Should I attempt install office furniture on my own?

Should I attempt install office furniture on my own?

I have been installing office cubicles since I was around 13 years old, courtesy of having a father who was both  a Vice President  of a Herman Miller dealership and a Ferengi. I am arguably the most experienced Herman Miller Ethospace in country, and  have been retained by manufacturers to provide insights on how  to make their systems faster and easier to install.   To me, installing cubicles, is akin to doing dishes, unchallenging and mindlessly simple.  What I have learned over the years, is that  it’s not that easy for everyone.. Regardless of the office furniture manufacturer, installing used office furniture comes with its own unique challenge and it may or not pay in long run to assemble yourself.

The average cost to deliver and install a used cubicle in Long Island is about $250 a station, assuming you are buying quantities of 10 or more. But if you are small business and are buying just a couple, often the delivery and installation price can be much more as the labor cost to any company costs would be the same if its 1 or 8. With that in mind  you may be thinking, ” I ‘m a handy motivated business owner, and my staff is pretty hands on we can will do it ourselves “.  If you or your staff are either unwilling or unable to change your brakes in your car, wire an outlet or hang and tape a board a sheetrock, stop here. You have no business trying to install office cubicles, as you will need the skills and tools incorporated in all three examples. Hire a company to do it for you..  I have helped too many business owners who bought some cheap stuff off ebay and after 2 days trying they call me.  If  you have the skills( or have some employees that do) and  are new to this process we recommend you review the below to ensure that your office furniture go smoothly .  But be warned,  installing yourself  typically means no installation support from supplier and no replacement parts if you destroy something on install, no wipedown and cleaning of product and most importantly, no warranty.

Choose Wisely

Firstly and foremost you need to make sure the furniture purchase will actually fit the desired space that you intend to assemble in. Assuming you have measured space correctly, and have submitted this information to the the company you are purchasing the  furniture from, they should be able to generate a plan , complete with dimensions of both the area and the furniture. They should also be able to give you a product list and detailed installation plans.. If you can’t get these  3 pieces of info, stop, and walk away. Any reputable seller of office furniture should be able to provide all 3. If they can’t generate a  floorplan, and install plan and a manufacturer product list( like a real list with manufacturer codes not some generic excel spreadsheet), then how do you know what you are getting and if it will work in your space? Chances are even if appears to be a great deal, without this info, there is high probability you will run into issue either with product itself or install, and you will get burned. Obviously we supply all of this to our self motivated end users.  see below for example.

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Office Furniture Installation
Cubicle Installation
Cubicle Installation
Office Furniture Installation
Office Furniture Installation
Office Furniture Installation
Office Furniture Installation

Inventory Checklist

Before your remit full payment for the furniture, you need to check it and make sure that inventory list supplied matches what you received. Unfortunately alot of shady companies will not give you a list and you are left guessing and even if they do, it’s often incomplete.  Therefore you may not know if you actually have gotten all the parts you need to complete the installation as per manufacturer specifications.  There is no way around this but to buy from reputable sources.. and  you typically get what you pay for.  If you don’t, you will end up spending way more trying to get the parts you are missing. Typically used furniture is sold at about 1/4 of what new costs.If you spent $600 for a whole cubicle and then you find out missing a panel and the supplying company can’t supply, that panel is going to cost you around $250 new. Not such a good deal any more.

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Preparation Process

Ok you have acquired your office  furniture and you know it fits and you verified all your parts. That’s great. You are doing better than 70% of those who buy  used cubicles online.  Now you need to actually install it.. Your first step should be to visit the  manufacturer’s website and see if they have the installation instructions. Years ago, they actually made installation binders and even vhs tapes.. Well the VHS is gone, and have not been replaced by any manufacturer supported medium  and the pdfs for installation exist  but are not always online. You may need to call the the manufacturer to get the installations pdf  emailed to you. Another good source would be Youtube. Also you will possibly need to hire electrician for furniture feed and telecom person to run and terminate telecom and data.

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Tools

Get your tools together. The manufacturer installation instructions may or may not have a list of what is required. Regardless this is the minimum  you will need for practically every office furniture  system under the sun.  It’s also the minimum tools required for all my installers: 

  1. cordless drill
  2. sockets set SAE and metric
  3. allen key set
  4. hammer
  5. crowbar
  6. philips screwdriver
  7. channel lock pliers
  8. flat screwdriver
  9. level
  10. set of drill bits to 1/2″
  11. nut driver set
  12. Torx, Canadian(Robertson)
  13. string
  14. plug in AC tester

 

Office Furniture Installation

Staging and Execution

Best advice would be to review the plan and stage your required material so its close at hand. A helper usually is helpful and with some systems essential… It’s advantageous sometime to measure and mark  the office furniture using the blue tape on floor at all corners.  That way you know where all panels go. Before you start, put all panel glides in so you are starring form a consistent point of zero,  If you know the floor is unlevel try to discern highest point. You want to eventually level everything to highest point. Now begin

Choose a starting point that will not impede your access to the material, and start assembling, as per manufacturer instructions or Youtube, leveling as you go. I like to start at the furthest point from the  from middle of room so I dont block myself with the assembled furniture. Sort of staining a floor. 

Once you have panels up check level of all panels.,. Then align using a set measurement from wall to center spine of panel. SImply measure multiple times from different points on station spine to wall.. The measurement should be same. If its not , you are slanted.   Shift so it is aligned and use string to make sure its dead straight..

Once that is done, stop.  You need to run telecom through the base, wire the feed to wall and connect the panel to panel electric connect. You also need to run telecom and data wires. This ideally should be done before you put up the workstation components.  The reason being is if there is problem you can fix easily. If you install surface and peds up and there is some issue with telecom, data or electric,  you will need to dismantle to fix. Test electric and make sure it works.

Now install components. I  am firm believer in top down component install.. It makes sense, and saves time, prevents head bumps and saves your back. Install components in this order.

  • Overheads
  • Lights
  • Tack-boards
  • Cantilevers-go around with tape and measure and mark height location, faster and eliminates errors
  • Worksurface –Install keyboard and pencil tray before putting up surface.
  • Pedestals and lats

Completion

Once it’s all built, and looks ok, go back and straighten everything, check to make sure it’s level, stations are stable, and all components installed properly. Final steps are  to clean all surfaces and polish trim and base. Take brush to all panels to get rid of handprints on office cubicle fabric.. Once that’s done, well then you should be done.

Conclusion

To me,  it’s not worth it for you to install office furniture on your own.  The probability that you will complete  it even half as thoroughly as myself or one or my installation techs are low. It’s not worth it to hire cheap installers to complete either. I can count on one hand how many installs in 25 years that were installed by end user that looked professional.  However, if you do choose to do it yourself and if you  follow and execute  the tips above, you should have a clean and efficient install, that both yourself yourself and your staff can be proud of.

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