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Indicative cost of refurbishment
 Typical cost (£/m2 GIFA)
Minor refurbishment215-700
Medium refurbishment700-1050
Major refurbishment1050-1600+
Costs are at second quarter 2004 price levels based on a central London location. The cost levels include for completion of office space to category A fit-out, but exclude external works
Opportunities and constraints
Securing best value out of a refurbishment project involves a careful balance between making the best use of a building’s potential while minimising the costs and time penalties that might be necessary to work around a building’s constraints.
The advantages and disadvantages of major elements of office refurbishment are summarised in this table:
  • Ability to retain high densities and car-parking allocations defined in the original planning consent
  • Constraints on working to site boundaries and rights of light imposed by the existing envelope
  • Potential to develop modern, commercial space without planning gain issues such as affordable housing quotas
  • Potential requirement for change of use if floor space is being consolidated
  • Ability to increase floor area by working within planning boundaries, including lightweight vertical extensions
  • Faster overall programme if planning is not contentious
  • Building Regulations requirements may be applied flexibly if the building is listed
  • Impact on scope of work, costs and programme if project involves a listed building
  • Existing building1 Leases 
  • Availability of break clauses, opportunities to consolidate leases
  • Influence of future falling-in dates on setting the investment timeframe and the overall scope of refurbishment
  • Maintenance of rental cash flow during construction in occupied buildings
  • Requirements to work around occupiers during construction
  • Issues associated with mixed-use/multi-occupancy buildings including reservation of service routes through separate demises
  •  2 Location 
  • Opportunity to extend the floor plate or introduce natural light by expanding into existing light wells
     3 Character 
  • Existing features that attract tenants
  • Existing building design with limited appeal to the current market
  • Inflexibility that affects easy adaptation of the building
  • Structure1 Structural system 
  • Constraints on potential for partial demolition/opening up associated with post-tensioned slabs etc
  • Uncertainty related to the legacy performance of experimental structural solutions
  •  2 Structural grid 
  • Narrow column spacing obstructing space planning efficiency
  • Constraints on services distribution options caused by size and location of downstands, including requirements for extensive builders’ work
  •  3 Live and dead loads 
  • Allowance for live loads will typically meet the BCO standard (2.5 kN/m2)
  • Limits on live loads may restrict the use of internal space as storage
  • Opportunities to reduce dead load by removal of insitu toppings, subject to fire separation requirements
  • Limits on foundation capacity and total dead loads reduce opportunities for increasing floor area etc
  •  4 Floor to ceiling heights 
  • Increase headroom by taking up floor screeds, or by using a single services void
  • Reduced attraction of space if ceiling heights are too low (eg below 2.5 m)
  • Potential to use thermal mass to moderate internal climate if insitu structure exists and if it can be left exposed
  • Floor to ceiling dimensions of below 2.7 m restrict air-conditioning options and reduce day lighting across the floor plate
  • Potential requirement for acoustic treatments to relatively low exposed soffits
  • internal environment1 Floor plate 
  • Increase floor area by full or partial infilling of courtyards or light wells
  • Capacity of structure to accommodate additional load. Size and location of light wells
  • Increase floor area by extending upper floor slabs at the building perimeter or by vertical extension
  • Size of planning envelope
  • Bring light into floor plates through modifications to facades, roof lights or lightwells
  • Improve space planning potential and increase quality of on-floor circulation through rationalisation of common areas by:
      moving escape stairs and lift cores to free up useable space
      redesigning common areas to improve circulation between wings
      design cores to facilitate sub-division of floor plates
  • Provide adequate means of escape to meet Building Regulations
  • Role of building core in resisting lateral loads
  • Relocate risers and other vertical elements away from daylit space at perimeter
  • Location and size of riser provision and ability to form openings in existing structure
  •  2 Design features 
  • Investing in features which maximise rate of return:
      entrance areas – with a prominent street presence and upgraded lighting
      generous reception areas with a limited number of good quality design features
      lifts – size, quality of ride and finish
      WCs and other common areas
  • Size of existing lift shafts together with available space for lift motor rooms
  • Capacity of existing WC provision, potential for adaptation of common parts if located in structural core
  •  3 Envelope performance  
  • Thermal performance – repairs and enhancements to improve weather-tightness, insulation and to control solar heat gain
  • Depth of floor plate and wall:floor ratio. Capacity of cooling system required to manage solar heat gain
  • Improved facade performance permits use of simpler cooling installations such as displacement or chilled ceilings
  • Condition and appearance of the external envelope. Ability to adapt to facade and cost of proposals to meet requirements of revised Part L
  • Solar heat gain determined by orientation of the building and the design/condition of the façade
  •  4 Increasing the productivity of office space 
  • Increase potential occupation density through increased cooling capacity·
  • Restrictions on services design imposed by structure, structural grid, fenestration and total cooling capacity
  • Providing internal conditions that meet BCO standards
  • Flexible building services that facilitate easy office fit-out and reconfiguration such as underfloor power and IT distribution
    Indicative costs of office building services options for refurbishment
     Shell and coreFit-outFit-out
     Space heating and air treatment £/m2 (GIFA)On-floor services £/m2 (NIFA)Extra for floors and ceilings £/m2 (NIFA)
    4 pipe fan coil unit95-115160-20075-85
    Displacement ventilation with cooling at the AHU and LTHW perimeter heating105-130115-14550-60
    Chilled ceiling with perimeter chilled beams and LTHW perimeter heating95-115225-27035-45
    Passive multi-service beams with LTHW perimeter heating95-115230-27550-60
    Active multi-service beams with LTHW perimeter heating95-115260-28550-60
    Shell and core costs include landlord’s plant and distribution only. Fit-out costs include on-floor mechanical services, luminaires and lighting control, power to on-floor services and lighting, fire alarms and controls only. Small power, builder’s work and preliminaries are excluded. Costs are at 2nd quarter 2004 levels, based on a central London location.
    Location factors
    Inner London 1.00
    Outer London 0.94
    South-east 0.89
    South-west 0.81
    East Midlands 0.81
    West Midlands 0.81
    East Anglia 0.85
    Yorkshire & Humberside 0.78
    North West 0.81
    Northern 0.80
    Scotland 0.81
    Wales 0.80
    Northern Ireland 0.68
     element costcost/m2 gfa £% of total cost
    Strip-out of existing fit-out; plasterboard ceiling, timber floor, partitions and services 3,700 m2 @ 30
    Demolitions and alterations208,00047.273.85
    Demolition and removal of existing core, incorporating concrete stair, central lift shaft and core walls Item @ 50,000
    Demolition and removal of existing roof slab, lift motor room and dormers plan area of existing roof) 470 m2 @ 100
    Demolitions and alterations generally; removal of existing windows to rear lightwell, cutting to enlarge existing openings, filling openings, removing concrete casings to existing steel beams, removal of internal walls, breaking out isolated areas of ground floor slab 3,700 m2 @ 30
    Forming foundation to new core and lightwell extension; pad foundations, ground beams, ground slab, site excavation, disposal; all works within existing lightwell (area based on footprint of core and lightwell) 140 m2 @ 450
    New drainage works to core and lightwell extension, adaptions to existing connections and making good 140 m2 @ 90
    Alterations to lightning protection, waterproof earthpots, including breaking through existing basement slab 610 m2 @ 25
    Waterproofing works to isolated areas of existing basement 610 m2 @ 45
    Frame and upper floors445,600101.278.25
    General adaptation and making good to existing steel frame; works in isolated areas; recasing etc 3,700 m2 @ 20
    Steel frame to new core extension; fabrication, erection, intumescent paint finish (based on 540m2 @ 80 kg/m2) 43 t @ 3,500
    225 thick reinforced concrete slab on holorib decking 540 m2 @ 90
    Feature steelwork supporting lightwell curtain walling; exposed CHS; intumescent paint finish Item @ 50,000
    Steel frame to new flat roof slab; forming padstones; fabrication; erection; intumescent paint finish (based on 460m2 @ 60 kg/m2) 28 t @ 2,500
    Steelwork and secondary steelwork; pitched to form new mansard roof; adaptions to existing frame; making good; intumescent paint finish (based on 145m2 @ 100kg/m2 – based on plan area of mansard) 15 t @ 3,500
    New roof slab; 130 thick reinforced concrete slab on holorib decking 480 m2 @ 80
    Single ply roof membrane; insulation, vapour barrier and walkway tiles 480 m2 @ 90
    Allowance for junctions of roof membrane with existing work; flashings, aprons, upstands, edge trims, fall junctions, cover strips 480 m2 @ 50
    Allowance for repairs, alterations and making good to retained roof features, parapets etc 480 m2 @ 30
    Mansard roof construction, comprising bespoke sawn softwood framing to mansard and dormer openings, plywood boarding, insulation and vapour barriers; felt and natural slate coverings; lead cladding to dormers with lead aprons (quantity based on plan area of the mansard roof) 145 m2 @ 615
    Pitched screen to open roof level plant enclosure; steel frame with lead-clad timber panels 60 m2 @ 195
    Additional works at roof level; plant supports, plinths and upstands, safety balustrade; new drainage and repairs to existing 420 m2 @ 36
    Feature staircase; steel frame, landings and treads with aluminium nosings, structural glazed balustrades to landings with stainless steel balustrade/handrails 7 flights @ 22,000
    Fire escape stair from ground to fifth floor; steel with concrete infill treads; half landings; painted mild steel handrails and balustrades 6 flights @ 6,000
    Precast concrete staircase from basement to ground and ground to first floor including mild steel balustrade 2 flights @ 10,000
    Allowance for handrails to access ramp in reception Item @ 2,000
    External walls, windows and doors528,100120.029.77
    Cleaning surfaces of existing stone facade; fine water spray and brush 850 m2 @ 50
    Allowance for stone repairs to existing facade Item @ 10,000
    New Portland Stone cladding to ground floor entrances; hand set; to match existing Item @ 50,000
    Glazed entrance screen 5 m high overall including central revolving entrance door and 2 side entrance doors Item @ 60,000
    Blockwork, insulation and self-coloured render to escape stair flank wall 250 m2 @ 135
    Curtain wall to lightwell; double-glazed units in stick system; secondary framing; installed within confined conditions of existing lightwell 130 m2 @ 700
    Rainscreen cladding; secondary framing; installed within confined conditions of existing lightwell 110 m2 @ 350
    Louvre plant screen; polyester powder coated; steel frame 95 m2 @ 270
    Allowance for repairs and redecorations to existing windows (60 ) Item @ 50,000
    Full height double glazing to new dormers; including sliding doors; ironmongery 112 m2 @ 650
    Aluminium framed single-glazed secondary windows 160 m2 @ 190
    Full height windows to replace existing including enlarging existing opening 4 @ 4,000
    Escape doors; purpose-made timber; 1100 x 3000 high; ironmongery 3 @ 2,500
    Internal walls and partitions126,70028.802.35
    140 blockwork to basement plant areas and cores 1,800 m2 @ 40
    Metal stud partitions; 170 thick 300 m2 @ 70
    Duct panelling behind WCs 20 @ 450
    Glazed lift enclosure at ground floor reception; 3 m high 40 m2 @ 550
    Plasterboard linings to existing columns including framework; 3.60 m high, 1.00 m girth 15 @ 180
    Internal doors97,20022.091.80
    Single door to plant rooms including frame and ironmongery 5 @ 1,300
    Single doors to landlord’s areas 4 @ 900
    Solid core single leaf doors to core entrances; fire rated; full height; glazed vision panels; stainless steel ironmongery; hardwood frames and architraves; clear stain finish to hardwood; veneer finish to door leaf 12 @ 1,400
    Ditto; non-fire rated to WCs and cleaners’ cupboards 25 @ 1,200
    Single riser access doors to office and core areas; fire rated; hardwood frames and architraves; clear stain finish to hardwood; veneer finish to door leaf 25 @ 1,100
    Ditto; double doors 8 @ 1,600
    Wall finishes152,30034.612.82
    Plasterboard linings to existing walls; fixed direct to substrate 1,100 m2 @ 25
    Vinyl matt emulsion paint to plasterboard 4,000 m2 @ 3
    Waterproof render to isolated existing areas in basement walls 650 m2 @ 40
    Natural stone tiling to WCs 260 m2 @ 180
    Feature Portland stone walls to reception 100 m2 @ 400
    Floor finishes228,80052.004.23
    Natural stone to reception and lobby areas 300 m2 @ 250
    Natural stone to WCs 50 m2 @ 180
    Raised floor; 300 cavity; including cutting holes for diffusers 2,430 m2 @ 40
    Extra over raised floors for; mechanically fixing pedestals to existing slab; dust-sealing plenum 2,430 m2 @ 10
    Rubber floor to escape stair 160 m2 @ 43
    Galvanised steel walkways within risers 80 m2 @ 130
    Skirtings, surface fixed, painted MDF 600 m @ 10
    Ceiling finishes176,00040.003.26
    Painted plasterboard on battens to office areas, lobbies and WCs; including bulkheads, trims and apertures for linear downlighters 3,100 m2 @ 50
    Allowance for feature ceiling to reception 140 m2 @ 150
    Furniture and fittings62,60014.231.16
    Allowance for reception area fittings; reception desk; mailboxes, signage, mats and matwells Item @ 35,000
    Blinds fixed to external side of secondary glazing, and dormer windows (measured elsewhere) 290 m2 @ 40
    Fittings to WCs including feature stone trough hand basin; mirror finish vanity wall unit; fittings 20 @ 800
    Sanitary fittings20,0004.550.37
    WC sanitary fittings; WCs, taps, waste and trap; basins included in fittings and furniture 20 @ 800
    Allowance for cleaners sinks 10 @ 400
    Disposal installations53,40012.140.99
    Allowance for rainwater disposal; downpipes and connections to below ground drainage 4,400 m2 @ 4
    Allowance for soil, waste, drains and overflow installations; replacement soil stacks in new risers; connections to below ground drainage 4,400 m2 @ 7
    Allowance for pumped drainage from basement areas Item @ 5,000
    Water installations36,8008.360.68
    Mains water services, comprising sectional storage tank, booster pump set, pipework, valves, insulation and water treatment 4,400 m2 @ 5
    Hot water services by local water storage heaters 6 @ 800
    Water service provision for floor vending/kitchenettes; capped off @ 2,000
    Space heating and ventilation502,100114.119.29
    Replacement heat source and distribution; gas-fired boiler plant, LTHW primary and secondary pumpsets, pressurisation units and pipework within plantroom Item @ 75,000
    Replacement LTHW heating to stairs, toilets and circulation areas 670 m2 @ 16
    Supplementary LTHW heating to lightwell glazing Item @ 10,000
    Low level displacement ventilation system; roof-level air handling and chiller plant; chilled water distribution at roof level only; office supply and extract distribution ductwork; supply air diffusers 4,400 m2 @ 70
    Supply air diffusers to office areas only 2,430 m2 @ 10
    Package air-conditioning system to entrance lobby and reception area Item @ 10,000
    LTHW radiator system to general office floor area 1,730 m2 @ 20
    Replacement trench heating installation to upper level office floors with dormer windows 700 m2 @ 25
    Toilet extract system Item @ 12,000
    Electrical installations360,40081.916.67
    Replacement mains switchgear, cabling, containment and landlord’s distribution boards 4,400 m2 @ 20
    Small power; landlord’s areas only 4,400 m2 @ 6
    Power supply to mechanical services 4,400 m2 @ 5
    Lighting installation to landlord’s areas, including emergency lighting 670 m2 @ 30
    Lighting installation to office areas including lighting control 2,430 m2 @ 50
    Emergency lighting to office areas 2,430 m2 @ 20
    Feature lighting to entrances Item @ 25,000
    Earthing and bonding 4,400 m2 @ 2
    Lift installation180,00040.913.33
    Lift installation; 10 person fire fighting lifts serving 7 storeys 2 @ 90,000
    Gas installations8,8002.000.16
    Gas service to boilers only from gas meter 4,400 m2 @ 2
    Protective installations18,8004.270.35
    Allowance for dry riser inlets Item @ 10,000
    Lightning protection 4,400 m2 @ 2
    Communications installations 119,00027.052.20
    Addressible fire alarm system; panel, detectors, sounders 4,400 m2 @ 8
    Extra for detectors and sounders in office areas 2,430 m2 @ 5
    Allowance for telephone and data containment only 4,400 m2 @ 4
    Security system; allowance for intruder detection including door and window security contacts at low level 4,400 m2 @ 10
    CCTV monitoring; landlord’s areas only Item @ 10,000
    Special installations154,00035.002.85
    Building management system comprising motor control centres, isolators, starters and all controls 4,400 m2 @ 35
    Builder’s work in connection100,00022.731.85
    Forming holes and chases; firestopping Item @ 100,000
    Preliminaries and contingencies1,148,000260.9121.24
    Testing and commissioning of building services installations
    Allow 5% of services cost
    Item @ 78,000
    Contractor’s overheads, site establishment and site supervision, excluding design fees
    Allow 16%
    Item @ 693,000
    Design reserve and contingency
    Allow 7.5%
    Item @ 377,000
    Total construction cost of office refurbishment 5,403,9001,228.17100.00