Richard Hamilton of HamiltonBIG, a creative retail and brand consultancy, considers the costs of building a store

This month we’re looking at the big question how much does putting your ideas into practice cost? Budget, budget, budget and then add 10% is a golden rule in building a store. To begin with, there must be a realistic budget, which has to reflect what you are trying to achieve not what you hope it will achieve. The contingency is critical for dealing with unforeseen issues that will inevitably crop up when the store is being constructed and should be outside of the overall budget and, ideally, left alone until it’s needed.

Every business addresses build budgets differently and some don’t factor in solicitor and site fees. But do be aware of these, along with other hidden costs such as landlord bonds that can sometimes be required while the store is being built. Other hidden costs, such as power upgrades and drainage improvements constantly crop up and, once the lease is signed, few landlords will offer any assistance.

The budget should be set before the store is designed or costed and it has to reflect what the business can afford and then be designed accordingly. To break the budget down simply is difficult, as all stores will require different amounts of work; some may require more shopfitting while others may need a greater allocation to furniture and equipment. If the store is not the first, then base the budget on past stores, but obviously, take into consideration individual store requirements.

There are several costs in the build of a store that are worth the spend and lighting is a top consideration. In general, the greater the investment, the better the long-term solution, especially if the investment is in energy-efficient equipment.

The greatest single effect on how far the budget will stretch will be the choice of shopfitter. Like all things, buy cheap, buy thrice. A good shopfitter may cost slightly more from the outset, but they should save you money with intelligent construction and a reduction in long-term maintenance issues. Recommen-dation is the best way to choose, but always check out the workmanship. A tender process is worth consideration, but this is ultimately what will make or break the budget.

l Next month: project management