How We Eliminate Variations

Westlab Spaces install approximately 40 state-of-the-art laboratories throughout Canada, New Zealand and Australia every year. With a diverse manufacturing capacity, we are able to create our signature modular laboratories which future-proof laboratories for the ultimate flexibility in lab design.

Westlab have a unique way of working with stakeholders early in the process to eliminate hidden costs and unexpected variations throughout the project. Variations are a very common way for companies to increase their margin on a project, and in turn create added financial pressure on the customer.

The Problem

Variations can crop up seemingly out of nowhere.

If the contractor is not thorough and does not have an intimate understanding of the brief, almost certainly the project will come with some kind of contract variation which will incur extra costs which can accumulate very quickly. Often variations are charged at much higher margins as contractors aim to capitalise on the opportunity to increase profits wherever possible.

If contractors are not aware of engineering requirements or have missed crucial details in the estimating phase, this can drastically increase the cost to the client later in the project. This is especially so if the project is underway with contracts awarded to vendors and changes must be made.

Furthermore, typically subcontractors and indeed head contractors during the pre-construction phase operate on a value-engineering and cost-saving model where a proposal is provided with seemingly competitive and favourable pricing. Later in the project, variations are pushed by the contractors to increase profits, or the costs are cut in various ways to increase margins.

Either way, this leaves you as the client with two potential end-results. A product that does not meet the standards expected when the proposal was initially issued, or a project that is over-budget and likely over-time. This is because of the administrative time and expenses to sign and review contract variations.

Essentially, the vendor will ‘skimp’ on the delivery of the final product; finding ways and means to cut costs wherever possible.

Our Methodology

We have several strategies for eliminating any hidden costs, which ultimately save time and money for you as the client and allows us to very quickly install a quality product, having done due diligence before the fact.

There are several factors we closely manage with all stakeholders:

  • Due diligence during the estimating phase
  • Constant positive friction and collaboration between project, technical and design stakeholders
  • Cross-pollination between client, consultant, and vendor stakeholders for transparency


These factors come into play throughout our project methodology in several ways:

1. Strategy

We work with you to perform a current state assessment to understand where you have come from, to define where you are going. In this we determine the key measures for success for both the laboratory itself, the project, and the organisation to ensure return on investment. Our goal is also to ensure we understand your key functional needs along with spatial opportunities and challenges. This helps us identify any potential areas for increased cost ahead of the time which may turn into variations, solving problems or challenges before they become an issue and before they are locked into contract.


Our team collaborate closely with the architect, builder and end-user (where possible) to understand the brief thoroughly. This input from the technical team allows us to cover multiple aspects of the project and ensure that the estimation of the project inclusions and costs will be accurate from the first proposal issuance.


2. Design

During the design phase, we issue live 3D designs and open the door to our Experience Centre to provide opportunity to co-create, and to provide transparency throughout the process. Materials are also selected ahead of time which will make sure the product is suitable fo the application, and that for any products that we don’t manufacture, such as fixtures and fittings, or alternative finishes, costs are locked in with our own vendors.

We ensure that compliance governs our design work, and we engage with PC2, PC3 or GMP assessors for alignment on the deliverables.


3. Manufacture and Delivery

Once the project is awarded and Westlab are engaged to install the laboratory, we manufacture all of the benching, service spines and joinery in-house. Our product is fully modular and pre-fabricated to minimise time onsite and to maintain quality standards. Thanks to our own manufacturing, we fully control costs.

The modularity also allows us to be able to make changes to the layout if required by simply detaching benches and re-installing them in different locations.

Similarly, if there is a major change required which is out of scope, we are able to quickly make the addition with no unexpected costs.


Get in touch with the Westlab Spaces team to discover the process.


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