Business growth is a good problem to have but it’s not without its challenges, especially for business owners who are about to outgrow their current office space. Jimmy Hawkins, president of Maryville, Tennessee-based Leon Williams Contractors, has worked with many different business owners during this exciting time in the growth of their businesses. He’s an expert in identifying and understanding the unique needs of each business.
Hawkins spoke to MMG about finding the right commercial space for a growing company.
What are the options for business owners considering office space expansion?
When they get to a point where they’re considering expansion, most business owners have three options: expand the current space, renovate another existing space or build new from the ground up. Every case is going to be different, based on the business’ needs, what’s available, time frame and obviously cost constraints.
“Most business owners have three options expand current space, renovate other existing space or build new from the ground up.”
What are the factors to consider when choosing an option?
It all starts with the constraints on your existing space. If you already own the space, renovating it will probably be an attractive option. Depending on what you’re looking to accomplish, you’ll need to consider the restrictions on your property. For instance, do you have enough property for your expansion, or can you add additional parking?
With renovations, though, a lot of business owners will think, “Oh, we can just reconfigure this,” and that it won’t take much time, but then there ends up being a duct or electrical chase that turns a seemingly minor alteration into a much larger job. Looking at existing spaces, whether in current location or another building, requires extra attention to everything from the electrical wiring to the water service, sewer, etc. It’s not just about the building feeling right or being in the right location; it’s also about whether it can be renovated to fit your specific needs.
Other things to consider include whether the business would be able to continue its operations during the renovation period and your time constraints. If you exhaust all of these options, your best route might be to build from the ground up.
When should a business consider expanding its current space?
Expansion is certainly a viable option for any growing business, but it requires the most coordination. It’s a great option when the current location is important to either the employees or customers and there is adequate room for the expansion or renovation.
Renovations are distracting and if your office is already full, it can be very difficult to go through the process. This is also a more expensive construction model because there may be after-hours work, dust-protection issues and phasing to keep areas usable during renovation. Renovation can also result in more unanticipated costs as it is difficult to know what concealed conditions may be encountered or what deficiencies may be discovered during the process. Phasing and unknowns can extend the time required for a renovation as well.
“Business owners think reconfiguration won’t take much time, but then there ends up being a duct or electrical chase that turns a seemingly minor alteration into a much larger job.”
When should a business renovate another existing office space?
Renovating a location off-site brings the same challenges and unknowns as renovating your current office space, but it allows the current business to continue without distraction. There is no need for phasing, so construction can begin immediately and be done more efficiently. This is a good solution when time is critical because the structure already exists and is not affected by weather conditions. I love this option as it can take existing empty spaces and bring new life to them. It allows users to be good stewards of buildings that are currently available, rather than letting them stand empty while building a new structure down the road.
When should a business consider building a new office space?
Building a new office space allows business owners to get exactly what they want and start their design on a blank canvas. This is a great solution for companies with special requirements or those wishing to create a new brand or style. This is an exciting process, as the owner gets the opportunity to pick the site and to guide the looks and functionality of a building inside and out, without the restrictions that renovations impose. New construction can be a lengthy process with everything involved: land procurement, plan development, municipality approvals, site work and construction from the ground up. There can still be unknowns but they mostly exist underground.
Keep in mind that the procurement, design and approvals can take every bit as long as the construction itself depending on the level of complexity. It is critical to select a team that has experience in your type of business because it will be more likely to quickly identify issues with the design before moving into the construction phase.