Whether your company is seeking a more convenient location for your clients and customers, your building does not contain the required amenities, or you have simply outgrown your current space, you need to be able to estimate the amount of time required to change offices to know when to start the process. Finding the right property, packing your equipment and executing a move may take longer than you think, so it is important to prepare your office move timeline. Here, we provide you with a general formula that allows you to plan for your move with the help of your commercial broker.

STAGE 1: SEARCH: IDENTIFYING RELOCATION OPTIONS, SCHEDULING TOURS AND TOURING SELECTED PROPERTIES (ABOUT 4 WEEKS)

Start by identifying growth projections, location and layout preferences, budget, timing and other elements that may affect your choice of relocation options. This is a good time to create your office move checklist to make sure you are proceeding according to your business plan. Your broker will send you property options based on your criteria, you will choose your favorites and your broker will schedule tours of the selected properties. Allow time for potential revision to the search criteria. You may not initially know exactly what type of space you need and your broker is there to guide you to the right final solution.

STAGE 2: PROPOSAL: SUBMITTING PROPOSALS AND NEGOTIATING TERMS (3 TO 4 WEEKS)

Once you have narrowed your search to three or four prospects, your broker will submit a formal RFP (request for proposal) to each leasing agent. The leasing agent with ownership approval will generate a proposal based on the requested terms. Make sure to include any special provisions that you would like included in your lease (i.e. The number of visitor or reserved parking spaces needed, expansion rights or any special technological or cabling requirements). During this stage of the office move timeline, you will work with an architect to design a space that is best-suited for your business needs. When you have approved a layout, the architect will generate pricing plans that reflect the details of the buildout. These plans will guide your broker in estimating the amount of tenant improvement allowance to request from the landlord, which reduce or eliminate out-of-pocket improvement costs for your company.

STAGE 3: LEASE NEGOTIATION: LEASE DRAFTING BY LANDLORD’S LEGAL TEAM, LEASE NEGOTIATION AND TIME FOR COUNSELS TO SUBMIT DOCUMENTS (6 WEEKS)

Your submitted proposal has been accepted by the landlord. The landlord’s counsel will now begin to draft a lease document. Time to completion for this step may vary, depending on the location and the attorneys’ other responsibilities. You and your landlord have already arrived at a general lease agreement, but specific terms now need to be negotiated through your broker and respective attorneys. These negotiations are designed to ensure that you, the tenant, are protected and granted certain rights from the landlord and vice versa. Why does this process sometimes require more than a month? Lease negotiation is often dependent upon attorneys’ schedule and workload. Patience is an absolute requirement during this step. Consider working on your office move checklist during this period.

STAGE 4: EXECUTION: PARTIAL AND FULL EXECUTION OF THE LEASE (1 WEEK)

You and the landlord finalize your lease documents. Your negotiations are complete, and you are ready to execute the lease with your signatures. Tenants are responsible for signing all necessary documents and returning them to the landlord for a countersignature. In some cases, this is when the security deposit is made and insurance is provided.

STAGE 5: SPACE PLANNING AND DESIGN: CONSTRUCTION DRAWINGS AND MEPS (2.5 WEEKS)

Your lease has been fully executed, but you are not necessarily ready to move into the new office quite yet. You have likely negotiated for some changes to the workspace to suit your business needs. A contractor is selected and approved by both you and the landlord. The architect begins working on construction documents (CDs). CDs also include mechanical, electrical and plumbing plans (MEPs) for any required changes and permitting. It is wise to start architectural plans in the proposal stage.

STAGE 6: CONSTRUCTION PRICING 2.0: RE-BID OF TI WORK(1 TO 2 WEEKS)

As soon as the CDs and MEPs are complete, they are sent to the selected contractor, who will obtain an accurate construction bid for the changes to your property.

STAGE 7: PERMITTING: APPLICATION AND APPROVAL OF BUILDING PERMIT (8 TO 12 WEEKS)

The City of Houston generally requires 60 to 90 days to approve construction permits. Larger and more complicated buildouts generally come with longer wait times.

STAGE 8: CONSTRUCTION (1 TO 6 MONTHS)

Now that you have the lease, the final bid from your contractor and an approved building permit, it is time to begin construction. This step has the potential to eat up a large chunk of your office move timeline, especially if you are planning a complex multi-floor buildout that features unique finishes or custom designs. Be sure that you have clearly delineated construction deliverable dates in your contract. We cannot overemphasize the importance of remaining vigilant throughout the buildout, so your office relocation timeline is not compromised.

STAGE 9: MOVE IN: CABLING AND FURNITURE INSTALLATION (1 TO 4 WEEKS DEPENDING ON SIZE – MULTIPLE FLOORS REQUIRE MORE TIME)

Your new office is now finished, per your approval and the delivery of a certificate of occupancy from the city. Now, you can begin executing your office relocation checklist by moving equipment into the building and organizing your space.

PLAN AHEAD FOR SUCCESS WITH YOUR OFFICE MOVE TIMELINE.

If you anticipate needing a new office location, you may start planning up to a year in advance, depending on your operational needs. Remember that this process generally is not as successful if it is rushed. Work with your broker, construction professionals and employees to create complete plans for your move. Removing uncertainty from the process will speed your office relocation timeline, giving you the peace of mind you need as you move forward with your strategic vision. Read our blog to learn more about commercial real estate.

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