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Gavin Murgatroyd
By Gavin Murgatroyd
Topics: Offices
Topics: Offices

Creating Occupier Value

Offices are built for occupiers and tenants. Without them there is no demand and no reason for us to build them. So in an age of improving wellbeing for occupiers, increasing building sustainability and providing hospitality services to tenants, it is still worth remembering the basics that can add value to an office product and help attract occupiers.

Office tenants are looking for the most appropriate premises in the right location to attract and retain talent to their business. Their premises must provide flexible and affordable accommodation which allows them to efficiently provide their services while reflecting their brand values.

Headline rents and lease terms will naturally drive the cost of occupation in their chosen workplace, but the cost of the fit-out can also be a differentiator when attracting tenants. Poorly executed base build can impact fit-out costs for occupiers and be detrimental to the comparative value of the premises.

Taking occupier needs into consideration during the base build should not be seen as an increase in cost of the development, but a value-add for occupiers from day one. An occupied office has far greater value than a vacant one. Facilitating the occupier fit-out can go some way to improve efficiency and differentiate between base build products helping to attract the best occupiers to an office development adding value to the asset.

Office buildings tend to be designed from the outside inwards. At the beginning of a building project a massing study will determine the volume of space and maximum floor area to generate value for viability. Design work then tends to concentrate on the external envelope and the impact on locality to achieve the first hurdle of planning permission. But there are many detailed constraints and competing factors to be unified to ensure a complete design, such as grid sizes competing with structural zones which then determine space for services installation, and each has a knock on effect throughout the building design.

Developers and contractors are looking to design and construct as efficiently and economically as possible and in the process can often inadvertently compromise the premises for its ultimate occupier thereby impacting its value.

Typical examples are such as cladding brackets connecting to floor plates can foul floor voids. This requires the raised floor to form a bridge from pedestals with oversized or special tiles where the elevation has complex articulation, which all adds to fit-out costs. Designing Cat A for one typical floor plate is efficient for a base build, but not all floors will be typical and an occupier may find that structural elements clash with air conditioning or areas that can’t be accessed further adding to the cost of the fit-out.

Occupiers often want to provide cellular accommodation and partition up to the cladding mullions. If the base build system does not provide for connectivity or interfacing, the occupier is faced with installation issues to solve acoustics, fire and aesthetics in the fit-out.

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Providing space for future expansion or facilities in a shell condition appears to be a great offer of flexibility for occupiers. But if these spaces are not coordinated or fully enabled a base build is merely offsetting its cost to a future occupier. For example providing space for a tenant generator in a room that has no ventilation, acoustics or sufficient access will add to the occupier’s future cost of its intended use.

Good base building considers the logistics of occupier fit-out from an early stage, providing access to floor areas, vertical transportation for materials and labour with clear access to risers and infrastructure services to allow fit-out works. Interface with base build trades for coordination and continuity of performance such as life safety systems and controls should be seen as a natural conclusion to the completion of a premises rather than an opportunity to offset costs and issues to an occupier.

An occupier fit-out is most efficient and cost effective when it deals with only fit-out. Pushing base build works onto occupiers is costly for them both in terms of time and money.

We build offices for occupiers. Let’s make it easy for them, We can add value for all parties and make office developments more attractive, by anticipating their needs and giving them access to facilitate their occupation as easily and cost effectively as possible.

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