In the event you decide to rent a physical office space or a warehouse, you may want to tailor the rented property to your needs. For example, instead of open space you can decide to have several offices or you may want to build a small office inside your warehouse. As you might have guessed it already, the topic of this chapter will be fit-outs and we will be sharing now the basic information you should know.
As soon as you choose the property you want to rent, you start planning, how this space shall be customized next. You may just want to paint the walls of the office and do some redesign, or you may decide to connect two small offices and turn them into one big office space. In case of a shell and core space rent, there will be even more work involved. And depending on the scope of fit-outs, there may be more or less time needed to complete them.
All fit-out works, with a very few exceptions, require approvals from respective management companies and municipalities. These approvals can be categorized into pre-approvals or approvals to start fit-out works and completion approvals, which indicate that fit-out works have been successfully carried out. All detailed information on fit-outs and requirements with respect to the same are listed in Fit-out Guidelines, which can be requested from specialized departments of municipalities (for local/mainland companies), from free zone authorities (for free zone entities), or management companies, if the latter coordinate fit-outs in a free zone.
One shall distinguish between minor fit-out works and general ones.
Minor fit-out works are those, which do not involve existing electro-mechanical systems, fire- alarm & fire-fighting systems, civil defense requirements and building structure. The examples of minor fit-out works would be painting, tiling, flooring, low height partitions, touchups, rearrangement of furniture or drilling. You do not require to obtain a special approval for that and you just need to make sure that you are doing all the required work AFTER the official working hours and you do not disturb or distract anyone from their work routine. Otherwise, a complaint can be launched against you and security of the building will take relevant measures.
Major or general fit-out changes are the ones that affect the existing electro-mechanical systems, fire- alarm & fire-fighting systems, civil defense requirements, building structure, like for example breaking the walls or involvement of a 3rd party company that will be performing inner works or installing a special equipment (like security or surveillance systems). This all will require special approvals and permits from respective authorities, while minor changes, which in most of the cases are general touchups, do not.
In most cases, all major fit-out works require relevant NOCs (No-objection-certificates) from authorities before you do any work. For instance, in case of breaking the wall special engineering team should assess the distribution of pressure and weight and give their permission to proceed. Usually, a Fit-out-Coordinator and Facilities Management operator are appointed at the time of process initiation.
In general, if you are appointing a licensed contractor, who will be carrying out all fit-out works in your office or warehouse on the basis of the contract you conclude, it will be their responsibility to coordinate obtaining of relevant pre-approvals, NOCs and completion certificates. Also, it will be them preparing drawings and getting approvals in connection with works to be carried out in the rented property.
After all fit-out works are completed, your premises will be inspected to ensure that all works performed are in line with initially declared scope. Upon passing this inspection you will receive a Fit-out Completion Certificate.
Depending on the registration authority or municipality, inspection requirements to start operations may vary. But in general, the following points are important: you must ensure that you keep in your office or warehouse a first aid kit, fire extinguishers, that you display emergency numbers, have exit signs and in general property looks operational.
If you have rented a flexi-desk or office in a serviced business center, you do not have to worry about any inspections or fit-outs at all. This is, by the way, a big advantage. Also, should the office you rented be fitted and ready-to-move-in, that will also not take long to finalize move-in process. However, in case you rent a shell and core property, remember to follow relevant guidelines and plan everything accordingly.
While it may seem that fit-outs would take one or two months only, this can take in practice 3 to 5 or even 6 months. To ensure that the process is completed promptly, engage only reputable licensed contractors and monitor works on a regular basis.
At the same time, hundreds of business owners like you undergo the same fit-out formalities every month and each free zone or relevant authority has an established procedure that you just need to follow. Just remember to ask for the relevant guidelines.
Now that you have familiarized yourself with what fit-out works include, there is one last aspect you should learn more about. As you already saw, before you become fully operational, there is a number of arrangements you need to complete. We invite you to the following chapter to learn more about one of those arrangements, before we start exploring various free zones in the next module.
If you want to know more about Dubai freezone company formation, feel free to get in touch with our professional consultant team and we would be delighted to assist you and help you to compare Dubai freezone company setup costs and help you to find that free zone, which would suit your business needs the most.
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