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Commercial Property 101: questions to ask when buying an industrial unit

POSTED: 23rd May 2014
IN: Guides
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Buying an industrial unit for your business is a huge commitment in both time and money.

Naturally, the main purchasing decisions, including where and what size, will depend on a number of variables including the financial position and forward vision of the company.

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In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the questions you need to ask before investing in an industrial unit to make sure that you reap the rewards from your investment.

Are my plans for expansion viable?

As we’ve said, investing in property is a major step for any business. If you’re taking on a new industrial unit, the chances are that you’re a burgeoning business with plans in the pipeline for growth.

The main thing to remember here is that these don’t need to be concrete plans for you to think about expansion.  Unlike office space, an industrial unit is likely to be used for robust mechanical processes, and as such, tend to be subject to renovation. This is unavoidable – but does make it more difficult to move around.

Because this is a commercial property acquisition rather than a residential one, a buildings survey is imperative in order for you to secure a mortgage. But regardless of obligation, a survey should really be undertaken anyway to enable you to determine the scope for expansion. There are different levels of survey to suit different requirements, so to make sure that you get the information you need, it’s wise to speak to your surveyor beforehand to ask them to advise what they see the potential being.

Is there sufficient parking?

It’s easily overlooked, but ensuring you have adequate parking spaces for staff will save a great deal of hassle further down the line. As a general rule, you should try to think about how many members of staff you have at present and multiply this by the percentage growth you hope to achieve in your business. For example, 50 staff with 20 per cent business growth forecast in the next five years equals 60 spaces. Then add a few extra for visitors.

Not all members of staff will drive, but generally speaking, its far more beneficial to have an abundance of spaces than a shortage, particularly on an industrial estate where it may be difficult to secure parking elsewhere.

How easy is it for staff to get to and from work in the morning?

Likewise, you may have some members of staff that rely on public transport to get to work. If you’re moving business location, you need to consider (within reason) how this will affect their journey.

If you’re suddenly adding an extra half hour to your employees’ journey time every morning and evening, or they’re forced to take a convoluted route because public transport around your location is sparse, then it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that they’ll start to look for work elsewhere. 

How easily can vehicles get to and from the warehouse?

Generally speaking, if you’re buying an industrial unit, then the estate its situated on should be well equipped to cater for haulage companies sending long transit vehicles in for collection and deliveries. However, when you check out the loading bay, it might pay to think about the number and frequency of vehicles that you can expect to be visiting your business.

Some units come with tiny loading bays that will only fit one or two vehicles at a time. If you run the kind of business that has a high frequency of collections and/or deliveries, then you may need to take into consideration whether there is anywhere for lorries to wait without causing obstruction.

Likewise, if you have your own company vehicles, then you might want to make sure there’s somewhere to lock them in overnight in order to prevent damage or theft.

Is there sufficient meeting space?

You might not need to boardroom or meeting room straight away, but if you’re planning business growth, then there’s a good chance you will need space to conduct meetings in in future. Does your unit have sufficient space for this? If not, is there any more units close by that you could potentially take advantage of when the time comes?

How far are you from local amenities?

There are three key amenities that, if your business is located near to, could be really beneficial. These are:

-          Transport links: as previously mentioned, the easier it is for employees to get to work, the better.

-          Banks: being close to a bank makes it much easier for your accounts staff (or you) to nip in when things like cash and cheques from clients need depositing. It also means that you’re on hand for a meeting with the bank manager when required.

-          Post office: being need a post office can be a lifeline for small businesses that commonly have a great deal of incoming and outgoing mail. Being close by will result in much less wasted resources – and less stress – in travelling to and from the post in time.

You might also want to consider whether there are ample shops and bars in close proximity, as this makes it possible to entertain clients without travelling too far, and – believe it or not – can even help with employee retention.

Over to you

Investing in business premises is a big step for any small company- and comes with a number of big decisions. Apart from getting to grips with how you’re going to finance the move and secure a commercial mortgage, you need to make sure that the property is right for you in the long-term as well as the immediate future. Asking the right questions could save you a great deal of time, money and hassle later down the line.

 

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