The time you need to properly implement an office refurbishment will of course depend on the size and complexity of the project, and the period required to properly plan the project with also very accordingly. However you can expect the time required for planning for an office refurbishment to be split into a number of categories. Once you identify those that will apply to your project, then you can estimate the time required for each and those that can be completed concurrently.
Is the space to be refurbished available to you
There are two determining factors here. You (and for you read your company) may need to acquire new office space before the refurbishment can proceed. If this is the case suitable time should be allowed to search, negotiate and complete the legal process. If the type of property you need is scarce, you should allow additional time for the search, and if it is going to need to be constructed specifically, you will probably be measuring this time in years rather than months.
Unless you have access to in house resources, you need time to source, research, tender and appoint your professional advisors. These may include, but are not limited to architects, designers, workplace consultants, project managers, relocation managers legal and health and safety advisors main contractor and specialist sub contractors.
Once the appointment of the design team is in place (including architect, designer and workplace consultants as appropriate) the outline design elements can be carried out. If you are refurbishing existing office space and working to already defined criteria you may be able to skip this step and go straight to the detailed design stage. If not, this stage will create a model that will enable you to objectively consider alternative buildings, alternative layouts and also develop a detailed standard of fit out for tender purposes down the line.
This stage can only progress once you have the office space identified. If you are refurbishing accommodation you currently occupy this detailed design needs to take into account how the refurbishment will be carried out around your staff, or plans need to be made to temporarily move out whilst the works are underway.
You should allow time for several iterations of the design and to make sure it is approved by all relevant senior managers. Once you have a design that is agreed on, it is advisable to get a physical signature, literally to have it signed off, from each of those senior managers, so that there can be no question that the plan was agreed. At this point the plan is frozen and once work starts on site, any changes are likely to cost more money to undo work that has been completed and make the necessary new alterations.
Planning permission, building control and other approvals
These all take time and often can not be started until you have the detailed design virtually complete. In addition many approvals need to be obtained before you start work, so it is important to understand how long each is likely to take in your specific case. Your design and contracting team should be able to help with this.
Depending on your timescales, you may need to run the contracting tender period concurrently with the detailed design element and the approvals period, but contractors are likely to require several weeks to properly inspect and understand your project and put a price together.
Contractors Lead in Time
Once you have an agreed design, all necessary approvals and a contractor ready to appoint do not expect work to start immediately. Your contractor will most likely need a lead in or mobilisation period to order initial materials, prepare the site set up and position the necessary workforce. A week or two is usually sufficient for an office refurbishment project.