Size Matters in Your New Lease

How to determine the right square footage when looking for a new commercial space?

This is a question asked by companies looking to relocate their business and who maybe have difficulties within their current space. Their space is no longer working with the current needs of the company, the functions have changed or the company has grown out of the space, the space is old and needs to change in keeping with the cultural and functional needs of the company. Either way, they need a new location, an expansion, or a renovation to the existing space to gain back space that has not been being used efficiently. They could be looking at a lease renewal, the end of a lease, or a new line of business to start this process.

At Synergy Interior Design, we start by having discussions with our clients on beliefs, philosophy, principles and open-mindedness to change. These values then become the foundation of the project. Working towards a spatial analysis of our client’s needs provides the final square footage required for the new space.

We work with them to establish standards for each job function which includes workstation and office sizes for each type of work performed in the organization with as much detail as possible for workstation size, type and size of the furniture, the number of visitor chairs, list of equipment and special needs for workspace. We then generate plans of the workstations and offices to determine the best suitability standards for each type of staff. This is the time to decide if each staff needs a private office, an open area bench system or more standard panel workstations which offer semi-privacy. Is the staff working in collaboration or do they need privacy for 50% of the day? What percentage of the day is staff out of the office? Maybe desk sharing is something that will work. We dig deep into these issues to ensure our clients receive the correct results. What is decided here will determine how much space is needed.

For areas that are listed as common, such as filing, storage, office supplies, equipment areas, mailrooms, we inventory the existing storage units and determine with staff how much is needed for next year to match the growth of the business plans. We again generate floor plans to determine the suitable amount of space required.

Helping to analyze the types of spaces required for common office functions like team meeting areas, lunchrooms, private space for confidential conversations, we rely on the client’s values and principles. We discuss new ideas for office space and what is happening in the market regarding furniture trends to help the client move from what they have to what might work better for them. We assess if the client is ready to make changes.

Code compliance items that need to be included may include a vestibule, egress, bathrooms and circulation. These items need to be determined with a professional who is knowledgeable with the building code, like a professional interior designer. The total occupancy of the space will determine the number of egress points and how they are designed, along with the number of bathrooms required. Accessibility is a focal point with code revisions and requires many detailed dimensions to pass the permit and inspection phases. It is also important to remember that the correct square footage needs to be included in the spatial analysis, if the washrooms are not in a common building area and are part of the tenant's space.

Circulation is added as a percentage of total space needs. We provide this number based on the building type the tenant or owner is looking for. With heritage buildings and large wood beams, the circulation space may need to be larger than a building with no columns. An expert professional with years of experience can determine the best figure for the mark up of the space.

Room sheets can also be developed at this time to include all pertinent information on each space. This works hand in hand with the spatial analysis, however in a great deal more detail. Items included would be room occupancy type, the number of people to occupy the room, finishes for floors, and walls, acoustical requirements, electrical and data needs, lighting and security requirements, quality of materials, custom millwork needs, aesthetics, and more. These sheets can then be the start of the budget process and can be translated into a Class D budget.

We recommend working with either a three-year, five-year or ten-year forecast on the business to determine the growth factor and include that number of workstations and offices to match the lease term of the space. It is best to tie the business projections into the lease, to help determine the amount of space required for the life of the lease. Having spent over a decade working alongside a real estate department and working from coast to coast to coast, we at Synergy Interior Design have an in-depth knowledge of the importance of tying the spatial analysis to the business plan.

This is a wise way to help determine the correct amount of space to lease or purchase.

Along with the functional requirements for the business, items like columns, wall thicknesses and common circulation space needs to be calculated into the total rental space. An understanding of BOMA standard measurements which will determine the space for the lease will help the client understand that space rented in not just the interior dimensions.

After this work is completed, it is important to have a block plan done to determine the fit of the list of requirements for the building floor plan. This match is never exact, but a block plan or fit plan will certainly help determine how suitable the space is for your needs. These are plans that show only square footage of the space for each function and no real level of detail. Items like the shape of the space, window mullion spacing, columns, and egress points all affect the layout of the block plan and your final floor plan design. If the block plan works well, you know your space can be right for you.

By following these important steps, which as one client stated seem to be the “lackluster” part of design, we ensure our client's design solutions are a reflection of tenacity and integrity in the quest toward meeting their needs, providing the foundation, and making their dreams come true for the perfect interior design solution.