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10 Questions You Should Consider On Every Commercial Space You Tour

June 14, 2017 | by Brandon Carter
Reviewed by real estate expert Michael Colacino

When touring commercial space that could be your next office, you can never ask too many questions.

Between the listing agent, your broker, and the landlord’s broker (if present) you will have a wealth of knowledge at your fingertips about the space’s history, amenities and condition. Don’t be shy about using that knowledge base to get into the specifics of the spaces you visit.

Touring Office Space? Make a List

Some details, you and your broker will cover consistently anyway, but bringing a list of building features helps ensure you don’t miss anything.

Here are 10 places to start.

1. How are visitors admitted to the office building?

It’s not always as simple as walking through the entrance and taking the elevator up to the right floor.

Will it be obvious to guests like clients and delivery people how to get in? Are you at all concerned that entry to your office could be confusing? Here, as a building visitor, you can use yourself as a guinea pig.

2. What is the condition of the building lobby?

Is the lobby attended or unattended? Does it have other security parameters like key cards during work hours? Is it so small that it might be cramped for team members, clients and partners as foot traffic comes in and out?

Other considerations: if you’re intent on impressing clients and partners from the second they enter your building, the lobby’s overall condition is worth noting as well.

3. What is the after-hours protocol for the office building ?

Is there security personnel present? Are there cameras? Doors that lock? If a team member needs to come in on a weekend, what should they know about entering and exiting the building?

4. How many floors and how many tenants are in the building?

In commercial leases where you have to split building costs with the other tenants, this can be an important consideration. It also affects elevator performance, which shouldn’t be taken for granted.

Speaking of which…

5. What are your impressions of elevator performance?

How many elevators are there? If there’s just one, you can expect a bit of a wait to get to your floor.

You also need to decide whether it’s important that the elevator doors open directly onto your office floor or, as is often the case with suites, they drop you off in front of other businesses.

6. What are the access parameters for the freight elevator?

How to access the freight elevator is helpful to know, especially if you work in an industry that requires moving large quantities of goods or equipment in and out of the office building (like the food industry). It’s also helpful information for the move-in process.

7. How is HVAC priced?

Does your rent include the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) for the entire building as well as your space? Does the system operate after hours? Does it cost more to operate after hours?

8. Does the office building have onsite maintenance?

Is there a cleaning service or will you need to hire one? Who do you contact if the elevator stops working? Or if there’s a problem with the HVAC or electricity?

9. What is the landlord’s usual build-out policy?

The build-out is the construction and renovation process required to transform empty commercial space into functioning office space. In some cases, the landlord may have a system that works well, whereby he manages the build-out for a tenant from end-to-end.

In other cases, the landlord might prefer that the tenant do the work on the space, in which case he will usually offer a tenant improvement allowance to help fund the renovations.

Each approach has its merits and limitations. Ask which method the landlord prefers and then discuss the best way to move forward with your broker.

10. What is the process for installing telecommunications?

Installing telecoms can be a surprisingly tricky affair. The cabling alone might require a physical “alteration” to the space that the landlord has to approve (and will likely charge for).

Find out on the tour how the landlord typically manages a telecoms installation and ask your broker for some advice on how to complete the most seamless transition.

Keeping track of all these details long after you’ve toured a space you like can be a challenge in itself, but if you use your TourBook and stay in touch with your broker, you’ll greatly reduce the chance of something slipping through the cracks.

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