The phone rings.

“We have a space of 884sqm and the boss wants an indication of what it might cost to refurbish it - fast.”

We hate these calls. Well, maybe hate is too strong a word.

We are challenged by them. Why?

Because how long is a piece of string? There are so many factors that go into shaping the price of a space refurbishment that remain hidden and out of view (even to the boss). And we’re being asked to give an indication of what it might cost.

Now we could be tricky - quote a very low indicative cost and make him happy today.

Or we could be realistic and quote a moderate price and risk knocking ourselves out cold and never hear from the caller again.

So instead we have gone ahead and found a third way to answer the question.

We took the last ten projects we completed in 2012 and 2013 and divided the floor metreage against the overall project cost before variations. And that gave us a range.

So we can tell you that our last 10 projects ranged between $1,280 and $1,490 per square metre in price.

However, because the truth matters to us, we need to include this disclaimer.

These price guidelines are a guide only. A more detailed and accurate assessment is only possible once we have access to your specific site and have the time to prepare a detailed analysis. Depending on the scope and level of detail required, it may be necessary to charge a small hourly fee to complete detailed drawings and oversee a range of specialist contractors who will need to visit the site to ensure their area of the proposed project is compliant and the cost allowance is adequate.

The following items, while mostly invisible to the human eye, often have a substantial impact on the overall price of any building/refurbishment project : electrical items, mechanical items, sprinklers, structural and engineering items, and compliance to current local building laws and council requirements.

If the building is young, less than 5 years old and in a good condition, and the proposed fit-out is in alignment with the existing style, these costs will be relatively small. If the building is of unknown age, it potentially will need many or all of its services upgraded to meet current compliance requirements, because without meeting the current compliance requirements, a certificate of occupancy can't be issued by the local council.

In many cases you will be able to claim many of these costs against your landlord, but it really depends on the lease fine details and the relationship formed within those negotiations. Sometimes a cheap rent deal ends up costing more in the medium term because the scope of what needs fixing is greater. So refurbishment costs are often a balance of rent against the conditions of the tenancy - much as a second-hand car will generally cost more to service.

In a perfect world we would like to be stakeholders in new lease negotiations insofar as providing accurate information of what costs may need to be covered to make the tenancy habitable. And in many cases we can assist in helping you write up the list of repairs/tenancy modifications you would like folded into the lease detail, offsetting all or some of the associated costs of moving. The trick is planning and the advantage we can bring to the table of negotiation is experience.

We do this because it's the decent thing to do and because as a rule (in 71% of cases) our clients use us again because they feel safe with our guidance and they know we are loyal and fair. We don't promise to be perfect, but our hearts are in the right place.

So while we are happy to use our range for a “fast” price guide, please remember we are here to provide a quality service, and so although it may seem time-consuming, going through a detailed quoting process makes everybody happier in the end.