Is New Furniture Necessary?

April 23, 2010
Refurbished furniture can cut cost and time, and add some green to your building

Looking to refurnish your office building? Purchasing refurbished office furniture as opposed to buying brand new can save you money and time – without sacrificing functionality and style.

"Any time facility managers want to save money and maintain legacy standards, purchasing refurbished office furniture may be the best course of action," says Bill Davies, president of Davies Office Refurbishing.

When deciding if refurbished furniture is right for your facility, there are several factors to consider, including:

  1. Project budget
  2. Environmental initiatives
  3. Time sensitivity
  4. Existing furniture standards

The primary driving factor for purchasing refurbished furniture is cost savings, says Davies. "Today’s marketplace is reflecting extremely competitive pricing. We’ve been witnessing ‘new’ furniture offering discounts of 74-percent off current list prices. The average cost for the same furniture if purchased refurbished reflects a discount of 80-percent off current list price. The cost to refurbish existing furniture averages a cost of 85-percent off current list price."

The Need for LEED
If your goal is LEED status, buying refurbished furniture instead of new may help you achieve that goal. "There are new initiatives where today’s corporate facility standards are requiring a greater value of recycled or reuse of existing furniture assets," says Davies. "An example would be if a company is seeking LEED-EB O&M certification. There are certain criteria in purchasing refurbished or refurbishing existing furniture that could aid in attaining credits."

Save on Style
"Refurbished office furniture generally means buying furniture from a refurbisher, such as remanufactured cubicles," says Mark Swanson of Facility Office Furniture Inc. "The customer is purchasing workstations from an inventory of used products and picking out new paint, fabric, and laminate colors."

Because they’re used to this level of customization, refurbishing or remanufacturing companies can often respond quicker to specialized requests than manufacturing companies that produce new furniture.

"There are also many enhancement options that can be added to existing furniture without defaulting to new, such as glass stack on units, ergonomic retrofits, as well as power and data enhancements, that a qualified refurbisher can offer, providing the functionality required without defaulting to new furniture," says Davies.

While you may save slightly more by refurbishing your existing furniture, it’s often not appropriate due to the displacement of your workers while you tear down and refurbish your existing cubicles. (How will they work while their furniture is being refurbished?) However, "some existing office furniture is appropriate to refurbish onsite or offsite, such as painting of filing cabinets," says Swanson. "Commercial re-upholstery of quality office seating can also save you some money."

"Remanufacturers and refurbishers today are every bit as sophisticated in providing viable solutions and options that are comparable to new," Davies says. "If nothing more, it allows the facility manager the ability to leverage all suppliers – both refurbished and new – to provide the most cost-effective solution."

Kylie Wroblaski ([email protected]) is associate editor for BUILDINGS magazine.


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