The answer is as early as possible, and certainly with at least 18 months prior to your existing lease ending or the expiry of your break clause. 

“18 months you say?”

Yes, absolutely! Whilst it can be done sooner, 18 months is a more realistic target which will allow your business adequate time to prepare, plan and implement your strategy, without undue pressure. 

Where to start

A good place to start when seeking new premises is to have a chat with a commercial agent who is experienced in what you are looking for - both in terms of the location but also the type of property. 

They will help you to think about some of the key considerations and motivations for your move, such as a change in work culture or a move to more agile working. 

Yes, a move can be a time of upheaval both for staff and the wider business, but it can also be a very exciting time and a catalyst for positive change for all involved.

Importance of working relationships 

When looking for a commercial agent, you want someone who is both knowledgeable and experienced, whilst being easy to work with, as they will be the person who will join you throughout your property journey. 

From your initial brief to the agent right through to completion, you should only have to deal with one main point of contact – someone who knows what is happening at every stage of the process and can advise you accordingly.

Once your agent is instructed

Once you have an agent on board, you should be sent details of the available property options that meet you brief. 

From here you decide which ones you want to view – whether just two properties, or 18, it’s entirely up to you. It’s important to make sure you get exactly what you want. You will know what you like and suits your needs.

From here, a short list is then drawn up. 

However, if you can't find anything right for you, change a few of the parameters and ask your agent to search again until the right option (or only available option) is identified. 

Due diligence 

This is where you need to do your homework and the advice of an expert is vital. 

Will the move impact your staff? Will there be any required contractual changes?

This is the time for your agent to negotiate the Heads of Terms with the landlord or their agent. 

It involves considerations such as rent, business rates and service charges, but should also cover lease break options, rent review clauses and pre-acquisition surveys to look at the roof, mechanical and electrical services. 

A Schedule of Condition on the property should also be carried out. This documents the property’s condition before you moved in and will be the reference point for any future dilapidations. A building surveyor should undertake this for you.

To ensure that you get the best possible deal here, it’s important to seek the advice of a professional who can negotiate your position. 

Once Heads of Terms are agreed, solicitors can then crack on with the lease and you can plan the logistics of the move. 

Planning the move

What needs to be done to fit the new building out to meet your needs? 

There are lots of firms who are able to work with you to design and build the space with whatever is required but keep a hand on the budget. 

Consider employing a Project Manager to take away the pain of fit out, so that you can focus on your day job and think about whether you need to obtain the licences for alterations to the property from the landlord. 

Finally, think about the hours during which the fit out work can be carried out as this can impact on your timescales to move. 

Don’t forget your existing obligations 

You’re nearly there, but one important thing not to forget are your obligations under the terms of your existing lease as you may need to sort out dilapidations here. Again, a building surveyor can help you with this. 

This might result in a cash settlement with your landlord for any dilapidations, or you may have to undertake some remedial work. 

Remember to leave time and budget for these works to be done.

Time to sign 

Once you’ve got all your ducks in a row, it’s time to sign your new lease and, once your fit out is complete, get moving to your new business home. 

As with any move, there can often be some bumps in the road, but with good preparation, and professional property advice, moving commercial home needn’t be a stressful or costly experience. 

For help and advice in relation to making your next property move, get in touch with our building consultancy team, who will protect your interests throughout your property lifecycle.