One of the first questions we are asked when first discussing a new project is “when can we move in?” or “how long will it take?”. Generally, we say it can take about 6-8 weeks on site for a standard fitout and 4-6weeks prior for design, documentation and approvals.
We try and work to our client’s needs and take into consideration the project scope – what is the location and the size of the project, are there any specific requirements or details, when does the client need to move in by or when can we first gain access to the site?
Once our quotation has been approved, we provide our clients with a detailed project timeline which shows the start and finish date of each construction phase.
Where possible we try to start our design, documentation and approvals phase prior to gaining site access, this helps speed up the process for our clients which makes the most of any rent free period they may have been given. This works well when Benchmark’s services have been engaged at the right time on a project – please see our recent blog post on “Looking For A New Tenancy” to see why it is vital to engage a builder as soon as you start looking for a new tenancy.
Occasionally if the building owner is in agreeance we may be able to carry works out prior to gaining site access and this can sometimes work to everyone’s advantage. For example, a recent client engaged us while the building was in construction and we were able to set out the drainage points prior to the developer pouring the slab on a new build, this meant great structural integrity of the slab and no need to drill core holes in the slab after interrupting the tenants operating a business below.
There are critical points in time throughout each project and we work with all parties involved to handover a project in a timeframe that suits our clients and their budget.
Here at Benchmark Commercial Building Services we ensure that we design and build with compliance to all Australian Standards and at the end of every project our clients receive all relevant certification documents. So what does that mean to a client and where is the value in complying?
The Australian Standards work in the background, those who are not familiar with the standards may not see the extra thought given within their own environment, whether that be at home, in the office or shopping centre. Some of the main certification issues that Benchmark are challenged with on every day are;
- Door circulation spaces – there is a requirement to have clear space on each side of a door to ensure someone with disabilities can approach the door and operate the handle, even the door handle has to be a certain shape and size. We design our layouts to suit and often this dictates what we do.
- Toilets – Did you know that unless your building already has amenities for people with disabilities, the first toilet you add must be PWD compliant and the second Ambulant compliant? A PWD compliant toilet accommodates those in a wheelchair etc. whilst an Ambulant toilet is much narrower and designed for those who can walk assisted but may require the grab rails to sit or stand.
- Path of travel – as mentioned earlier there are required distances to either an exit of the building or to a compliant fire exit – stairs or tunnel are most commonly seen or exit directly to an open space.
- Body Protected Electrical Circuits – in a clinical area where patients could be given treatment, we are required to have ‘Body Protected Electrical Circuits’ to all rooms where treatment is being given to a patient. This isolates individual rooms and ensures that all equipment connected to these outlets remain in operation if another circuit were to fail.
- Lighting – there is a level of ‘Lux’ that must be achieved at desk height so that your eyes don’t strain, this is a balanced between ceiling heights, natural light and the output from the artificial light source itself.
So what does that mean to our clients? It means that they have a stamped set of construction issued drawings that say their fitout or building is in compliance with the Australian Standards and as such can apply employ people with disabilities without discrimination. It means they can qualify for government grants, pass accreditation standards, and pass inspections by fire departments.
Compliance with Australian Standards create a better and equitable environment for all.
Considerations when looking for a new tenancy;
- Condition of tenancy;
- Does it have enough power – 80amps is preferred.
- Does it have air conditioning – new A/air conditioning could cost you $10-15K.
- Ceiling grid condition – $8-9K for 100m2.
- Sewer connection availability – if no then, additional costs for pumps would be required.
- Condition of shopfront.
- Condition of floor.
- Is there existing lighting?
- Does it have an existing toilet?
- The condition of the tenancy will have a direct impact on the cost of the building works.
- All m2 rates that get thrown around are for the fitout works only, they are based on a nice clean shell with all essential services being there (air conditioning, enough power, good ceiling, clean floor, no demo work required, good lighting existing).
- Another thing to negotiate with the landlord is the cover cost to provide a nice clean shell.
- If you are looking at a tenancy within a shopping centre complex;
- They may have nominated contractors for essential services (plumbing, fire services and mechanical services).
- Fire sprinklers are common in shopping centre’s which add additional costs.
- They may request a higher level of project documentation and design, not to mention a high level of signage.
- Contribution or incentive by the owner to entice you as a potential tenant;
- A rent free period is most common, make sure you cover off on the time required for the fitout (6-8 weeks) as well as the time to design and document the works (4-6 weeks). Most building owners will only acknowledge the build time onsite for the amount of rent free period.
- Depending on the market trends at the time (i.e. low vacancy or high vacancy) will depend on how much the building owner wants you as a tenant. In a high vacancy market, it’s not uncommon for a building owner to offer to contribute to your fitout costs. An example may be that you can ask for help to pay for air conditioning if it is needed as this item becomes a fixed tenancy asset that the building owner retains even if you move out.
- PWD Access;
- Stay away from tenancies that are split level (internal stairs), all internal fitout design needs to comply with AS1428.1 which relates to PWD access and circulation space. Internal stairs can affect the design, relaxation on this Australian Standard can be applied but will ultimately be subject to the building certifiers approval.
- A step right at the front door – if your lease line for the tenancy is from the front door in, then the step is not taken into consideration for PWD access unless you are the sole occupant of the entire building (not tenancy, building). Although that being said, it does not actually help someone in a wheel chair.
- Is there enough carparks – DA (Development Approval) consideration – carpark ratios to consult rooms.
- Builders inspection of tenancy before you sign the lease;
- All too often I see a client who signs a lease without having a tenancy looked at from a builder’s perspective, only to find the tenancy needs an air conditioning upgrade, power upgrade and there is no sewer connection, which leads to more cost for the fitout. These things could have been used in lease negotiations and got you a better lease rate or incentive.
- Is the tenancy correctly zoned for your specific use – DA (Development Approval) may be required which can take 3-6 months.
- The team at Benchmark starts every project by taking the time to gain a clear understanding of your design and fitout needs. We will walk you through everything you need to achieve success, including what can realistically be achieved with your budget to complete the works. We also conduct a site review to assess your location taking into consideration council requirements and access;
- I highly recommend that you have a tenancy assessment carried out by your builder prior to signing a lease, this way you are aware of any potential hidden costs.
- I would also have a draft design completed before signing a lease, this way you know how much your fitout will cost and how you can fit into the space before locking into a building lease agreement.
Benchmark Commercial Building Services are pleased to announce that we have achieved Prequalification to undertake building projects for the Queensland Government. To achieve this Prequalification (PQC) registration status our company systems and policies were thoroughly examined and tested and we passed with flying colours. This examination was an excellent opportunity to reflect on our business and our internal quality control systems that we use to process our projects and you know what…I’m extremely happy with the outcome.
Benchmark CBS were recently awarded a significant design and construction tender project for a 2 storey base building refurbishment that incorporated a medical centre fitout. This D&C project proved a challenge for our interior design team due to the buildings history as 5 x separate small tenancies, with clever space planning and some structural steel 3 off these small tenancies were combined to create a large ground floor medical centre that features 7 x consult rooms, the remaining upper level tenancies were made ready for future commercial office use or clinic growth.
With this project now complete and our client is enjoying their new work space the team at Benchmark CBS are looking forward to our next project, so look us up, we’re ready for the challenge.
For more photos of this project click through to our case studies.
The team at Benchmark CBS recently handed over the Moreton ATSICHS Morayfield Medical Centre Clinic Extension, this was quite a big deal as it now the largest indigenous medical centre on the north side of Brisbane, it now includes general clinic services, mums n bubs, optometry, dental, aged care respite and gymnasium, not to mention a host of other visiting allied health service specialists.
The Honourable Cameron Dick (Minister for Queensland Health) carried out the official opening, I also got to meet local Brisbane NRL legend Steve Renouf who was the MC for the event….woohoo!
Check out the photos of this project in our case studies
Another happy client taking possession of our latest medical centre fitout located in Maryborough on the Fraser Coast of Queensland, it features a generous reception/waiting area, 10 x consult rooms, cutting edge treatment room facilities, secured back of house admin/meeting rooms and a design layout that allows for future growth options that could include sterilization and dental rooms or additional allied health services.
This June 30 2014 marks the end of another financial year and the end of the first year of trading for Benchmark CBS. We have had a fantastic first year completing some major projects including our first $1,000,000 dollar project, a significant milestone for any company. We are looking forward to continued growth in the future. Bring on 2015!!
Benchmark Commercial Building Services is a design, build and fitout expert providing quality solutions for medical, dental practices and commercial spaces.
Recent News, Tips & Advice
- It’s All About Timing… January 11, 2019
- Australian Standards and Compliance – Fitouts With Thought December 5, 2018
- Looking for a New Tenancy October 16, 2018
- Queensland Government Prequalification (PQC) March 7, 2016