Office Space: Details to Inspect Before Signing a New Lease

office space to rentAccording to the CoStar Group, companies are trending toward the renting of smaller office spaces and that the average space per employee has decreased from 250 square feet to 195 square feet. Office efficiency appears to be driving the downward space trend, so if you’re in the market for a new office space, make sure to thoroughly inspect the space before signing a lease to ensure it’s right for your business. Here are a few tips to keep in mind during your inspection.

Watch for Hidden Wording

You may be happy with a quick walk-through with the landlord, but there is a good reason to do a professional inspection on the space. The Small Business Administration reminds us that commercial leases can have different wording about maintenance and repair. Some could state that you are responsible for all repairs while others might specify the areas for which you are responsible. Make sure you don’t get hit with a large HVAC repair bill six months after you move into a space!

Look at the Big Picture

Here are a number of building issues that could affect you and your business. Ask for a current building inspection report from the landlord, and if it’s not available, have someone come out and do an inspection of any areas that affect your office space.

  • Parking areas in need of major repair
  • Hand rails that are loose
  • Loose roofing directly over your office
  • Signs of leaks around windows
  • Signs of pest activity on or around the building
  • Storm water not draining off the property
  • Fire hazards such as flammable materials kept next to HVAC units
  • Fire alarms and extinguishers that are not functioning

A client could damage his car by hitting a pothole in the parking lot. Or they could slip and fall on crumbling concrete stairs with a loose hand rail. You could be liable for these potential dangers, so take the proper steps to ensure they aren’t an issue.

Inspect Your Office Space

After walking through a full building inspection, you will have an idea of what you’ll need to look for in your specific space. For instance, if termite activity was spotted in the wood entry way into the building, you’ll want to bring in a professional to check your space for the same pests. The California Department of Public Health lists a number of pests that could be present in your office for which you may need to call in a professional:

  • fruit flies – sugary foods and ripe fruit attract these insects
  • fungus gnats – these are drawn to over-watered plants
  • beetles and moths – attracted to snack foods such as nuts, crackers and chocolate
  • ants – may come inside during hot summers or wet winters
  • cockroaches – most live outside but they may come inside to find food
  • rats and mice – may come inside to nest and will chew on plastic, fabric and paper

Any sign of pests on the property requires hiring an exterminator to make sure they are eliminated before they cause more damage. Signs of termites or other wood-boring insects could mean expensive repairs down the road if ignored.

The Facilities Inspection

Pay special attention to all the building’s facilities that you’ll depend on each day such as:

  • lighting and electricity
  • heating and cooling (HVAC)
  • hot water systems
  • refrigeration
  • plumbing
  • any other appliances

Is the office space well lit? Do all of the electrical outlets work? Are there any faucet or toilet leaks? A thorough inspection of the space is needed so you’ll know what to negotiate in your lease. A nice looking space could be hiding a number of repairs that you don’t notice until after you’ve moved in.