Office build-outs can get expensive and clients frequently ask us “how can I save money on my project?” While hiring a project manager is the most effective way to save money, there are other strategies you can employ that a project manager can assist your team with.
In this article, we walk you through four ways you can save money on your office build-out, relocation, or renovation including:
- Engage a project manager early
- Consider going wireless
- Choose more affordable furniture and finish outs
- Use value engineering
1. Engage a Project Manager Early
Hiring a project manager to quarterback your office build-out is the best way to save money consistently throughout the process.
If you hire a project manager during the site selection process, they can help you evaluate your different options by comparing them on an apples-to-apples basis. The project manager can provide you with space plan diagrams or test fit drawings, preliminary project budgets, and estimated timelines or schedules so that you know how much it will cost and how long it will take to convert the space you’re looking at into the space you need.
Knowing this information will help your tenant rep broker understand how much tenant improvement (TI) allowance to push for during the negotiation process. While TI doesn’t always cover all of your build-out expenses, it’s a great way to avoid coming out of pocket for the entire office build-out project.
Your project manager will also know when your team should expect to take occupancy of and begin working in the new space, which is extremely valuable when going back and forth with the landlord on lease drafts.
Knowing how long the project will take from start to finish is essential during the real estate selection process. If a space won’t be ready to occupy by the time your lease expires, you could end up having to pay expensive month-to-month “holdover” rates at your current location. But, if you know this in advance, you can either opt for a different space that will meet your timeline or your tenant rep broker can help you plan for this gap and find the most fiscally responsible solution.
Your project manager will continue to provide value throughout the entire build-out process and even after your team has moved in and gotten to work. From providing tips of the trade during the planning process to knowing how to quickly and affordably solve any problems that inevitably arise during the actual construction of the project, an experienced project manager’s experience, expertise, and local market knowledge and relationships will be invaluable to you and your team.
They will not only help you optimize budgets and get the most bang for your buck, but they also ensure that you maintain quality, stay on schedule and achieve your goals. Hiring a project manager will also allow you and your team to stay focused on your company and job and will keep you from having to get in the weeds of your project. Project managers also know the best vendors and consultants in your area for things like low voltage data cabling, security, AV/IT, furniture, moving and so much more.
Ultimately, project managers take the stress off of you and make the office build-out process much smoother.
2. Consider Going Wireless
Every office needs internet, phones, printers and computers. But, this doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune on it.
In the past, employees all had to have individual data-cabling for their landline and their computer. While it depends on the type of company, these data connections generally cost around $250 – $400 per employee. This, in addition to the data-cabling you need for conference rooms, workrooms and more, can add up to be $12,000 – $30,000.
But, by switching to cell phones and laptops for employees, you can save a lot of money. You will need to invest in a reliable and powerful wifi plan and consider providing cell phone reimbursement plans for your employees. You may still need to install and run low-voltage data cabling in some areas like conference rooms and the reception area, but it will be a much smaller cost.
3. Choose More Affordable Furniture and Finish Outs
If you’re looking to save money on furniture, you obviously shouldn’t buy the top-of-the-line pieces or materials. But, you also should not buy the first cheap furniture you find. You want to buy good quality furniture so you don’t have to replace it every year. You may spend a little more initially, but it can save you money in the long run.
When choosing furniture for your office, be sure to give yourself enough time to compare quotes and negotiate costs. You want to be able to get exactly what you want for the best price that you can find – and this takes time.
When creating your furniture budget, be sure to include shipping and installation costs. Some furniture companies include these additional services in their total cost so be sure to take this into account when comparing vendors.
A project manager can also help you determine which materials are worth the cost and which ones can be easily swapped for a more affordable alternative. For example, it might make sense to spend more on client-facing areas like conference rooms and your entry area and less on spaces like a breakroom. For example, this could mean using less expensive seating in your breakrooms and high-quality custom furniture in your conference rooms.
If you can’t find quality furniture in your price range, renting furniture might be a better option for you.
4. Use Value Engineering
Once you have an initial design and have gotten preliminary budget numbers back, your project manager will go over your initial budget with you and help you determine which aspects of the project were underestimated or are now unnecessary. They will then help you decide which parts of your project can be eliminated or scaled back and what should proceed as planned. After identifying these, your project manager will begin implementing these changes and coming up with a plan that prevents delays.
This can be as simple as changing materials from the specified high-end architect recommendation to a more cost-effective alternative that achieves the same desired effect. Or it can be a larger change like deciding to keep existing hard-walled private offices, rather than demolishing what is in place to reconfigure and rebuild as new.
This can be a complex process to try to do on your own, but your project manager will have the expertise to make this as straightforward and effective as possible for you.
While going wireless and choosing more affordable furniture can save you some money on your build-out, hiring a project manager to act as your design and construction representative is the best way to ensure your office project stays on time and within budget. They can help you find significant savings throughout your project through their expertise and experience – from selecting the right materials and vendors, to constantly working to optimize the project’s schedule and quickly dealing with any problems that arise in a constructive and efficient manner.
To learn more about what a project manager can do for you, read our Ultimate Guide to Hiring a Project Manager.