Location is always a big deal when looking for an office space. Leasing commercial office space is a big step for your businesses, so it’s important that you do your due diligence. Greg Anderson, partner at The Anderson Group, offers answers to the top eight questions prospective tenants should ask when considering an office space move.
Here are questions to ask before renting an office space:
• How can I make sure this space supports my brand?
Many business owners hire interior designers to ensure that their office space supports their brand. A good commercial real estate developer / property management company provides professional interior design services free of charge to prospective tenants. Whether you want an open office layout or individual offices, or specific wallpaper, paint, lighting, furniture and carpet, experienced in-house designers can help you tailor your space to fit your business needs and ensure that your space sends the right message about your company.
• How much space does my business need?
There are general industry guidelines for commercial office space (i.e., 150 square feet for a standard office and 25 square feet for a standard cubicle), but these guidelines fail to account for the corridors and common areas included in most leases. The best way to determine your business’s size requirements is hiring a space planner who can help you visualize your space based on your unique business needs and workflow. A good commercial developer / property management company may offer this service for free, saving you time, money, and the hassle of hiring an architect or space planner who must develop unique plans for each office building you’re considering.
• What are the inclusions of my rent?
What is included in your commercial rent will vary dramatically from company to company. Many property management companies offer modified gross leases, which means you’ll be charged a base rent, plus an additional fee per square foot. When you sign a modified gross lease, items such as utilities, housekeeping, maintenance, and insurance are often additional—and can significantly add to the cost of your rent. A modified gross lease can also mean that you’ll be financially responsible for major mechanical, electrical, and plumbing issues. Don’t like surprises? Find a property management company that offers full gross leases, which means you pay a base lease with everything included.
• Can I make improvements and modifications to my office space?
In many cases, new office space is either “plain vanilla” (unfinished walls and floors) or is tailored to the previous tenant’s needs. In either case, you likely will want updates and modifications to bring the space to your standards. Many property management companies will price your construction requests and amortize the amount over the length of your lease. Some will give you an allowance per square foot (typically around $2 per square foot per year) that you can use to complete construction with an approved contractor. Your best-case scenario is finding a property management company that offers free construction management services and will invest the time to help you customize your space on time and on budget.
Renting an office space is easy if you have your expectations set beforehand. You must know the right questions to ask and to not hesitate doing followup questions when necessary. Renting an office space is about location but it is also about a lot of details that make up the bigger picture. Know your prospective office space and then compare your options before making the final decision.