Choosing your new office space
Whatever your reason for relocating, detailed research and planning will ensure that you choose the right premises for your business.
Searching for business premises and negotiating leases can be time-consuming and if you’re not familiar with commercial leases it can also be expensive. Alternatively, many businesses will appoint a commercial property agent to find them suitable premises. Whilst the Agent will generally charge you a fee (based on your first year’s rent), they should be able to save you money by negotiating a favourable deal on your lease agreement.
It may be a cliché, but the old adage “location, location, location” really should not be under-estimated. When looking for business premises it’s important to consider aspects such as accessibility, public transport, road links and parking. If you’re moving to a different area make sure you travel to and from the premises at different times of the day, including rush hour to see how the environment, access and journey times are affected. Consider your key clients and employees – is your move going to affect accessibility for them? Moving to a cheaper area in terms of lease costs may save you money, but if you lose important clients or employees because of the distance they have to travel, it could be false economy. If you feel this could be an issue, consult with those involved before you make a decision. Does the neighbourhood give the right impression for your business? If the area is run down, clients may worry about your financial position – too plush and they’ll worry that they’re paying you too much! Another aspect to consider is the proximity of your new building to key contacts in your network i.e. accountants, solicitors, suppliers etc.
Costs & Budgeting
- Up-front Fees – Check at the outset whether any up-front fees are payable to your landlord, agent or solicitor for example.
- Fit-out Costs – These will vary depending on the scale of the office fit out and refurbishment required. Make sure you have realistic estimates or quotations of fit-out costs before deciding on premises.
- Office Furniture and Equipment – Are you able to relocate your existing office furniture & equipment to your new premises, or do you need to buy new? Ask your fit-out contractor to carry out an audit based on what you have in your existing space and what you will need for your new premises.
- Legal Fees – A good solicitor will advise you on the lease process and the fees payable in relation to any lease agreement. They will ensure that all aspects of the agreement have been negotiated to your satisfaction. They should look at the terms of the lease including rent free periods; service charge payments; lease breaks and dilapidation terms and costs.
- Agent’s Fees – These are payable to the commercial property agent for finding suitable premises and negotiating lease terms with the landlord on your behalf. Fees will vary depending on the agent’s involvement, but will generally be a percentage of the first year’s rent. Again – make sure you know what these are before finalising lease negotiations.
- Move Costs – Don’t forget to budget for your relocation costs; which should include furniture, equipment, documents and certain fixtures and fittings. Your fit-out company should be able to recommend local commercial movers or may even offer the service themselves. You will also need to arrange for IT moves where necessary – this is a specialist service, particularly if you have complex IT systems and need to relocate servers & associated equipment. Also, be sure to consider whether you need to store any items either short or long term and budget for these costs too.
- Associated Costs – Check what your expenses are likely to be once you’ve moved in. These will include business rates, energy, phone & IT bills, and any on going maintenance costs.
Building Feasibility Appraisals
A building feasibility study can be a very cost effective way of ensuring that the premises you’re considering are suitable for your needs. Companies offering such services know exactly what to look for and will consider every aspect of the building – potentially saving you money by avoiding costly mistakes. Elements of such appraisals can include:
- A full building survey to look at the integrity of the building and any potential issues.
- Safety & capacity checks, ensuring that the building provides adequate, safe services in terms of power, data, heating, air conditioning & plumbing.
- Space planning to ensure that the building can accommodate your needs – both now and in the future. It may be that you’ve short-listed two different premises and need expert help deciding which one would best suit your business needs. A feasibility study will consider the elements above for both buildings – enabling you to make an informed decision.