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What to Watch for When Signing an Office Lease or Purchasing

Whether you own or lease your business space, you should have a good understanding of how corporate spaces work, your responsibility and liability for it, and the maintenance that it requires. In this way, a building is similar to a car - if you’re going to operate it, you should know generally how it works, what to look for, and how to keep it in good condition. A good place to start is to review your contract to know what is included and what is not because it will end up weighing more on you as the tenant.

For example, the efficient operation of your HVAC system has a large impact on the comfort and productivity of you and your staff, the longevity of the equipment, and potential health risks. However, smart money says that you as a small business owner have overlooked this seemingly minor detail, which can actually have a large effect. This advice comes from asset managers for large commercial and industrial portfolios, who also report that HVAC-related issues are the most common problem plaguing property maintenance teams. 

However, it is surprising how many small business owners overlook this detail completely when signing on the dotted line, only to discover months later that they can’t control the thermostat. It is a known practice to install fake thermostats in offices to give staffers the perception of control (some professionals estimate that as much as 90 percent of office thermostats are fake), or to put it behind a locked glass case. In reality, the controls of your company’s HVAC system is hidden in the office air ducts.

Focus on your contract before you sign it, make sure there are clauses for preventative maintenance (this usually includes quarterly filter changes; inspection of belts, fans, and refrigerant pressures; and recording of electrical voltage and amp draws). When comparing spaces and leases, keep in mind the total cost of the space, including HVAC and other maintenance provisions. If your space does not come with a preventative maintenance program, be sure to set aside funds and reach out to an HVAC professional to ensure the quality of your system, to reduce costly damage, and to operate efficiently. Keep in mind the “preventive” care only works if you’re proactive. 

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