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Tips to trim costs in office design.

Companies who need corporate interior design services need to rethink strategies for the 1990's -- the free-spending, freewheeling days of the 80's may never return. As corporate interior designers and space planners, SCR has devised a checklist of tips to trim costs butt not compromise on style.

Use materials which are durable and cost less. For example, a textured wall spray, such as Zolatone, is less expensive than many wall coverings, hides fingerprints and din better than paint, and is very durable as well as stylish. Instead of sheetrock ceilings, two-by-two lay-in acoustical ceilings cost much less and make additional wiring or HVAC equipment servicing easier. The two-foot-square tiles are also attractive and more serviceable than one-by-one ceilings. Use energy-efficient fixtures -- you only get rebates from Con Ed for their purchase, but can save as much as 35 to 80 cents per square foot, saving thousands of dollars over the life of the lease.

Reduce costs by intelligent space planning. Instead of private offices, use workstations for your staff, so that instead of, say, 108 square-foot of enclosed space, you need only 56 person a 48 percent savings of space. Make your space multi-purpose: for example, sliding panel doors in a conference room can turn the space into a much larger room or auditorium. Some office buildings feature shared conference rooms, which companies book as the need arises, such as 712 Fifth Avenue.

A client of ours has conference rooms with telephone and fax attached to their warehouse, which saves their clients shipping costs when records are needed for meetings. Since storage rooms in an office essentially waste space, convert them to offices and ship your records to a warehouse.

Take advantage of technology. Make sure your architect or designer uses a CADD (computer-aided design) system, which greatly increases efficiency and speed in producing working drawings and design studies. For Weight Watchers, who required the addition of food sales and storage facilities to over 300 locations, SCR was able to produce working drawings in only one and one-half days each. To keep track and maintain control over your space, it is very helpful to have a database of the total square footage of all your locations, floor plans, amount of square feet per person and department, and maintenance schedules on line through a computer-aided facility management program, which makes all data instantly available at your fingertips.

Be wary of firms who represent themselves as the lowest bidders. Everyone is lowering fees nowadays, but a design firm who submits a rockbottom price is not your best bet. This usually means projects are assigned to junior staff with no involvement from a partner, or short-changing you on the time spent on your project. Nothing can ever take the place of doing things right the first time -- through precise budgeting and sensible design plans -- which can save you significant dollars down the road. SCR is proud that every one of our projects has direct involvement from one of our four partners.

Take advantage of outsourcing opportunities. Utilizing design consultants will get you competitive rates, as well as designers familiar with the trends and knowledge of the design community at large.

Consider sublets and lease re-negotiation. Sublet your unneeded space. Renegotiate your lease with the help of a broker; now, in exchange for your remaining in the building as a long-term tenant, the owner may be willing to offer lower rates and other favorable terms than your original lease.
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Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Review & Forecast, Section IV
Author:Simon, Jeffrey H.
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Jan 27, 1993
Previous Article:A review of '92 and wish list for '93.
Next Article:Economic development: what's ahead for '93.

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