Bar fit-outs and bar re-fits

25th July 2019

A bar fit-out or re-fit is a large scale project which can have huge benefits to your business. These can include a clarity in communicating your brand and/or theme, a new lease of life on a dated premises and the chance to stand out against the competition to mention just a few. A properly managed project can deliver all of these and much more.

Although it is clear that a bar re-fit can offer some great value to a new or existing business, this added value requires a lot of planning and well executed action. This is where it is advisable to employ the services of a professional company. They will have the experience and knowledge of common pitfalls to ensure that things run smoothly from start to finish. In addition to this a professional bar fit company will be well versed in considered planning and fast project turnaround.

Many factors of refitting a bar are the same as any construction project. Factors include planning permission, health and safety, accessibility and fire regulation just to mention a few. Then you have the more broad aspects like design, cost and project management.

Thinking about fitting out a bar raises many questions. Here we will try to answer some of the common and frequently asked questions. The answers to the questions will help you to think about some of the aspects of bar fit-out but we strongly recommend that you seek professional advice on all areas of your project.

How long does it take to fit-out a bar?

Time frame is dependent upon the size of a premises and the scope of the works. Also the level of finish required will have an impact on the overall time it takes to complete a project. As a rough and simple guide a premises up to 3000sq ft will typically take around five to eight weeks to complete. A premises over 3000sq ft could take between six to twelve weeks.

Time is money! One of the biggest considerations when embarking on a bar re-fit is time. After all it’s important that you are able to be up and trading as soon as possible after a re-fit/fit-out. The good news is that a professional bar fitting company will have the experience that means the minimum time is spent in order to deliver a project in a timely manner ensuring that all areas of the project have been properly thought out and accounted for.

The key to a successful bar re-fit/fit-out is to employ the services of a company that will help you by planning every aspect of the work. This will ensure that the project runs smoothly and on schedule. As we know things inherently take longer than expected. This can be due to multiple factors; including, but not limited to, sub contractors, legal requirements, regulations, planning and the list goes on. Only the benefit of experience will help you navigate through all of these challenges and ensure that a project runs on time.

How much will it cost?

So how much does a bar re-fit cost? The answer to this question does completely depend upon the scale and level of finish of a project. Below you’ll find a rough guide to costs within different ranges of finish:

Although not a definitive guide, these prices will help to give you an idea of what a project cost could run to. It is a good idea to discuss in detail your requirements with an industry professional to properly gauge the cost of your bar fit.

Cost is of course one of the major considerations in a bar re-fit or indeed any project of this scale. Keeping tight control of those purse strings is vital. Sound advice and proper budget planning are key to success and should be at the top of your list. A realistic budget for any project should also be a factor. It’s important that corners aren’t cut and that the finished project offers impact and purpose. The old adage “you get what you pay for” can apply here so it’s vital that if you are closing a bar for a re-fit or delaying opening that the end result is truly worth it.

The cost of a bar re-fit has many facets. Not only do you have the raw materials to consider but also the cost of contractors and conforming to current legislation and planning requirements. It’s only when you look at the whole picture can you consider the proper cost of a project.

Do you need a project manager?

It is recommended to employ the services of a project manager. A project manager can preside over all aspects of a re-fit making them run smoothly as one project. Project managing your own re-fit could be very difficult if you do not have the experience required.

A bar re-fit like any large scale project will have many areas to think about. With each area potentially having it’s own legislation and regulations to consider - not to mention the individual contractors and other companies/bodies who need to be involved.

To be a project manager requires experience, a good grasp of budget and the ability to manage time properly. Being able to adapt to stressors on time and budget is essential. Many of the skills a project manager possesses come from years of experience within the industry. Their experience enables them to predict issues even before they arise and to know what challenges are on the horizon. It is often a false economy to go it alone. Employing the services of a good project manager can really make a difference.

You may find that your main contractor offers this as part of their service or you could employ the services of an independent contractor.

What health and safety considerations?

All re-fits and new fit-outs are governed by the Health and Safety At Work Act (1974) and must conform to CDM (Construction, Design and Management) Regulations and follow their hierarchy structure. Projects over a certain size will require an F10 notification to HSE.

Whilst veteran bar owners are likely to be aware, if you are new to fitting out a bar, there are a number of stumbling blocks which can be extensive and costly. When renovating or creating a new bar or restaurant, it is imperative that you follow the the legal requirements set out in the Health and Safety At Work Act as well as the CDM regulations. Breach of these regulations can lead to criminal prosecution.

The CDM is divided into 5 parts: part 1 deals with the application of CDM and definitions; part 2 covers the duties of clients for all construction projects; part 3 covers the health and safety duties and roles of other duty holders including a designer, principal designer, principal contractors and contractors; part 4 deals with general requirements for all construction sites.

Do you need planning permission?

Most likely yes, it’s important to have the correct permissions in place before embarking on a large scale project. To avoid legal issues you should always seek professional advice.

It might be that you require planning consent depending on type of project. You may also need consent depending on what the building use is classified as. You may require a change of use. Landlord consent might also need to be sought out to alter the building. A building inspector will also need to sign off and give approval to the works carried out.

Whatever the reason for requiring planning permission it is important that this is sought early on to avoid delays and disappointment further down the line.

What do you need to consider with fire regulations?

There are many considerations when it comes to fire regulation. One such consideration would be that fire alarm installations must conform to current regulations. Also a landlord may have further additional requirements. For example one of these requirements might be interfacing to their own fire alarm system.

Fire and safety should be at the forefront of any project like this. There are many areas of fire safety to consider and it is of course important for you to seek advice from a fire safety professional.

Due diligence and seeking a professional hand from industry experts will help to ensure that fire regulations are met. This will help to avoid safety issues and legal repercussions.

What do you need to have for disabled access?

Projects must conform to current document M regulations and access; egress routes must be considered for access by all types of person. 

There are several laws in the Disability Discrimination Act that you must adhere to when fitting out your bar. It states that all new buildings in the UK designated for public use must have satisfactory access for wheelchair users. The Equality Act 2010 states it is mandatory to make alterations to any existing building so there is adequate provision for disable access. As the owner of the public access building, you should expect an inspection visit from an official who will ensure that you have made adequate provision. There are several potential access arrangements that may need to be made such as wheelchair ramps, automatic entrance doors, disabled bathrooms and lowered counter heights.

Wheelchair ramps must be fitted at a specific angle with a special type of flooring. In addition there must be a handrail to provide further support. To be compliant with the DDA when it comes to doors, they must be a minimum width and this can be dependent on the angle of entrance from the disabled access ramp. It is essential you hire professionals to carry out this work because anything that isn’t DDA compliant can lead to huge expense and worse still could result in your business being closed down for good.

Make sure you speak to a professional to help understand what is required by you and your project.

Is it a good idea to employ a designer?

With so many aspects of a re-fit, to consider a designer is a good idea. As well as offering clarity and direction for the contractor and the client, a designer has the experience to know what considerations should be made when embarking on a bar re-fit project.

With so much to think about, such as the bar itself, seating, stage area, toilets, it pays to be able to tie all of these aspects together into one coherent design. This is where the expertise of a designer comes in. It’s not just the brand and theme of a bar to think about but also the little nuances that make the finished re-fit feel just right. An experienced designer should also be able to design within the limits of what is technically possible. This is done through being mindful of building regulations as well as any engineering and construction requirements.

Finally one of the most important benefits a designer will bring to any project is flare and imagination to help develop your ideas and vision into something that translates into a lasting impression on your patrons and big improvements for your business.

What next?

With definitely more than enough to think about, determining your next steps can be a challenge in itself. As we’ve discussed here, contacting a professional bar fitting/fit-out company would be a good first port of call. They should have the experience to offer a wealth of information and proven pathways to a successful result - not to mention access to and established relationships with many trusted professionals with the ability to carry out the work. Their knowledge of industry legislation and regulations could be invaluable.

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We have a great resource for you. Click here to find out more about bar fit-outs and bar re-fits.