Select Interiors

Design Cost Management & Delivery the Holy Trinity



D.C.M.D. – Design, Cost Management & Delivery, The Holy Trinity

It is said that good ideas never go out of style.

The greatest barrier to achieving a perfect interior is usually the budget. As most clients have less than is needed to achieve the ideal, it falls to the designer to be the arbiter, selector of materials, finishes and to have a tight rein on the purse strings. Multiple skills and team effort are required for the successful delivery of a project. Every element of the selection process must be carefully considered, what material, its’ aesthetic qualities, colour, texture and ultimately at what cost

Select Interiors have the dilemma above every working day, a budget can only be exceeded if the client requests additional works, or like the example below for the unforeseen. There are so many elements of a build that cannot always be accounted for at the survey stage.

On a recent project budget £158,000.00 plus VAT, programme 6 weeks we delivered the project a week early and to estimated price to the penny. At the post contract final account meeting it was apparent the FD was expecting additional costs, he was more than pleasantly surprised when informed that there were none. We were awarded another fit out in York for Colas Rail an international rail infrastructure provider

What happens when the unexpected incurs additional costs and impact on the programme?

The unforeseen variation or additional cost, the following case study illustrates how Select Interiors reacted and managed an unexpected mid-contract design change and the impact on costs and programme. 2 weeks into an 8 – week programme we were informed that Listed Building Control required a complete re-design of ceiling raft design and reinstatement of the bespoke decorative period cornice on a Grade II listed Royal Exchange and design change reduced height walls to BOH areas. This unforeseen condition from Listed Building Control not only impacted the programme, but the mechanical design, the lighting which was pre-ordered.

Select Interiors conscious of the impact on cost, programme & budget produced a detailed report, a video and annotated drawings on behalf of our client which despite reasoned argument was rejected by Listed Building Control.

We completed a redesign, re-submitted proposals to Manchester Council and managed to procure a specialist contractor to repair & manufacture new cornice to match the original badly damaged. Re-designed the mechanical and adjusted the lighting design with few modifications as all the materials for a deeper raft had been ordered from the German manufacturer with a total impact of two weeks on the original programme period.See example (left) of summary, every cost is clearly broken down, priced per lineal, per square, labour to the half-hour

Report to Listed Building Control, detailed survey, video, annotated images to illustrate the condition of existing sub-ceiling and reasoning behind design intent. We lost the debate on this occasion despite clear illustration of our case, we at Select fully understand the importance of preserving our heritage Grade II Listed Buildings and gracefully conceded defeat and re-designed and implemented the changes with only 2 weeks extension to the programme.

See above partial report submitted on client’s behalf detailing the poor repair and badly damaged original cornice, the reasoning behind the original design as whole back of house sub ceiling was not only damaged but without architectural merit and had been designed with utility in mind rather than to be within a retail unit. Also, the design had been approved by Managing Architects for The Royal Exchange as being sympathetic to Grade II Listed status. A video report was also sent reinforcing our proposals and reasoning behind design principles & intent

The impact on the budget was approx. 8% of the total budget as a variation to contract this included the re-design of lighting and adapting the track, re-design of the Mechanical / A/C as the original design incorporated slimline vents within a 230mm deep raft to conceal as much of the sub-ceiling services as possible

See example (left) of transparent additional costs, clearly broken down, labour to the half hour and materials at cost plus p&o

The client was informed of the potential risk that Listed Building Control could request design change but with rent, rates and opening pre-Christmas a priority we proceeded. A detailed worksheet estimate was submitted. Select Interiors completed the project with only a 2-week extension to Programme and minimal impact on budget. The shop opened three weeks before Christmas for trading which we found out after the client had resigned herself to missing the Christmas trade, a good outcome!

We all read about public works contracts going over budget by millions of pounds. The industry has perhaps a poor rep with the public. Large infrastructure and public building contracts are routinely tendered at cost or even less. The larger contractors use Quantity Surveyors to make savings by opting for the cheapest sub-contractors and often sharp contractual practices to ensure a profit is squeezed from the initial tender sum. Savings from smaller contractors and variations or ‘extras’ have been the only avenue to extract profit from unfeasible original bid prices

We are always meeting clients that want cutting edge design delivered to a constrained programme on a limited budget. If this is achievable, that more works will be forthcoming. Meaning that if works are fast, cheap and good enough the reward would be more work at the same fast cheap pace & rate



The first thing to understand is that it is impossible to create work that is fast, good, and cheap. Inevitably if we do work that is cheap and fast, it is inevitable that it will not be of as high quality if we had more time or a greater budget.

We have traded through three recessions now having been in business for 32 years and are constantly working for clients that demand all the above. Factors such as the responsibility felt towards employees, the security of having a constant work-stream, and our service ethic often overrides orthodox business strategy.

The extras on a project are not viewed by Select Interiors as a means of extracting more profit but as a service if requested or if necessary. As the example above illustrates on a challenging design & fit out in the Grade II Listed Royal Exchange. Select Interiors have previously undertaken a lot of contracts for the Department of Works and Pensions throughout Cheshire and Brighton & Hove areas. We were awarded the best fit out contractor of the year for the fit out at Wilmslow as part of the framework agreement. Variations or additional works were agreed on an ‘open book’ cost plus P&O basis. We do not believe we can foresee all risks; however, we can promise to provide a detailed and transparent breakdown of variations, clear reporting and taking the necessary action to ensure there is a minimal impact on programme. We also strive to give clear reporting on progress, variations as they arise and to give value and service.

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 We at Select Interiors Manchester Makers & Creators of unique interiors at competitive prices. We design and create environments that not only make the most efficient use of space but that incorporate a sense of fun and unique, bespoke elements to every scheme<

Talk to the experts about how we can improve your office, restaurant, cafe or retail space, call the Select Interiors design team on 0161 445 4040.


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0161 445 4040

Studio 31a, Tib Street, Manchester, M4 1LX