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FAQ

We get a lot of questions from potential customers. To simplify things, we’ve posted answers to these commonly asked questions here.

FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

We get a lot of questions from potential customers. To simplify things, we’ve posted answers to these commonly asked questions here.

What’s does HVAC mean?

Short for heating, ventilation and air conditioning. The system is used to provide heating and cooling services to buildings. HVAC systems have become the required industry standard for construction of new buildings. There are different systems, costs and limitations to each system and designers can advise together with a mechanical engineer.

What is a TI and what does it cover?

Short for Tenant Installation Allowance refers to an allowance afforded to the Tenant by the Landlord in order to fit out and modify a leased space in order to make it more suitable to the Tenant’s specific needs. Longer leases often have higher TIA and are up to the landlord’s discretion. This should be mostly used for fixed improvements to air-conditioning, basic structure, plumbing, fire detection etc. Once the TIA has been negotiated, we recommend that you engage a spatial planner or designer to ensure that you maximise your budget and get a quality final product.

What does BO mean?

In most cases, landlords also offer a ‘beneficial occupation’ (BO) component as part of the TIA. BO provides a window of time to the tenant where their fit out is completed without rent being paid to the landlord. This window of time varies and is entirely at the landlord’s discretion, but is usually a period of around a month or two.

Why is a budget so important?

A budget, whether it a fixed figure or m2 number is a great guide to designers when it comes to planning and finishing off a space. Designers will often assist with creating a budget in order to guide the design and use it as a measuring tool for Tender quotes.

What does council submission involve and what does it cost?

Any interior or exterior alteration or addition to a building over 15m2 required a submission and approval from local municipalities. A multitude of documents, forms and council specific drawings are typically required and a designer can guide you as to the process. Often there is not much for the tenant to do unless they are the owner of the building. Submission fees vary but we estimate it to be 0.8% of building cost. Approval times are tricky to determine and vary greatly depending on complexity and whether you need approval from town planning. For typical interior submissions the average time is around 4-6 weeks.

What if I choose not to submit a plan?

If you’ve decided to build without having the plans approved by council, a building supervisor is entitled to visit your property and instruct construction to stop immediately. The supervisor has the right to obtain a court order for all work to be demolished at the owner’s expense. If the building goes unnoticed, you will not be able to sell the building when the buyer asks to see approved building plans.

What is an occupational certificate?

A certificate of occupancy is a document issued by a local municipality or building department certifying a building’s compliance with applicable building codes and other laws, and indicating it to be in a condition suitable for occupancy. Once council have approved drawings and the building works are complete an application is done for an Occupancy Certificate.

How is ergonomics applied to a space?

Ergonomics is the study of how to improve efficiency and comfort in a work place and arranging workplaces, products and systems so that they fit the people who use them. Correct ergonomic design helps to reduce discomfort at work, which increases job satisfaction, productivity and well-being – and reduces costs to the organization in the long run. Ergonomics applies to the design of anything that involves people – workspaces, sports and leisure, health and safety.

How many people can I fit into a specific space?

This depends greatly on your type of business and your operational needs. Please refer to our space use calculator as a guide. If it is an open space and you are looking to populate the space optimally with only workstations one can go up to aprox 4m2 per person. So a 100m2 of open plan space can accommodate up to 25 people.

Do we really need a reception area?

Reception areas are a disappearing phenomenon. Where the traditional use was an area to welcome visitors, it is now evolving to be a more versatile multipurpose space. Within many industries the need for clients to actually visit is becoming seldom and therefore smaller reception areas evolved; often linked to informal meeting space and coffee station. Seating should ideally be single seats and be determined by the amount of visitors. Generally large groups do not arrive unannounced and therefore can be received and guided through to their destination.

Some of our staff likes to stand and work; how do I accommodate them?

There are a variety of ways to accommodate standing and holds enormous health benefits. Various solutions exist in the form of free-standing tables, height adjustable tables, counters or on-desk additions. Speak to us for a solution best suited to your working style.

Is open plan really the best working environment?

The move towards open plan areas have been huge – essentially space comes at a premium and the more optimally or denser the space can be made the better the bottom-line is. Right? Research however has proven this not the case. Whilst open plan holds many benefits, the drawbacks are noise, disruption and often loss of productivity. There is a more approachable Agile Workspace environment that is emerging which balances out open-plan with other more task specific zones. These can be quiet spaces, breakaway areas or team areas which give employees versatility in their tasks and choice when it comes to where they work in their space and how the space adjusts to tasks.

What is a break-away space?

A typical break-away space, whilst being synonymous with taking a break, is in fact any space, away from your desk where you can work in isolation, work in a team or work on a specific task better performed in an alternative setting. Take for example, you have a large blueprint of a plan – they are not easy to spread out on a desk, but when you move to a standing table, you can view and assess the entire plan and move around it.

How much does an office fit-out cost?

One of the first discussions we like having with a client is often around their budget and to what extent they will be able to get the ‘best for their buck’. Let’s consider a complete new installation; there are no floors, walls, lights, electrical or otherwise. For calculation purposes let’s work on 200m2 of space and need to accommodate 15 staff. Your average installation will be in the region of R3000/m2 – R6000/m2 – this means you will need a minimum of R600,000. From here the budget stretch and shrink dependent of level of finishes, amount of enclosed spaces and the facilities that are available in the space.

How long does it take to design a space?

Whatever time it takes it’s worth it. Why we say this is firstly that the more design and detail covered before, the less questions come up during the processes following and the smoother a project flows and completed. In general, a Concept Design and 3D will take around 2 weeks to complete. Tweaks and changes are inevitable. Detail design and Tender drawings can be done with another 2-3 weeks. This is all relevant to the extent and complexity of work.

How long does it take to build an office space?

A minimum installation time is 4 weeks. We however steer towards a more generous time of 6 weeks. For complex work or where imported products are used we would add additional time to the program.

Is there any way of getting rid of old furniture?

We would always suggest donating to a school or NPO. There might be some items that could be refurbished or sold and we can steer you in the right direction.

Our office is either too hot or too cold and varies from day to day. What’s the problem?

HVAC (Heating, ventilation air-conditioning) is generally designed by a Mechanical engineer. Subsequent changes, maintenance inefficiency and population of area have a significant effect on the functioning. A central system is more easily controlled over a large open area should there be a singular controller. And smaller areas that are contained will have a separate system such as a split unit or cassette. A site visit would clarify any obvious problems and any hidden defects will be picked up during a mechanical survey.

We need to stay operational during renovations. How is this manageable?

This is manageable and has been done many times in the past. We do need to prepare clients for the obvious disturbance and consider that dust and some noise and fumes are always a factor; and above all is the safety of your staff. If this is the case we will program in additional time as works which would traditionally be done in parallel need to phased.

Is our bathrooms wheelchair friendly?

Disabled bathrooms need to adhere to strict requirements and allow for easy access and mobility inside. Basin positions, door heights and supporting handles are some of the points that are taken into consideration.