Small Business Office Advice

Business Office Buildout Mistakes

Office buildout mistakes can turn your dream office into a nightmare. Here are some common buildout errors you'll want to avoid.

The buildout of your new leased office space will be one of the most important parts of the move.

Business Office Buildout Mistakes

Since your success will depend largely on your ability to shape the space to accommodate your business' needs, you can't afford to make any big mistakes . . . and the best way to avoid mistakes is to know what they are before you make them.

It's important to begin planning your buildout during the search for a new space. Even though you can't finalize your design until you have selected the space you will occupy, a general design concept will focus your search and expedite the buildout process once you have closed the deal. In fact, planning and foresight are your best resource for avoiding the five most common buildout mistakes.

Failure to Negotiate Favorable Terms

The cost of an office buildout is always a point of negotiation with the landlord. Many entrepreneurs automatically assume they will be responsible for shouldering the entire cost of retrofitting their new space. However, landlords commonly pay for at least part of the costs, especially if the improvements significantly enhance the value of the property or are required to bring the space up to code.


Moving into a new space is exciting. It's easy to get so caught up in the excitement that you find yourself spending beyond the parameters of your buildout budget. But while improvements in owned space can provide a net benefit for the business' balance sheet, improvements in leased space have no benefit beyond giving your business the ability to function effectively. Remember: When the lease term expires, you will move to a new space, leaving your improvements behind for the next tenant, so be cautious about over-building the space.


Although some tenants invest too much capital in a leased space, others don't invest enough. Since it is leased space, some business owners are tempted to go cheap on the buildout. But if you have committed to a multi-year lease, you need to make sure your buildout materials will last for the entire lease term. Unless you don't mind the same space again in a year or two, resist the urge to under-build and instead focus on achieving a build-out that is appropriate for the amount of time you expect to be in the space.

Violates Lease Conditions

Your improvements seem reasonable to you, but are they acceptable to your landlord? The time to discuss your buildout plans with your landlord is before you commit to a lease. To further safeguard your buildout plans, make sure the lease documents explicitly define improvement restrictions and, if possible, include an addendum describing the improvements you plan to make.

Failure to Comply with Codes & Zoning

Like any other building project, your improvements must comply with local building codes and zoning restrictions. Smart tenants make a point of discussing their plans with local building inspectors before they lock themselves into the lease.

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