Fit Out Contractors | C-Link

Fit Out Contractors

This guide provides a full review on the tips and considerations to make when procuring a fit out contractor. The guide is broken down into sections: Flooring, Plastering and Drylining, and Kitchens.

The procurement phase of an upcoming project is about to commence and you need a fit out contractor. This C-Link article aims to offer procurement information on three different areas of a fit out, offering valuable advice on how to ensure that you compare like for like quotations. We’ve also included a handful of useful value engineering options and some pitfalls to avoid with programme.

Flooring

1. Tender Analysis (Apples and Pears)

A. Measurement

It’s important to ensure that m² and linear meterage are measured individually and priced accordingly in the tenders. For example, a staircase with landings and half-landings should be measured in m², whilst the angles, trims, treads, and risers should be measured in linear metres. Some contractors will include for the m² measure and just provide an extra over rate for the linear metre elements. This would then become an extra cost at construction stage, as you will require these linear elements.

B. Combination rubber flooring

Wastage is an important factor here with the nature of cutting and carving required. Both tread and riser materials are purchased in stock lengths for combination rubber flooring. Check that all tenderers have clearly allowed for wastage in their tender so that you are not required to pay for further materials should the contractor require them.

2. Value Engineering

A. Entrance Matting

Entrance matting is often over engineered. For example, there is a big difference in footfall between a cinema and a nursery. Subsequently, the performance requirements for these mats would also vary. By checking whether your entrance mat could be value engineered to suit the context of the building, you could make substantial savings.

B. Sequencing

The sequencing of works plays a factor in the time and subsequently cost of installing the flooring. Ideally, flooring works should be undertaken when the site is secure, the internal elements are heated, and the decorating is complete. In this scenario, the specialist can carry out the works with maximum efficiency, which will help to condense your programme and reduce the overall cost of the project.

C. Colour and Specification

As product suppliers transition into the new financial year, they often stop production of certain colours and materials. It’s worth checking if a supplier has a similar colour product available from last year’s stock at a discounted rate.

3. Programming

A. Working Temperature

Ensure that the specialist installs the flooring at the temperature in which it is likely to be used. Installing flooring below 12 degrees can often lead to damage or cracking. What’s more, the materials may also expand and contract after practical completion, causing rectification and snagging costs.

B. Interfacing Trades

Flooring often interfaces with tapers, jointers, decorators and plasterers. Ideally, you should sequence the flooring after the tapers and jointers and when the plaster is dry. If these trades come after, the dust and plastering can damage the flooring works.

Collaboration

This section was contributed by JW Contract Flooring Limited, a member of the Contract Flooring Association. Through a small and experienced team, JW Contract Flooring supply and install to the commercial and industrial sectors in London and the South East. The company supply major and lesser-known brands for use in the resin flooring, stone tiling, ceramic tiling and wall cladding restoration markets.

Plastering and Drylining

Fit Out Flooring

1. Tender Analysis (Apples and Pears)

A. Brand and Product

Sometimes a designer specifies a particular brand due to certain warranty or performance requirement. Ensure that each subcontractor has priced for the same plasterboard, metal stud and insulation in line with drawings & specifications. Pay close attention to bathroom boxings and steel encasements as these are often grey areas. Request that any Value Engineering options are priced separately. This way, you have the opportunity to compare tenders like for like, but also the option to discuss alternative value engineering options with the designer or architect.

B. Fire Protection

Fire protection is a critical element of construction. Check the extent of firestopping allowed by the contractors, including FIRAS approved sealant to services penetrating fire rated partitions.

C. Finish

Check that each tenderer has clearly stated their plasterboard finish. Tape & Jointing is often more cost effective than a skim finish. A sealer coat can add greater cost on Tape & Joint finish, whereas plasterers prefer mist coat by painters to expose any bad plaster.

D. Ceilings

Always check that the contractor has priced for the specified ceiling system in communal areas of residential apartments, porches, undercrofts, garages, and below terraces or cold areas in ceilings. The requirements here differ to other ceiling areas (often with insulation) and the costs are normally greater, so it’s important to clarify what has been included.

2. Value Engineering

A. Brands

Check with the designer or architect whether “Non-branded” or cheaper alternatives for metal stud systems can be used in lieu of branded. As long as you maintain performance and warranty requirements, this will provide a significant saving.

B. Performance Boards

Often, performance boards like Fireline and Soundbloc are overspecified and, in certain areas where fire and acoustic requirements are reduced, can be substituted for wallboard. The big industry manufacturers (British Gypsum, Siniat and Knauf) provide Value Engineering design exercises to alter specifications and generate savings. The same can be said for moisture resistant (MR) board. It’s often specified for installation in the whole bathroom, but it only needs to be installed behind tiled areas around showers and baths. The rest of the bathroom can be value engineered to swap MR with wallboard. If you’re working on a block of apartments, this kind of change can generate £000s in savings.

C. Sequence of Works

Carrying out drylining works in the wrong sequence will have a detrimental impact on costs. For example, if windows are installed late or service cupboards are built after the drylining works, further sealing work will be required by the drylining contractor that comes as a variation. Speak with the drylining subcontractor early to ask how best to sequence works to improve efficiency and reduce return visits.

3. Programming

A. Co-ordinated Design

To avoid chaos amongst multiple trades working in the same small spaces, it’s important to have co-ordinated design. Final fix items, M&E in particular, needs to be agreed and signed off before the drylining and other second fix works begin. If Architect drawings for things like plug sockets and luminaire locations are revised after the dryliner begins works, you’ll require unnecessary revisits and making good.

Collaboration

This section was contributed by IPL Interiors. IPL Interiors provide professional interior services, ceilings, drylining, plastering, render, screed and SFS packages to a wide range of main contractors throughout London and the South East. IPL Interiors believe in great partnerships. They work to the core values of effective planning and resourcing, great 360°communication, and rigorous quality checks.

Kitchens

Fit Out Kitchen

1. Tender Analysis (Apples and Pears)

A. Check Specifications

Check the range and specifications are the same or of similar performance. Kitchens can look the same but differ substantially in terms of quality, performance and subsequently price.

B. Rigid or Flat Pack

Is the carcase rigid or flat pack? Flat pack will incur extra installation costs. If you can, always use a rigid kitchen that comes with the doors fixed to the carcase. This way you know the unit is complete when you unpack it. Also, ‘off the shelf’ kitchens from large retailers usually supply the doors separately, with both sides drilled for either left and right handing. This is a give-away signal that the kitchen is a low budget option, as a quality kitchen would feature doors that are drilled on one side only.

C. Doors Specification

Door finishes may look the same, but some manufactures at the lower end often use cheaper, thinner material that can de-laminate or spilt. Always ask the supplier for the full door specifications.

D. Door Finish

What is the door finish? For example, a plain white door could be MFC, HPL or Lacquered Painted, which are all in different price groups and can a large impact on cost. Check the quotes are for the same material, as a supplier quoting for MFC will be a lot cheaper than a supplier quoting for a lacquered door.

E. Décor Panels

Has the subcontractor included décor panels? These can be expensive. Many suppliers will quote without décor panels, even when they have been specified, which will give them an unfair advantage on price.

F. Kitchen Components

Is the Quality of the kitchen components the same? For example, are the hinges produced by a quality manufacturer like Blum or Salice, or a low cost unbranded import? Does the kitchen come with soft close doors and drawers, or the budget non soft close basic drawers?

G. Are Accessories Included?

Does the kitchen price include accessories like cornice, pelmet, bins, cutlery trays etc.? Many quotes will not contain these items unless they are specified or included in the Bill of Quantities.

2. Value Engineering

A. Mix and Match

For high to mid end residential, you can replicate the look of a high-end German branded kitchen with a mix and match of quality Egger MFC slab doors for the base units and wall units. This could be done for a fraction of the price of engineered timber.

B. Vinyl wrapped and MFC Slab Doors

Vinyl wrapped Slab doors and MFC/HPL Slab doors with 3mm edging are a good option for rental/commercial properties as they are hard wearing, easy to clean and low maintenance.

C. Solid Laminate Worktops

Instead of Quartz or Marble worktops, use 12mm solid laminate to give the look of a high-end designer kitchen whilst generating a major saving and using the latest materials.

D. Budget Appliances in Fully Integrate Units

Use budget branded appliances for the fully integrated units (fridges, dishwashers, washing machines, etc.) and use high end brand products for appliances on display (oven, hob, extractor, microwave, etc.) This will give a high quality impression, plus the budget brand appliances usually have the same guarantee as more expensive options and are often just as reliable.

E. Free Standing Appliances

For rental properties, use freestanding appliances as they are easy to replace and lower cost than integrated.

F. Door Handles

Handles come in a wide range of designs and can vary from a £2 to £30 each. If you’re looking to value engineer, this could have a large impact on the price of the kitchens across your development.

G. Drawers

Use fewer drawers and pan drawer units in the design, as drawer boxes account for a large proportion of the drawer unit cost. Usually, one 3-drawer pack will suffice in most kitchens.

H. Contrasting Colour or Finish

Use an MFC carcase with a contrasting colour/finish instead of expensive décor panels. This can create a high quality designer look whilst giving you a big saving on décor panels.

I. Choice of Unit

Most modern kitchens now include designer lighting, so there is no need to use cornice, pelmet, glass or carousel units. You’ll also have more room in a corner unit without a carousel unit.

3. Programming

A. Communicate Changes Early

Should you require any changes to the kitchen (i.e. move services, walls, add pipe boxing, boilers etc.) let the kitchen supplier know as early as possible so they can amend their drawings accordingly. It will be very costly to make changes once the kitchen has been manufactured.

B. Check Dimensions

Double check the dimension on the supplier’s drawings against the actual finished room dimensions prior to the supplier putting the kitchen into production. By doing this, you’ll ensure that the kitchen will definitely fit.

C. Check Service Positions

Check all the services are in the correct positions for the appliances in the kitchen before the kitchen is put into production. Again, it’s costly to retro fix services.

D. Room for Pipework

Make sure there is enough room behind the appliances and units for any surface pipework, which may mean using a deeper worktop. This includes ovens, fridge and washing appliances.

E. Ready for Installation

Ensure the room is ready for the kitchen installation. That means it has been painted, services are ready to be connected to and flooring is finished. This will limit any damage to the kitchen by other trades.

F. Protection

Once the kitchen is fitted, protect it with Correx if other trades need to work in the room.

Collaboration

This section was contributed by Elite Trade & Contract Kitchens Ltd. Since 1985, Elite has specialised in supplying the construction, refurbishment and fit-out sector with high-quality rigid kitchens, at competitive trade prices with an assured after-sales service.