Leasing, Buying or Selling Real Estate? An Architect Can Help!

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Just about every day, real estate brokers, asset managers and their clients contact our firm for assistance with commercial property transactions. As licensed professionals with up-to-date market and construction experience, architects bring a unique perspective and valuable experience to a client’s real estate team.

On the seller or owner side of a real estate transaction, experienced architects can offer creative solutions to update or improve a building’s aesthetic appeal and make it more marketable, as well as suggest energy upgrades to lower operating costs. On the buyer or lessee side, we can foresee building and land-use challenges, potential permitting issues and unexpected construction costs. We can also offer analysis to make sure a building or space meets a potential buyer or user’s needs and requirements.

Specific services architects can provide real estate brokers and their clients include:

1. Building Owner and Manager Association (BOMA) measurements and calculations. BOMA sets the national standard for measuring leasable space. Having an accurate measurement meanslandlords capture all rentable square footage, and tenants pay the correct amount, not more or less.

2. Space planning. Do you need room for 10 employees and a conference room, but you’re not sure everyone will fit into the space you’re about to lease? A quick sketch from an architect can help put your mind at ease or help you determine the square footage required for your use.

3. Color schemes, materials and interior design. Architecture firms that offer interior design services can help improve a dated building by selecting new paint colors, fixtures, lighting, floor coverings, casework (cabinetry), furniture and artwork. An architect and trained interior-design team can make a big impact on the look and feel of the space, sometimes with a minimal investment.

4. Due diligence. By state law, cities and counties have the legal authority to restrict property use, building size and even itsexterior look through zoning and development ordinances. State building codes also specify which uses within the same building are compatible, when a building needs fire suppressionsprinklers, and allowed construction types(e.g., wood framed, steel, concrete). Knowing these requirements ahead of time can help you determine if a property and building will accommodate your business.

5. As-built drawings. “As-builts” are building plans drafted after a building has been constructed or remodeled. Often, construction documents or plans are lost or unavailable over time, or a building has changed through remodeling. An architect can measure, draft and document the building “as it is (or has been) built.” This gives the building owner or tenant accurate information for building management,future improvements or BOMA calculation verification.

6. Budgeting and construction costs. New developments and remodels have many associatedcosts, including city fees, system development charges (SDCs), professional services and construction. Architects are trained to put all the pieces together to create a project budget.

7. Contractor referrals. As architects, we work with contractors every day and can offer referrals to a selection of contractors best suited for your project. Just like architects can have specific areas of expertise, many commercial contractors also have specialty knowledge related specific building types. For example, using a contractor with experience building highly technical medical spaces often leads to fewer unexpected costs and delays during construction. We’re happy to make those recommendations and help with contractor interviews and selection.

8. Commercial building-condition survey and report. Similar to a home inspection, a buyer needs to know the current condition of a building and if any maintenance or replacement is needed beforefinalizing the purchase. An architect can perform a building survey and document the age and condition of the building components and make recommendations so you know what to expect. Additionally, an architect can develop a list of items that need future replacement and their anticipated replacement cost, so your property manager can calculated the necessary reserve for replacement. And if you plan to do any remodeling, you’ll need to perform an “accessibility barrier removal survey” and plan for the removal of any barriers.

Commercial real estate transactions vary in scope and complexity. No matter the type, adding an architect to your real estate team can help increase a property’s value or ensure it meets a buyer or lessor’s needs.

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About Author

Seth Anderson of Ascent Architecture and Interiors

Seth Anderson, NCARB, LEED AP, is a member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and serves as extra-territorial director for the AIA Southwestern Oregon chapter and an AIA Oregon delegate. His specialty interests include building-enclosure design and investigation; code compliance; and energy-efficient design. Anderson is dedicated to serving his clients and colleagues through continuing education and improvements to the practice of architecture. He coordinates the daily activities of the team at Ascent Architecture & Interiors and is a licensed architect in Oregon, Washington, California, Arizona and Texas.

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