As experts in interior fit out, we have an in-depth understanding of the costs associated with each stage of the process. However, clients often come to us with the desire to transform their space but with little understanding of how much budget to set aside.

Here, we want to break down the costs associated with any fit- out project, explain what factors drive the overall price and how you can achieve the best value for money.

We’ll explain some of the contractor jargon and help you get a better understanding of the tangible elements that are factored into an overall price.

Here we look at 8 key elements of an office fit out budget...


1. Preliminary Costs

Preliminaries or ‘prelims’ account for roughly 5 to 10% of your overall costs. It’s not always clear what’s included in this, but it’s a crucial part of any construction project; it includes: design work, site management, site setup, welfare facilities for workers, health and safety requirements including personal protective equipment (PPE) for site staff, the client (you) and any visitors. It also includes building control fees – a requirement to get approval for work done.


2. Strip Out

Strip out costs are dependent upon the space that is being transformed. If walls are being pulled down to make way for new partitioning or an open-plan space, then this cost will be higher. If you’re moving into a space that has an existing Category A fit out, then costs to take up old flooring, remove suspended ceilings and partitioning is typically around 10% of the overall cost.


3. M&E

This is the ‘biggie’. Mechanical and Electrical is usually the biggest cost associated with any fit out project at around 40% of the overall price. It includes all specialist equipment and its associated labour, such as: air conditioning, ventilation, plumbing, heating, lighting, small power (sockets, switches), data connection, and toilet facilities if they’re located within your space (rather than in shared parts of the building).


4. Ceilings, Partitions, Doors & Frames

While these elements would typically be broken down, these three combined come in at around 20% of a project’s cost. However, this is determined by the design of the space being created. Suspended ceilings will be more expensive than exposed ceilings, as will enclosed offices, created through the use of partitions, compared with an open-plan space. It’s worth pointing out that glass partitioning is more costly than plasterboard walls, however, depending on the number of partitions, door and frame costs can quickly add up.


5. Decoration & flooring

Coming in at around 10% of the cost each, decoration and flooring are pretty self-explanatory. Costs here are dependent on the overall interior design and quality of finish specified for the project. For example, wallcoverings such as wallpaper cost more than paint; carpet tiles are the go-to flooring option for most office spaces, however vinyl and timber options are commonly used around tea points and kitchen areas; manifestations on glass partitions, particularly with any bespoke messaging, also need to be considered.


6. AV

Digital screens, projectors, telephones and audio systems are just a handful of examples of what might be included in an AV budget. You could go state-of-the-art automation with high-definition video conferencing and electronic projector screens, or you could utilise off-the-shelf television options to provide a more cost-effective solution.


7. Fittings

These would be your bespoke items such as reception desk, biophilia (living walls), tea points and break out areas for employees. You may also require higher-end ceiling finishes. These need to be considered in great detail as this is the “wow” factor for your staff and clients. Collaboration between staff is the new ‘buzz word’ at present so you may feel inclined to allocate a little more of your budget to the wellbeing of your staff as they are the most important cog in the engine.


8. furniture

Desks, chairs, meeting tables, filing cabinets, shelving and storage are an essential part of any office. You might go for top-of-the-range funky furniture that represents the nature of your business, or you might go for a corporate style with enhanced orthopaedic features. Regardless, the options are limitless, and you will be guided by the design and budget of your space.

AV, fittings and furniture are typically costed in addition to the overall fit out costs, as these are entirely dependent upon the situation of the client. It’s always worth being aware of this when planning a budget, ensuring that you’ve carefully identified your requirements.