Deanestor, one of the UK’s leading furniture and fitout specialists in the Build to Rent sector, offers some practical advice for developers and contractors when selecting an FF&E partner for major residential projects.
Bespoke versus standardised furniture solutions
Bespoke components to fit the precise layout of a bedroom, studio or apartment will help to maximise space. The furniture can also be developed to closely reflect the identity and interior design theme of each project.
A suite of bedroom and kitchen furniture options can be designed for a developer to then roll-out on multiple schemes to reduce design costs and lead times. This can be a very effective way of creating a recognisable brand for the developer, which can be introduced across different regions whilst still maintaining the company’s ethos.
A good manufacturer should have the flexibility to source an unlimited range of materials, finishes and colours for the furniture to enhance the living environment and to appeal to prospective tenants. This flexibility can help the client and contractor meet differing budget aspirations.
Consider the benefits of buying British
A UK manufacturer will provide continuity of supply and significantly reduced risk of delays. This is increasingly important during the Brexit transition period.
As well as security of supply, procuring furniture from within the UK avoids any risk of import tariffs, cost inflation and currency variations, regardless of the effects of the UK leaving the EU.
Lead times from UK manufacturers are typically shorter, particularly in the supply of replacement products – and this approach supports the UK economy.
A UK specialist should also have a more detailed understanding of the UK property market to inform and add value to the furniture specification and choice of materials. A company such as Deanestor can also have greater access to design and installation resources.
Assess the approach to project management
Site managers, supervisors and project managers for the fitout phase should be directly employed by the manufacturer. This approach increases accountability and should result in higher and more consistent quality and more accurate installation.
Look closely at capabilities
For major residential schemes, the fitout specialist should have solid experience of successfully delivering complex projects of more than 500 apartments or studios and different room configurations. This ensures there is a thorough understanding of the unique challenges of a large scheme and that the FF&E contract will be resourced accordingly.
Specifiers and contractors should also check there is sufficient capacity available for manufacturing; an established supply chain in place for procuring a wide range of products, materials and components, and specialist expertise in design, logistics planning and scheduling.
Take financial stability into consideration
Look at the manufacturer’s financial stability. This is particularly vital in these uncertain times and will reduce the risk of delivery delays which would affect the contractor’s programme of works. Take up references from past customers and consider levels of repeat business.
What design resources are in place?
Specialist furniture designers can develop an architect’s vision to meet the client’s budget and quality aspirations.
Inhouse furniture designers should be available to work closely with lead designers, providing technical support for the furniture, to remove potential challenges with co-ordination and building tolerances prior to manufacture.
A full service for kitchen or bedroom design is invaluable to take the architect’s drawings and ensure furniture layouts co-ordinate with M&E services as well as to make the designs work for manufacturing. This will ensure optimum use of materials for effective cost management.
Will a maintenance regime be provided?
A reputable manufacturer should offer guidance for maintenance and provide an operating and maintenance manual to specify aftercare.