Designs and Plans

May 19, 2015 9:00 am


Creating an office design for your company can be a challenging task because it involves decisions that may be very close to home.

Designing space means deciding where everyone is going to work.   It’s not just who gets the corner office – or even if they’ll be a corner office.  The decisions that go into the design will effect how everyone works, how people and materials flow between departments, how efficiently and comfortably employees and executives work, what visitors will experience when paying a call and  what level of security is required.  So give it a lot of thought.

Before the landlord can construct an office, program specifications must be drawn on paper as a floor plan layout.  A floor plan is a scaled drawing showing partitions (walls) and furniture placement.

It is essential to use the services of a skilled designer.  For a designer or architect to design a space properly, they must understand the flow and interrelationships of the personnel.  Who must work with whom?  The architect must develop your company’s very soul and image on paper.  A skilled designer can work with a client and sketch out ideas right in front of their eyes.  It may take several attempts to get a layout that all can agree upon.  If you do your homework with a complete space program, the process will be greatly accelerated.  A simple question like, where do we place the copy machine so that people don’t have to walk from one end of the office to the other, can be critical.

A preliminary floor plan was once called a nickel sketch because a designer would charge about 5 cents per square foot to draw one.  Today a nickel plan will cost about 15 to 25 cents PSF, and if you can’t make up your mind quickly, redrafts will raise the price much higher.

Preliminary plans are usually prepared after the terms of a business proposal have been agreed upon by landlord and tenant.  Some landlords may agree to front the cost of a preliminary floor plan in an effort to help show the tenant how well he fits into the space.  Some landlords may insist the tenant reimburse these costs if a deal is not consummated.

For a small or medium-sized office, up to 10,000 square feet, the landlord’s designers are frequently used to assist in the preliminary design phase.  The tenant has the option, however, to pay for his own designer if he chooses.  Major companies with lots of similar sales offices may have designers on staff to turn out cookie-cutter layouts quickly.  For specialized facilities such as data centers, physicians’ offices or laboratories, a designer or engineer who specializes in these types of facilities is essential.

Preliminary designs are usually prepared simultaneous to lease negotiations.  Once a lease has been executed, working drawings, the complete specifications of construction, can commence.

Working drawings need to be filed with and approved by the local municipality before a building permit can be issued and work can commence.  Working drawings usually include construction details like the floor plan layout, electrical specifications, reflected ceiling plan, HVAC plan, plumbing plans, specialty fixtures, millwork details and a finish schedule for carpet, paint, vinyl wall covering, etc.  The municipality will inspect these plans to make sure they meet the local building and fire codes.

          Secret No. 18 — Inspect the working drawings carefully.  If it’s not on the plan, it won’t be built.

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