• Caroline Shelly, LEED AP, HF Planners, LLC

Unrealistic budgets – or “How to overcome headache # 2”


Corporations held their money very closely these past years and now realize that existing office space may no longer meet the end user’s needs. Departments may discover that they have money to spend by the end of the year on some “pet” projects and reach out to the Facility Manager for assistance. The issue then becomes about managing expectations of the end users who may have unrealistic budgets. The Facility Manager will need to educate these end users on how costs have changed. For example; your Marketing department wants to create a multi-use training room out of two offices. The basic price per square foot is a good place to start and in the NY tristate area, pricing is running $74.23/SF (Q1 Commercial Brokerage Avison Young average of Class A Midtown/Manhattan Office). However, determining the scope of work prior to a “guesstimate” can help minimize cost overruns along with disappointment, frustration, and headaches for the end user. The following list can help identify what the end user is hoping to achieve and blend what the Facility Manager needs in order to avoid headaches along the way: 1. Determine the wish list from the end user, and if there is an order of magnitude on what they want in the space. For example, can the existing lighting be reconfigured or is there an expectation on adding soffits and various lighting scenes for presentations? 2. Are specific furniture requirements expected, such as table top connectivity? If so, is there a commercial furniture dealership that can provide such equipment? 3. Is an Interiors Group or Architect needed to help develop the scope of work and prepare the construction documents to go out to bid? 4. Is an Engineering Group’s expertise needed when it comes to the expansion of space scenario and how the HVAC and electrical capacity needs to be modified? 5. How do you handle the end users last minute requests to interface TV monitors as opposed to overhead projection? 6. A contingency factor should be included in the budget for unforeseen site conditions. Successful cost containment can be achieved, but it’s important to work with professionals who have a successful track record. They should be knowledgeable in office planning and design, contract documents, project management, and they should be capable of selecting construction materials and systems in order to minimize long-term maintenance and operation costs. Cost estimates should be developed during the design development stage as the materials, furniture, equipment and systems are being selected. Once approved, contract documents are developed for bidding. Construction costs are impacted by the design, building location, materials selected, accuracy and completeness of the construction documents. Change orders occur due to revisions to the scope brought about by the end user, errors or omissions in the construction documents, interpretation of the building code, building inspector requirements or unexpected building conditions. By developing the project based on the approved budget and/or developing a budget based on the end user’s wish list is something a successful Interiors Group can help with, and thereby help the Facilities Manager to avoid headaches. Caroline Shelly, LEED AP, is principal of HF Planners, LLC.

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