Approving your design – a critical step in your fit out program

You’ve worked hard on your fit out design, and you’re finally happy with it!  Let’s get building!

Not so fast I’m afraid.  There are lots of people who will want to weigh in on your design – some of them even before it’s finished!

Your landlord

As the owner of the building you are leasing, your landlord will want to know what you are doing.  Most will want to review your fit out during the design process, and will ask for several submissions along the way.  Some may even want to see your concepts before they agree to lease you a tenancy.

This is to ensure that your shop will meet their design criteria for the area you are going into.  While you may have some room to negotiate, it can be difficult to move outside their design guidelines.  Make sure you have a copy of any guidelines before you agree to lease your tenancy, as complying with a landlord’s requirements can be expensive.  A good designer can help you by discussing the design with your landlord and proposing solutions that can be approved without costing you the earth.

Your landlord will also want to see your building services designs, see Other consultants in my previous post.   Make sure to add all of this into your planning process and let your designer know what is needed and when.

Licensing requirements

Some retail usages have specific licensing requirements, which may be determined by the local council, state government or federal legislation.  There is an excellent tool here which you should use before you start designing. There may be requirements that must be included in your design that would be difficult to incorporate later.

If you face onto a street you may need a development approval or similar for signage and shopfront.  Your landlord should be able to advise you if this is required.  Other special special approvals might include liquor licenses, footpath dining areas, opening hours – the list goes on.

All of these requirements vary from one location to the next, and they do get revised and updated.  So even if you have done this before, you should check for each new tenancy you lease.  Make sure to build the application times into your planning process, as this can delay your fit out.

Building approvals

The National Construction Code regulates building in Australia, and your tenancy will have to be certified as complying with it.  In most cases you can engage a private certifier (or building surveyor) to do this for you.  Your designer or landlord may have some recommendations for you.


All of this can get quite complicated, and you may need some help to get through the paperwork and make sure that you are submitting for approvals at the right time, and ticking all of these boxes. ​​ Please feel free to contact us to discuss any concerns you have.

Or to find out more about the tailored service Setting Up Shop offers our clients, head to our tenancy coordination or project management pages.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.