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This is very important question as most commercial tenants overlook these details and then some construction items end up being a tenant cost. Different landlords will offer different base building shells, so the following are just general guidelines. Be sure that you are clear on what the your landlord is delivering to you before you start spending your tenant inducement allowance.
If the premises is to be demised, ensure that the landlord will divide the space, complete with a floor plan, and that the demising wall is not just drywall - it is a fire rated demising that that rises up to the concrete ceiling of the space - not just up to the T-bar ceiling.
It is normal for the landlord to remove the existing flooring - carpet, carpet tile, hardwood flooring and any type of tiles. You should receive the space with a polished concrete floor (or hardwood floor in the case of a "post and beam" building (otherwise known as loft space)).
For conventional office buildings, the landlord typically provides a dropped T-bar ceiling. These are the tiles that you see in most office buildings that form a uniform ceiling, usually at 8 or 9 feet above the floor. You can push the tiles up and see that the lights are suspended from the concrete above the tiles. This ceiling solution hides wires, pipes and cabling.
A landlord typically states that "building standard window dressing" will be provided. Ensure you inspect whatever type of blinds that means. There are some buildings that do not come with blinds, so ensure that you ask what types of blinds or shades are included.
It may be useful to have an HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) specialist advise you on what you should be looking for. The lease should have a "comfortable use" clause, and sometimes get specific enough to state temperature ranges that the landlord must be able to achieve. You will want to know about VAV (variable air volume) so you can control the volume of air.
HVAC units are typically measured in tons, meaning the amount of air they can process (for example, 5 ton HVAC units vs 10 ton units). The important elements are the tonnage of the HVAC units, their age, and that they can meet current ASHRAE standards (they are the association who governs indoor air quality).
Most landlords state that they will provide you the space with HVAC duct work that allows air flow for an open concept plan.
This is fair, as it provides a baseline - they will cover the cost of the bare minimum, and if you are 100% open concept then there is no extra duct work cost. If you are building multiple offices, additional duct work has to be added to supply air to those offices
Be sure to remember what the landlord-s base building light are.
Most conventional office buildings are T5 fluorescent tube lighting. If the previous tenant of the space had specialty lighting installed and you like it, be sure to state that the landlord will retain that lighting. Does the clause state how many bulbs per square foot will be installed, or is there a measurement on the illumination of the space?
Does it state a watts per square foot promise? For example, two watts per square foot for general tenant power, 1 watt per square foot for lighting and 2 watts per square foot of spare capacity for a total power capacity of 5 watts per square foot.
Additionally you should have a clause that says that the landlord warrants that they can deliver electrical capacity to suit your floor plan (which shows the number of work areas).
Is the building sprinklered? If so there should be mention that the sprinklers are working and up to current building codes, and that all sprinklers are the same make and type.
Other Items for the Rest of the Building:
Are they barrier free and in compliance with all current accessibility codes? What are the finishes for the vanities and sinks? Was it negotiated that they would be upgraded? Are they hands-free, with infrared controls on basins and urinals? Are the toilets water saving with dual flush options?
There should be a list of existing telecommunications providers that service the building.
It should state the number of elevators, age and model. You can find out more information about elevators here.
Dead load factor allows you to understand how strong the floors are and their ability to withstand heavy equipment. Live loading is the number of people you can have on the floor.
Is there a back up generator for the building? If so, it should state its capacity in kilowatts, and the length of time it can provide power (for example, 8 hours of fuel).
Best of luck with your negotiation and if you want us to review your offer to lease and your landlord's base building shell schedule, we are happy to help with an online commercial lease review.