Important Tips for Owning Commercial Real Estate
It is no simple thing to own commercial real estate, and anyone who is looking to purchase a piece of commercial property will work with many different agencies and professionals for aid. These may range from property and real estate lawyers all the way to fire protection services to backup generator installation experts to carpenters, plumbers, electricians, and a whole lot more. Still, anyone who can navigate all the involved paperwork may enjoy property ownership, since they can rent out their property for a profit or launch their own business on the premises. In particular, Lawyers will smooth out the paperwork, and they can be called upon if anything goes wrong, such as injuries during construction or the building’s previous owner attempting something dishonest.
Construction and Law
A construction zone is a place for hard hats and orange vests, jackhammers and backhoes. What do lawyers have to do with any of this? Lawyers are vital for any construction project, whether or not any issues or problems arise during this work. An entrepreneur looking to get into commercial construction may hire a lawyer to coordinate the paperwork with each construction company involved, and get everyone on the same page (so to speak) before a single brick or I-beam is put into place. This is common work for a large industry; today across the United States, there are some 50 million commercial properties, and more are being daily. Not to mention how the total construction industry is worth over $1 trillion. Many different workers will be on hand to build a structure, and lawyers can keep all of this work coordinated just fine.
During this stage, lawyers from each involved party will coordinate their efforts to decide who will rent how much equipment or purchase which supplies from where, and divvy up the labor as needed. Lawyers can also help set budgets and timetables to keep the construction project on track, and they may help the crews take out fair and helpful loans to finance the entire project. A commercial electrical company will be involved in this, not to mention air conditioning installation crews, plumbers, concrete contractors, masons, electricians, flooring experts, and more. Having this many teams on the field means laying down paperwork to decide who does what, and how.
Ideally, nothing will go wrong. But suppose a worker is badly or even injured, or property is damaged or broken? Or suppose the project is over budget and behind on schedule? Injured workers can call upon not only their construction crew lawyers but also hire personal injury lawyers to represent them in litigation against any perceived at-fault party. Not all cases go to court, but some will, and every year, construction lawsuits worth tens of millions of dollars will take place. The construction project owner will certainly want a lawyer by their side, in case anyone blames them for the accident or turns to them for a solution or new ideas. In extreme cases, the project might even be terminated, but if a lawyer wrongfully terminates the project, another lawyer can look into the case and see if they can reverse it to get things back on track.
When a building is newly built, or if an older building is recently purchased, expert inspections absolutely must be done — especially when it comes to fire protection. One prominent reason to get professional eyes in that building: preventing fire damage. Not all buildings are built in areas prone to earthquakes or hurricanes, but fires can happen to any building in any climate or terrain type. Every year, fires break out in apartments and hotels, warehouses, hospitals, and even office buildings. Although indoor smoking is largely banned both for health reasons and reducing fire hazards, other hazards are still present, ranging from dropped lighters or candles to exposed electrical wires touching flammable objects (electrical fires are common). And of course, there is the threat of arson, whether by an intruder or an employee.
It is vital that fire alarm systems are put into place and are in good working order. An inspection may reveal one or more sprinklers, fire exit doors, or alarms that are not working correctly, and naturally, this issue must be addressed at once. If a fire sprinkler inspection diagnoses faulty hardware, the building’s owner may simply turn to fire sprinkler installation crews, who will repair or replace missing hardware. Ideally, fire sprinklers will be able to cover any area of the building, and only sprinklers in the burning room(s) will activate. This saves on water and prevents unnecessary water damage in the building. Meanwhile, all fire alarms must be properly wired and go if when needed, and display their lights and sound-alike (the lights are for the benefit of the hearing-impaired). Those alarms must be audible to all areas of the structure, so no one is too late to begin evacuation.
A property owner should also ensure that all designated fire exit doors are clearly marked, open easily, and are not obstructed. Performing fire drills with the staff is a good idea, and fire extinguishers should be accessible and up to date (they can expire after a time). On a related note, the owner should have all electrical wires and devices checked, to find any wires that are frayed and may set off electrical fires. They should be fixed or replaced right away. As a bonus, the owner may also routinely hire scanner/shredder companies to scan and upload paper documents into the server and remove all the shredded paper documents. After all, excessive paper makes for a serious fire hazard.
Property Management: Buying and Selling
Lawyers are not just emergency helpers if something goes wrong. They can and often are hired to assist with routine paperwork within their field of expertise, and hiring them allows paperwork to be done quickly and accurately the first time. Lawyers may also help their clients avoid certain mistakes or pitfalls while navigating paperwork and monetary transactions. What is there to know? While this field is quite complex overall, there are some basic tips to follow when it comes to the actual purchase of commercial property.
First off, the buyer should be certain about their decision to buy and have a clear and concrete idea of what they will do with the property once they own it. In short, they must have a clear “why,” and knowing this can save them a lot of time.
And of course, a buyer should not settle for the first fairly-priced piece of commercial real estate that they find. Thanks to apps, personal tours, and the aid of lawyers, a prospective buyer can visit and evaluate many different properties of varying shapes and sizes, states of repair, and location. In addition to a lawyer’s aid, the buyer may also hire the help of a CPA, or certified personal accountant to smooth out the paperwork.
When the purchase is being made, the buyer should know their options. An inspection of the building will be done, and the buyer should make contingency plans in case the inspection does not turn up good results. That is, the buyer won’t want to end up forced to buy a problematic piece of property. In addition, the buyer is encouraged to become familiar with any related terminology concepts, and even slang terms related to this sort of work, so they are clear on everything that is happening. Also, a buyer may look into why the previous owner is selling the property, to check for any red flags. It may be the case where a desperate previous owner couldn’t keep up with expensive rent or maintenance issues, so they hastily sold the property and fled. The buyer would rather buy a property that was sold for more flattering or conventional reasons, such a the previous owner retiring or getting into an entirely different business or simply changing cities.
Real Estate and Security
This may be more of a concern in some cities or regions than others, and crime rates vary greatly. Overall, though, a new property owner will want to take steps to keep all arsonists, burglars, and other criminals out of the premises and ensure that nothing can be stolen or damaged, tangible or otherwise. What can be done? For one thing, if possible, the owner may hire fencing crews to construct a fence around the property. Such fences may range from wooden fences to chain link fences to brick or stone walls.
There are pros and cons to each wall type. Chain link fences are cheap and easy to see through, but they are also easy for intruders to cut through or climb over. Brick and stone walls are much tougher, but also heavier and more expensive to build, and some local laws might no even allow their construction. If a property owner feels the need, they should build the toughest legal walls that they can afford. And of course, these walls need fences and grates for vehicles and/or people to come in and out, complete with locks. Some may be operated by hand, or motorized.
If building fences or walls is not feasible, or if burglars prove able to circumvent them, then more security measures are encouraged. What can be done? One idea is to hire security professionals, many of whom can be found and hired at personal security firms both large and small. Many security staff are former police officers or military personnel, meaning that they are in good physical shape and know how to use weapons responsibly and handle confrontation. These agents may stand guard outside doors, by fences, patrol the inside, or be placed anywhere they are needed.
Security cameras are also quite helpful, and they can feed video to a staffed monitoring room. Such videos are a fine way to spot dishonest activity either from customers or burglars, and video material can be used as evidence for the police to use. Some premises also make use of motion sensors and audio detectors which, when combined with video cameras, can help detect intruders easily and weed out false alarms. Many tripped alarms turn out to be false alarms, it should be noted.
Finally, solid and secure locks should be used on doors and for safes, such as wall-mounted safes and portable safes, or even filing cabinets. These can hold anything from important documents to cash or expensive electronic goods. Should the owner accidentally lock themselves out of a door or safe, they can hire professional lock picks to help. It is very difficult (by design) to simply break into a safe, and even if that works, the safe is ruined.
Interior Decor and Landscaping
Once a piece of commercial property is built or purchased, and inspections are done and security is put in place, it is time for aesthetics. This is for the benefit of staff and guests alike, and people who spend hours of their time there will want some pleasant environments. Hotels and apartments are known for their homey looks, from their carpeting to lighting fixtures to wallpaper, but it goes beyond that. Comfortable and stylish furniture for guests and staff alike can make a good impression, and decorative items such as fountains, a chandelier, sculptures, framed artwork, potted plants, and ambient music can make quite a difference.
Guests will feel welcome and at ease, and the staff may actually feel more creative and inspired. Studies confirm that creative visual elements, such as potted plants and artwork and even innovative arrangements of desks and tables, can make workers feel more creative and inspired. Art consultants can be hired to help choose which art pieces to set up, and local amateur artists might get this chance to have their works displayed for all to see. Doctor’s offices, libraries, retailers, law firms, and more can be decorated like this, and to good effect.
Don’t forget the outside, which may also need some decorating. Aside from signs and lighting for security and to make the premises more visible to guests/consumers, landscaping can make the outside feel welcoming and pleasant to all visitors. Professional landscapers can remove unwanted tree stumps or brush, and they can smooth out the ground, plant fresh grass, and even create ponds or dig foundations for fountains. Landscapers may also set up stone or concrete pathways, set up LED light fixtures, plant bushes and trees, and even create gardens with low stone or brick walls. Bark dust can be arranged around bushes and trees both for aesthetics, and to protect the soil from erosion and weed growth.
Buying, building, inspecting, repairing, and owning commercial real estate is a veritable maze of paperwork, expenses, and meetings, but it can absolutely be done, and skilled lawyers and real estate agents are exactly the guides a buyer can rely on to begin their new investment. Everything from security cameras and outdoor greenery to fire sprinklers and floorboards should be accounted for, to make a property that is safe, attractive, and valuable to work in and own for years to come.