you a significantly lower estimate for project completion is either inexperienced or deceiving you. Make sure that all steps are completed in a reasonable amount of time and that no corners are cut.
3. Don’t Just Take Their Word For It
Honest fit-out contractors will want to get everything in writing because it protects both them and the client. Ensure that everything discussed and agreed upon is documented. Many inexperienced contractors are willing to agree to almost anything verbally to win a contract. However, during execution, you will be surprised at how bad a contractor’s memory can become.
- You must be able to provide evidence and written acknowledgment of all communications and agreements.
- Once you’ve chosen a contractor, ensure you understand the contract terms. Before signing a contract, consult with your legal advisor and any other professional advisors.
4. Do Not Overlook Regulatory, Building, and Health and Safety Regulations
Regulatory approvals are required for all projects, and specific works require building control approval. Make sure that your chosen contractor is aware of all relevant laws and regulations and can ensure compliance with local standards before work begins.
Using a reputable commercial fit-out company will ensure that these issues are adequately addressed.
Local governments are responsible for building safety by implementing unified building codes that address construction safety and fire protection issues.
5. Look Beyond the Bottom Line
When choosing a contractor to assist you with your fit-out, look for a company with values, vision, and commitment, not just the elements involved in the execution, such as timeframe and budget.
Choose a company that is aware of the latest design and technology trends and a leader rather than a follower in its field. Your office interior design expresses your company’s values and brand; choose a partner who can help you articulate that most dynamically and appealingly possible.
Choosing the Best Commercial Fit-Out Contractor Candidate
Selecting a commercial fit-out contractor for your new office or existing facility is a major undertaking. This is the final step in preparing your offices for human occupancy. Since your employees will be spending most of their day in these facilities, it is critical that your office environment is safe and healthy and promotes productivity while minimizing environmental impact. Given that your office fit-out may be the first thing, clients and partners notice when they visit, it must reflect your company’s values and brand.
During your selection process, keep the “Do’s and Don’ts” in mind. Do not rely solely on an internet search. An excellent website is an excellent place to start, but it should only be the beginning of your research. Finally, the best candidates will be those who can demonstrate, with tangible evidence, the following:
- Knowledge and Experience
- Sustainable Design and Fittings
- On-Time Delivery
- Support (Before, During & After the Project)
- Commitment and Reliability
SDW Realty Delivers High-Quality and Sustainable Fit-Outs
SDW Realty is the ideal partner to help you complete your fit-out successfully. A leading design and build firm in the Philippines, SDW is a premier fit-out contractor. For the past ten years, SDW has provided exceptional service to its clients, which range from government agencies to multinational corporations and small businesses. It has completed over 300 projects with a client satisfaction rating of 92%.
SDW Realty takes sustainability seriously and incorporates it into every step of the design and execution process. SDW follows the international ISO 9001: 2015 quality management system for all projects. Putting its clients’ needs first and assisting them to:
- Achieve their environmental goals by improving building energy, water, and resource efficiency.
- Make inspiring workplaces in order to improve employees’ health and happiness; and
- Deliver operational savings, increase the value of the building, and reduce utility costs.
Contact us for your fit-out construction requirements.