I cannot tell you how many times coordination meetings to confirm criteria, double check performance based project information and attempt to minimize early assumption errors, have project team members minimize important implication issues with “Don’t worry about that”.
One of the biggest recurring project areas where this occurs is office furniture. Often purchased at the end of the project schedule, final furniture design is hastily finished to meet deadlines. Different manufactures have different base project requirements for dimensions, power, data, and impacts to planned mechanical, electrical power and circuiting, fire alarm, fire sprinkler, exiting, ADA access, lighting, ventilation, floor and wall finishes, diffuser and grill locations, thermostat locations, light switches and other operating equipment controls, and ceiling finishes.
One of my early mentors in project management loved the expression “the devil is in the details,” meaning you would experience pain, suffering, and unbearable heat from consequences tied to either not properly gathering the details for coordination, not understanding the details, or ignoring the details. Successful projects occur from planning and appropriate detail management.
Poorly coordinated tenant office furniture decisions and details can often impact the performance of office space operating conditions and corresponding overall client satisfaction. Below are my five (5) critical office furniture detail tips to ensure you have a successful project and avoid the “devil”:
- Create an office furniture performance detail criteria summary sheet and a deadline for the information to be provided to the design team by either the tenant or owner responsible so it may be validated against the original project assumptions for the relocated or new furniture.
- Scope of furniture work is properly permitted with the municipality and the installer is licensed;
- HVAC load from number of people, special equipment, task lighting, and printing devices, to microwaves, coffee machines, etc. in the furniture scope;
- Furniture partitions with full height walls impacting lighting, switching, floor and wall finishes, ventilation, fire sprinkler, fire alarm, data cabling, power cabling amps, wires, grounding, circuits, and voltage;
- Means of furniture delivery access – building loading dock or lobby, passenger or freight elevators, stairs, or through exterior windows;
- Coordination with space ADA requirements and aisle widths to meet egress building code requirements;
- Furniture orientation and cubicle partition impact to any floor or wall diffusers, wall switches, thermostats, fire extinguisher cabinets, or other wall features;
- Connection route and dimension coordination for attachment to cubicle connection points from floor cores, cable trays, wall boxes, ceiling power poles, or interior column cavities.
- Double check wiring diagram shipped with furniture matching proposed electric design scope.
- Document the condition of the floor finishes, ceiling finishes, and wall finishes prior to office furniture installation or delivery beginning and immediately following the completion of work prior to tenant or owner occupancy. Also confirm weight of furniture material pallets with elevator capacity and any building time of day restrictions. Make sure appropriate floor and wall corner protection measures are in place to minimize damage from proposed furniture delivery route.
- Review any furniture meeting or gatherings areas incorporated into layout versus single person occupancy for adequate cooling and ventilation distribution to area.
- Make sure both furniture delivery and/or installation company has proper project insurance coverage prior to site access.