Top questions to ask when looking for industrial space

If your company receives, manufactures, ships, or stores physical products, then you are going to need to look for warehouse space, whether through a third-party logistics company or decide to rent or own your own space. However, before you start searching, it's essential that you determine what your business' specific needs are when it comes to warehouse space, because not every space has the same infrastructure—for example, not all can accommodate 18-wheeler deliveries, or the building can’t support the 40-ton crane that you need. Keep in mind, leasing the wrong space can cost you thousands, so you and your broker should do your due diligence—don't just rely on what the landlord's listing agent tells you. 

Once you have a notion of your ideal size, layout, location, and budget, you are ready to begin your warehouse search and start touring spaces.  Here are a few questions that can get you started in zeroing in the right property.

  1. What is the zoning? You need to ensure the property is zoned for warehouse use. Remember to look into the Property’s jurisdiction, as there are places where there is no zoning (i.e. Houston, Harris County, for example), but might have different codes or requirements.

  2. What is the currently approved use? If the property was previously approved for warehouse & distribution use, and your use is manufacturing, it’s likely that you will need to apply for a change of use permit. Again, check your jurisdiction for details.

  3. What electrical power is available? If you're a manufacturing business, then you probably need a lot more electrical power than average (like 3-phase, 600 Amp).

  4. What is the clear height? If you want to maximize your ability to store products, then you need high ceilings. Do you need special vents, intakes or other roof equipment? Jot that down too.

  5. Is the building crane-served or crane-ready? Depending on your business, you might need special machinery (and building) to - literally - do the heavy lifting. Verify the number of cranes, tonnage, maintenance logs, etc.

  6. What type of loading is available? Does the space have grade level or dock high loading? If you're expecting deliveries via 18-wheeler trucks, then you need dock high. If using rail-served warehouses, what’s the distance to the spur?

  7. How big is the land you can use? You might need outside storage, or just need enough space to make sure your 18-wheeler can to back in or is able to turn around. Also important is to find out if you can park your cars overnight, due to local regulations, your landlord’s own rules, or just for safety awareness.

  8. Is the warehouse sprinklered? Not every warehouse has sprinklers, but you may be required to have them depending on your business.

These questions are just a start, but it’s important that you go into tours well prepared and ready to evaluate specifics that revolve around your business.