Commercial Refurbishment: Planning Is Key

If you’re planning a commercial refurbishment, there’s a few things you should know and it’s probably not what you’re expecting.

You know that old adage that builder’s love to use – “measure twice, cut once”? Well, it’s much the same when it comes to a commercial refurbishment.

Only, in this case, you will want to do so much more than a few careful measurements to ensure you get things right.

As with any major renovation, good planning is the key to success.

However, when it comes to the bricks and mortar side of things, what many business owners might not realise is that it’s not necessarily your builder you should be speaking with first, but an experienced commercial electrician.

Whether you are converting an industrial premise into a bustling restaurant, upgrading a retail space to encourage buyer spending, or remodeling an existing office to improve workflow and staff satisfaction, you will want to speak with a good electrician about your electrical needs.

Part of this process should involve discussing your existing requirements, your planned needs after the refurbishment and any potential future needs that may arise.

The end result should be a comprehensive picture of exactly what will go where, and it will likely take the form of a detailed Electrical Plan.

What is an Electrical Plan and Why do I Need One?

The electrical plan, often referred to as a wiring diagram or electrical drawing, is the electrician’s equivalent of a builder’s plan.

A map of sorts, this technical drawing displays the exact location of all electrical apparatus and is a critical component in ensuring any major building refurbishment runs smoothly.

Just like a house or commercial building plan, an electrical plan helps to save time and money and goes a long way towards avoiding unnecessary mistakes and oversights.

It takes time and forethought but, when finished, will convey the specific needs of your new premise, and communicate these to your fit-out builder before work commences and during the refurbishment process.

Don’t let the thought of all this planning deter you from investing the time now. While “winging it” might sound like a tempting solution when you’re in the throes of running or starting a business, the effort will pay off.

Do I need to Consider When Creating an Electrical Plan?

First and foremost, it’s imperative that your electrical audit not only assess your needs for today, but also for the future.

If you are refurbishing a new premise with the view to growing your business or upgrading an existing premise because you have outgrown it, then you need to imagine what your requirements might be if your business takes off or continues to grow.

It makes sense to put the necessary measures in place now to save spending more money in a few years to accommodate that growth.

Here’s what your Electrical Plan should outline:


First, and probably the most obvious, is to map out the number of General Power Outlets (Power Points) your new space will require, making allowances for future needs. It’s obviously better to over cater than under cater. In addition to this, you’ll need to work out the most appropriate heights and positions of these GPOs.

Lighting Design and Specifications

It might sound logical, but it can be easy to overlook something as simple as lighting. Consider your lighting needs specific to your industry and purpose and don’t be afraid to ask your electrician for advice and recommendations.

Regardless of whether your workspace is a restaurant, busy salon or an office, lighting plays an integral role in everything from a buyer’s behaviour and a diner’s experience to staff productivity and wellbeing.

Consider lighting as a tool to support your business – whether the goal is romantic ambiance or bright and uplifting, lighting must serve your purpose.

An experienced electrician will have the knowledge to ensure every detail is taken care of, from good-quality LED lighting near your point of sale to showpiece coverage of your all-important merchandise.

Data Circuits

Most businesses will require some form of computer to help things operate smoothly, even if it’s simply a cash register. If your business is guaranteed to have a high computer usage, it might be a good idea to speak with your electrician about dedicated data circuits. One of the benefits of isolating data from general power circuits is minimising the risk of damage to electronic equipment in the event of a power surge. It’s important to have a clear idea of your existing computer needs and to make an allowance for future requirements.

Hot Water Systems

Most businesses will require at least one Hot Water System, so placement of the hot water service is something else to consider when speaking with your electrician.

Staffroom & Amenities

In addition to office or operational equipment, you’ll likely need to consider the electrical needs of your office staffroom – think fridge, freezer, coffee machine, water dispenser, kettle, microwave and so on. It’s helps to have a solid idea of what you’ll be including. You will also need to consider other amenities such as bathrooms in terms of lighting, hand dryers and other appliances.

Speciality Equipment

If your new or existing premise requires specialty plant or equipment, such as a commercial kitchen, medical or imaging facility or a hair dressing salon, you will need a very clear plan on exactly what you require and where. Even a basic office space will need to consider things like printers and photocopiers and even meeting room equipment which might need to include Audio Visual Cabling. Be sure to make an inventory of all equipment and, if possible, where it will likely be installed. If any of the essential operational equipment has non-standardised power requirements, then it’s important to discuss this with your electrician.

Electronic Signage and Window Displays

Easily forgotten, provisions for things like electrical signage and window displays can be critical for many business types. If you are replicating an existing model, simply convey this to your electrician. However, if you have grand plans for something big and fresh, it’s important to discuss this during the planning phase.

Security Systems

Depending on your location and your operating hours, internal and external cameras may be worth considering, in addition to an after-hours security alarm, to ensure peace of mind. It’s essential that any security system is installed by a licensed security installer, like BH Electrics.

Additional things to discuss with your electrician:

  • Capacity Upgrades – Will you require a new or upgraded power board. What will the power needs of your refurbished premises be? See below for some recommendations to get you started.
  • Safety Switches and Surge Protectors – Does your premise currently include a Safety Switch. If not, you will need one. The same goes for Surge Protectors.
  • Code Compliance – Because compliance can be easy to overlook until a problem or refurbishment arises, it’s important to take this opportunity to have your electrician ensure your building is in line with current electrical standards.
  • Heating and Cooling – Even in temperate climates, temperature control is a necessary consideration for most business types. Speak with your commercial electrician about your current needs, as well as making provisions for things like smart technology in the future.
  • Electrical Needs of your Server – This will likely be discussed when looking at the possibility of dedicated circuits for computers and other technology. If not, be sure to raise this with your electrician.

How do I know if I need a Power Upgrade?

An important step in the refurbishment process is to have your electrician assess your power needs as new demands on output often call for power upgrades.

For small commercial properties, the recommendation is to upgrade the electricity supply up to a maximum demand of 250A/180kVA.

For a medium commercial property, it is recommended to upgrade to a maximum demand greater than 250A/180kVA, but no greater than 1300A/1000kVA.

For a large commercial property, you would be looking at a maximum demand greater than 1300A/1000kVA.

Your experienced electrician will assess your current and future needs and make a recommendation to suit.


Your refurb builder might already have an electrician they can recommend, but independent advice is always a great start.

When choosing a suitable electrician, these are some questions to ask:

  • Are they Commercial Electricians? Experience in the commercial sector is crucial but it also helps if they are experienced in commercial refurbishments as opposed to only new builds. The wealth of knowledge gained from previous commercial renovations could save you a lot of time and money.
  • Do they work closely with builders and other trades? It’s important that your electrician can work in symmetry with your builder and employ effective cross-trade communication to ensure your refurbishment stays on track.
  • And, lastly, does the electrician hold all the necessary licenses required at every stage of the refurbishment? If they do, it will save on both time and money, as well as help ensure a seamless operation, with just one business managing all aspects of the refurbishment.

BH Electrics specialises in Commercial Refurbishments throughout Far North Queensland with a solid reputation for working seamlessly with commercial refurbishment builders and other trades. Offering fully qualified electricians, licenced and equipped to tackle every stage of your refurbishment, the BH Electrics crew are also solar accredited and hold a security license.

Get in touch with the friendly team at BH Electrics for obligation-free advice on how to move forward with your Commercial Refurbishment. To find out more, contact us today on 07 4099 3497 or [email protected]

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