Just as many first-time homebuyers discover they can save money by building their own home, many businesses, especially if they have very specific requirements, find that having new custom premises built for them can achieve the same result. Aside from cost-savings, you also have more control over the available facilities, and can end up with a far more productive space overall.
Of course, it also takes a lot more time and planning, and there are several factors to consider before you commit. Here’s what you need to think about, what the advantages are, and how you should go about it!
Advantages and disadvantages of building your own work space:
Pro: More control over location
Having only the options that are available on the market at the time open to you limits where you can center your next workspace. Whatever location you choose, it’s going to have knock-on effects for your employees who need to find transport – either positive or negative. If the majority of your workforce commutes from a distant urban area, then building your own premises closer to them can work wonders for morale and productivity.
Con: Building takes time and money
Anyone who’s ever dealt with a building contractor knows that the timeframe they give you is almost always overly optimistic! Financially, finding the resources to pay architects and contractors can be problematic too. You need to do a careful cost-benefit analysis to ascertain whether the increased inputs in the beginning are going to be worth it in the long run, and how quickly they can be offset.
But bear in mind that as soon as you move in, you’ll be your own landlord, making a considerable monthly saving by getting rid of your monthly rental costs. And at the end of it all, you’re sitting with an appreciating asset – something that can never happen if you continue to rent!
Pro: Customize for your requirements
The freedom to design a space that fulfills all your specific needs should not be underestimated. If your industry is an unusual one, such as a brewery, bakery or even a tech firm, finding existing office space that will do the job can be tricky, and you’ll often have to settle for the next best thing. It’s important though to build for the needs of the future, and not just to fulfill the requirements you have now. In five or ten years’ time, you might well have a much larger workforce or need room for larger equipment.
Rather build more than you need, which gives you the option to sublet extra space out to another smaller company and make an extra income (potentially for years to come) if you don’t need all the space yourself.
So how to go about it?
Before you make your final decision, you’ll need to spend some time getting assessments, scouting possible locations, and getting quotes from architects and contractors so you can factor the numbers into the equation too. It’s impossible to be 100% accurate with these, unfortunately, as every project has unexpected issues and delays, but if you factor in a decent safety margin you can keep nasty surprises to a minimum. It can also pay dividends in the long run to ensure your contractor is working with proven and reliable subcontractors and equipment providers such as Forklift Guys rather than going with the cheapest quote in order to line their own pockets! The more involved in the process you can afford to be, the better.
Get second opinions and involve your employees
Run plans and layouts past as many fresh eyes as possible, including the employees who will be making use of the finished space! They have a unique perspective on the issues that had you wanting to leave your old space in the first place, and can often make invaluable suggestions or highlight potential problems in the new designs that never would have occurred to you.
Get legal advice
Getting legal advice and representation is never a bad idea either. You might need help navigating zoning restrictions, environmental impact assessments, or dealing with contractors who aren’t delivering.
Once a rough final cost and timeframe have been established, you’ll also need a plan for what to do in the interim while the premises are being built! If you’ve already run out of space, then you might find that allowing staff who aren’t client-facing to work from home can make a significant difference.
When the time comes to move, you also don’t want to have to transport more equipment and ‘stuff’ than you need to, so start getting rid of items you aren’t using anymore now. This could be dilapidated furniture, broken electronics, outdated machinery – you name it. Give your employees first pick to earn some brownie points! You’ll create more space and have less to move too.
Just like building a home, building office space is stressful – so be prepared for that. But by the same token, taking ownership of a shiny new building that’s all yours to keep is an amazing feeling! Good luck!