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Whether you’re opening a new office, expanding an auditorium or adding a new wing to your facility, the following checklist can help you avoid common pitfalls when purchasing new contract office furniture.

Keep in mind: you can’t use what you can’t fit. So plan ahead. Hire an independent space planner, or make sure your furniture dealer has this capability to ensure the furniture you buy can accommodate people in the space it’s afforded. Getting your space planner involved as early as possible in the process will save time and money.

Get your budget in line ahead of time and try to get approval for at least 20% above the expected cost. We always recommend you do everything possible to minimize mistakes, but having funds in reserve will actually save you money in the long run should you need them.

Scheduling details is critical to the overall success of your furniture purchase, delivery and installation. Something as simple as someone not thinking about or forgetting to call the fire marshal before modular walls can be moved can be devastating to your deadlines. Make sure you have a knowledgeable furniture partner to help you forecast problems and minimize delays.

What do you plan to do with the furniture you are replacing? There are plenty of charitable organizations that could benefit from your old furniture and most offer tax deductions. But, if you want to hang onto your surplus or old furniture, you need a plan for local or remote storage options. Some dealerships maintain warehouses to manage office migrations, providing an affordable way to keep inventory off-site.

Technology changes so rapidly, that it’s difficult to keep up with the way people work. Although you can’t let technology alone dictate how you do business, you can’t ignore how these technologies might play into your new office design. So, stay on top of trends and affordable options to integrate technology into workstations, minimize clutter and maximize your furniture’s adaptability.

When things go wrong during a furniture order or install, it’s often because something changes at the last minute. Knowing that uncertainties exist, discuss future expansion options with your team members and trusted advisors. Together, try to imagine all the things that could go wrong and put people or timelines in place to help you guard against them. For example, decide how using a room for unintended purposes or future technologies, could impact the use of a particular space.

Codes are in place for a reason whether imposed by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), or other building codes that concern accessibility or life safety. Ignoring them can lead to an entire room requiring redesign, but consideration should especially be given to these codes before moving cubicle walls, or other modular furniture that can impede traffic flow down corridors or hallways. It happens too many times: an installer or contractor moves furniture around without having an inspector sign off. And it never ends well.

A properly executed punch list will help make sure you get what you paid for and that you won’t waste any time making up for damaged goods. Check items upon delivery as well as once it is installed and assembled. Discovering missing, wrong or even damaged items as soon as possible can have a significant impact on the timeline of your project.

Sadly, yet inevitably, your furniture will wear out over time. Some contract jobs with local or state government even require a limited lifetime of use. Regardless of your use, choosing a dealer you can trust to repair or replace your furniture 5-10 years later, is just as important as making the right choice of furniture the first time around.

“Haste makes waste” and that saying could not be more true than here. Purchasing furniture for your business or institution is an important and sizable responsibility. A rushed decision could mean having to send back 300 chairs or the re-cutting of an expensive conference table, both of which are not only costly but can throw an installation timeline completely off track. So, take your time when making decisions.

Have we left anything out? Please let us know in the comments below.