I received a cold call from a potential client the other day. This company’s executive had been referred to me and our company by a number of individuals. He asked if I could meet with him to explore the expansion of his business into a new commercial space – giving them potentially more square footage to work with.

With another designer and one of our company’s Principals, we met with him and toured his current leased space and the new 10,000 square foot space he hoped to expand into. He needed us to see if his “wish list” (programing) for the space could fit in that available leased square feet or if he needed to find a different space to work with. This is what the industry calls a “Test Fit.”

So today we started looking at the hard walls of the potential space and tried to fit everything he hoped to achieve with-in it. Unfortunately he waited until the last possible week to have to make a decision on whether he was going to lease the space or not, so we had to turn out some space planning pronto.

In our contract to do the work we said we would provide 2 workable options; one stab at it and then one re-work on the space after their initial review. We also contracted a small cost per square footage for adjustments from there on, if they still wanted to tweak the space.

Below are some of the work in progress shots:


Test fits are fun, fast studies, but can be complicated. They are not meant to be the final design solution, but just an exploratory measure to see the potential for an existing space. Because of this, not all test fits lead to the next step of a project: the final design and build out of the space. However, they also aren’t always contracted as a separate item. They can be just a phase of the overall work process.

A balance must be struck in the test fit exercise. One that requires enough time and effort to secure the client, but not so much time that you burn all your fee in developing the design too far.

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