If you’re in the market to sign a new commercial lease, having appropriate expectations for your timeline can be the difference between stumbling before you start and long-term success.
Make a list of your real estate requirements. Meet with decision makers within your own company to develop a vision for your new space that fits within your business plan. Conduct interviews for a broker and commit to the one you feel most comfortable with. Once you become a client, your broker will be free to represent your best interest; before that, they are not. Request from your broker a list of properties that match your requirements.
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Drive around your prospective market to get a feel for the properties on your broker’s list and to find additional potential sites. Strike up conversations with the people you meet at neighboring businesses to gauge the viability of the location. Now is also the time to find an architect if you plan on renovating, as you may need to engage their services even before signing a lease.
Narrow your list down to the most interesting possibilities and then tour those properties. Ask for any dimensions the landlord might have or take measurements to begin space planning. Begin working with your architect to draw up preliminary plans for your top choice(s). Open negotiations by having your broker submit preliminary proposals.
Begin reviewing responses to your proposals and evaluate the counteroffers.
As soon as you have preliminary plans from your architect, request bids from contractors. Your broker and/or architect will be able to provide some good referrals for contractors if you need them.
Come to an economic agreement for your lease. Hire your contractor. Have your architect begin the official working drawings for your space.
Typically the landlord will supply a first draft of your lease. Let your attorney review the lease and propose any necessary changes. Review the lease yourself and inform your attorney of any concerns or requests.
Once you are content with all the terms of your lease, it’s time to sign it. Put your architect in touch with your contractor so that as soon as your build-out plans are ready, your contractor can apply for the appropriate permits. Also be sure to submit your building plans to your new landlord for approval. Some landlords may want to see your plans before signing a lease.
Permits can take anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks for approval depending on what is required, or longer if revisions are needed.
Construction timelines vary depending on the project. You might plan on approximately 8 to 12 weeks for the construction of a retail space or 3 to 6 weeks for office remodeling. Your contractor will be able to give you the most realistic timeframe. As soon as the construction is complete, make sure you have your business license and the final approvals from all required authorities. Then it’s time to open for business!