In today’s busy commercial market, we understand few directors and managers have the availability or experience to dedicate the time required to manage the delivery of a newly designed office environment.

Managing the business and keeping control of costs is critical, and in the following article, we answer the many questions our clients ask us about our experience in the industry. In particular, how we can help them to utilise their current space, and tips for managing an office relocation and a design and fit-out process that enables inspiring, collaborative, and enriching work.

From our experience, the key to controlling fit-out costs  and maintaining quality throughout is a clear demarcation between your client representative and the project team (including architects and designers, services engineers and building contractors).

For your convenience, you can download our Q&A guide by clicking here – Q&A Fit-Out Guide Download

How can Rapport Solutions help me in the process?

As independent lead consultants and project managers, we advise in the selection of design services for the project requirements, prepare tender documentation; selecting contractors and suppliers appropriate to your project requirements.

How will you save me money?

Rapport Solutions set and agree the overhead and profit margin with contractors under the tender process. Through the build process, we ensure any client variations during the programme are priced at the same cost level. A good example is for our project with UK Broadband.

What key advice would you give a company considering fit-out projects?

Appoint an independent project manager to represent your best interests and start planning and developing your project up to 12 months prior to your proposed move date.

Early preparation and planning saves money!

This may involve a detailed space analysis and study of your current operation, identifying occupational needs and introducing new ways of working in order to maximise the use of your new workspace.

Understanding and identifying your future business needs will be critical in advising your commercial agent the size and type of space your business will require and can reduce the time taken to identify a short list of properties.

Importantly, a greater level of design pre-contract tender enables closer client control of the final solutions and project fit-out costs, force greater competition from contractors and can limit variations inside the contract period.

What are typical fit-out costs?

Fit-out costs depend on the quality of finishes and the density of your design in terms of an open plan versus enclosed cellular plan environment.

Typically costs for fit-out are:

  • Medium to High finish: £25.00 Sq ft to £65.00 Sq ft
  • Premium standard finish: £70.00 Sq ft plus

Q. What influences the cost of my fit-out?

A. Your fit out cost will be influenced by the following key factors:

  • Time required to design and construct the fit-out
  • Number of enclosed offices as opposed to open plan workstation-style environments
  • Logistics with the proposed building
  • Whether or not furniture is to be purchased new or re-used
  • Specialist needs over and above typical corporate environments such as labs, test rooms, training and conference rooms
  • Data and communications upgrade or re-use of existing equipment
  • Furniture selection and manufacturer
  • Programme – fast track due to time constraints can increase costs. Prevent this by planning early
  • Decision makers within your organisation
  • Desirables

Q. How long should the fit-out take to build?

A. Fit-out programmes vary according to the type of fit-out required and the current state of the property being considered. Has the building / floor space been subject to a CAT A landlord fit out or not? The ratio of open to enclosed plan environments and technical requirements will have an influence on cost and programme.

The programmes stated below are indicative only and cannot be deemed as identical to your current or future environment:

5000 Sq ft to 10,000 Sq ft

Design: 6 to 8 weeks

Approval: 4 to 6 weeks (depending on local authority & landlord)

Construction: 6 to 10 weeks (depending on finish)

Relocation: 2 to 3 days


10,000 Sq ft to 20,000 Sq ft

Design: 8 to 9 weeks

Approval: 4 to 6 weeks (depending on local authority & landlord)

Construction: 11 to 13 weeks (depending on finish)

Relocation: 2 to 3 days


20,000 Sq ft to 30,000 Sq ft

Design: 10 to 12 weeks

Approval: 4 to 6 weeks (depending on local authority & landlord)

Construction: 13 to 16 weeks (depending on finish)

Relocation: 2 to 3 days


30,000 Sq ft to 50,000 Sq ft

Design: 14 to 16 weeks

Approval: 4 to 6 weeks (depending on local authority and landlord)

Construction: 16 to 20 weeks (depending on finish)

Relocation: 3 to 5 days

*These indicative time frames do not take into account statutory and public holidays


Q. What are CAT A and CAT B works?

A. Category A refers to a building owned/built by developers, which is ‘shell and core’ with just the common areas fitted out (toilets, cores etc). This may or may not include suspended ceilings/raised floors.

Category B is when a tenant takes over a building and fits it out to his requirements. This includes suspended ceilings, partitions etc.

Q. What are Lead Time items?

A. Lead time items include loose furniture, chairs, desking systems and related items which, depending on the scale of the fit-out and quality of finishes, may take considerable time to prepare and deliver to maintain your fit-out programme.

All fit-out programmes should take into account Short and Long Lead Times for such items, thereby ensuring that the items are delivered on time during the course of the project to prevent any delays.

On average UK-manufactured furniture may take approximately 6 to 8 weeks whilst European imports may take an additional 4 weeks. Note that European manufacturers may shut down for August.

Q. What are Progress Valuation / Staged Payments?

A. For medium to large-scale projects, fit-out contractors complete the work in phases and they claim for the progress that has been completed at the end of each phase – this is a valuation claim.

Staged payments are made at regular intervals across the programme starting with a deposit, usually 25% of the contract value, and incrementally agreed percentage payment across the programme time frame.

Rapport’s management procedures ensure that each progress / payment claim meets with the value of work completed at each phase prior to your approval.

Q. What are Variations and how do I minimise them?

A. There are two key types of variations:

  • Client Driven: when the tenant opts for a change to any component of the fit-out after the contract sum has been approved and the project has commenced.
  • Non-Client Driven: when a change (unknown at the start of the project) is required to any component of the fit-out after the contract sum has been approved and the project has commenced. The change is essential to successfully complete the project.

Most non-client driven variations occur through lack of time applied to the initial design and engineering services components of the project.

Variations can be minimised or eliminated if the correct procedures and style of the contract is adopted prior to commencing the design phase. Overall non-client driven variations should not exceed 1.00% of the total contract value.


*This guide does not constitute legal advice and is provided for general information purposes only. No warranty whether express or implied is given in relation to such a guide.

You can speak with Rapport on; 01252 712590 or email us for advice on utilising your current space, an office move,  design or fit-out at;

To view our portfolio of work click here.