Optimise your commercial asset
Total Property - Issue 3 2019
Owners of commercial office real estate should look to refurbish and/or reposition the property to maximise its functionality and appeal and optimise its future value.
A proven project management/design company can help you navigate the path to a viable upgrade that will elevate your asset.
Jeff Cowan of Platform Consulting Group shares some tips from more than 30 years’ experience in commercial project management and design services.
What outcome can a commercial property client expect when engaging project management-led design and advisory experts?
An existing building can be transformed into a high-quality, efficient, fit-for-purpose and intelligently-designed productive environment.
An astute project management team will interpret client needs, take ownership of the project, keep to timelines and budgets, liaise with contractors and minimise downtime.
Tell us how a project management-led approach works?
Working collaboratively with a property owner who intends occupying the building, a landlord or tenant – or both – we identify how to reposition their asset and strengthen their rental appeal.
There are project advisory and feasibility components, project and cost management considerations, compliance matters, spatial planning and analysis to best accommodate the workforce, conceptual design, procurement and coordination of works and construction, and sign-off at completion.
An owner-occupier will need a fit-out that reflects their brand and culture and allows them to operate their business efficiently and cost-effectively, while enhancing the value of their real estate asset over time.
A landlord will look to add value to attract new tenants, retain sitting tenants, or work with an identified tenant to establish a win-win upgrade. They will seek confidence their property will be easy to re-tenant should it become vacant – it will all come back to cost investment versus return.
Tenants will want to maximise cost-benefits and efficiency between the landlord base-build and tenancy fit-out works.
How can a base-build standard be achieved in an existing property?
A property can be repositioned to a base-build level ready for a tenant fit-out.
An astute project management company can provide specifications to council to ensure that all work is compliant – particularly fire protection requirements along with structural and services performance levels.
A base-build could include an exterior upgrade, a lobby upgrade, refurbished services and amenities like lifts, air-conditioning and bathroom/kitchen facilities, carpets or other flooring and addressing energy efficiencies to save on operating costs.
Why is it important to undertake an integrated build?
Modifying services while other upgrade work is being done can result in significant cost savings to a property owner and some of these cost efficiencies may be passed on to tenants.
If a tenant upgrade can be aligned with a landlord’s floor or total building upgrade, savings of up to 20-30 percent can be made on services integration.
What upgrade compromises can be made to save costs?
The tendency for owner-occupiers is to minimise fit-out expenditure. Once the basics are covered, capital can be used on furniture, furnishings and accessories to create a workplace environment in line with the business brand and culture.
A landlord should think like a tenant, be analytical, know their potential tenant market and aim to hit the mark first time with flexibility built-in.
Compromises will largely come in the level of finishing – property owners should keep the cost-benefit equation to the forefront of decision-making.
What are tenants looking for in a property today?
The trend for agile workplaces is still strong. Space that can be reconfigured for changing staff ratios, refocused business models or in response to technological changes is in-demand.
With competent and resilient services in place – heating and air-conditioning, lighting, cabling and amenities – a tenant can be resourceful about space utilisation.
Some tenants are looking for points of difference and the semi-industrial look is popular. Exposed ceilings create height and visual interest, feature lighting can provide impact and there’s a move towards ‘home-like’ communal spaces.
Other options to consider in a refurbishment include end-of-trip facilities, gym amenities and outdoor entertaining space.
• Know what is important to a tenant
• Understand compliance requirements
• Have a clear timeline and critical path of work
• Plan an integrated build for cost-effectiveness
• Engage a project management company to help maximise return on investment
• Work with your landlord and negotiate fit-out before you sign a lease
• Clearly articulate your vision and fundamental requirements, including around budget and timeframes
• Think with both landlord and tenant hats on
• How can you optimise the property for today’s business operation, while adding long-term value?
• The less internal fit-out the better to allow flexibility of use over time
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