If you’re a small business owner in the U.S., you’re not alone. There are over 30 million small businesses up and running in the United States. Running a small business requires making a lot of decisions and serious planning. One of the larger decisions you’ll have to make as a small business owner comes when you’re ready to purchase a brick and mortar location. Whether you’re going to renovate an old building or design your own business building, there is a lot of planning and preparation that goes into it. Here is a basic guide on what you should consider when you choose to renovate or design your own business building.
Why You Should Renovate Or Design Your Own Business Building
While renovating or designing your business building can be a lot of work, the benefits of being able to make all the choices will make it well worth it. Here are some of the top perks you’ll see when you design your own business building.
- Increased Traffic: Choosing to renovate or design your own business building is often the change a business needs to increase their foot traffic. Not only does the new look pique the interest of potential customers, but the changes can also make getting into the building easier. For example, if your business building was built a while ago, certain aspects of the building may be worn out and run down. The parking lot could be full of potholes, the sidewalk could have cracks and be dangerous, or there could be a lack of a handicap accessible entrance. If you redesign or renovate your business building, you’ll be able to make these changes, including adding a ramp for handicap access, fixing any cracks in the sidewalk, or hiring a team to handle the parking lot restoration. The easier it is for customers to enter your business, the more traffic you’ll see.
- A More Efficient Layout: Many business owners who purchase a building that was once used for a different market often have a tough time laying out the set up in a way to is convenient for their business. For example, if you purchased a building that is divided into separate offices, but you’d like a more open layout, making some big changes or redesigning the space altogether will make your workflow much more efficient. You’ll likely need to work with a contractor if there are major changes such as removing walls or adjusting electrical wiring.
- Incorporate Energy-Efficient Options: If you choose to renovate or design your own business building, one of the major benefits you’ll see is the ability to add energy-efficient options. Older buildings lack environmentally friendly options and can even negatively impact the environment. If you move into an older business building, you’ll want to talk with a contractor about changes you can make to have a more positive impact on the environment. For example, you may consider working with a commercial roofing team to repair old roofing and at the same time install solar panels. You could also replace old windows to be more energy-efficient as well.
- Save Money Overall: Often with an older building, some of the major systems, such as HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) or plumbing, can have issues that need repairs or replacements. If you choose to renovate or design your own business building, you can save money on those parts of the project. For example, if there are problems with the HVAC system in a building and you’re going to simply replace parts rather than overhaul the system, the total price can be more. That’s because not only are you paying for new parts and labor, you also have to pay for the wall or flooring that is cut out to be replaced, and pay to repaint the walls or refinish the removed flooring. If you’re going to be renovating a space, then you have the benefit of having walls or flooring already removed for the renovation. At the same time, you could have an HVAC installation scheduled to take advantage of having to remove the already existing floors and walls.
Important Projects For A Business Building Renovation Or Design
As you start the renovation or design process, you may feel overwhelmed with everything you need to consider. It can be easy to get ahead of yourself and start planning the layout and aesthetic elements of the project, they are usually the more exciting part. However, before you start picking paint swatches, you need to consider some of the most important elements of the building and handle the repair or replacement of them.
Replace Windows and Doors
Replacing windows and doors, or at least inspecting their quality, should be high on your list of important projects as you prepare to renovate or design your own business building. Commercial windows can often be difficult and very expensive to replace, so you want to be sure replacement is completely necessary before you start tearing them down. Some commercial windows can be restored while they are still in the wall, making them appear new at a fraction of the cost for replacing them. The important qualities you’ll need to look for as you decide between replacing and repairing are energy efficiency and performance, or whether they actually work as they’re supposed to. If you’re working with a professional team, they will have access to contractors supplies that can be used to make any repairs or replacements.
Very similar to windows, you will also want to inspect the quality of the doors in your building. If your doors don’t have proper sealing, that will impact the energy-efficiency of your building and end up costing you more money on your utility bills. Bad doors could also impact the safety of your building as they may be easier to break into. Again similar to windows you can either restore or replace the doors. Restoring might consist of fixing improper sealing, filling cracks or dents in wooden doors, replacing glass panels on glass doors, or changing out locks for something stronger. If you have glass doors on your building and want to entirely replace them, you will want to work with a professional team for commercial glass door installation to ensure that the project is done properly.
Repair Or Replace Major Systems
Another large-scale and extremely important project you’ll need to consider as you renovate or design your own business building is the repair or replacement of major systems. These major systems will include HVAC, plumbing, and the electrical system. These systems are mandatory to have a working business building, thus it’s important that you ensure you’ve got them up and running and account for during your renovation and design process.
If you’re working on an older building, these systems may be old and outdated. The first step in getting work done on the major systems in your building is to have a professional inspector come check them out to ensure that they’re in working condition or let you know what needs to be repaired or replaced. Because these systems are so important for your building, they will generally be some of the more expensive to repair or replace, so be prepared to save a large portion of your budget for this project. If it turns out that you need to replace anything, such as a plumbing system installation, make sure you rely on the help of professionals rather than a friend or family member. While its noteworthy to get any help that may cost you less money, this is not an area where you should skimp.
Review Structure And Safety Of Building
One of the most important steps you need to take when you’re renovating or moving your business into an old building is inspecting the structure and safety of the building. There is more to ensuring safety and security in your building than simply installing high tech security systems. Older buildings that sat unused or haven’t been inspected in a while can have unseen dangers that will put you, your employees, and customers at risk each time they enter the premises.
Here are a few of the most important things you need to check for in your business building:
- Lead: Lead is a toxic metal that was used commonly in paint and plumbing fixtures in buildings constructed before 1978. Lead in pipes can leech into the water and cause serious health issues for anyone that consumes it. It’s best if you hire a qualified professional to come to your location and run a full test to check for the presence of lead in your building. This is best done before you have made any large renovations or changes.
- Asbestos: Asbestos is a fibrous, heat-resistant material that was used in insulation in homes between 1930 and 1950. It’s extremely dangerous for health as it can cause lung cancer or mesothelioma if breathed in. Before you start even thinking about renovations or how to design your own business building, you need to ensure that a professional inspector has checked your building for asbestos. If they find it, you will have to leave the building for some time while it is safely removed.
- Structure: You will also want to check the structure of your business building before you start making major changes. Check out the foundation of the building for any problems with its integrity as this could literally bring your business building to the ground. Ensure that you know which walls are load-bearing before you start knocking things down, and especially if you have a second floor that you plan on using. As you design your own business building and make plans, knowing what you can change, what walls you can move, and where you can put heavy tools or objects, is important to the early steps of the process.
- Emergency Exits: Knowing where the best emergency exits are in your building is important as you design and renovate so that you don’t obstruct them. Usually a workplace or commercial business will need at least two clear emergency exits. However, OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) requires more than two exits if the size of the building, number of occupants, or arrangement of the building won’t let occupants safely exit through the other two exits. As you design the layout for your business building, you need to ensure that you have at least the two, if not more, emergency exits clear and accessible.
- Fire Hazards: Another important safety matter you will need to address as you renovate and design your building space is where potential fire hazards are and how to avoid them. You may consider having a professional come in and conduct a fire inspection to know exactly where fire risks are in your building. Not having emergency exits clear and labeled is one major fire hazard as it would put occupant’s lives at risk if there were a fire in the building. Cooking and heating equipment also pose a fire risk, so you will want to ensure that the materials surrounding these types of equipment are fire-resistant or fire-proof. If you don’t have electrical wiring properly installed, this could also pose a risk, so work with a professional electrician to ensure that is done safely.
As you prepare to open your business building, offer career opportunities for potential employees, and invite customers and clients in for business, you’ll be glad that you spent time ensuring that all aspects of your building were accounted for. From the windows to the structure to even the layout of your space, every element is vital in ensuring that you have a successful business experience. If you apply these previously listed suggestions to your renovation or design process, you will find that you’ve covered the most important elements and are well on your way to opening your own business building for business.