One of the biggest budget line items for renovation or relocation projects is for new furniture, especially if a company has not moved or renovated in ten or more years. Over a ten-year period, furniture becomes worn and broken, space and furniture standards evolve, ergonomic requirements and design trends change, all of which contribute to the need for new furniture.
Your architect or designer may have a good working relationship with a limited number of furniture dealerships that they can introduce you to. If you are looking to buy a specific brand of furniture, there may be specific furniture dealerships that can carry that manufacturer without having to buy that line through another dealer. For larger projects, or clients with multiple locations, you can typically negotiate an on-going corporate discount structure with the furniture manufacturer.
Some of the criteria and questions that will help you and your designer narrow down the selection of furniture and the furniture dealer could include the following:
Establishing a budget for new furniture for offices, workstations and support areas. Your designer can work early in the budgeting process with a furniture dealership, or multiple furniture dealers, in preparing a conceptual furniture budget with a range of possible costs prior to making specific recommendations. This is a good starting point before spending a lot of time selecting furniture options and visiting furniture showrooms.
Select the furniture dealer based on the products, their costs and dealer capabilities.
What should the level of quality be for the furniture, how many years do you need for the furniture to last before being repaired or replaced?
What level of flexibility do you need in establishing furniture standards? How often do you expect it to be reconfigured or moved?
What ergonomic features do you want in the furniture? (ie sit-stand adjustability, monitor arms, task specific lighting)
For systems furniture (workstations), what are the privacy concerns which would dictate panel heights?
What kind of storage do you need to accommodate in the closed and open office furniture? (ie files, binders, reference materials, coat or personal items, etc.)
What are the aesthetics and style of furniture that will reflect your desired branded image?
What furniture is needed for shared support areas and collaborative spaces?
Are there any critical installation dates that will determine lead-time constraints? (Many furniture manufacturers have quick-ship programs which will reduce the lead time but will limit the selection of items and their finish selections)
Ask your furniture dealer if they have any short-term furniture storage facilities in case your installation date for the furniture has to be delayed.
Ask your furniture dealer if their installation crews are experienced and factory trained on the products they are delivering and installing.
Make sure that your designer is effectively communicating with your furniture dealer early enough in the process to ensure that your budget and schedule issues are addressed early in the project schedule. If your designer, or architect, has developed a master schedule, make sure that the furniture dealer has had some input into the furniture portion of the schedule. Having the proper furniture lead times in the schedule will allow you to have some cushion in your schedule to make minor adjustments to the specifications, if necessary. A realistic schedule will also help in having leverage to arrange the best financial deal on your furniture and ensure its timely delivery and installation.
Contributors to this blog article:
Brian Alvarez with MOI. He can be reached at BAlvarez@moii.com or 202-826-6334
Jud Buchanan with Washington Group Solutions. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 703-237-9596 ext. 109