How to Find Space for Your Business

Planning an Office Move: The Final Phase

By  David Haug

You are in the final phase of your office move — the construction phase.

Savor that for a moment — the final phase. However, as you may have guessed, you still can’t sit back and relax and let all your last projects take care of themselves. This is when the actual construction is occurring, which means you need to pay more attention than ever to what’s happening in your new space.

You may think, “but I hired a general contractor, so everything is good to go.” That’s not always the case. You still need to be sure you stay in contact with your contractors and make sure their interpretations of what should be done match your wants and needs. Plan for physical construction to take 8 to 12 weeks. That’s not a small amount of time. A lot can go wrong. Effective communication is vital during the final phase of your project.

Good architects and general contractors will make sure everything is where it should be, and that the worksite runs smoothly. However, it is important that you do your due diligence. Take a step back and visualize your new space. Look over the actual plans your architect and contractors are using. Do they match your vision down to the tiniest detail? If not, make a list and discuss those items with your architect and general contractor.

Final Phase

What are some of the details you need to consider? Here’s just a tiny sampling of things we suggest you double check as the final phase begins:

Retail Construction & Office Remodeling

  • Electrical outlets: Think about how people will use the space. Your area’s building code may dictate that you need one or two outlets per wall. However, if your business involves lots of electrical devices, you might want more. For instance, if you have a coffee shop and your customers want to be able to plug in their phones, laptops and tablets, you will want lots more. Will you want one outlet per table? Two outlets per table? More?
  • Heating and cooling: Is the main door into your business going to open and shut a lot? If so, do you have a vestibule, so the cold air and heat don’t leave?
  • Sinks: Is your auxiliary sink — that’s the one you use for mopping the floor — in the correct location?
  • Schedule: Will your construction start and end during a convenient time of year for you? For example, most fitness places don’t want to open in the middle of summer — fall is their ideal time. They would need to be sure they can open when the kids go back to school and the leaves start to change.

Industrial & Warehouse Build-Out

  • Drainage: Where is water going to flow if trucks come in covered in snow?
  • Power requirements: Do you have enough electricity for heavy equipment?
  • Parking lot and driveways: These need to be in good conditions for trucks driving to and from your business. If you are in the Midwest and need to pour fresh asphalt for these, be sure to do it before November. After that it’s too cold until spring.
  • Air-conditioning units on roof: You must drill holes through the roof to install these units, so you might have leaks. Do you have a plan for how to handle leaks, water drainage, insulation, etc.?
  • Drive-in doors and high docks: If you need these, do you have them? Are they in a place that makes sense and works for your drivers?
  • Expansion possibilities: Think about the future. How would you handle an expansion in your remodeled space?

Final Phase

Communicating with Your Experts

As the business owner, you need to understand the construction plans. Unless your background is in construction, though, the plans will probably be confusing. Ask questions and get clarification from your architect and general contractor.

You also want to make sure your contractors understand your schedule for the project — and make sure you understand their schedules. If the two don’t mesh, you may need to find different contractors. Check that your general contractor is coordinating with subcontractors.

During this final phase of the project, don’t be afraid to stop by the work site to make sure things are progressing as they should and that the work is being done to your satisfaction. Weekly check-ins are a good place to start. That gives the contractors enough time to get a visible amount of work done. It also gives you time to catch any mistakes (light switches in the wrong place, for example).

Finally, be sure to make sure you make sure you know how your architect and general contractor prefer to communicate. Your architect may work in an office and finds email most convenient. However, since your general contractor doesn’t sit at a desk all day, email probably wouldn’t be a good way to get a prompt response; phone calls or texts might be better. You’ll need to communicate with them frequently during this final phase, so make sure you do it in a way that works for them.

We can help!

Planning an office move is no small task. For earlier installments of this series, see one, two, three, four, five and six.

If you haven’t downloaded it yet, you can get our Lease Timeline Checklist to help you plan your new office. This is the type of framework we use for all our clients at LCRE. We will provide a customized version for you based on your specific needs in retail, office, or industrial.  We help our clients find the best spaces to lease and also the best properties to purchase.

For more information, contact us today!



David Haug

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About the Author

David Haug is a Madison WI commercial real estate broker. He is passionate about helping clients, customers, and friends succeed in finding property, selling and leasing property, and investing in real estate. He is also a raging Badger fan. #OnWisconsin Baby!
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