Integrating fixtures, fittings and equipment

Some of the technical components of buildings are so integral to the building design that they can make or break the overall finished result, even though they may not at first seem to have anything to do with the look or feel of the building.

For example, the spatial requirements for trunking and service conduits are must be integrated early on. If not, the resulting confusion to your programme and to the construction process could have an undesired effect and spoil your finished design.

Issues related to fixtures, fittings and equipment, and information and communications technology (ICT) may not be part of the detailed brief. But they must not be overlooked as they have implications for cost, space, servicing, safety and acoustics.

Fixtures, fittings and equipment come in three categories:

  1. contractor supply and fix
  2. client supply (or find and buy) and contractor fix
  3. client supply and fix.

Including fixtures, fittings and equipment in the contract will incur fees and contractor’s mark-up, and may deny you the ability to write off costs against tax. However, if you organise the supply or fix yourself, there are potential risks of you delaying completion, as decisions on fixtures, fittings and equipment will invariably influence the completion of the project.

These risks can, to an extent, be mitigated by the way a project is structured, but you need advice at an early stage on the procurement and implications on the timetable.

Remember that completion of construction and the installation of specialist equipment may not all take place at the same time. Fit-out generally cannot start until construction is complete. Even in a building tailored to the organisation, the fit-out – buying and laying out furniture, equipment, accessories, art and plants – is a separate stage.

Planning for information technology

Planning for ICT is vital if the project’s cost, programme and appearance are to be maintained.  It is common for the contractor to provide the separate cable routes in line with a consultant’s design. However, unless the ICT installation contract has been fully agreed, there is a risk that the installers will wish to vary the type of cables and their routes to suit the equipment you have specified.

This can impact on the overall design, at worst, with cable routes being visible and not hidden within the walls. Remedial work will take more time, and this could impact on your programme as well.

How do I integrate fixtures, fittings and equipment?

  1. Understand how your procurement route deals with fixtures, fittings and equipment
  2. Understand at what stages you will need to sign-off fixtures, fittings and equipment
  3. Start selecting your equipment early, so any technical requirements are integrated into the design
  4. State unusual requirements early in the design process, so they can be budgeted for and taken into account during design to avoid creating impractical conditions.  For example, where large equipment needs to be installed, a suitable opening needs to be given for it to be integrated into the design.
  5. Appoint people with detailed knowledge of how the building will be used to act as ‘champions’ for the various functions or user groups during fit-out stage
  6. Make an external team responsible for collecting, checking and passing on this information during fit-out stage. Existing staff may be an obvious choice, but they may not have time.