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Who should I use for Design & Fit Out?

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Should I use design & fit out (D&B) or go to an Architect or Independent Interior Designer?

When researching potential options for your project, many business owners consider using a one-stop-shop design & fit out contractor which can do the design work as well as the fit out. In the industry, this is called ‘design and build‘ and differs from the more conventional route whereby you appoint your architect / designer to do the design and drawing work first, then go out to tender & appoint your contractor. The ‘design and build’ route provides early cost certainty as well as a single point of contact. This can be appealing; it saves time & may well be the best option for you. However, it should not be a decision taken too lightly and the aim of this blog is to give help you make an informed decision which is best for your particular project.

The fit out seems fairly straight forward, do I need an architect?

In brief, we advise that although you might not need an ‘architect’, it is important to use a design professional to help design and draw your project before building it! In this blog we looked at the different kind of architectural design professionals – from qualified ‘architects’ to ‘technologists’ & ‘architectural designers’

 

Studio Neo Architect's plan Ezra & Gil

See example of a project by Steve West Architect – Studio Neo, note; the technical detailing & the innovative way that a commercial kitchen was squeezed into an unbelievably tight space. This is a perfect illustration of a project that required an Architect

Pros and cons of a design and build vs the traditional route 

What is the process of the conventional route? 
  1. You select an independent architect / interior designer
  2. They analyse your requirements then come back to you with a concept design
  3. Once agreed, they submit planning / building control applications (if required)
  4. Then they prepare drawings and a specification for construction
  5. This set of drawings is sent to usually 3 to your selected contractors as a tender package
  6. If a contractor’s quote is acceptable, you will sign a contract and the fit out can commence

 

Advantages of the traditional route – Design, Quality & Flexibility

Choice of Architect or Interior Designer

Rather than being landed with your contractor’s designer, you are free to select the right design professional to suit your requirements, style, and budget. A good design professional will be able to deliver the best design for your project, at a budget you feel comfortable with. They will advise where to spend and where to save, to ensure you end up with a polished fit out

Your Architect / Designer works for you and not your contractor

Your contractor’s in-house designer will be looking for ways to keep costs down for their company, which may not result in the best possible design for your brief. An independent architect has no other interest in anything other than achieving the best design for you, within your budget.

Changing your mind isn’t as expensive as it is with Design & Build.

By the time your contractor has been appointed, you will have gone through a detailed design process and at this point you should be happy with your design proposals to ensure you get an accurate price from your contractor. It is relatively straightforward to ask for changes after this point, your builder will submit variations for approval via the Architect who will inform you of the cost implications throughout the process

Ezra & Gill Design by Studio Neo and fit out by Select Interiors Limited

Ezra and gill peter street design
Ezra and gill interior counter and kitchen

Design & Build route (Where a contractor has an in-house design professional) 

1. You approach design and fit-out companies at the beginning of your project.

2. After initial meetings(s), they provide budget costs for the entire project, which includes their design fee, and you sign a contract

3. You develop the concept design with their interior designer

4. Once agreed, they submit planning / building control drawings (if required)

5. The design process continues, often overlapping with the construction.

When researching potential options for your project, many business owners consider using a one-stop-shop design & fit out contractor which can do the design work as well as the fit out (Select Interiors). In the industry, this is called ‘design and build‘ and differs from the more conventional route whereby you appoint your architect / designer to do the design and drawing work first, then go out to tender & appoint your contractor. The ‘design and build’ route provides early cost certainty as well as a single point of contact. This can be appealing; it saves time & may well be the best option for you. However, it should not be a decision taken too lightly and the aim of this blog is to give help you make an informed decision which is best for your particular project.

Sync Apple Shop Interior Designer Plans

See example above of drawings for a scheme, a Grade II listed building completed by Select Interiors in Barton Arcade in Manchester

See example above of drawings for a scheme, a Grade II listed building completed by Select Interiors in Barton Arcade in Manchester

Advantages of design and build – – easy, speedy and cost certainty. 

Speed and flexibility

A quick turnaround is the main advantage of using a ‘one-stop-shop’ to design and fit out your project. Specialist fit out companies, for example, can complete project after project swiftly and efficiently. Do not expect any design awards for creativity, but they know what works and how to build in the most cost-effective way. Flexibility & reduced processes is the other advantage

A single point of contact

Many business owners like the simplicity of dealing with only one company. There is a reduced chance of miscommunication & misunderstandings. This speeds things up and results in less admin & hopefully headaches for you the client

You agree estimate of costs at an early stage of the process

Cost certainty is another advantage of the design and build option. But note that we have not said it’s necessarily less expensive, it depends on which Architect / Interior Designer you choose. 

At Select Interiors we have an ‘open book’ approach to pricing and any variations that clearly illustrate where the costs are allocated 

 

Please click to view the full project case study for Sync design & build project by Select Interiors. 

 

Is it cheaper to use a design and build company?

There isn’t a definitive answer to this question. It would be misleading to think you are saving on Architect’s fees. Instead, your fit our contractor will incorporate their designer’s wages / costs into their quote. The advantage of employing a contractor that has an in-house designer is that, as a team, they can find the most cost-effective way of fitting out your project, thus potentially saving time & costs. In doing this, they might opt for the cheaper building materials which aren’t necessarily the best. So, yes it might be cheaper but there is certainly an element of ‘you get what you pay for’. However, as costs are fixed early in the design process with design & build, changing your mind about aspects of your project can more costly than with the traditional route depending on the contractor you select. It is crucial to understand your potential contractor’s process for variations / design changes. A reputable D&B contractor should be able to illustrate their processes with clear cost-plus profit & overheads & clear breakdowns of labour & materials

We have tried to be impartial, the advice above is not necessarily intended to recommend either the Architect / Independent Designer or the D&B route, it depends on your project. As a general rule of thumb based on our combined knowledge of 33 years in the business, projects with a value of over £400,000.00 or that may be complex we would recommend you go down the traditional route of appointing an Architect.

We employ Architects regularly as sub-consultants as well as tendering for Architects directly. As Clint Eastwood famously quipped ‘a man has to know his limitations’. We are proud to be working with one of the industries highly rated professionals, Steve West from Studio Neo. Mr West is bringing his vast experience, design flair & architectural to our clients.

We at Select Interiors Manchester have in-house design professionals and a designer with 33 year’s empirical experience of how the design translation process works at site level. There can be a disconnect between architects and design professionals and contractors in terms of build detailing. We at Select Interiors have both sides working collaboratively to realise your aspirations. Our experience as both designers and contractors can help save you costs and reduce the stress of the whole process.

Talk to the experts about how an engaging fit out can save you time, stress, and costs, call the Select Interiors design team on 0161 445 4040 or email sales@select-interiors.com 

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