We recently shared our number one tip for your climbing gym fit-out, and wanted to pass on a few more considerations we picked up from Ian from Will & Co Construction. There are a lot of different things that you need to keep in mind, but these three points will go a long way in helping your fit-out process run as smoothly as possible.
Find a good building surveyor or certifier
Finding a good building surveyor or certifier can often be a hard task. There are plenty of surveyors and certifiers out there but taking the first one you see online is usually not the best option. “Talk to people you may know who have set up a similar business to see what their experiences were and get a feel for the costs involved,” Ian suggests. A building surveyor or certifier's primary role is to assess the plans and existing conditions to ensure the property meets the current building codes. It’s not their job to educate you on current building codes or notify you of any defective work by the builder - only to inform you if there are any non-compliant issues outstanding. This can cause headaches at a crucial time of trying to open a venue, but a good surveyor or certifier will work with both you and your builder on this.
While you’re at it, find a good builder
Finding a team you can rely on is our number one tip for a smooth fit-out. Choosing a good builder who can work with your building surveyor or certifier is incredibly important. “Get builder recommendations from people who have completed fit-out works and then inspect their work. The builder doesn’t have to be in the climbing industry or understand climbing, but you want to look at the level of detail that has been executed on their past projects,” Ian recommends. Generally, your builder will understand the building codes they will be required to meet and will often work within your reasonable budget. Which brings us to our next point..
Have a reasonable budget set aside
Thinking about making changes halfway through? You may need to think again. Ian says “Gym owners are passionate about climbing and always want to provide the best experience for their members – which is why they put their heart and soul into these builds. However during the design phase they need to stop and consider that any changes to the design of the walls or internal fit-out halfway through the build could affect the build time, construction costs and their opening date. It’s important that gym owners have a clear idea of how they want to set up their gym during the design phase, to save time and money towards the end. There will always be some changes along the way during construction but as long as the general wall layout and operational functionality is locked in, any changes should only be minor.”
Your climbing walls are the most predictable cost to understand. Fit-out costs can often be underestimated and costs such as council permits, change of use expenses and your fit-out itself can blow out of proportion if you haven’t done your research. We would recommend setting aside a contingency fund of 10-20% of your total expenses just in case.
As Ian also suggests, “Do your own design research and provide plenty of photos and ideas to your designer. Designers love high-end finishes and they can look amazing, but make sure they’re aware of your budget. There are plenty of materials that can be used to create the look you want without the hefty price tag.”
The process of building a climbing gym can be stressful. The construction industry can be daunting, and so can the number of building codes and regulations you have to adhere to. This is why it’s important that you find the right builder. If you can find one with the right skill set, who you feel comfortable with and trust to build your vision, it will make this process as pain-free as possible. The fit-out process is the light at the end of the tunnel so enjoy watching your dream project come to life!
We wanted to say a big thank you to Ian for taking the time to share this advice with the climbing community. If you’d like to get in touch with Ian about the fit-out of your climbing gym, swing an email his way.