Challenges Faced in Interior Fit-outs and How to Solve Them

All, Interior Contracting

Many people look at their interior design refurbishments as an expense, but if done in the right way, they are in fact an investment in your business’s/home’s growth and success after on. Still, poorly orchestrated fit-outs can often result in a nightmare, so it is essential that you plan the fit-outs in a way where you can take into account several different variables that often lead to a bad fit-out experience. Here are some common problems and the solutions to them:

 

Not planning an Accurate Budget:

A lot of businesses have just begun, even experienced managers only get an initial estimate from their general contractor and then they have to worry about the costs as the job is in process. Being unaware of the costs associated with the interior fit-out of an office is a recipe for disaster. Costs can escalate and exceed the initial estimates unexpectedly. To avoid this, plan out a budget beforehand with the contractor and have a systematic review of the same to avoid any last minute surprises. 

 

Assuming that all Contractors are the Same:

A lot of contractors specialize in different fields or have experience with different projects. Find out which contractor suits you the best by arranging an initial meeting or interview. Some points to consider in that interview:

• Have they done similar projects before?

• What were the results?

• Does the contractor have the bandwidth and financial capability to execute such a project?

 

Accounting for the Landlord:

The landlord or owner of the premises often has a significantly large influence on the overall success of the interior fit-out. In some instances, the landlord could be the owner of an office space/apartment; so the fit-out contractor may be obliged to only work outside normal business hours. He may not be permitted to use the lifts for bringing in materials/furniture, may also have restrictions on delivery times, etc. which could lead to delays from the initial work schedule decided. In other cases, the landlord could be a team of people such as in the case of fit-out work in a mall, where it is essential to coordinate with the mall office to ensure that designs are prepared with keeping mall restrictions and regulations in mind. This is a common issue that fit-out managers are forced to grapple with if not kept in mind during the initial stages and the best way to overcome such a problem would be to ensure that the landlord is a part of the initial discussions during the design and planning stage rather than the execution stage.

 

Detailed Drawings and Designs: 

Another common problem that an interior contractor may have to face is delays and hold of work due to drawings not being presented to the contractor on time or that the drawings are not detailed enough to execute the work. This is generally only the case when the designer is hired from the client’s side and the project is not assigned on a turnkey basis where the contractor is in charge of designs as well. This can once again lead to delays in project completion, however this problem could be avoided by either assigning the project to a company on a turnkey basis where they are solely liable for the delays or ensuring that the design team is thorough with their work and will always be available to clarify or rework the drawings if they need further detailing. 

 

Procurement Planning:

This is probably the most important factor in ensuring a project is executed and handed over on time. If the procurement planning of a company is poor, then it will be very difficult to succeed in any interior fitout project. It is imperative that the material and the labour move in sync with the project, as in many cases contractors are faced with the challenge of labour being present on site but cannot work to full capacity because the required materials have not reached the site. The solution to this problem is to plan out your procurement in advance, this includes listing out all the long lead items which generally take a much longer time to be procured and delivered on site as well - items such as movable furniture, etc. which may not be readily available to reach the site immediately. If at the start of a project, you have a strong and robust procurement schedule then the chances of the project being a success are much higher.

 

Scope Creep Management:

This refers to changes that are both controlled and uncontrolled post project commencement. Realistically almost all projects have changes after the work begins, however, the challenge lies in being able to manage the changes in the scope of work. One should be able to control this in various ways such as – determining if the change in scope is necessary or not, ensuring the change in scope is still within the project budget or alternatively changing the project budget to account for the increased scope, revising timelines and setting new progress schedules or deadlines. It is also vital to ensure that all project changes are documented so that there is no dispute between the client and the contractor at a later stage.

 

Project Progress Reviews:

All projects have an initial handover date, which is the date planned at the start of the project, and then the eventual handover date which when the project is actually handed over completely to the client. A common problem most interior fit-outs face is that the two dates never actually match and this is informed to the client only towards the end of the project which leads to both rage and frustration. The best way to avoid this is to have a robust and detailed project schedule at the start of the project and tracking the project progress on a daily basis, and comparing it to the planned progress schedule. This enables one to track any delays early on, which will then indicate if the project needs more resources to finish on time or if the handover date will change itself.