Furniture, Fixtures & Equipment

Today in From Planning to Execution is Furniture, Fixtures & Equipment – Execution. To read the rest of the articles in this series, click here.

So… What Is It?

Furniture, Fixtures & Equipment (FF&E) is a phase in the real estate project process which requires a considerable amount of coordination and attention. This stage includes the coordination and installation of items such as furniture, security, A/V (Audio/Visual), IT (Information Technology), signage & graphics, and equipment.

Can’t My Staff Handle FF&E?

Often, the owner doesn’t have the resources or time available to commit to manage every necessary FF&E activity from scope definition through bidding, coordination, and management of installation. As FF&E is not traditionally handled by a General Contractor or other construction entities, someone needs to take responsibility.

An Owners Representative, we’re well-versed in executing this phase, including the critical step of sitting with the right people early on in the project to define specific roles and responsibility. Who, what, where, and when need to be clearly outlined, as does the right team for the project. The stakeholder base could be broad; it could include real estate brokers, branding consultants, IT professionals, procurement professionals, and so on.

Why Owner’s Reps Are The Experts

With dedicated Owners Representative expertise, all FF&E components and activities can be executed as efficiently as possible relative to the construction and move schedule. Let’s use signage* as an example; from our extensive experience managing FF&E, Owners Reps have the foresight to understand issues that signage poses if delivered before it’s ready to be installed. Having it sit around does nothing but:

  • Take up space and become a potential work hazard.
  • Be subjected to undue wear and accidental damage.

*Signage includes the addition of graphics on the exterior and/or in the interior of a building or space. These graphics can depict company or organization titles, navigational signs, restroom signs, etc.

When FF&E Goes Wrong

If scheduling/coordination is not as precise as possible, the client will incur additional charges for callbacks, idle cruise, and overtime to bring the project back on schedule.

Issues often arise when, for example, furniture vendors aren’t engaged early enough in the process. The typical time for the FF&E process is anywhere between 8-14 weeks, and this timeframe can often be underestimated by owners. Engaging vendors involved in FF&E too late leads to delays on the furniture package release and, in turn, delays on building out the space, as well as the inability to obtain a Certificate of Occupancy.

The Biggest Misunderstanding

It’s easy and, unfortunately, commonplace to underestimate the amount of time, level of detail, and effort FF&E takes from the beginning of the scope of work, through RFP (Request for Proposal), entry, follow up, and – finally – to completion. When not properly coordinated, the project can, and often does, result in – simply put – a train wreck, which makes getting inspections done in a timely manner difficult, if not impossible.

FF&E Done Right

(click the image below for project details)


Willis Towers Watson


Anne McFadden, PMP

Anne McFadden, PMP