The fit out
The day we finally took over the lease for where Artisan stands today was a great one. Having spent 9 months planning and waiting – we were in no mood to waste time when it came to the big fit out. There were practical reasons for us wanting to get going fast as well, as unfortunately we were unable to negotiate any rent free period on the lease, so we were paying rent from day one. We set ourselves ambitious targets and to be honest, looking back over that time now – it all seems a blur.
To save money, we decided to do most of the work ourselves and instead of paying a company to fit out the whole shop, we chose to project manage it ourselves and employed one professional builder (www.kriwer.co.uk) who was simply amazing and worked on a day rate with us throughout the fit out. This saved us a lot of money but I think more importantly, it meant we were involved in every single aspect and it allowed us to be creative and learn the hard way about what would and could work and what didn’t.
Between us we sanded, painted, drilled, plumbed and hammered Artisan together, and I think mainly because all our friends had heard us moan in despair over those 9 long planning months – they all came out to help in a huge way. We would bribe them with an Indian takeaway from across the road, promised round after round at the pub and quite simply they were all amazing. Because of their commitment and hard work, our build time took only around 2 weeks. Working till midnight and then being in the line waiting for B&Q to open the next morning become our day to day lives. Surprisingly I have to say, we loved every minute of it as each day we could see Artisan beginning to take shape. Finally the dream was becoming a reality in front of our very eyes, which was scary and wonderful all at the same time.
As for practical advice, I would say try and budget well and then add 20% as it will always cost you more than you think. Always negotiate – we were amazed how flexible people could be on the price when we really tried. Finally, I have one last point for this blog that seems trivial but could help someone in the future. As we were getting close to the end of the build, I remember at about 10pm one night we decided to rip up the whole floor and relay it. We took it up and set about filling the cracks, painted on PVA to the floor, then laid the underlay and the new floor. Why is this important you might be thinking? Well, if I could go back and do it all again I WISH I had levelled the whole floor instead of simply filling the gaps. The reason for this is that now the floor is about 2 millimetres uneven in certain places. And this means that now every single day, two tables are slightly wobbly as the surface is not quite flat so we are forever trying to put pieces of cardboard under each one!
In the next blog we will talk about the very first day of trading, how we ended up with 60 baguettes and all our staffing issues…..