When looking for an industrial property that’s suitable for a warehouse or distribution center, there are several things to keep in mind. You’ll not only want to make sure that the square footage and clear ceiling height will work for your application, but also that you can get occupancy.
With buying or leasing an industrial property comes documentation. An important thing to keep in mind is that it’s easier to get the required documentation when the building owner or agent is in the process of trying to lease the property.
To help simplify and organize the pre-lease process, here’s a checklist of what you need in order to get a business license and high-piled storage permit:
[ √ ] You’ll need to know what you will be storing and which commodity classifications will apply. This information will be required at the time of permitting.
[ √ ] A completed fire code application, including drawings. All answers will be provided by the building owner or agent. This should include pictures of sprinkler mains, risers, original permits, sprinkler heads, and data plates.
[ √ ] Accurate drawings of the building, preferably in .dwg or .dxf cad files. Also, a separate drawing in color of the overall building showing exactly the area that you will be occupying.
[ √ ] Original drawings of the building permit showing accurate information on slab thickness and compressive strength, provided by the building owner. If drawings aren’t available, you’ll need a structural engineer to sample the floor and document thickness, reinforcement, condition, and soil compaction.
Why is all of this information and documentation necessary? In order to apply for a business license to operate your warehouse or distribution center, you’ll need to provide this information to engineers, architects, fire protection professionals, warehouse layout and design specialists, and the governing building department for permitting.
It’s best to have all of these ready before you sign the lease in order to avoid a surprise or delay, as well as the expense of gathering the information yourself. If you have these basic items, the permitting process will usually take 4 to 6 weeks. If you have to gather these items yourself it will add additional weeks and building department frustrations.
Here’s a step-by-step process for getting the permitting needed to occupy and operate a high-piled storage facility:
[ √ ] Start with a qualified warehouse layout and design specialist to provide overhead layouts of pallet racking, work platforms, shelving, or pick modules in the same building CAD file that shows all of the building details, such as all doors and restrooms. Elevation profile drawings will need to be done for each different profile.
[ √ ] Next, an architect will look at the drawing to determine if the layout and the building comply with fire codes and occupancy. A signed letter by the architect stating that the design is compliant will be required.
[ √ ] A structural engineer will then need to review all proposed material information to determine if the system as designed will be structurally sound. The engineer will review all manufacturer information, model numbers, and condition (new or used). If not all parts are from the same manufacturer, individual parts will be reviewed. The engineer will then review the slab thickness and soil compaction drawings and, if all information is acceptable, the drawings and a letter will be stamped by a state-approved P.E.
[ √ ] Next, a fire protection professional must confirm that the sprinkler system is adequate for high-piled storage systems and for your commodity class. If it’s not, the storage system must be modified (this could mean engineering in rack sprinklers or fire baffles).
[ √ ] Finally, a building permit application to the proper building code authority must be delivered along with all of the signed documents for review. It can be 2 to 3 weeks before the authority completes the review and either gives approval or requests revisions. Permit fees are paid at the time of permit pick up.
The Takeaway: Plan for Permitting Before You Lease
Not all areas of the country will require you to provide each of these documents, but as time goes on it’s becoming increasingly common to need all of them. My advice would be to plan for all of the information gathering you can and to contact any building authority before signing a lease. I hope this is helpful and saves you time and money in your search for a new warehouse. If you’d like some help along the way, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Our Systems Design Specialists have years of experience helping clients transition from the early planning stages to a fully optimized storage facility.