How to Find Commercial Space - the Top Ten Things You Should Do
Created by FindLaw's team
of attorney writers and editors.
Commercial Property Overview
Finding the right commercial space for your company can be a daunting and overwhelming process involving long hours, boring paperwork and numerous site visits. You have numerous factors to take into account such as how much you can afford, where the space is located, and zoning laws.To make the best use of your time, review this checklist of what you need to review at each potential site, and make sure to record important information about each potential space.
- Be Prepared: Come to any appointment with everything you need to record information and make the necessary decisions. In addition to the basics - pens, paper and a calculator - consider bringing along a tape measure, a camera/smartphone, and a laptop. It can be especially helpful to review photos of the space after you've seen other sites and have had time to think about it. Tape measures can be helpful if you have specific needs or plan on bringing specific furniture along to the new space.
- Examine the Building Exterior and Neighborhood: While it's never completely fair to judge a book by its cover, appearances do matter in commercial real estate, and if the building is in a part of town you wouldn't travel to or the exterior isn't inviting, chances are good that potential clients or customers won't want to travel there or come inside either. A good physical examination of the building can also help you spot potential issues with parking, access and maintenance should you choose to lease the building.
- Evaluate Access and Convenience: Making it difficult for your customers or clients to find you is never a smart business strategy. Make sure that, in addition to basic access issues such as parking, you've examined any elevators, stairwells and modifications for the disabled that the building may have.
- Look for Defects: Note any potential defects as you examine the building and ask the building's agent about them. Smaller issues shouldn't preclude you from considering the building, but major issues like a leaky roof or a poor ventilation system should be seriously examined before taking the plunge.
- Assess Security: Ask the landlord about how security is handled in the building, whether access to the building is allowed after hours, and the availability of close, well-lit parking. It's also helpful to evaluate the surrounding area and investigate local crime issues. Visit a site during the evening and at night to get a better idea of how secure the building and its environs are.
- Examine Drainage, Ventilation, Cooling and Heating: Drainage, ventilation, cooling and heating are often overlooked by potential tenants, but can have a huge impact on your business. Your employees won't get much work done if the roof is leaking or if it's 90 degrees in the office.
- Determine what Licenses and Permits are Needed: Some businesses may need to obtain special licenses or permits to do business, so make sure that you can get a necessary license or permit at that location before you really commit to a commercial space.
- Determine Zoning Compliance: Zoning laws can restrict what kind of business you can engage in and how you run your business, so check your local zoning laws to make sure that you can run your business as you intend to. For example, a common zoning ordinance may restrict the amount of retail space an area can have.
- Assess Whether Improvements are Needed: Don't eliminate a potentially good business space just because it's missing one important item. Evaluate whether the space might be more suitable if an improvement were made, and negotiate with the landlord. This can be far less expensive than leasing property that's ready to go, but it may take additional time. Accordingly, whether this is a realistic option often depends on how long you have to secure a space and how much money you have to spend.
- Hire an Expert if Needed: Don't be afraid to hire someone to help you evaluate a business space. Engineers and architects may be able to spot things that you can't, or may be able to suggest renovations or improvements that you may be able to negotiate with the landlord. In the end, hiring experts to help you evaluate potential space for your business can save you a lot of money down the road.
Get Legal Advice Before Signing a Commercial Lease
As you review potential commercial properties, many legal issues can arise that require expert advice. Contact a business and commercial law attorney today if you have questions today.