Licence to Alter or Licence to Fleece?

Just because you’re taking an office shell that needs fitting out, don’t assume you can do whatever the heck you want with it.

That would be too easy.

Most commercial leases stop you from carrying out significant alterations – anything above putting up shelves and laying a carpet – without specific permission from the landlord.

And guess what? Getting a licence for alterations can be sloooowww and costly and a bit of a painfest, particularly if it coincides with negotiating the lease itself. You’ll need a bunch of technical specifications before you can even start the application!

If you haven’t come across a ‘licence to alter’ before, here’s a list of things you’ll need before you can even begin to swim in these choppy waters:

  • Specifications for the works
  • Drawings showing the existing and proposed layout
  • Structural drawings and calculations
  • Building services drawings
  • The works programme
  • Method statements
  • Risk assessments
  • A copy of the F10 notification under Part 1 CDM Regulations
  • Copy of insurances
  • Copy of planning permissions, building regulations permissions and other statutory approvals.

Have you spotted the problem yet? No? Well, a licence for alterations can be a bit of a Catch-22. You don’t want to waste money appointing contractors to carry out preliminary design works that might not in the end be permitted. But you can’t even apply for a licence until you’ve appointed a contractor to do the preliminary design work! Seriously, who dreamed this up?

There’s also the problem of synchronising the licence with:

  • Stripping out of the premises that you’re vacating, if you’re moving offices
  • The lease-end date for the premises that are being vacated
  • Delivery of new equipment, furniture, fixtures and fittings
  • Staff relocation and removals programs.

Material delays in getting the landlord’s licence is no joke. It can result in significant program delays, additional costs, and the need for temporary accommodation. Have you included a contingency in your budget? Are you working with a contractor who can guide you through the legalities; who can design with ‘wow’ despite the realities of lease restrictions; who can avoid costly and unnecessary squabbles; and who can synchronise the many complex aspects of your project?

Licences to alter are just one of the myriad of risks that can trip you up during an office fit out or refurbishment project. You can read about the others in our whitepaper: ‘How Working with a Traditional Design and Build Firm Could Cost You Thousands’.

Download your free copy here.

It goes without saying that you can minimise all the risks, simply by having a trusted fit out partner at your side. An expert at office design London. We’re super-proud of our 100% record of delivering customer satisfaction. We always give you a highly detailed strategy that highlights lead-in times, and we know all the tips, tricks and grey areas so everyone gets what they need. Don’t get bogged down by landlord’s crazy requirements. Give us a call!


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