You’ve decided to convert an existing building into a new laundry and you’re considering multiple options. So, how do you narrow down the field? Start by eliminating sites that make the buildout process cost prohibitive or unfeasible.
Deal Breaker #1 – Structural Floor Slab
Sometimes good buildings are built on bad dirt. To prevent settling, the building is often built using a structural floor slab. This is not your normal 6” thick concrete floor. It is an intricately designed system of concrete and rebar used to support the building structure. And when you cut into it to build washroom trenches, wastewater pits, and equipment pads, you will undermine the structural integrity of the entire building, and that is a deal breaker.
Deal Maker: Look for buildings with 6” or 8” thick standard floor slab-on-grade.
Deal Breaker #2 – Inadequate Utilities
You probably won’t find a building with enough water, sewer, natural gas or electricity to operate a laundry. And that’s fine as long as adequate utilities are nearby and can be brought to the building. But what if the city water main is too small and cannot supply enough water to operate the laundry? That is a deal breaker.
Deal Maker: Define your utility needs and then verify that adequate utilities are available.
Deal Breaker #3 – High Impact Fees
Just because you can get the proper utilities doesn’t mean you’re in the clear. The local municipality may charge an impact fee for you to connect to their water or sewer systems. If that fee is a couple thousand dollars, then this might be the building for you. But if it’s a million dollars, that might be a deal breaker.
Deal Maker: Provide the local municipality with your projected utility usage and ask them to calculate your expected impact fees.
Deal Breaker #4 – Lack of Proper Zoning
You found a great building, but the location is not zoned for a commercial laundry. Yes, you can try to get the building rezoned. However, that will take months (maybe years), thousands of dollars, and there is no guarantee you will get the needed approvals. Lack of proper zoning is a deal breaker.
Deal Maker: Make sure the building is zoned for commercial laundry use.
Deal Breaker #5 – Low Ceiling Height
You would like to install overhead rail in your new plant. But buildings with 16’ clear heights don’t provide enough overhead space to install efficient, cost effective rail systems. If you want to install a rail system now or in the future, don’t select a building with low ceilings because that is a deal breaker.
Deal Maker: Look for buildings with 24’ clear height or greater.
Remember to do your homework. Focus on locations with high ceilings, adequate utilities, low impact fees, standard floor slabs and proper zoning. And when your broker calls and says, “I found the perfect building! It’s built on a structural slab, but I’m sure we can make it work.”, tell her that is a deal breaker and keep looking.