Choosing the right commercial property is a key business decision. Your business premises should help you to operate effectively without excessive costs. At the same time, you should avoid being tied to business property that might not suit you in the future.
It is important to identify a suitable business property at a location that meets the needs of your business, your customers, suppliers and staff.
Drawing up a list of what you need from your business premises is a good way to start your property search. You may want to consider some of the following:
Size and layout – do you want open plan space or individual rooms? Do you need space for storage, equipment, meetings?
Property structure and appearance – both internally and externally
Premises facilities and comfort for employees and visitors – including lighting, toilets and kitchen facilities
Permission, including planning permission, to use the premises for your type of business
Access and parking spaces in and around the property – for deliveries or customers
Whether you need the flexibility to alter or expand the property
Your long-term business plans for your business property
Your choice of commercial property will also depend on your budget. Whether you rent or buy, costs can include initial purchase costs, including legal costs such as solicitor and surveyor fees; alterations, fitting out and decoration; alterations to meet building, health and safety and fire regulations; ongoing rent, service and utility charges; business rates; repairs and maintenance; building and contents insurance.
Sellers and landlords are obliged to provide prospective buyers or tenants with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). An EPC indicates how energy efficient a building and its services are and can act as a good indicator of likely energy costs.
A good location for your business is vital, but choosing the right one can be something of a balancing act. Ideally, the location should be convenient for your customers, employees and suppliers – without being too expensive. Key location factors may include the volume of passing trade; the number of competitors in the area; transport links and parking; delivery restrictions; planning restrictions; business rates; local amenities and what sort of area it is.
If you own or occupy business property, you need to understand the legal obligations and restrictions that may affect you. The property must have planning permission that allows them to be used for your type of business. You must comply with building, fire and health and safety regulations. Stamp duty is payable on commercial leases and you may be liable for business rates. You are responsible for the health and safety of employees and visitors. If you provide goods or services to the public, you must take reasonable steps to make your premises accessible. For some businesses, you may require a licence to operate or to sell certain products. Whatever premises you choose, you need to ensure that you are properly insured.
In summary the six steps for choosing the right business property are:
Draw up a list of what you need from your premises
Location, location, location
Buy or rent?
Help with business rates
Search for commercial property