Fit-out basics

Raj KhanejaRaj Khaneja

When you have purchased or leased your business premises, one of the biggest decisions you will have to make is the selection of a fit-out contractor or consultant. Selecting the right person or company to help you relocate, refurbish and fit out your new space is a critical decision that can’t be rushed as it could prove to be very expensive if you get it wrong.

Appoint a professional and friendly company that commits to timelines, budgets and quality and you should have no problem. But make the wrong choice and you could end up with potential cost overruns, a disruption in business you never foresaw or a snagging list as long as your arm. Use an extensive checklist to evaluate and score the companies you are considering to have a smooth, cost-efficient and successful transition to your new business facility.

A competent fit-out consultant should have the staff and resources to take your project from initial design to completion with all the various experts in-house. Some companies subcontract the important elements of coordination and installation works. A one-stop shop is more often than not the best way to avoid complications, confusion and delays.

It’s all documented

A key area that you should look at while selecting your consultant or contractor is the capability to get approvals to start a project from government authorities such as Dubai Civil Defence, Tecom, Dubai Municipality and Dubai Electricity and Water Authority. This is vital as procedures differ from one authority to another.

A good consultant will also be happy to show you its completion certificates over the past six months as well as outline its history and background. An ISO certification will show that the firm works according to systems and procedures that deliver quality results.

Visit the firm’s offices to see its designs and approved projects and assess its project management skills. A well-established company will be happy to show you some of its works and provide references — it’s always a good idea to look at different projects the firm has handled. Dropping by will tell you a lot and put a face to the names of those looking after your project. Any professional fit-out contractor will also be happy to discuss the project’s schedule of completion.

Final steps

Your work does not stop there. Before you can entrust your project to a contractor, you will have to provide an endless list of documents to allow the necessary approvals process to commence. These include ID, passport copy, trade licence, appointment letter and no-objection certificates from the authorities (see box). A good con-sultant/contractor will provide an easy guide to take you through the process and help you face any potential obstacles as well.

When all of this is done, you can finally sit back and look forward to doing business at your new premises on the agreed date, completely stress-free.

Someone once said, there is no such thing as good luck, only good planning. And selecting the right fit-out contractor is part of that planning.


Documents to be provided by the client to the fit-out contractor

1. Copies of Emirates ID and passport

2. Contact details

3. Project name and unit number

4. Location and plot number

5. Lease agreement/ purchase agreement and title deed

6. Contractor’s appointment letter from the client

7. Valid trade licence (if the licence is

under process with relevant authorities, an undertaking letter from the client is required.)

8. Existing drawings from the building management (as-built MEP drawings)

9. Existing load schedule from the management

10. Existing electrical load calculations from Dewa

11. Dewa security deposit and receipt

12. Ejari certificate

13. Developer no-objection certificate (NOC) for Dewa, which contains main A/C number, tenant name, unit name, sub-meter number, Dewa approved load, required load and NOC number, among other details

Ensuring the right fit

Areas that need to be addressed while looking for the suitable consultant

1. Make sure your consultant is approved by Dubai Municipality, Tecom and Dubai Civil Defence.

2. Check the firm’s completion certificates from authorities over the past six months.

3. Check its financial history and background.

4. Check past projects.

5. Visit the consultant’s office or showroom.

6. Check ISO qualifications. Does the firm have any?

7. Find out about the firm’s design capability.

8. Check project planning and management capabilities, including the health and safety measures undertaken by the contractor.

9. Check how many projects it is doing at the same time as yours. Can the firm cope satisfactorily?

10. Ask the firm for references from clients.

11. Does it work regularly in your area of the city?


Source: Raj Khaneja, Special to Property Weekly

Raj Khaneja is Managing Director of Rectangle Interior. He received the Designer of the Year award from Dubai Municipality in 2013.



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