Updated: Aug 28
The Iconic team realised that we had outgrown our office space and needed to relocate. This case study tells you how we planned our relocation and delivered our own strip and fit out project to allow for company growth.
Establishing the relocation and refurbishment brief
As soon as we realised that we were dissatisfied with our office space, we talked with the team to find out what everybody liked and disliked about our existing setup. This helped us to come up with a wish-list that we used to help choose our new premises. The list we decided on was as follows:
• Town centre location
• Dog friendly
• Own kitchen facilities
• Separate meeting rooms
• Breakout space
This list made it quite easy to chose our new location; we were clear on our requirements and there were only so many properties available that met them.
The office we chose was just over 1500 square feet, which meant that we could provide space for up to 27 desks, amply accommodating our planned team size over the next five years. In addition, the building was right in the heart of Wokingham town centre, within easy access of all transport links, it was dog friendly, and it had separate rooms to be used for either meetings or breakout space. Here is the floor plan of the building as it was:
However, the unit was not ready for immediate occupation as it needed stripping out and refitting. Our Assistant Project Manager, Bart Ngoma has experience in the architecture field (in fact, he is currently studying for his Masters in Architecture) so he was tasked with producing the design.
As you can see from the drawing above, our new unit did have the separate rooms we desired; in fact, it had too many of them! We decided to remove the two smaller meeting rooms at the front of the unit to allow for a larger, open-plan, workspace.
You will remember that one of our requirements was to have our own kitchen facilities. This unit did not already have them so we would have to put in our own. The kitchen needed to go where there was access to water and waste, which meant that we were constrained to the room in the bottom right corner of the drawing.
We decided to keep the other two meeting rooms largely as they were. We were happy with the size of them but weren’t happy that one of them opened into our proposed kitchenette. We decided to block that door up and have a new opening into the main workspace. Here is Bart’s original design proposal:
If you would like to see the full design pack for our office refurbishment project, you can download it here.
It’s worth mentioning at this point that we had identified two main factors that had the potential to affect our programme of works. The first was that the unit was already let to tenants who were not due to move out until our completion date. This meant that we had restricted access before we moved in, and so we were only able to complete a very basic visual survey. To a large extent, we were reliant on there not being any major hidden issues and that all the information we had from the landlord was correct.
The second issue we had was availability of trades. We are very fortunate in having a network of suppliers who we work with and trust. Of course, we wanted those people to do the refurbishment work on our office for us. However, these tradespeople that we know and trust were busy delivering work for our clients. This meant that our refurbishment project had to be fitted in around other work and could not affect our clients’ projects.
We accepted that these risk factors could affect our programme of works and made sure that we had contingency plans. In particular, we made sure we had funds available for any unexpected remedial works. The team were prepared to work from home temporarily in the event of a delay.
The scope of works
Having agreed a design, and based on the information we had access to, our scope of works was as follows:
• Demolish the existing partition walls
• Demolish a doorway through the meeting room wall
• Block up 2 existing doorways
• Remove and replace the existing flooring
• Remove and replace the existing lighting
• Remove and replace the existing heating
• Plumb and fit a Kitchen
• Rewire the electrical circuits
• Redecorate all walls
• Add signage to the exterior
Budget and timeframe
The Budget for the project was £35,000 and the work was expected to take approximately 14 days to practical completion.
Delivering the office strip and fit out
The first stage of the programme was to strip out the existing fittings and fixtures and demolish the existing partition walls. These walls were just formed of plasterboard and so came out easily. Likewise, the old storage heaters came out easily, as did the lighting.
However, on removing the heating and lighting, it became apparent that the wiring was not to the standard we had expected. We had been advised that the wiring was certifiable but it had significant issues and was not up to current specifications. Luckily, we were able to get our electrical contractor to remedy the situation quickly.
Where the new doorway was supposed to be added, the wall was load-bearing. This meant that the wall was very strong, hard to break through, and a lintel would need to be placed above the door to prevent damaging the wall’s structural integrity. The work was time consuming, and incredibly dusty, but the contractor persevered and the new doorway was successfully formed.
A critical aspect of the strip out and refurbishment was to replace the flooring throughout the unit. Due to the flooring being very old and worn, the adhesive had become increasingly firm, making it harder to remove the carpet tiles. This problem was overcome by using an industrial floor stripper to remove the tiles. We could have been tempted to save ourselves time, effort and money by fitting the new flooring over the top of the old carpet tiles but this is not a good idea; not only would you not get the finish you’d want, but the old flooring could be masking issues such as leaks.
Once the demolition and strip out works had been completed, delivering the fit out was relatively straightforward. Our only real issue was the availability of our decorating contractor. He was busy working on an extensive small works programme for one of clients. Consequently, he was having to fit our decoration around the other jobs he was doing as we didn’t want to cause delays to our client’s programmed works.
Practical completion took 16 days and were pleased that, despite a few difficulties, we were only over our desired timeframe by two days. This was well within the five days contingency we had allowed for. We then had another couple of days with all hands on deck assembling our new furniture before we moved in. This generated an enormous amount of waste cardboard that needed recycling. Our waste management contractor dealt with that and disposed of other waste materials in a responsible manner.
It’s fair to say that our snagging list was longer than we would have accepted for one of our clients. This was because our decorator was so pushed for time, as previously mentioned, that the painting of the woodwork was not quite finished. We accepted this and were happy to move into our new office with an agreed timeframe for the remainder of the works to be completed around us.
The refurbished office
We moved into our (nearly) completely refurbished office in mid-October 2022. There had been a couple of aspects of the design, namely a soundproof booth in the main workspace and a bar in the kitchen, that we hadn’t been sure about. We had already decided to wait until we’d occupied the unit for a few months before committing ourselves to those items. We’ve decided that we do want a bar in the kitchen but we want something with real visual impact to be the main focus of the room. Bart is busy getting ideas and coming up with an eye-catching design for that.
We’re still undecided about the telephone booth. We know that we don’t want one as a permanent fixture because it would compromise the flexibility we’ll need from the space as our business grows. We’re looking at modular telephone pods instead.
We were delighted to finally have our own space. We love the colour scheme that Bart chose. It’s warm, bright and welcoming. Our convenient location in the centre of Wokingham is proving popular with the team and the extra space means that we can welcome visitors. Our new meeting rooms have been used for team meetings, as you’d expect, but also for a variety of other purposes that were more difficult in our old home, such as a professional development workshop and 1st aid training. Most importantly, we love that we can have Dolly, the Iconic dog, at work with us every day.
Lizzie is CEO at Iconic Project Management, taking care of the running of the business so that the project managers can get on with the important job of managing projects.
Check her out on LinkedIn or say hi on Twitter @captainlizzo.