Finding the Right Property for Your Business (Part II)

Finding the right location for your business is a difficult process, there’s no doubt about that.

In the last article we covered three vital considerations you need to work through to find the right space for your business. 

These included:

  • Visibility
  • Accessibility 
  • Zoning

Now, let’s take an in-depth look at:

  • Use
  • Infrastructure and Servicing
  • Developing Bare Land vs. Upgrading Existing

A quick review

Before we go further, let’s quickly review the last article to remind us of what we’ve covered:

Visibility is important to most businesses (but not to all). To find the best visibility for your business, you need to know where your clients are, so you can make sure they see you.

Accessibility covers every person who has a touchpoint with your business, from clients to employees and service staff like delivery drivers. However, depending on your business, one group may take precedence over the other two. So, it’s important to understand who is the most important group accessing your business, and how you can accommodate them.

Zoning is based on governmental regulations that stipulate which businesses can operate in which areas of town, and what can be done with the buildings in each area. Though your business may be able to operate in different zones, the requirements in each zone will be different.

*For more in-depth coverage of these talking points, read the first article in this two-part series.

Now that we’ve refreshed our memories, let’s dive into the next three considerations.


Zoning gives general guidelines on how a property can be used. However, within each zone there are further stipulations, referred to as permitted and discretionary uses.

Permitted use specifies which types of businesses can operate within that zone without additional prerequisites beside development and building permit requirements. Operating under ‘permitted use’ makes it much easier to set up and run your business in a zone.

Discretionary use specifies a secondary set of business types that can operate, but only with special permission. This permission may come with additional requirements on top of the development permit and building permit. Furthermore, the municipality is not required to allow you to operate that business within a discretionary use.

For example:

A bulk fuel station, or card lock, is a permitted use within a heavy industrial zoned property. However, it is a discretionary use within a general industrial zoned property and would not be allowed within a business industrial zone.

Infrastructure and servicing

Each business has its own requirements with infrastructure and services. While some may have large requirements for electricity, others may have water or data requirements. 

When evaluating a property, it is crucial to understand what is in the ground within the property, and within the streets or utility right of ways, and whether it meets the needs of your business. And, if it doesn’t, how much it would cost to upgrade it to meet your needs.

Infrastructure considerations include:


  • Is there an existing transformer servicing the building or can service a new building?
  • Is it single phase or three phase?
  • How many AMPS and what voltage?

Gas Service

  • Are there special gas requirements?
  • Is there an existing meter and does it need to be replaced?
  • How large is the service to the property? Is it large enough for your business?


  • What size of water service is on-site?
  • Is a new service required?

Sewer and Storm

  • Is there existing service on the site?
  • If yes, is it an old clay service that must be replaced?
  • If not, what size of service is in the road, and can it be serviced?


  • What type of data/internet service is on-site?
  • If there is nothing on site, how far away is the service?
  • Are there special requirements, such as supernet?

Developing bare land vs. upgrading an existing building

Depending on what is available, the perfect location may or may not have a structure. 

Bare Land

Choosing bare land allows you and your contractor to create the perfect space that aligns with your needs in all five points above. However, this can often cost more, and often requires much more upfront effort. If you choose to develop bare land, it is essential to work with a contractor you trust so you get the building you need, and on your timeline.

Existing Building

When looking at existing buildings, there are many more factors to consider. 

In many cases, older buildings do not meet current requirements but are “grandfathered” (i.e. allowed to operate as-is because they met the requirements at the time the building was constructed).

However, this grandfathered status only applies to the specific use of the building, not the zoning. For example, if a building has been used as a retail warehouse but the new tenant wants to use it for vehicle sales and rentals, the tenant would need to make numerous upgrades.

Upgrades for previously grandfathered buildings could include:

  • Barrier-free accessible bathrooms
  • Barrier-free doorway and push buttons
  • Sidewalk connectivity to public sidewalks
  • Barrier-free ramps
  • Additional bathrooms
  • Review of travel distance for exiting the building
  • Review of setback and fire protection on exterior walls
  • Sprinkler system
  • Paving a previously gravelled site
  • Site lighting required
  • Storm or sewer systems
  • Interior clearance of the building
  • Overhead door size
  • Thickness and strength of the concrete floors
  • Landscaping
  • Site access

These costs can add up, so it’s important to consider the costs of an upgrade, along with the previous tenants' use when considering purchasing an existing building.

Simplifying a difficult process

Finding the right location for your business requires the consideration of many factors – ones that can create a drastic effect on the future success of your business. 

When possible, it’s best to work with an experienced team to ensure you have the right location that will allow your business to thrive for years to come.

Are you looking for the perfect location for your business? 

Reach out to Shift REI today!