A company’s work space is a valuable commodity. It’s an integral part of how a company does business. It needs to be functional for efficient operations. It needs to fit the culture your company is looking to cultivate. The brand you’re building. Moving into a space that requires customization is a natural part of any company’s growth or downsizing process. However, it also comes with a need for foresight and preparation to avoid costly yet all too common mistakes. Here are four things to consider if you want to crush your tenant improvement project.

Ask Yourself Who You Are & Where You’re Going

Let’s face it. Companies change and evolve all the time. Some do so in a reactive state. Others go about it strategically in a more structured way. When it comes to leasing a new space, you need to step back and take a good long hard look at who your company is and where it’s going. If there’s any whiff of uncertainty, take this as an indicator that a shorter lease duration is your best bet.

Meanwhile, if there’s the promise of growth, or a strategic growth plan in place, consider the space’s expansion capabilities. If you find a space capable of accommodating planned growth, don’t hesitate to lock it in now at a longer lease term.

As you view a property, try to envision how it will fit your employees. Make sure there’s sufficient space for employee amenities, welcoming guests, circulation space, and growth. Although the era of assigned work desks is somewhat passe now, millennial workers still require space for collaborative work as well as privacy and leisure. It’s easy to overlook trends like this when assessing square footage per person.

DO NOT Skim Through the Lease

You need to avoid any future, “The lease says whaaaaaat!?” surprises. First, try to give yourself at least six months before projected occupancy to allow the lease process to play out. There needs to be sufficient time to review what’s in the lease, make necessary changes to language and terms and complete tenant improvements prior to occupancy.

If possible, work with a tenant broker or your own legal representation to make sure you’re getting a fair deal. Leases are almost always first presented in the best interests of the landlord. After you sign, there’s typically no “bending” to terms. The jargon can be complex and confusing. It’s good to have an expert review the lease’s language and terms – there’s much more to it than merely agreeing to a monthly rent. Is the tenant improvement allowance realistic? Can it be used for fixtures and furniture or “hard construction” only? A professional can help you understand terms and make sense of it all.

Remember the Devil is in the Details

PRIOR to signing your lease, be sure to walk through the proposed floor plan and carefully assess the scope of work and details. Attention to detail is absolutely critical if you want your tenant improvement completed on time and on budget. Any change that comes after a deal has been agreed to is going to cost both time and money. For instance, adding an office or moving a wall may not seem like a big add-on. But both can create logistical nightmares – from an engineering perspective to acquiring additional building permits. This could set you back weeks or even months. This is why it’s important to have the desired layout set before construction begins. Your architect and tenant improvement contractor need to be committed to this as well.

Remember You Always Have Options

Sometimes a great idea isn’t always within your budget. You need to carefully evaluate the cost and benefit of any improvement you’re considering BEFORE construction begins. Some upgraded finishes or build outs may be more necessary than say a nap pod or company gym. What you NEED is more important than what you WANT. Always remember that when it comes to tenant improvements.