How to ensure contractor collaboration in re-fit projects

contractor on the floor of a tall building

Contractor collaboration saves time and cost.

 

The construction industry, and particularly how contracts are set up, does not naturally encourage sub-contractors to work together. Margins are often tight and everyone is keen to protect their piece of the pie. The truth is however, that working together will eliminate downtime and potentially result in massive savings for all concerned. That can’t be the main contractors sole responsibility, it relies on everyone doing their bit. Collaboration in the construction industry has been written about before, as you’ll note in this interesting article, but it is worth reflecting on some of the key points previously raised.
 

Communication, cooperation, and stringent planning

 

One of the keys to successful working side by side with other contractors is good communication from the outset.

We found an excellent diagram that covers 3 key principles

Common Vision

Collaborative Culture

Collaborative Precesses & Tools
 

It is vital to ensure everybody is on the same page when it comes to the project. Leave things open to interpretation, means everyone will interpret the project slightly differently.  Having a clearly defined start and end dates for everyone involved and with everyone knowing what is expected from each party, will ensure many common issues simply won’t arise.

Forming a mutually satisfactory plan with clear scheduling can make the job run a lot more smoothly and avoid any potential pitfalls that might otherwise be faced.

Other advice includes avoiding duplication of roles and effort through e.g. co-location (placing many or all of the most active project team members in the same physical location to enhance their ability to perform as a team), Building Information Models and Management.
 

Health and safety considerations

 

Even before the world was plunged into a global pandemic, there were many safety concerns and considerations to take into account when working alongside multiple contractors during a commercial fit-out. COVID-19 has exacerbated the need for socially distanced work to take place, and you can follow certain guidelines.

Wearing the appropriate PPE at all times is imperative when you are working on an indoor project, such as fitting commercial flooring. Allow air to circulate whenever possible and especially if you are fitting the flooring at the same time that other work is ongoing in the same room. Ideally you can even schedule your work at a different time and in a different area to minimise the risk of infection.

Contact us if we can help you in any way with a project.

Circular Design in Office Fit Outs

Example of Circular Design Flooring Cubism in Office

 

Circular Design in Office Fit Outs – Why is it important?

 
Over an average commercial building’s life of 40 years, 42% of carbon emissions come from its fit-outs.

That’s a remarkable statistic. But perhaps not surprising if you consider that the typical UK office is refitted every eight years.

Certainly, that’s a fact that any company promoting its green credentials cannot ignore. It would simply be impossible to deliver a strategy, for example, to be carbon neutral by 2030 without considering fit-outs and commercial interior design as one of the key contributors.

While the principles of circular design are increasingly understood, the actual practical delivery of how to achieve them is not always so simple.

What are the principles of circular design?

 
There are but three key elements to circular design. Let’s recap:

Design out waste and pollution

Reuse products and materials to keep them in use

Regenerate natural systems

That’s all well and good. But if an office fit-out will require a contractor with a sledgehammer to smash out an interior wall, already those principles are becoming difficult to implement.

Re-fitting offices to circular principles

 
The conventional approach to an office fit-out is to strip everything out, dispose of it, and create an almost-bare blank canvas with modern clean-look decor, flooring and lighting.

Perhaps the simplest and biggest win when re-fitting to a circular model is to repurpose the existing furniture. That means safety checking, cleaning, fixing and re-upholstering items to effectively reuse them.

We found a great example of how an Australian Architect applied Circular Principles if you are keen to read a Case Study and download a guide. Their approach was to follow some key guidelines, they catalogued and analysed existing materials to assess their potential to be repurposed, recycled or reused. The team facilitated internal design competitions and brainstorming sessions to help find collaborative and creative solutions to the various challenges.

Considering your flooring options

 
One of the key factors of achieving a circular economy in office refits (and one that is often overlooked) is the principle of specifying and installing products that can be fully recycled at the end of their life. Many flooring manufacturers including Duraflor can assist with take-back schemes for carpet tiles and recycling schemes for sheet vinyl.

Taking care to select flooring with a high degree of recycled content is also important. Designers particularly favour our Cubism range made with Econyl that uses synthetic waste including recycled fishing nets to create nylon yarn that is the same quality as virgin nylon.

It is also important to consider product life, while we stated office fit-outs are around every 8 years if the flooring is in perfect condition and looks almost as good as it did when it was laid, then that is an extra benefit in retaining an organisations sustainability credentials. Many of our flooring products have a 15 year commercial wear guarantee and our Freedom Collection has a 20 year guarantee and the technology in the manufacture helps it retain its fresh appearance throughout its commercial life.

Guidance on office fit-outs

hand drawing a 3D image of a breakout area

 

Our Guidance on office fit-outs to minimise disruption and achieve key goals.

 
Project managing a new office fit-out can be tough work. There are so many pressing concerns to think about, such as how to stay within your assigned budget, how to comply with health and safety protocols, how to ensure employees are happy with the end result, but also how best to communicate changes, and how best to ensure that business operations continue throughout the installation process.

Let’s take a look at some of the latter considerations and how you might want to handle them.

Minimising Employee Downtime

 
Minimising employee downtime through careful planning can ensure that your company is not adversely impacted during an office fit-out.

Schedule carefully and strategically

Before you book any contractors to help with your fit-out, take a look at the timetables of all key employees. If there appears to be a time when several employees will be on holiday or undertaking remote training, and if they are not vital to the fit-out work, consider making the most of that time.

Use remote working facilities

Lots of us have become accustomed to remote working tools in recent months. Ask employees to work remotely while the fit-out takes place.
 

Ensuring You Get The Best ROI

 
A new workplace fit-out isn’t just about looking good. Studies have shown that the right workplace can actually improve employee performance and productivity! But, of course, you do have to get the fit-out right to reap the benefits. With that in mind, here are some aspects you might want to consider.

Ignoring focus on the IT comms room

The comms room needs to be at the forefront of any modern office re-fit. It will have very strong power demands, for starters, and will also have specific requirements for security, size and ventilation.

Know your contractors

One of the key practicalities of an office fit-out is to ensure you build links with contractors in all the key disciplines: IT, construction, electrics, carpentry, commercial flooring, etc.

It’s important to find contractors to handle the level of your project, knowing they have the skill and experience to deal with any potential issues that are likely to arise. Hiring the wrong contractors can lead to problems with budget and delivering on time, so it’s important to fully vet anyone you’re considering bringing into the project.

Budget with accuracy

Part of any fit-out is taking the time to iron out the specific details before the project gets going, and knowing – as accurately as you can be – the likely costs of:

• Contractors
• Supplies
• Any specific furniture requested
• Electrics
• Moving
• Any additional ‘options’ that will add to the price
• How costs will grow if there are any delays

This article aimed at office start-ups gives a great insight to how to best budget for a new fit-out.

Don’t ignore the ‘house rules’

A key piece of guidance on office fit-outs is that almost all commercial landlords will have their own specific ‘house rules’ on what is allowed and isn’t allowed in their building. These can vary substantially. For some landlords, contractors may only be permitted to work outside traditional business hours, so other tenants in the building aren’t disturbed. Other landlords might not permit contractors to use tenant lifts or to even deliver goods at certain times.

Anticipate and communicate changes

When last-minute change requests occur, they can have wide-ranging consequences. If the request is small, you may not need to do much to alter your fit-out plan. However, if the request is large and throws your plan entirely off course, it is imperative that you communicate with everyone involved to decide whether this request can be completed and how it is going to affect your fit-out plan. Our last piece of guidance on office fit outs is things are more easily overcome when communication is clear and stakeholders feel included in the loop.

 

We can provide advice on the best flooring for your flooring project, we like to think that our expertise, next day delivery service and range of products to suit all budgets, means there is one less thing to worry about when you are managing a fit-out project.

Advantages of carpet tiles for office fit-outs

Showcasing Hexxtile Blu-ray, Cliff Face and Roomba feature tiles.

The reason designers opt for carpet tiles for office fit-outs

 

Commercial carpets and carpet tiling are both popular choices for interior designers seeking to add warmth and luxury to the offices they are refreshing. Available in a wide variety of shades, styles, and piles, both kinds of carpeting present plenty of choice and a chance to promote brand colours in a professional workspace. However, when it comes to an office fit-out, carpet tiles can have a competitive edge over their wall-to-wall counterparts when selected.

Here are just some of the advantages of carpets tiles for office fit-outs:

A versatile solution

The standard square is no longer the only available choice, tiles are now offered in different geometric shapes. The most prevalent being planks  and hexagon shaped carpet tiles (our popular Progression Range being an example of having designs in both shapes). Easily adaptable, carpet tiles can also be modified to fit unusual office spaces with difficult dimensions. In tight areas, like those found in smaller offices, they are an ideal option.

Other examples of versatility include the ability to combine styles to create a unique look for a floor and to create visual zoning areas and walkways, a common practice with the greater need for social distancing and changes required to office layouts.

Built-to-last and easy to replace

Extremely durable, carpet tiles perform well under heavy traffic, making them perfect for busy offices. Quality carpet tiles can often last for up to two decades without showing any sign of wear, making them a sound investment for any project. However, if excessive use leads to unwanted wear, tiles can simply be switched out for spares in the same style.

It is not only longevity and the ability to swap tile around that make Carpet Tiles a sustainable alternative to broadloom, opting for carpet tiles mean less waste when fitting. With so much emphasis on sustainability in the built environment, this is a key reason to use carpet tiles in office fit-outs.

Ease of access

Streamlining a modern office may require plug sockets and other essential utilities to be hidden while remaining accessible. Simple to lift or easily cut to any shape required for individual access panels, carpet tiles ensure important areas are always easy to get to, a task far trickier with conventional carpeting.

An easy-care option

Regular hoovering is the main way to keep carpet tiles perfectly presented and if stains or spills occur, the is usually a simple solution for stain removal.

 

At Duraflor, we provide an extensive range of carpet tiles and a team of dedicated flooring experts who are ready to discuss your design needs and offer advice on finding the ideal solution for your project. Browse our products online or contact us today on 01592 630030 for a consultation.

Commercial Flooring For Wheelchair Access

Ideal flooring for wheelchair access - office with vinyl floor

Choosing the right commercial flooring for wheelchair access

 

Wheelchair users can be disadvantaged by office designs, and there is a legal requirement not to discriminate against disabilities, so every effort must be taken to make offices as accessible as possible.

The legal requirement is to make reasonable changes to the built environment (such as making changes to the structure of a building to improve access) and to provide auxiliary aids and services. During the design stage another key consideration to think about is the flooring.

Can carpet be used?

It’s no surprise that carpet can be hard to navigate for wheelchair users, if the pile is too high.  So the first rule of access friendly flooring is to go for short fibre carpets, which are much easier to navigate. Carpet tiles are more likely to have short fibres than broadloom carpets and are recognised as being one of the choices of commercial flooring for wheelchair access. In fact to achieve the right level of durability and a tight weave, some wheelchair users choose commercial carpeting for their homes.

We would especially recommend our Freedom Range not only is the Heavyweave™ technology excellent for longevity in demanding environments, it is both stylish and practical for wheelchair access.

Vinyl sheets

Vinyl sheets are great for wheelchair users. Like hardwood flooring, vinyl sheets are easy to navigate and high-grade vinyl is also much more durable. Vinyl is also water-resistant, which makes it a good choice for areas like bathrooms and kitchens. Slip resistant properties can also provide just the right amount of friction.

Vinyl planks

Vinyl planks work well for wheelchair users. They are easy to install and to maintain. Having said that choosing a high quality vinyl is an essential consideration, as wheelchairs can place a lot of pressure on a floor. Making sure that the floor is as scuff resistant as possible, considering if the floor has a PUR coating, and ensuring the right level of slip resistance is important. A combination of durability, good traction, and smoothness are the most important features to look for when choosing the right commercial flooring for wheelchairs access.

Consider transitions

If the flooring type is different between rooms, make sure the transition is as level as possible to make movement easier. Installing a small ramp can prevent wheelchair users from getting stuck on raised edges.

Contact us at Duraflor today to find out more about any of our solutions.

Choosing flooring for a restaurant

Restaurant Flooring Momenta LVT in an American Dinner Styled Restaurant

 

Choosing the right flooring for a restaurant

Choosing the right flooring for a restaurant is a vital consideration, as it makes a statement about the image, that the venue wants to portray to its customers.

If you are looking at restaurant flooring options for a refit or a new restaurant, there are a number of things to consider, like design, durability and health and safety.

 

Design

The interior design of a restaurant is so important, and the floor is a big part of that. Luxury vinyl floor tiles are a great way to create a stylish ambience and introduce a natural texture to your space too. When choosing the best floor for your restaurant fit-out, it is obvious to pick a colour that complements or coordinates with the wall colour and interior furnishings, but you could even consider staff uniforms, as attention to detail counts to patrons. And, when it comes to safety flooring for different areas of the restaurant, you also don’t need to compromise on design; our Cienna Collection is a perfect example of this.

Durability

Because of the high footfall in busy restaurants you need to choose a type of restaurant flooring that is durable. Restaurant floors will be walked on by all kinds of shoes, so you don’t want a floor that will be damaged by high heels. In other words, you need a floor that won’t age and look damaged and worn, so it is worth considering a high-performance and easy to maintain option like heavy-duty vinyl flooring. Look for a floor with PU coating to reduce scratches and scuffs and an option with a commercial wear guarantee of around 10 years.

Health and safety

Health and safety concerns are so important when it comes to choosing a floor for a restaurant. An obvious consideration is a  non-slip solution that is easy to keep clean. You could also choose a more hygienic floor, which has had anti-bacterial and fungistatic treatments or a chemical-resistant floor that can be cleaned regularly. It is worth considering entrance matting by the doors or in the waiting area, to let people wipe their feet and reduce the risk of slipping. Flooring can also be used to mark out different areas to help customers navigate a restaurant.

The right flooring for a restaurant by area

The above applies to all the different areas of a restaurant but naturally some flooring is more suited to different areas. A waiting area for instance, while it could be LVT may also be better suited to Carpet Tiles, as this can promote a warm and comfortable welcoming aspect to the business.  However, for restrooms and kitchens, vinyl safety flooring is the obvious choice. The dinning area needs to be focussed on creating the right ambiance, as well as practicalities of cleaning, life time cost, accessibility and health and safety – often making LVT a popular choice.

At Duraflor we offer a comprehensive range that includes Carpet Tiles, LVT and Safety Flooring and our team of flooring experts are available to discuss your needs and advise on the best combination. Call is on 01592 630030 to discuss your project in more detail.

 

Reception design – first impression

Attractive office reception design using Hexxtiles as a feature

Make an impression with office reception designs

The first time you step into an office’s reception you’ll learn a lot about the firm it serves. From layout and lighting to the kind of furnishings selected, individual design elements can create visual clues for clients, indicating what a business’s brand stands for and build an image in their minds. While every detail is a factor in creating that lasting impression, the three main surfaces of any meet and greet area should always be front and centre when fashioning the look and feel you wish to achieve.

Looking up – utilising the ceiling as a canvas to create the right image 

How high ceilings are in an office reception can keep them cool and airy or make them feel homely and welcoming. A reception no longer needs to be bound by dull grey ceiling tiles with a wide range of colours and finishes readily available. Inset spots are ideal for a minimal look while ornate suspended lighting solutions can fast become a feature. Using exposed pipework can create an industrial look and give a highly modern feel to an organisation. One suggestion for minimising costs on design projects can be to use existing structural elements and make features of them, that can include pipework and beams when they can add character.

Walls – the natural blank canvas

At eye level, the walls of any reception are an integral point of contact for incoming clientele. Clean empty walls with flat colour will create a space while patterns and pictures can make a more intimate impression. Exposed piping and brick can build a raw look but to keep styles polished and professional, glossy walls finished with media players can be an ideal fit. Obviously walls present an opportunity to brand and of course there is a lot to be said around colour psychology. Having a feature wall behind a reception desk can make an organisation seem more inviting and provide the right level of focus.

Flooring – the often forgotten canvas

Just like the walls of a reception, the floorspace covers a large area of the room. In clear view of visiting clients, its importance should never be underestimated. Enterprises experiencing significant footfall in their receptions must consider durability and the ability to ensure floors always looks immaculate. We provide detailed cleaning and maintenance suggestions on all of our product pages.

Additionally, entrance matting options from Duraflor offer robust protection against heavy traffic. Presented in pristine aluminium, ENTRAGUARD protects the freshness of other flooring with an innovative wiper system while CHECKPOINT creates a cleaner environment in receptions by absorbing unwanted moisture from outdoors.

Looking for inspiration

This link takes you to 55 Inspirational Office Receptions that may help you decide on the look you are trying to achieve. It really is all about the perfect combination of walling, ceiling and flooring that create the perfect canvas for the furnishings and fixtures. We can offer carpet tiles and luxury vinyl flooring inspired by nature or the urban environment – so whatever look you are trying to achieve we are sure we can help. Call us today on 01592 630 030.

Pantone colour of the year 2021

Hexagon carpet tiles in office design

Pantone colour of the year 2021 – an inspiring choice

 

Following a testing 2020, the trendsetters at Pantone have unveiled their “colour of the year” for 2021.

Except that for the second time in two decades, Pantone has paired colours that can be matched to convey a “message of happiness supported by fortitude”.

The choice for 2021 is “ultimate grey” (175104) and “illuminating” (13-0647) – a buttercup yellow.

While the American company may have taken inspiration from the current state of the world, it’s not hard to see how the pairing can flow through your flooring choices.

Why grey and yellow for 2021?

Each year, Pantone predicts palettes which may prove popular with consumers and commercial customers in interior and exterior design.

The institute has explained its selection this year, with the pale grey, described as “practical and rock-solid”, contrasting against the mid-tone yellow which is described as “warming and optimistic”.

That combination is intended to represent our ongoing discomfited state after a testing year. That is, uncertain hope coupled with renewed resilience as the global pandemic continues to rage alongside hopes of a return to normality.

Pantone invites some unflattering comparisons

Not all trend followers have been entirely complimentary, however. And it isn’t the first time the colour matching institute has made a contentious choice.

Yet, we can’t help but feel that this contrast of pallid grey and wintry sunshine is perfect for interiors.

Calming grey can tone down the uplifting strength of yellow, and the sunny shade gives grey a strength it otherwise would not possess. And they’re an extremely practical pairing for large areas such as walls and floors.

Grey and yellow in flooring

Grey – which was described by Ideal Home as the “colour of the decade” – is a timeless choice for flooring and is a perfect base for more vibrant highlights.

A neutral grey works alongside almost any secondary colour, particularly the illumination of yellow.

For utilitarian spaces such as offices, factories and public spaces, grey can be accentuated by yellow to uplift the environment or provide practical purposes such as place markings, route directions or highlighted spaces.

Perhaps Pantone’s choice of a dependable grey and cheery, illuminative yellow really is right for the spaces we create in 2021.

Tips to minimising costs in fit-out projects

Future of office design - Duraflor Aspect carpet tiles

 

Great design uses existing features to minimise cost

 
If you’re working on a commercial interior design project with a tight budget, you may well be wondering how to effectively cut costs without compromising on quality. We have been looking at the key advice given, by a number of great companies, on tips to minimising costs in fit-out projects – in other words how to be creative with a constrained budget.

Consider installing an open plan office

 
It is probably obvious as a design choice, especially as it lends it self to a more agile office set up, but open plan commercial spaces also have cost advantages.  They require less building work and fewer costly materials compared to cellular offices, meaning they are perfect for companies with a modest budget. Getting rid of fixed partitions often encourages effective communication and collaboration between workers, improving the culture of a business and potentially profits – a win, win.

Work with existing structures rather than completely renovating the building

 
One of the costliest elements of a fit-out is restructuring. Many office fit-out experts advise against overhauling the dimensions of the property’s interior and suggest moulding an attractive workspace around existing structures. If you are lucky enough to have the right type of property, exposed beams and incorporating building features can create some of the coolest office environments. Obviously it is important to try to minimise alterations involving air conditioning or plumbing systems, as these can be very costly. It is however worth pointing out lifetime costs and recommending alternative lighting and heating options where they are inefficient.

Helpful benchmarking

 
You may find the report by CBRE a useful benchmark on costs and type of work that falls within the different level of fit-out specifications. It is packed with comparisons across Europe, but also fascinating insights on benefits and costs.

Select flooring that is affordable and made to last

 
Flooring is one of the most important elements of a commercial fit-out, so it is important to carefully consider what kind of floors will be most durable and, therefore, cost-efficient in your building. We wrote a detailed article on choosing the best type of flooring for your commercial space and we are always available to advise further.

Reach out to Duraflor today

 
At Duraflor, we offer some of the highest quality flooring solutions on the commercial market. Whatever your budget, please contact us today about your fit-out requirements and we will do everything in our power to help.

Collaboration considerations for commercial designers

A construction site with contractors collaborating

Collaboration tips for commercial designers

 

There is no doubt a commercial design project can be challenging and that goes far beyond the choice of materials and regulatory compliance, to finding ways to collaborate with multitude of contractors involved in any given project. We have reviewed some of the knowledge out there, to provide a few collaboration tips for commercial designers when it come to dealing with contractors in the built environment.

Establish a shared vision

 
This important point, features in a number of articles we found, including a framework for collaboration in the construction industry. It is true that without agreement of the project goals, the end results could be confusing or even flawed, but the framework also highlights the need to clearly define the criteria for success, and the role of the collaboration team itself in achieving the goals.

Establish effective communication

 
Establishing a clear line of communication early on is a fantastic way to bring the team together. It is important to set out ideas around budgets, materials and processes at initial briefings, but then timely and considerate communication throughout the project is what will really ensure success. Establishing what that might look like from the outset can also be extremely helpful.

Plan to eliminate downtime and delays

 
When there are lots of people involved in a project, it’s essential to set an exact schedule. That is obvious, but how widespread the delays are may not be. According to one survey we found, 85% of companies said that they had experienced delays on construction projects recently. The same study cited that these delays can increase in the project’s initial price by up to 50%, costing everyone involved money as well as time. Effective communication, pre-planning and involving multiple parties in solution finding should impact positively on this, especially when you already know delays are a likely outcome.

Know who is in charge

 
If there’s a problem or a clash in the schedule, it’s vital to know who is in charge. They can help address any conflicts directly, and give the sign-off on choices. Without knowing who has the final say during a project, you could be waiting far too long to resolve issues.

Additional information

 
RIBA produced a document some time ago for architects on how to work with contractors, you may find this short article provides additional insights on the subject, it is something that will always remain timely, so worth reflecting on.

How we help

 
Duraflor have a wide range of UK manufactured floor coverings in stock for immediate delivery, we also can help by working with both designers and flooring contractors together on a project. We also share a desire to eliminate downtime on a project. Contact us to see how we can be an integral part of the team that gets thins done.