Finding and moving into new premises

Your premises are, arguably, the second most important asset your business has (after your workers).

Customers and visitors will get an initial impression from the exterior and surroundings, plus it will house essential equipment, materials and stock so you need to be able to rely upon it. Use our 'Business impact assessment' tool to get an idea of just how vital your premises are to your operations. You’ll also find guidance relating to planning for events that cause the premises to become inaccessible.

Most of the time, you’ll be purchasing or leasing a site that is already constructed, and so you need to look out for features that might not be suitable for your business activities, or, on the other hand, that are necessary for safe operations. Additionally, you’ll want to check for environmental dangers in the form of flooding, subsidence, heave, exposure, pollution, noise, crime rates and other potential threats to health, safety and security.

Once you’ve found the site that best suits your needs, you’ll need to assess what features or enhancements must be added to make it as safe and secure as possible and get them installed by competent people.

  • Get a property assessment carried out by a suitably qualified surveyor that has experience with similar sites and who is familiar with the activities that will be taking place when you have moved in.

    - If you believe the site might be at particular risk from flooding, you can request the flooding history of the property from the Environment Agency.
  • If you are getting premises built, extended, altered or renovated specifically for your business, you’ll have the advantage of being able to get certain features or specific materials incorporated in the construction.

    - Doing this is much more economical than introducing hazard controls after or during completion of building work, and those built-in features may also be more effective than retrospective measures at limiting the likelihood, or at least reducing the magnitude, of health and safety and property damage incidents.

    - Make sure that your architect takes into account the advice contained in the RISCAuthority Design Guide: Essential Principles.
  • Wherever internal access covers to drains or sewers can’t be avoided, use covers which are designed to resist the force from a flooded drain below.
  • Consider how the roof will cope if there is a torrential downpour and high winds. The ability of different roof styles and roofing materials to resist the elements can vary greatly.
  • Where possible, avoid building designs that have sloping ground running down towards door openings, even if a drain or gully is placed outside it.
  • Make sure that the electrical installations and utility supplies, including internet connectivity, will be suitable for your needs.
  • Evaluate fire prevention, protection and safety measures to identify where improvements need to be made, in general and to accommodate for your business activities.

    - Building Regulations are only intended to address minimum life safety needs and don’t consider property and asset protection issues, nor the many fire hazards that your business activities or tenants may create. You should therefore pay particular attention to these areas when considering what risk control features should be added.

    - Automatic sprinkler systems are an excellent way of protecting both property and lives, particularly in larger and high-rise buildings. However, the design cannot properly be completed until it is known how each space will be used.

    Review fire safety measures once the building is occupied and supplement or complement them as necessary for the revised fire risk level.
  • Check the crime rates in the area using reputable sources, such as the Police.uk crime map.
  • Seek security advice from the local police Architectural Liaison Officer (ALO), Crime Prevention Design Advisor (CPDA) or Designing Out Crime Officer (DOCO)
  • Where the building(s) will stand within their own grounds, strong, high perimeter walls or security fencing and gates, accompanied by security lighting, should be included in the design.

    - Install barriers and other features that make it more difficult for unauthorised vehicles to enter the grounds of your properties, particularly outside business hours.
Find information on regulations that you and your business may need to comply with.
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