BLB’s Head of Commercial Property, Caroline Entwistle, considers what to look for when choosing industrial premises.
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What to look for when choosing industrial premises
Industrial premises come in a whole variety of types, sizes and locations. And if such a unit is core to your business, choosing the right one is crucial to achieving your business goals. Here are several important factors to consider in making the right choice.
Your business plan
Consider your business plan carefully. Can the premises accommodate your predicted growth and direction over the next few years? Remember, if you are leasing, terminating a commercial lease can be a legal minefield should you need to move.
And it’s just as easy to choose a property that’s too big as one that’s too small, so be careful not to get carried away!
Is the integrity of the structure fit for purpose? For example, a warehouse intended to store heavy containers and raw materials with forklifts in operation throughout the day will have a very different structure from a specialised testing laboratory housing complex electrical equipment.
We always recommend retaining a structural surveyor when the intended use of a building proves challenging.
Use of space
Vertical space can be as important as floor area in warehouses and larger manufacturing units. It means greater storage capacity or accommodating larger equipment and machinery. But with high-level storage, you need effective product access and rotation processes. Sufficient space should be allowed for safe operation involving vehicles or automated machinery.
Location is crucial, reflecting business needs. For example, massive warehouses are often near working ports and other major transport infrastructure. On the other hand, a small laboratory is more likely to be found on a business or technology park on the outskirts of town. Among the factors to consider are:
- proximity to customers and suppliers;
- accessibility for employees;
- availability of parking;
- ease of access to road, rail, air or shipping.
Let’s take an example. If you are a retailer operating one or more shops, you need a warehouse close enough to ensure timely stock delivery. But an e-commerce business needs warehouse facilities positioned strategically to cover a wide area efficiently.
How readily accessible is the site for heavy vehicles? Parking and the space to manoeuvre vehicles outside and inside the unit may also be important. Additionally, the number of entrances and their position can affect the ease of access for loading and unloading products and materials.
Consider pedestrian access to and movement around the premises for health and safety purposes and to avoid disrupting the flow of goods and vehicles.
Changes to improve access often require planning permission and the landlord’s consent if you are leasing. Also, do not forget the knock-on effect of these changes at the end of the lease in terms of dilapidations.
It’s easy to overlook the importance of security when choosing premises. For example, an office or laboratory containing confidential material requires personal access arrangements during the day. On the other hand, a factory requires more general access capabilities around the clock.