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6 Questions to Ask When Shopping for a Commercial Building

Once you’ve already determined the approximate size of the space you need, your budget, general location desired, and that the investment will fit within your business objectives, it’s time to start shopping for suitable building for your company changes.

When it comes to a property search, it’s obvious that you would get your realtor involved, but have you considered having your Design/Build contractor with you? The Design/Builder will be able to direct you toward the most suitable options by evaluating the building in a way you may not have considered before getting stuck with a building that will cause issues for you in the future. The contractor’s evaluation will likely save time and money, or provide good recommendations for a building that doesn’t initially present itself as suitable.

What kind of questions would your contractor suggest you ask? I’m glad you want to know as they are laid out below:

  1. Is there an Alta Land Survey for the property available (current or old)? To find out where the boundaries of the land are and where the existing utilities are located. If the seller doesn’t have the survey available, one can be obtained by the local tax assessor’s office or a title company. It can be $500 to $2,000 to obtain a survey, so seeing the seller’s copy can save a chunk of change.
  1. Are there any As Built drawings or Architectural Plans? These are very important and would save money in the event of a remodel or expansion in the future. It tells about the building’s systems and how they are connected (electrical, mechanical, plumbing), and materials used for matching when necessary. Your Architect can create As Built drawings for a fee. It requires a visit to the building and time to recraft the location and size of the spaces. A remodel project could face discrepancies without it.
  1. Does the current zoning of the space/building permit your intended business use? Is there enough room for parking? Is it residential when you need commercial or manufacturing designation? Rezoning can be done, it’s just a matter of time that you have available and paying for permits.
  1. What is the age or condition of the building? Would it need a Phase I Environmental Survey? Your contractor would be seeking to find whether lead or asbestos is present in the building, or if there is any historical contamination to the soils the building is on. Both of these would add to a remodel budget if chosen as your building.
  1. What are the financing options? Depending on what you are going to use the building for or changes you’re going to make to the building, you could qualify for Leaseback, SBA 504 financing, or get your traditional loan financing started earlier with the Design/Build method of construction.
  1. Are there any maintenance records? Knowing dates and how the building was maintained, will let you know how soon you need to service or replace systems within the building, or how long it’s been since something was caulked or cleaned.

These six questions will help you to get past Buyer Beware elements of buying a new property, so you don’t end up with surprise expenses or timely remedies. Additionally, if you plan to sell your building and have any of these documents/answers, keep them to pass on to the new buyer. Call Wolgast to get started on your building search at 800-WOLGAST.