Setting Up Business Premises | What You Need To Know | Checkatrade
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Setting up a business premises – everything you need to know

Your business premises are the first physical impression potential customers will have of you. They need more than kerb appeal. They need to serve as your head of operations and make a statement about your enterprise the minute people step through the door.

Choosing the right business premises is ways more important than people realise. Keeping practicality and aesthetics in mind, you want to look for the right property that caters to:

  • The type of business you own
  • How and when you work
  • Your staffing needs
  • The location of your business operations

Once you’ve defined these aspects, your next considerations include the specifics of where your business calls home. This includes costs, insurance, and whether you own or rent your premises. All these variables come with their own set of rules and regulations, which we’re going to break down in this article, so you know exactly what you need to build your empire.

Finding the right place

The type of property your business premises need depends on what you do and what you want to use the space for. For example, do you want somewhere to keep your tools and/or a workshop? Are you looking for a shopfront to sell your services or products? Or do you just need an office space to work on a computer or hold meetings? In other words, are you looking for industrial, retail or office premises? Once you know the answer to this, you can narrow your search criteria.

Choosing the right location

The next big consideration when choosing your business premises is its location. This is where your research skills will come into play. For example, do you want customers coming through the door? If so, you need to locate yourself where they shop, which might incur a premium.

Alternatively, if you just want some office space or a workshop, the location might be shaped by your budget and preferred commuting distance. For example, do you want to be near a station so you and any talent you hire find it easier to get to? Whatever you do, always scope out the area and make sure the place is a good fit for the image you’re trying to project.

Top tip: If your business premises are in an enterprise zone, you can benefit from money-saving tax relief.

Making sure it’s fit for purpose

Once you’ve narrowed down your search to a type of property and its location, there are a few things worth considering when visiting each potential premise.

How much space there is and its layout

Consult your business plan for this one. You want enough space to house your tools/workshop or desks if you’re using it as an office. Make sure there’s enough space to be able to grow.

Alongside space, the layout is important. Open-plan offers more freedom, while individual private offices are less noisy. You don’t want your customer service team to be sat near heavy machinery.

Access requirements

Consider the access needs of people with limited mobility. Do you have ramps and handrails? Is your layout able to accommodate wheelchairs? Are you on the ground floor, or are lifts required? On top of access needs, think about your opening hours. Are you offering 24/7 access?  Do you have multiple entrances? Where are the emergency exits located? You and any employees need to know these things for health and safety reasons.

Aesthetics and comfort

How comfortable and visually appealing your business premises are is important. Not only does a stylish office look good to your visitors, but it also affects the health and well-being of your employees. For example, bright and natural light can create a sense of tranquillity and style. Of course if you’re using it purely as a workshop, then the key thing is the lighting and the practicality.

Legality and insurance

If you’ve bought a property, what you do with it will depend on the planning permission you’ve applied for. However, what you do with the premises is linked to your contract if you’re renting or leasing a space. Check whether your area of business is covered by regulations to cover your back, and see if you need any new licences to run your business and keep your employees safe.

The following section will look at what some requirements might be for leasing vs buying commercial property.

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Should you rent or buy business premises?

People often ask themselves, is it better to rent or buy commercial property? However, the answer is always ‘it depends.’ Let’s look at the pros and cons of leasing and buying and your responsibilities for each.

Pros and cons of leasing commercial property

  • Renting and leasing commercial property both require less upfront capital, meaning more money to spend on other areas of your business
  • You won’t lose any money on the property if the market rates suddenly drop
  • Relocating your business is much easier when you don’t own the premises
  • You’re protected from rising mortgage interest rates
  • You have fewer maintenance costs as external repairs are your landlord’s responsibility
  • Negotiating terms that align with your business is often easier when renting or leasing

On the downside:

  • If market rates rocket, you won’t benefit
  • Rent reviews are up to the landlord, and they’re able to increase it at agreed intervals
  • Service charges are often included in rent negotiations
  • Leaseholds often have clauses that stop business owners from conducting certain activities on the property

Pros and cons of buying commercial property

  • You have your own unrestricted commercial space to do as you please (within reason) as long as planning permission allows
  • Buying commercial property is a stable and hands-off investment
  • You’re able to rent or lease the building or even sublet rooms or areas to others
  • If the market value of your property increases, you benefit exponentially
  • Ongoing costs are reduced because ground rent and service charges don’t apply to you

On the downside:

  • The initial upfront costs are much higher than leasing or renting commercial property
  • Ongoing costs may also be higher if your building is difficult to maintain
  • The maintenance of the building is your sole responsibility
  • If there are issues with your building or the market crashes, it’s hard to sell
  • Buying commercial premises is considered a high-risk investment

Your responsibilities when it comes to commercial property

Whether you buy or rent business premises, you have certain responsibilities under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 when it comes to the overall maintenance of the building and the health and safety of any visitors or employees.

Health and safety risk assessments help you identify and remove any potential hazards. These include fire, electrical and gas safety checks and also asbestos. You’ll need to hire a safety engineer to carry out these checks for you.

Your responsibility is also to keep the property at a reasonable temperature and provide adequate light, facilities, drinking water, and safety equipment. If you own the property, you’re responsible for every aspect of the health and safety act. However, if you rent the premises, your landlord is responsible for the communal and external areas.

Read more about what’s required of you here.


Is it better to rent or buy commercial property?

Commercial property investments are considered high-risk, so most business owners opt to rent or lease a property to save money and reduce risk. This is especially worth it when you’re first starting out and building your business from the ground up. However, if the property is prime real estate in a desirable area and you can afford it, buying it offers several benefits.

How much does it cost to rent a unit?

This entirely depends on the area you’re renting, the size of the unit, and the purpose you’re using it for.

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