You've got a plan for your climbing walls, and you're excited to be one step closer to opening your climbing gym! The next item to tick off your list should be the fit-out of your gym itself. To help along the way, we sat down with Ian from Will & Co Construction to have a chat about the number one tip he has for fitting-out your climbing gym.
So what is our top tip for the fit-out of your climbing gym? Give yourself adequate time. You may have a long road ahead of you with many things to keep in mind – but it will be worth it. Building a climbing gym takes longer than most people realise. Often the climbing walls are the fastest component to assemble and are complete before the rest of your facility is finished. “You should be prepared for a 2-3 year process from the initial idea to a turnkey product,” Ian explains. “There are a few things that gym owners should consider prior to a fit-out which can make the process a smoother one:
- Look for properties that have already been zoned for the right material use to save you submitting a Development Application. Development Applications are costly and attract infrastructure charges that you will need to pay prior to receiving your approvals.
- Be aware of the age of your building, as heritage building conditions can become relevant and may affect your costs depending on the extent of works required.
- Check the surrounding location of your building in case you’re in a flood plain. Regulations can change to suit flood levy levels so this could lead to additional plumbing and electrical works for you.
- Look at what you want to provide as a service ie, climbing gym, yoga studio, fitness hub, sit down café with cooking facilities etc. These all contribute to the fit-out costs and could potentially change your building class.
- Engage a designer who can professionally reproduce your thoughts and ideas on paper. This is the best way of tendering your project to potential builders and keeping control of costs, as they will all be pricing the same design instead of trying to interpret what you want.
(For more information on finding the best site for your climbing gym, take a look at our article.)
Ian also advises that if possible, it’s never too early to have a builder on-board for your project. “I personally like to be involved from the very beginning while the owner is looking at potential properties, as I’m able to give insight about the level of building works that will be required for their needs. This is also the time where owners can be made aware of potential landlord works or contributions towards the fit-out during lease negotiations that may sweeten the deal. This could include service upgrades to plumbing connections, air conditioning, electrical upgrades, and more.” (Need some tips for negotiating the lease of your climbing gym? Check out our tips here.)
However, Ian does acknowledge that this might not always be an option. “Some owners won’t always have access to a builder to provide this sort of service and have no solid idea of how their fit-out will look or come together. In most cases you will engage your builder once you have leased a premises and your preliminary design has been drafted and circulated ready for tender stages.”
There's a lot to think about when it comes to all aspects of building a climbing gym, but we hope that this information can help to give you a clear direction and an idea about some of the key things you need to prioritise. Ready to do some research into a builder? Make sure you send Ian an email - we're sure he'll help you get started!