Budget, then review your budget

Setting the budget for your move and office fit out can be a chicken and egg scenario. Until you have started to make decisions about what you want, it's difficult to work out how much you need to spend.

Most businesses only incur this sort of expense every 5-10 years or so. Therefore it's imperative that you set a realistic budget and are also able to communicate at any given time the financial impact of the fit out on your business.

Get estimates for everything, including the kitchen sink.

  • Fees

    • Fire risk assessments
    • Transaction fees (lawyers, property agents, landlord)
    • Planning permission
    • Environmental assessments
    • Insurance costs
  • Costs associated with the design and fit out

    • IT and telecoms (cabling, equipment and installation)
    • Furniture
    • Mechanical & Electrical and HVAC plant
    • Disposals (of old IT equipment, furniture, and site waste)
    • Security
    • Design and fit out contractor fees and costs
  • Costs associated with the move

    • Printing (new stationery, announcements)
    • Mail redirection
    • Website updates
    • Temporary storage during the move
  • Bills

    • Rent
    • Service charges
    • Taxes
    • Energy and utilities
    • Maintenance
  • Additional costs

    • Contingencies (budget an extra 20% - minimum)
    • Dilapidations (both for your old space now, and your new space later down the line)

Get a helping hand

Spare money isn't flying about in these uncertain financial times, but you're still eligible for tax breaks and the odd helping hand.

  • Talk to the people in the know

    • Talk to your landlord about possible contributions
    • Depending on the size and type of your organisation, leasing may be a plausible way of financing some of your capital expenditure
    • Capital Allowances and Enhanced Capital Allowances are a great way that your company, as a taxpayer, can get money back on the purchase of 'machinery & plant' over its lifetime
    • The Carbon Trust in England and The Energy Saving Trust in Scotland, both offer 0%-interest small business loans, where anticipated savings in energy costs fund the loan repayments

The finer details

With the big questions answered, or at least considered, it's time to look at those finer details. Make sure you're aware of all your legal, fiscal and regulatory responsibilities. And keep these in mind later down the line when you get to the fun part - designing and fitting out your new office.

What are your obligations and responsibilities?

Get covered

Ensure that you have all the necessary insurance in place. Your chosen office fit out partner should provide evidence of their insurance cover, and that of their subcontractors - it should be a mandatory requirement in any pre-qualification process.

    • Public & Product Liability insurance
    • Employers' Liability Insurance
    • Professional Indemnity insurance
    • Contractors' 'All Risks' insurance

Talk to your landlords

You're going to have certain responsibilities to your landlords, such as dilapidations clauses in your existing lease. Changes to both your new and existing space are going to need the consent of your landlord, so involve them early on.

  • Don't burn any bridges with your current landlord

    • Get a dilapidations schedule from your landlord. This will determine if upon exit of your current building you or your landlord are responsible for works returning it to the condition it was when you took it over. If the latter, you'll probably have to make a sizable financial contribution
    • If your lease hasn't come to an end, and you're subletting or assigning your lease, use your move to renegotiate with your landlord. Also, check you're not expected or required to supply a guarantee to cover potential damage by the new tenants
  • Keep your new landlord on side

    • You'll need a License to Alter for the changes planned to your new space. Talk to your design and fit out partner to ensure every change is covered
    • Use the investment you're making in your landlord's property to negotiate better terms on your lease
    • Check out the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) of your new building (your landlord must provide this by law). If you're making changes to services in the building which will improve this rating, your landlord may be willing to contribute to the cost of your fit out
    • Review the Heads of Terms. While these are largely non-binding they set the basis for the legal contract between you and your landlord. Therefore you should make sure you understand what you have agreed to before it becomes legally binding

Be compliant

By law, you're required to consider the needs of your employees - both now and in the future.

Is your fit out partner aware of what's needed to be compliant with, for starters, The Equality Act 20103, The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, and The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 19744?

  • Is your fit out partner aware of what's needed to be compliant?

    • An access audit will identify any issues with getting into the new space, which you can address as part of the fit out works
    • Compliance doesn't extend just to access - it includes levels of luminosity, placement of desks, what transparent doors are made of, etc - so be sure your fit out company is going to create designs that take everything into account
  1. For more information about Enhanced Capital Allowances visit www.eca.gov.uk

  2. Details can be found at www.carbontrust.co.uk and www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/scotland

  3. For more information on the new Equality Act 2010, replacement to the DDA, visit www.equalities.gov.uk/equality_bill.aspx

  4. The Health And Safety Executive website can be found at www.hse.gov.uk