Landlords usually hand over commercial properties in a structurally completed state with white walls and a neutral ceiling. How this “skeleton” of walls becomes a functional yet personal space adapted to the tenant’s needs is up to the fit-out team.
First things first
The term ‘fit-out construction’ typically refers to construction activity that transforms the interior spaces of commercial buildings according to the preferences of the tenants. Fit-out construction is often carried out when designing retail premises or offices.
During construction, the landlord’s contractor usually views the interior as a “white box” or “shell” and hands it over to the tenants in a structurally completed, or topped-out state with white walls, a neutral ceiling, and only the basic elements – including usually the followings:
- basic flooring
- standard white walls
- standard ceilings
- HVAC system
- water pipes
- elevator and staircase
These basics ensure that every tenant can tailor the spaces to their own needs in terms of appearance and functionality. With the fit-out construction, the tenant’s expectations can prevail and the spaces become functional yet personalized.
A fit-out manager needs juggler-skills
The fit-out contractor is responsible for turning the empty room into a shop, office or other space suitable for commercial purposes. To achieve the unique appearance expected by the tenants the fit-out manager has to work with subcontractors – often chosen by the tenant – while bearing all responsibilities for the working process to go smoothly.
The tenant can hire several different subcontractors according to the interior design work. Some are responsible for the design and creation of walls, interior partitions, doors and other spatial elements, and some are solely for the design and furnishings. In addition to them, the lessor, the building engineer, and the persons responsible for compliance with local regulations must also be involved in the processes. The fit-out manager holds it all together – often needing good juggling skills to meet all requirements.
All the pieces come together
The task of the fit-out contractor is to ensure that the design of the rented premises is realized in the form that the interior design specialists and the tenants planned. Typically, this requires the following works:
- design of lighting fixtures and shades
- design of unique ceilings (e.g. suspended ceilings, together with electrical and mechanical accessories where appropriate)
- production of special floor coverings (e.g. false floors, floor boxes)
- design of unique plumbing fittings
- customization of walls (e.g. wall painting, wall covering, wallpapers)
- design of unique or extra doors
- installation of unique windows or furnishings
- design of audio-visual equipment
- design of shelves
All of this is a set of works that even individually require great attention and precision, and it doesn’t matter in what order they follow each other. This work process must also be planned by the fit-out contractor, taking into account all technical information. The contractor is also responsible for selecting the right professionals, procuring raw materials and meeting the deadline. This is not an easy task, since even a single process slip can cause serious interruptions in the tenant’s operation.