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Relocating in house

Author : Brian Pike

29 June 2012

Integral Blinds

Flexible office space is increasingly important in today’s environments to accommodate the changing needs of modern businesses. This has led to an increase in the use of partitioning systems to create dedicated areas for workers. However, the addition and removal of these systems requires careful consideration and planning, here Brian Pike looks at the technical aspects of office reconfiguration.

Many office buildings now have some form of partitioning, whether it’s to provide private meeting rooms, quiet working areas or to increase the volume of natural light that passes through the building. Options for partitioning have increased in line with customer demand, and businesses now have a multitude of ways to create the space they need. For example, movable walls, sliding partitions, timber, integral blinds, right down to bespoke manifestation are all now commonplace choices.

But what happens if a company needs to alter the space due to expansion or if the usage of the space changes? This is where partitioning brings additional benefits. Relocatable systems allow partial or complete redesign of the layout, generating an entirely new environment for workers at very little cost compared to entirely refitting a new office or undertaking more detailed structural building works to alter the existing layout. Of course, any movement and subsequent repositioning of glass or timber partitions needs to be carefully planned making sure to take into account key aspects.

One of the primary elements is to check that the floor to ceiling height is the same throughout the space the system is to be relocated, as not all systems have the flexibility to fit should there be a difference in available space. Plus it’s important to remember that not 100% of materials can be relocated, some elements such as cover trims will need to be replaced as the aluminium can distort during removal. In the case of a dry-lined wall, it’s likely the plasterboard will need to be broken at the joint in order to get to the screws beneath.

Facilities managers must also ensure that contractors replace all seals that have an acoustic and fire performance rating as these cannot be reused once removed, as doing so would mean the loss of this rating. These seals are most likely to be found on doors and frames. Furthermore wherever new fixings are required it is strongly recommended that new fixings identical in size and type are used.

Transporting and storing partitioning elements is another key consideration during the relocation process. Glass should ideally be stored on its short edge on bearings and should always have space packers in between as laying glass on glass can cause the sheets to stick together – especially if there is a damp atmosphere. Generally any manifestation is so well bonded to the glass that very little disruption is caused when relocating, however for stud and plasterboard systems common areas of damage include corners and edges, where they can be bashed against permanent walls and doors or even snap if mishandled.

Whilst there are considerable aspects to consider during the dismantling and transport of a relocatable partitioning system, if done carefully and correctly a contractor should minimise the number of parts to be replaced to those which are inevitable – such as the seals. Similarly when it comes to reassembly, the contractor should do so as if it were the first installation – in accordance with manufacturer guidelines. If certification is being presented the sign off is especially important as it certifies that the system as a whole has been relocated and, where necessary, fitted with the exact fixings detailed in the performance certificate. It is also worth remembering that light fixtures, electrics and air conditioning grills should all be well away from where the partitioning systems are being relocated.

Throughout the reconfiguration or relocation it is of the utmost importance that all Health and Safety guidelines are adhered too, this includes using the correct tools to remove fixings and the correct storage and transportation of delicate materials. Following these guidelines will help deliver a smooth and safe transition of relocatable systems for contractors, facilities managers and also workers.

Brian Pike works for Komfort

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