In almost every project we have been involved with, the need for more laboratory space has been a major driver in the quest for a new or renovated facility or space. In addition to new construction or renovation, leasing laboratory space can be a relatively quick and cost effective way to gain more space. However, it has its own issues and isn’t always the inexpensive option it may seem. This article will discuss some of the pros and cons of leasing laboratory space and will ask some questions which can help you determine if it will work for you.
One major advantage of leasing space is the vast reduction of upfront costs. A new building is expensive, and most of that expense is in the upfront costs: purchasing land, hiring a design team, and paying the contractor to construct the new building. Renovations may have other upfront costs. The major cost impact of leasing space is in the monthly lease payments. There may be some initial costs to leasing, (especially if you need to remodel the space) but it should not be comparable to building new. Even these costs may be non-existent if your landlord is willing to fit out the space, depending on the terms of your lease.
The second advantage of leasing can be how fast you can occupy the space. This advantage depends heavily on the type of space you are leasing. If you are leasing space which is designed for laboratory activities—it has the HVAC systems in place to support fume hoods for example—you may be able to relocate quickly. If you are leasing space not designed for laboratory activities, for example, converting office space into laboratory space, it may take longer for the space to be ready, possibly not any more quickly than had you waited for a renovation or a new facility to be ready.
There are some disadvantages to leasing laboratory space. One disadvantage is the on-going costs. Month after month you will be paying rent to your landlord. It may be five years, it may be ten, but there will come a time when the amount of money you have paid to lease space could have purchased a new building or equaled the cost of an addition or renovation.
Another disadvantage of moving into leased space is the lack of ability you might have to make changes to the space. For example, as a process evolves or you purchase new instrumentation you may need to add a sink or lab gas supply fixture to your space. Your landlord may not allow you to alter the space in this way.