Can your space grow alongside your business?
The largest expense for most businesses is the salary of their staff. The second-largest is the physical space they provide their team to work in.
As your business grows, evolves and changes so does the space it needs. When you had a team of five, you didn’t have much need for private rooms in which to collaborate, meet with customers or take calls. Now that your business has grown you realize that your space is either being used inefficiently or you need to better sub-divide your space to provide different levels of privacy for “head-down” and collaborative work.
Enter moveable walls.
Moveable walls, often also referred to as modular walls or demountable walls, can be completely disassembled, relocated and reassembled in a matter of hours without creating any waste material, giving your organization the flexibility it needs to grow and adapt at the drop of a hat.
How do moveable walls work?
While a modular wall can look and function very similarly to a traditional construction gypsum drywall, it is technically a furniture product. They are manufactured in a factory, shipped to your office as components (framing, panels, accessories, etc.) and assembled by certified office furniture installers.
In many ways, moveable walls are similar in concept to panel-based systems furniture. They are completely reconfigurable, can be wired for power and data, and since they are floor-to-ceiling, they have the added benefit of significantly increased visual and auditory privacy.
Once installed, a demountable wall system will provide all the same benefits of a traditional wall, but unlike drywall construction, in a few months or years when you need to reconfigure your space, it can be fully disassembled, moved or reconfigured and reassembled in a matter of hours, creating zero mess or gypsum dust.
Moveable walls can come in a variety of shapes, sizes, materials and colours. Just as with systems furniture workstations, there really are options for just about any configuration or finish you may want.
For example, there are moveable wall systems that are fully floor-to-ceiling glass and others that are primarily panel-based and incorporate panel finishes like veneer, laminate, writeable whiteboard or upholstery. Interested in a sliding door? You guessed it, moveable walls can do that too. Moveable wall systems are one of the most customizable products in the office today.
Why should you consider using moveable walls? (What are the benefits?)
There are two major benefits to using moveable walls:
- They drastically reduce the cost (in both hard dollars and time) to make changes to the layout of your office.
- Since changing your floorplan is faster and less expensive, you can use your space more efficiently.
The modular nature of moveable walls means that making a change to your configuration is as simple as scheduling a few licensed installers to come in to disassemble, move and reassemble your walls. The time this kind of reconfiguration will take trained installers can be measured in hours (or days for a large project) rather than the weeks or months it would take to knock down and rebuild drywall partitions.
In some situations, you may need to order additional parts or pieces to supplement the new configuration (ex. if the wall is being extended) but simple moves can usually be done with all of your existing parts and pieces.
An office that takes advantage of moveable walls is able to easily add or subtract private offices and meeting rooms whenever staffing levels or usage trends change. Best of all, it can do all this for minimal financial cost and without any environmental waste.
Are there any downsides to using moveable walls?
There really is only one major downside to using modular walls… their price. Moveable walls do have a larger sticker price than putting up a drywall partition.
Drywall will usually cost in the range of $5 to $6 per square foot, or $400+ for nine feet of wall (a typical length for one side of a private office). However, this price doesn’t account for painting, doors, electrical or data cabling, or any other work you might need to have done before your space is ready to go. Alternatively, a nine-foot length of demountable walls could cost $4500 but this price includes installation, finishing, cabling and doors.
Clearly moveable walls do cost more upfront and whether or additional flexibility and reduced cost of changes offered by moveable walls justify that premium is a question that only you can answer for your business.
Moveable wall features and specs
Moveable wall systems are highly customized, there really is no “standard” wall configuration so there are also few “standard” specs and features. However, there are a few features that hold through the entire scope of the line.
- Efficient and agile – Easily installs, adapts, and reinstalls, without disruption, dust, or excessive downtime.
- Damage-free installation – Touches the building lightly with mechanical fasteners only at the slab.
- Acoustical privacy of fixed walls – Provides the acoustical performance needed to meet the speech privacy and confidentiality requirements of any office.
- Highly customizable – Design the exact configuration of styles, colours, finishes, heights and lengths to best suit your vision for your space.
Colours, Materials, Finishes
When configuring a moveable wall system your options to customize the finishes are almost endless. For your panels choose from metal, laminate, writeable whiteboard, upholstered wall coverings, or wood with finishes that match your casegoods. Or, let the natural light flow and opt for clear, patterned, or custom glass.
Can’t decide on just one finish? No problem. You can specify a variety of segment sizes to mix and match finishes within the same panels. For example, the picture below uses glass segments for the top third of each panel and writeable whiteboard and upholstered wall coverings for the bottom two-thirds. If you want to browse the entire library of panel surface options, you can do so here.
Once you have decided on your panel finishes, it’s time to select your additional hardware finishes. Do you prefer a traditional hinged door or a sliding door? Choose between pulls, knobs, handles and more. There are thousands of finish and hardware combinations; the perfect combination for your office is waiting.
What do moveable walls cost?
The customizable nature of a modular wall system means the price for your system might differ quite a bit from someone else’s system, making it difficult to provide an exact estimate of how much a system might cost. However, we can still give you a range to expect and budget.
From our experience, you should budget between $500 and $600 per linear foot for moveable walls.
Why do they cost as much as they do? Ultimately, it boils down to these four factors:
- Material Selection – What type of panels did you select? Are they one solid panel or is your wall subdivided into multiple smaller panels (ex. part whiteboard and part laminate).
- Hardware Choice – Every room needs at least one door and every door needs a handle. There are hundreds of styles, colours and materials for your hardware.
- Ceiling Height – A 12′ ceiling will require much taller walls and much more material than an 8′ ceiling.
- The complexity of Job Site and Installation – Are there elevators on-site or do the panels need to be carried up the stairs? Is there a bay for us to park our installation truck or does the product need to be unloaded down the street and carried to the job site?
When are moveable walls the right call?
There are three main situations where we believe a demountable wall system offers the best bang for your buck.
- You plan on moving offices or reconfiguring/renovating your current space in the next 10 to 15 years
- You want to incorporate design elements such as sliding doors or floor-to-ceiling glass walls
- You are looking for the solution that offers the best long term (10+ years) ROI and minimizes waste headed for a landfill
Let’s dig into these situations a little more. The first situation, if you are planning on moving or renovating your office in the near future is pretty self-explanatory. Since moveable walls are a modular furniture product that you own you can take it with you if you move to a new building. Or, if you are renovating your current space, you can completely redesign your space using your existing wall product and requiring few or no additional purchases and costs.
In the second situation, you are considering a meeting room with glass walls and a sliding door. As it turns out when a moveable wall system includes these two design elements it actually narrows the gap in price between traditional construction and moveable walls to the point that moveable glass wall projects are the same, or sometimes less, cost than a traditionally-built glass wall alternative.
The third situation where moveable walls are a natural fit is if you prioritize long-term ROI and sustainability over the short-term price point. Our moveable wall customers typically state that they have reached a net-positive ROI as soon as they have made their first reconfiguration. The fact that moveable walls can be disassembled, moved and reassembled with while generating zero waste ensures that moveable walls are clearly the more sustainable choice than traditional drywall.
When are moveable walls the wrong choice?
While we are big proponents of moveable walls and their benefits for businesses we do recognize that they are not the best fit for all businesses. For example, we would not recommend you use moveable walls in an industrial space where they may be exposed to the elements and moisture. There are purpose-built solutions that would serve you much better in those situations.
Another situation where it may not be worth investing in a moveable wall system is if you have a fixed office floorplan that you are not able to reconfigure as your needs change. After all, the flexibility that moveable walls provide is their number one benefit and determinate of ROI.
Finally, if you are purely searching for the lowest upfront cost alternative, moveable walls are probably not the product for you. In the short term, moveable walls do usually cost more than a traditional alternative. The value they provide is spread out over a longer time horizon.
Would you like to see a moveable wall system in action?
We use moveable walls in all of our offices and showrooms. To schedule a time where you can come in to see how they work for yourself, or to have one of our modular wall experts answer your questions, just fill out this form to request your free consultation.
Or if you just want a sneak peek into what a moveable wall installation looks like, check out this video recorded by our primary manufacturer of moveable walls, Haworth.