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Your Essential Guide to Office Refurbishment

An office refurbishment is a great opportunity to revitalise and refresh your office. It provides all the benefits of having a new office without incurring the huge costs of moving to a new office space.

If you're considering an office refurbishment or beginning to plan your office refurb, this guide has everything you need to make it a success.

You might want to read it over lunch or scroll down to the end to download your own copy.

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1. What is an office refurbishment?

An office refurbishment typically includes renovations to interior design, ceilings, floors, furniture, walls, plumbing and windows, 

Your office may just need a small basic refurbishment to reduce unsightly loose cabling or to improve the kitchen area.  If you've re-branded or expanded or contracted in size, you may need a whole refurbishment which may include a space planning review and creation of a new open plan layout or partitioning to add some privacy.

2. What is the difference between an office refurbishment and an office fit out?

The difference between an office fit out and an office refurbishment is a fit out is carried out on a new office space and refurbishment is concerned with refurbishing your existing office.

3. What are the benefits of an office refurbishment?

There are many benefits to an office refurbishment if planned, budgeted and managed correctly. 

Visual impression is the focal point to your corporate identity - refurbishing your office is a great opportunity to affect positive change and improvement in business performance, increase staff productivity, staff morale and staff retention.

An office refurbishment can be an exciting and creative experience and doesn't have to break the bank. Follow our office refurbishment guide to make your next office refurbishment a success.

4. Determine your motive

Firstly, establish the main reasons why you have decided to refurbish your workplace. It may simply be that it’s looking tired and run down, or that you are driven by a lease renewal, have surplus space or you are growing and need to create more space.

Modern day office design is different to what it was 10 years ago. Technology and collaborative working practices have been driving changes in office design and layout for some time and even more so following on from the introduction of the flexible working laws in 2014. 

It may be external factors, such as new competitors in your local area or design trends which are the forcing you to provide a better workplace.

You may find that there are numerous factors driving the need to refurbish. Prioritise them and keep them in mind when designing and refurbishing your offices as it is easy to lose track and become distracted with the smaller details of the refurbishment.

5. Preparing your brief

A successful office refurbishment is dependent on a good brief. This will incorporate an office wish list and an outline of the company objectives, staff numbers, style of working, company ethos, branding, functional requirements and of course, budget.

At Trevor Blake Fit Out, we will work with you to guide you through the refurbishment process, helping you to define your requirements and advise on how we believe you could improve your workplace.

To get you started on your brief, here are a few key areas to consider:

a) Fixtures and fittings

  • Is your office partitioning in the right places? Is it adequate? Do you require more cellular spaces?
  • Does the existing lighting suit the office layout? Can you make better use of natural light?
  • Is your heating, cooling and ventilation system working efficiently? When was the air conditioning last serviced? To meet the requirements of the Energy Performance of Buildings Regulations, all air conditioning systems with an effective rated output of more than 12kw must be regularly inspected by an energy assessor no more than five years apart. 
  • Is the carpet looking tired, does it need changing or will a professional deep-clean suffice?
  • Access your office equipment. Do you have adequate storage, is it the right type and is it in the right location within the office?
  • Are the office desks the right size?
  • Does everyone have an ergonomic task chair that can be adjusted correctly?

b) Workplace technology 

  • Do you have enough electrical sockets or do you require more?
  • Are there any extra data cabling outlets required? Do you have Wi-Fi?

c) Office design 

The design of your office layout can reflect your corporate culture and mission. You should tailor your office design to complement the type of atmosphere you want to achieve.

  • Does your reception area look professional and welcoming?
  • Does your office design reflect your company's brand values?
  • Are there opportunities for adding your branding to the design scheme?

c) Floor plan

Think about the way the office is currently laid out - does it work for everyone?

  • Does the existing space provide flexibility for company growth?
  • Do people that regularly use printers/photocopiers have easy access to them?
  • Does your office provide space for people to work privately/collaboratively?

Refer to our one minute guide to office refurbishment for more inspiration.

d) Office acoustics

  • What's the office environment like? Is your office noisy?
  • Do staff find it difficult to concentrate?

Are the sources of noise, for example, the printer and photocopier, or your outbound sales team, located in an area where acoustics have been considered?

Check out our article: office acoustics for noise reduction.

6. Office refurbishment case studies 

With this eight-week refurbishment project for the SES Water Head Office shown below, we transformed an unused part of the lower ground floor to a new kitchen and breakout area, boardroom and staff lockers. 

Breakout booths with low pendant lighting


New private working booths were introduced along with new desks, carpeting and lighting for this head office refurbishment for Medica Group.

Acoustic booth in an open plan office

7. Set up an in-house project team

The best way for a project to remain on track is to have a single project co-coordinator, a project champion if you will.  In a small business this will be the Managing Director or for SME's, it may be the Operations Director or Office Manager.  In larger organisations, they'll be someone dedicated to this role, such as a facilities manager. 

Attributes of a refurbishment project manager

  • Knows the business inside out
  • Is well organised
  • Has keen attention to detail
  • Plans meticulously
  • Has budgetary experience
  • Has excellent communication skills
  • Has the ability to effectively gain buy-in and contribution from others

Project team

A strong support structure encompassing finance, office management, IT, marketing and HR can ensure that the right people are involved at the right time and they will all have valuable input to help your project run smoothly and ensure minimal stress and disruption to the business.

Team meeting 1

8. How to select the right commercial refurbishment partner

A good refurbishment fit out partner should be able to provide all the key services, such as the project management, space planning, office design, mechanical and electrical works, decorating and furniture supply. This makes the process a whole lot easier when you can deal with one company and one point of contact.

Consider whether the relationship will work between the refurbishment partner and your in-house project management team, as they will be working closely together over many weeks or months.

Due diligence checks

Perform due diligence and look at their track record and financial performance. Ask them if they have relevant experience of your type of project in your industry sector. Your office refurbishment will involve significant costs and the implications of your chosen refurbishment partner failing to complete on time, or at all, could be substantial.

Insurance, accreditations and references

Make sure you dot the i’s and cross the t’s and check that they have the relevant insurance covers, references and industry accreditations. As a minimum, your selected refurbishment partner should have insurance for Employee and Employer, Public Liability, Contractors All Risks and Professional Indemnity cover. 

Project size 

Consider whether they specialise in high or low value contracts or do they have experience of both? At Trevor Blake Fit Out, we typically work on projects ranging from £10k to £1m in value. 

multifunctional office space

Click here to see an example of a small refurbishment project undertaken for a private wealth company to transform a 1,100 square feet area into a multifunctional space.

Our service includes complete project management with space planning, 3D drawings, furniture consultancy, procurement and installation.

We've compiled 5 (very good) reasons to partner with Trevor Blake if you'd like to know more.

9. Work out your budget

Depending on its scale, your office refurbishment could be among one of the highest expenditure items of your year, so it’s important to budget for it accurately and to monitor the projects costs closely, looking for where you can save money as well as spend it.

Beware of any hidden costs and make sure your office refurbishment company provides a fully detailed, itemised quote. Partnering with a professional and experienced office refurbishment company will provide you with commercial security and reduce the likelihood of any nasty surprises.

Your budget should have a contingency for unforeseen challenges or elements that you wish to adjust during the project. Even with the best pre-project planning, there are often ideas that emerge during a project that warrant being incorporated into the plan.

Within your budget be sure to also include professional fees, IT infrastructure costs, furniture, telecoms and insurances.

Don’t forget the costs for marketing and PR to announce your new look office to yourstakeholders and customers.

10. Timing it right

Timing is crucial when refurbishing offices. If your company is affected by seasonal business, it’s wise to schedule the refurbishment during the quieter period.

It’s not a good idea to schedule it when the business is in its planning phase and senior management require peace and quiet to focus on preparing the business plan or when the marketing team have a significant event coming up such as a product launch or new advertising campaign.

Do I need to arrange temporary office arrangements?

With pretty much all commercial refurbishment projects, temporary office arrangements aren't necessary. You can stay in your current office during works taking place. Office refurbishment companies are used to working around you to ensure business as usual and will normally be able to split the project into phases.

You can discuss with them the work that can be done during office hours and what needs to be done outside of business hours to minimise disruption in your offices.

Ask your refurbishment company for examples of where similar projects were carried out and how they minimised disruption.

11. Space Planning

Space planning is one of the most exciting phases of your office refurbishment project.

Office space plan

Whether you want to improve workflow, accommodate more staff or simply create a more comfortable working environment, the space planner will meet your requirements and find ways for you to improve efficiency, productivity and morale. 

In house we offer our clients 2D AutoCAD floor plans and SketchUp office designs along with video walkthroughs with the added capacity to source 3D rendered visuals and walkthroughs.

2D AutoCAD software (an Autodesk brand) for space planning can show what can be achieved in any space available.

SketchUp offers you more of an idea of what the space would actually look like from a person’s point of view and 3D rendered visuals and walkthroughs have a high-level photo quality of images which present what the space could look like.

We use space planning because it helps clients to plan how they want to operate within their space and business, as well as factoring in the need for your people to function well within any given area, whilst also working to acknowledge and implement furniture, zones and technologies that look to promote the wellbeing of your individuals and teams.


Agile working 

Consider office design elements that promote flexible working as this is part and parcel of the modern workplace and having a flexible, multifunctional space is essential.

Look at your workflow to help you decide if you need to incorporate agile design with hot desks, team tables, touchdown desks and informal breakout areas to improve space utilisation.

Areas to be considered when space planning 

  • All open plan office areas - departments / teams
  • Meeting rooms and informal meeting areas
  • Director’s and Managers offices
  • Reception area, visitor waiting
  • Breakout areas
  • Copy/Print Hubs
  • Conferencing and audio visual facilities
  • Toilet facilities
  • Waste and recycling points
  • Refreshment points
  • Building services

As the workplace design and space planning is progressing, it is important that your key staff have a say in their area of responsibility.

12. 3D visuals

It is often very difficult for a client to visualise how their new office layout and design will look, especially when the new office design is very different to the original. That’s where 3D visualisation comes in.

3D CAD new office design visualisations

By using 3D drawings and photo realistic colour renders you can see what space you will have and how it will look. It gives you a true to life impression at a stage in the project when changes are easy to make. This allows your refurbishment company to revise plans until you are entirely happy with your new office design.

3D visualisation is also extremely useful for helping others not directly involved in the office refurbishment project to see the end result and buy into it. 

13. Legal requirements

When undertaking an office refurbishment it is a legal requirement to ensure full compliance with the Equality Act 2010. The Equality Act places duties on Landlords and Property Managers, as well as employers of disabled people to ensure that reasonable adjustments have been made to ensure the working environment is suitable for any employees with disabilities.

14. Choosing the right furniture

Office furniture is often one of the most important elements of an office refurbishment as it can either be the icing on the cake or the one thing that holds back the new office design. 

Most office refurbishment companies will have good relationships with furniture manufacturers and should be able to provide a wide choice of off the shelf furniture in your brand colours as well as being able to supply bespoke furniture to add something a bit more special.

You have an exciting opportunity to add a splash of colour and to improve the functionality of your workspace with your new office furniture.

Take time to choose carefully; trial a number of task chairs, carry out a storage audit to figure out your storage requirements not just for now but for the future too.

At Trevor Blake Fit Out we work in the interests of our clients not the manufacturer. We offer independent, impartial advice and solutions that are tailored to their specific requirements in terms of function,design and budget.


Are you ready to create an improved workplace environment?

When we visit sites to start an office refurbishment, we don't expect you to have all the answers, after all, it could be the first time you've been tasked with an office refurbishment project.

We've managed hundreds of successful office refurbishments from the early stages of project planning through to installation of new office furniture so we know what to look out for.

If you would like some expert help, why not request a free space planning review?

We are highly experienced in designing workplaces to promote happy and productive teams. Plus, if you choose to work with us, we have a multi-skilled team that can handle every aspect of your office refurbishment and project management, leaving you to focus on what you do best.

Contact us on 01293 775509 to find out more.

Free downloadable e-Book

Your FREE Essential Guide to Office Refurbishment is available to download.

Included within our e-book:

  • Determining the motive
  • Preparing your refurbishment brief
  • Selecting the right project team
  • Timing it right, budgets & avoiding disruption
  • Space planning & legal requirements