Office Repair vs Office Renovation

Good office space is necessary for productivity. 

Whether you work from home, in a co-working space, or in a traditional office, you know how much your environment affects your work. 

If your current space doesn't fit the bill anymore, it's time for an upgrade! 

What that upgrade looks like depends on a number of factors, such as expense and timeline. Read here to see the differences between office renovation and repair. Let us help you decide which one is the right choice for your office. 

Define the Terms

Before we start tossing all kinds of terms around, let's make sure we are on the same page with some definitions. Check out these definitions:

Office Repair

A repair for your office means taking an item that is broken and restoring it to full working order. 

For example, if you have a wooden door with scratches in the finish or paint, you can repair the door by taking it off the hinges, sanding it down and refinishing it. Then, you simply hang the newly repaired door back on its hinges. 

Office Renovation

A renovation for the office involves removing a broken item and replacing it with a new, functional one.  

Take the same scratched door from the first example. To renovate it instead of repair it, you would remove the scratched door and replace it with a brand-new wooden door that does not have any scratches. 

Office Renovation vs Repair

The choice to repair something vs renovating something more often than not comes down to a discussion of time, money, energy, efficacy and, overall, personal value.

While the same end goal can usually be achieved regardless of which route you choose, these other considerations should factor into your decision. These considerations will help you make the best choice you can with the information at hand. 

Time

Time is a serious consideration for any amount of repair or renovation.

Is this a time-sensitive fix that needs to happen immediately? Is this something that can be repaired piece-by-piece slowly over time without impeding work at the office?

You also need to consider how long the project will take and whether the office will need to be closed during the project. 

For instance, if you're repairing the faucet in the communal kitchen, it can likely be done during work hours. If you're renovating the ceiling in the entire office space, you will need to do this during non-work hours. You may even need to close the office for a couple of days to complete the project. 

We typically think that repairs take less time than renovations, but this isn't always the case. It takes less time to install a new hot water heater than it does to try to fix the old broken one. 

The time it takes to complete either a repair or renovation will be project specific. Get quotes from a couple of professionals to give yourself a good idea of the timeline.

Money

How much does it cost to fix something instead of replacing something? For smaller items, it is usually cheaper to fix the broken item rather than replace it. 

Think about the door example. It was likely cheaper to sand and repaint the wooden door than purchase an entirely new door. In this situation, a repair was the way to go, right? 

It doesn't always work out that way, though. You also need to consider long-term costs. It may be cheaper in the short run to repair something rather than replace it, but you need to consider whether the repair will be ongoing, which will drive up the cost. 

Short-term fixes can be patch jobs. They'll tide you over until a more permanent solution can be found, but they usually end up costing more money.

Follow up repairs, multiple repairs on the same equipment, and needing to renovate the office after initial repairs are all concerns that will increase the cost of your project. It was probably more cost effective to replace the item in the first place. 

You'll also need to decide if your renovation is adding value to the office. Does it make the space more desirable as a rental or sale property? Are you investing in higher returns down the line?

Energy

Typically, replacing a broken piece takes less energy than trying to repair something. 

You go to a local hardware store, pick out the exact right replacement piece you need and install it with no worry over whether or not it is going to function when you turn it on. 

Or, you go to the hardware store and try to find the piece you think you need to repair the item, tinker around with the install, and hope it works. If it doesn't work when you turn it on, you misunderstood what was broken and you have to start from scratch. 

The energy to fix something is usually higher. It can also take more time, especially if it is a complex fix or you are not sure what is causing the malfunction. Time and energy go hand-in-hand. 

Efficacy

Is a repair going to actually fix the problem for the long-term? Or is it going to need to be ripped out in another year and redone?

For example, you have faulty wiring in your building that causes the circuit breaker to trip and the lights to flicker. You can try to repair the system, but it won't usually fix the problem. 

You need to rip the wiring out and start fresh. It's a safety hazard to have bad wiring in your office. Little repairs here and there is not an effective fix for something that can cause an office fire. 

You never want to skimp when it comes to the safety of the people who are occupying your office space. Paying more and taking more time up front is always better than risking the health and safety of people who are relying on you for a safe workspace. 

Choosing the most effective solution to a problem is usually the best answer, even if it costs most or takes more time and energy.

The hard part is knowing the right question to ask to decide efficacy. Is repairing the faucet an effective way to have a functional sink? Yes. 

Is renovating the sink an effective way to have a functional sink? Yes. You can choose either to repair or replace because both are effective. 

Is repairing the existing walls going to give me a better flow and more workspace in the office? No.

Is renovating or remodelling the walls going to give me better flow and more workspace? Yes. 

Go with the renovation because it is the only effective choice. 

Personal Value

The last consideration to factor into the equation is personal value. Is there something about the space that you value for reasons outside of money? Does this personal value trump the other considerations?

Typically for office space repairs or renovations, this is less of a consideration, but it does exist in certain situations.

Let's assume that the office space you own has been handed down through the family. It's a historic building and it has sentimental value for you. 

Ripping the original bricks and fixtures out to renovate is out of the question. You want repairs to the original. In fact, what you really want leans more into the category of restoration more than a repair.  

Personal value is difficult to include in an equation. It's much less concrete than the other considerations, but it is something to be aware of when making decisions about how to handle your space. 

In a lot of situations, personal value trumps time, money, energy, and efficacy. 

A Real-Life Example

Let's look at how some of these considerations play out with a real-life example. 

Please note the prices listed are very rough averages, provided only for a point of comparison. They are not indicative of the actual cost to perform any of these labours. You will need to get an estimate for your individual project. 

For this example, let's pretend that your office kitchen was built in the 1970s. It's worn out. The cabinets are warped and linoleum is peeling up, and the appliances keep breaking down. 

The kitchen is a sore spot in the office. Instead of being a communal space for grabbing a coffee and chatting about the weather, the kitchen has become something your workers avoid. It's depressing and needs an upgrade.

How do you decide if you should repair it or renovate it?

If You Repair It

You hire a handyman to take down the cabinets, paint the doors and re-hang everything straight. You paint the walls, add moulding to hold the linoleum down in the corners and repair the dishwasher and fridge. 

Here are some average costs for repair of appliances:

  • $270-$540 for a fridge repair 

  • $135-$200 for a dishwasher repair 

Average costs of other supplies:

  • $80 to $120 for paint

  • $4 to $5.50 per 2.5 metres of moulding

  • $105 per hour of work for handyman services

Let's estimate that the kitchen is a 3 x 3-metre room and that it will take the handyman two days (about 16 hours) to complete this job. 

We are looking at a rough cost of $1960 - $2600 SGD for the repairs. 

If You Renovate It

You hire a handyman or contractor to rip out the ugly countertops and cabinets and replace them with brand-new ones. You buy a new, functional and efficient dishwasher and fridge. You lay a new laminate tile floor and paint the walls. 

Here are the average costs to buy new appliances:

  • $950 to $1600 for a new fridge

  • $800 to $1350 for a new dishwasher

Average costs of other renovations:

  • $80 to $120 for paint

  • $105 per hour for handyman

  • $5400 to $17500 for new cabinets

  • $43 to $139 per square metre of laminate tile

  • $580 to $1455 per square metre for countertop

This is the same 3 x 3-metre room. We estimate it will take the handyman at least one week (about 56 hours) to complete this job. 

For this example, it will cost roughly $15237 - $32066 SGD for the complete renovation. 

How Does It Compare?

Looking just at money, the obvious choice is to repair the kitchen. Don't forget to consider these other factors:

1. Repairing the kitchen instead of redoing it leaves your employees with the same kitchen they hated before. It doesn't boost morale or productivity. 

2. Updating the kitchen drastically increases the value of the property. It makes the space more likely to rent or sell at a higher price. You will likely recoup the cost of renovations during the next real estate transaction. 

3. Repairs may need to be redone in the near future. If the dishwasher keeps breaking down and it needs to be repaired, the cost of 4 dishwasher repairs is equal to the cost of a brand-new dishwasher. Is it more effective to buy a new dishwasher now and have a reliable appliance?

4. Does the renovation require you to shut down the office for the week it takes to redo the kitchen? Depending on the design of your office, it may be a safety issue to have workers in the office during renovations.

For some offices, the investment in the future and in employee happiness and productivity is enough to tip the scale in the direction of a full renovation. For others, the loss of business due to shut-down time for the renovation cements the idea that repairs are the right move.

Renovate vs Repair: What is Wright for Your Office?

Unfortunately, there is no one, easy answer to this question. You need to do what is best for your office space.

Does that mean tearing it all out to the studs and starting again? Maybe. Does it mean preserving the character of the building and doing small repairs here and there? Maybe. 

Whatever choice you make, make sure the time, money, energy, efficacy, and personal value align to make sense for you and your office. Let us help you get the office space you deserve.

Contact Mr. Wright with all of your office renovation and repair questions.