Fit Out Companies: What Retailers Should Expect From Their Builders

Fit out companies do more than just build and install joinery, yet many retailers seem uninformed of exactly what is included in shop fit out costs, and what they can expect shop fitters to arrange and coordinate when undertaking a commercial fit out.  So we’ve provided a breakdown of what retailers should expect from their builders.

Fundamentals: What Fit Out Companies Should Have Before You Consider Them

When gathering quotes from fit out companies, one of the first and most important things you need to ensure, is that the shopfitting company holds a valid builders licence, all required insurances, such as public liability and workers compensation, and that these are up to date. If construction is being done within a shopping centre, this is usually something verified by centre management administration; however can save a lot of time if you establish this before requesting a tender.

Pre-Works: What Shop Fitters Do Before Building Even Begins

For new clients of a commercial fit out company, it would be anticipated that the shop fitter assigned to your project would meet with you prior to project commencement. Here you would discuss your expectations and briefly outline the project timeline. This also allows you to both put a face to the name, so to speak.

As reassurance for both parties, a construction contract outlining the terms and conditions are commonly signed prior to initiating works. The contract should also outline payment terms. Retailers should expect these payment terms to include paying a deposit prior to commencement of the commercial fit out.

One shop fitting tip we strongly recommend is to assign your fit out company as early on in the project planning as possible. This is guaranteed to minimise your workload. Shopping centre retailers can expect fit out companies to attend the centre’s pre-start meeting. Pre-start meetings discuss matters such as inductions, construction plans and emergency procedures.

Furthermore, the fit out company will arrange building permits, coordinate base building works, known as category one, or CAT 1 works. This includes items such as sprinkler and EWIS fire services, and required air conditioning service works that are necessary for any commercial fit out. Your shop fitter will coordinate with centre management in regards to concrete floor construction, the external face of your store, any issues or alterations to tenancy walls and even organisation of the construction hoarding.

Essentially, the only reason a retailer would need to communicate with centre management regarding the shop build, is to sign off on the costings. Any further issues and interactions with centre management should be handled by the fit out company.


During Fit Out: Know What’s Required of, and Organised by, the Shop Fitters

Like when building a house, it’s desirable to maintain one contact person from the fit out company. This person would handle all your enquiries throughout the duration of the project. A Site Foreman is usually assigned this role, and knows the project inside out. Consequently they are able to answer any queries you may have concerning the store build.

Fit out companies arrange their own trades. From plasterers to plumbers. Flooring installers to electricians. The shop fitters coordinate these trades throughout the fit out. This includes supply and installation of all building materials and fixturing, such as lighting, flooring and paint. Any concerns or issues that may arise regarding the build are dealt with by the shop fitters with their trades, the retail designers or tenancy deliver managers, whichever applicable, and where possible.

Shop fitters are responsible for the fit out to meet the Building Code of Australia (BCA) and structural requirements. Relevant building regulations will also be adhered to, and are the responsibility of, the fit out company. Retailers should expect their store to be built within the contracted timeline, feature quality joinery using specified materials and finishes, and as per the quoted price.

In the unlikely and unfortunate case of costly variances or issues arising, it would be assumed that the fit out company would discuss these with you. Outlining the necessity and expense, and issuing a separate invoice for the variance (also known as a variation).  Progress payments are highly probable. Progress payments are deposits paid throughout the store build. The progress payments will be outlined in the contract provided prior to project commencement.

Post Works: What to Expect at Handover

As a general rule of thumb, a retail property up to 300sq metres in size, should expect around a one month turnaround on a complete store fit out. Handover of the store should be as per the agreed date outlined within the original project timeline.

Shop interiors should be 100% completed at handover, There should be no trades in the store finalizing their work.  Commercial cleaners (arranged by your fit out company) should have previously been through and have the store looking spick and span to allow retailers full access to stock the store in preparation for trade.

If this standard of shop fitter involvement and project management is not what you have received in the past, then shop around until you find one who will provide this.

Because this is what retailers should expect from their builders.

AAFS Shopfitting: A fit out company guaranteed to meet your expectations

Eliminate the anxiety and stress out of your next fit out by allocating shop fitters that are guaranteed to meet, or even exceed, your expectations. 

Expert Tips on Selecting Commercial Flooring

Flooring is a major component of a commercial store design concept as it creates the overall tone of a space. When deciding on materials it’s important to balance design with practicality, and have your brand and target market at front of mind. Don’t underestimate the underfoot, as consumer comfort can affect their buying decision.

Retail Design Tip: For an on trend look in Melbourne retail fit outs – use an eclectic mix of materials with an increased focus on raw materials. Do it right and it will engage customers and provide a memorable shopping environment.

Here’s a list of things to consider, and tips to guide you, in determining the right product for your space.

Noise irritation and sound insulation

Loud noise in any retail environment can be distracting, discouraging potential customers from entering, or remaining within, your premises. Sound deterrents are not limited to deafening music meant for nightclubs, or booming voices echoing around busy eateries, but can be sound vibrations attributed by inappropriate flooring applications.

Be sure to consider popular footwear worn by majority of your consumers. Contemplate the dimensions and wall material of your space and how sound will absorb, or bounce off, this and carry around the store.

Ongoing care and maintenance

Some flooring options require a great deal of maintenance, so it’s important to weigh up the cost of this, and the time involved, prior to flooring selection.

What needs to be carried out in order to preserve durability? How easy is it to remove marks, scratches, tears? Will it discolour with sunlight? What will happen if a large liquid spill occurs?

Timber floors and polished tiles may look a million dollars, but can also costs this in time and money to maintain their luxe look.

An epoxy floor finish doesn’t involve constant or expensive maintenance. Instead is an easy to clean, durable surface that can be customised by colour, pattern and even images, to meet retailer requirements. Another benefit of using an epoxy coating is its self-levelling capability and quick turnaround time.  In turn, a great option for retail renovation when covering old flooring materials, and most importantly, less time your business will be closed for the store build.


Ease of replacement

Carpet tiles provide flexibility as far as flooring replacement, as they’re inexpensive and effortless to interchange. There’s no need for a major undertaking of ripping up and replacing the entire floor, nor completely emptying your space to do so. Simply remove the affected tiles and replace as you would a standard tile (less grout colour matching issues!).

A desirable alternative to hardwood timber flooring are vinyl planks, which resemble timber, but with a much lower price tag. This direct stick vinyl product allows trades to easily remove and replace damaged boards individually, thus a highly desirable choice for any retail environment.


Vinyl flooring is one of the most durable flooring solutions available due to its high resistance to moisture. Slightly less so in vinyl planks (or vinyl tiles as they are sometimes known), than sheet flooring, as the chance of moisture penetration is greater due to the many joins in material.

The supplier of a product also needs consideration, in relation to the manufacturing techniques used to construct the flooring material. An obvious comparison would be Australian made products (known generally be of a high standard due to our tough manufacturing laws) compared to imported products.

Noticeable signs of hardiness, such as the density of a timber can sometimes be overlooked. However, the thicker the timber, the less likely it is to be damaged. A dense timber is much longer lasting than a thinner timber product. Sometimes it’s worth spending the extra money to gain a superior product.


Hygiene and public safety

“Flooring hygiene is paramount and every type of floor will react differently to a maintenance regime, so making sure that manufacturer cleaning instructions are followed correctly is critical” advises Frank Jardim, National Sales Manager of Asset Flooring Group.

When deciding on floor coverings the key criteria regarding occupational health and safety is to consider slips, trips and bacteria. Sheet vinyl is heat welded with no joins, which prevents water penetration making it is less prone to bacteria. However, Frank warns “the use of reconstituted rubber mats, chair/table stoppers or caster wheels can create irreversible permanent staining on some types of vinyl flooring.”

Replacing commercial flooring is a major (and expensive) undertaking if required outside of a standard shop fit out. It’s imperative to carefully evaluate the appropriate materials and floor design when planning your store concept to avoid unnecessary expenses down the track.

For further shop fitting advice, read our 4 Tips to Planning the Perfect Retail Fit Out or contact our shop fitters, in our Melbourne office on 03 5943 0581.