Drawing up a list of what you need from your business premises is a good way to start your property search. This list is known as a specification or ‘spec’.
Your property requirements list might include the following points:
- size and layout of the property
- property structure and appearance, both internally and externally
- any special structural propety requirements, such as high ceilings
- premises facilities and comfort for employees and visitors - including lighting, toilets and kitchen facilities
- property utilities, such as power and drainage, and any special requirements - for example, three-phase electricity
- permission, including planning permission, to use the premises for your type of business
- access and parking spaces in and around the property - for deliveries or customers, including disabled customers
- whether you need the flexibility to alter or expand the premises
- your long-term business plans
You also need to think about where you want your property to be located - see choose the right location for your business premises. After drawing up your list of property requirements, you may decide that working from home could suit you. However, there are important legal and practical issues you need to take into account - see use your home as a workplace.
Your choice of commercial property will also depend on your budget. Whether you rent or buy business premises, costs can include:
- initial purchase costs, including legal costs such as solicitor's fees and professional fees for surveyors
- initial alterations, fitting out and decoration
- any alterations required to meet building, health and safety and fire regulations
- ongoing rent, service and utility charges, including water, electricity and gas
- business rates
- continuing maintenance and repairs
- building and contents insurance
Energy performance of the property
Sellers and landlords are obliged to provide prospective buyers or tenants with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). An EPC indicates how energy efficient a building and its services are and can act as a good indicator of likely energy costs. For more information, see Energy Performance Certificates - business properties.
If your property requirements are too specific, you may find that your choice of premises is very limited or you cannot afford them. Think about which requirements are essential and which are desirable, and prioritise them accordingly to make your property decision.