The A-Z of Office Fit-out Costs: Help to Build Your Budget

Oct 1, 2018

In part seven of our fit-out series, we look at budgets for an office refurb or relocation, and we’ve listed the costs. 

Unfortunately, it’s impossible to get a (decent) quote for an office fit-out without meeting an office interiors design company. You just can’t generalise about something with so many moving parts: consultancy, design, fit-out, furniture, tech, removals, surveys, security, materials, labour…the list goes on.

There are lots of resources out there, like the cost calculations in CBRE’s EMEA Fit-Out Cost Guide. This guide helps with capital planning, commercial assurance and benchmarking, but it’s still no substitute for a personalised quote. As this article from Building magazine says, “cost per square foot alone no longer tells the whole story if indeed it ever did”.

Wondering how much your office fit-out could cost? Our new calculator tool has the answer.

So, alongside trying to help you calculate your budget through a one-way guide or our ‘on-the-spot fit-out cost calculator,’ here’s a list of all (or most) of the costs involved. By the way, for this list, we’ve assumed you may be looking at relocating as well as refurbishing.



As Building magazine says, an agile working concept can reduce office space by around 20%. During a consultancy for a UK employment agency, Rhino reduced desks to 0.8 per person and increased workforce by 16% within the same premises using agile workspace design.

The agile fit-out itself may cost more in than other simpler options — due to higher-spec fittings, finishes, furniture and bespoke services — but the return on investment includes increases in productivity, innovation and employee retention as a result of improved employee wellbeing, a stronger sense of community and greater collaboration (more about agile in this e-book).

is also for Alterations license.

Building class

Depending on the building class you’re moving into or creating — typically category A or B — costs will vary, not just because of the spec but due to different requirements for services like power, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC).

is also for Business rates, Building surveys, Building work and Biophilics (see E below).


Compliance costs start as soon as contractors start work on-site and extend throughout the entire project. These are numerous and include licensing, permissions and regulations. Our Fit-out guide has a comprehensive checklist. 

is also for Conveyancing fees.


Regular disputes arise between landlord and tenant at the end of a lease around dilapidation costs. This is a complicated issue which needs some research.

is also for Design costs and Disposal of old furniture and equipment.


All buildings have to meet legislative targets related to energy saving, emissions and sustainability in the workplace. There are global standards like BREEAM and LEED as well as the International WELL Building Institute, which focuses on things that affect humans such as air, natural light, nourishment and biophilics (interaction with nature).

is also for Estate agent fees or commission.


Collaboration sofas, high-back sofas, sit-stand desks, hot-desks, community tables, cabins, booths and huts. There are so many more bespoke furniture options today which enhance the workplace. In today’s culture of non-ownership, consider leasing options for furniture.

is also for Fit-out costs, which include subcontractor labour costs.

G is for Greenery

Important as it’s good to look at plus it can improve air quality. Ie wellbeing and therefore reducing the cost of staff sickness. See B for biophilics.

HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning)

Office temperature is one of the biggest concerns among staff. The WELL certificate includes air as one of the seven essential elements that humans need in a workspace, so investigate how this can be effectively managed once installed to keep everyone happy and healthy.

is also for Hot-desking andHoteling (booking hot-desk space).


You’ll need quite a few insurances to cover on-site contractors, to cover the move and, obviously, to insure the new space and everything (and everyone) in it. 

J is for… Just in time, a method of reducing costs and/or process times in both manufacturing and the service industry. Something that your suppliers may be using. Worth asking?


This is a vital part of any workplace, so consider extra costs associated with this if you’re looking to update what you have already (most likely).


Is your lease renewal driving your relocation? Make sure you budget for Legal advice to negotiate a new contract.


Refurbishing or relocating your office is a golden marketing opportunity. Whether the costs for promotional activity come out of marketing or your move budget, it’s a cost which will need to be included.        

is also for Mortgage and M&E (mechanical and electrical systems like infrastructure, machinery and HVAC, which may mean you need to pay a consultant.)


Everyone needs to eat. If you’re planning a café, kitchen or eating area, what cost will this add to your overall budget?


According to research, workstation occupancy rates average less than 50%. Before you undergo a fit-out it’s advisable to conduct some form of workplace consultancy to assess occupancy rates of workstations and zones.


What’s the cost for installing and maintaining your new HVAC system? Where are the pipes going to go? Having a raised floor or false ceiling makes it easier to install and maintain.


Alongside temperature, noise disturbances are a common bone of contention, especially in an open plan office. When planning your fit-out budget, include investment in quiet zones and noise reduction elsewhere. You can tackle this with furniture, flooring, ceilings, walls and windows, as well as the overall design of the whole workspace.


Include a cost for removers, as you’ll need this service even if you’re just moving to another floor while you refit.

is also for Resimercial.


You’ll need temporary storage during the upheaval, whether fitting out or relocating, and you’ll need storage once you’re in the new place. This could be cupboards, shipping containers or entire warehouses. What do you need and what are the costs?

is also for Security and Service charges.


You’ll need to consider technology from the outset. Wi-Fi, software, hardwired equipment, screens? Regardless of whether you’re planning a root-and-branch IT and AV services installation or a lower-scale upgrade, the chances are you’ll need to update this as part of the fit-out. With such a fast pace of advancement, where hardware may become obsolete in a year or two, consider leasing options.

is also for Telecoms, Toilets and Tax breaks (capital allowance tax, leasing options and green discounts).

Unforeseen costs

Don’t forget a contingency pot in case you want to make any variations during the project as they may add costs to the original estimate.Consider ongoing facilities management too.

is also for Utilities costs in the new workspace,which may be vastly different from your existing office.


With any design project,the grand vision needs to come from you, the client. So, who’s the visionary in your company? Workspace designers will take their lead from that.


As part of a refit, consider movable walls or partitioning, writable walls and living walls.

is also for Workspace consultancy costs.


Don’t forget the bulky office equipment like photocopiers and printers which take up all that space. But ask yourself, now you’re moving, is there a way to reduce the size of your equipment to save space?

Y is for… Hmm ok, we struggled with “y”. Avoiding any wordplay on “why” let’s move on …


There are various approaches to this as part of an agile layout. We like to use four zones: focus, collaboration, social and learning/meeting, taken from the agile workspace design philosophy in our Agile Working Special Report.

That’s it for the budget section. We hope we’ve given you food for thought.

For a step-by-step process that takes you through the whole project in detail, order a copy of our Fit-out Guide, a comprehensive, handbook for creating a new workspace (whether it’s a refurbishment or a relocation).

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