From Big Boxes to Your New Office: Warehouse Conversion Ideas

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Warehouse Conversion

Warehouse Conversion Ideas

Take the Meatpacking District in New York City or the Downtown Loop in Chicago and you’ll see warehouse conversion at its best. In New York, it’s garment markets and high-fashion houses.

In Chicago, it’s hip restaurants, bars, and nightlife. It’s artist ateliers. And now, it’s big and small business alike, from startups with just a few employees to food giant Sara Lee to big tech companies like Google.

With brick, high ceilings, and plenty of space, warehouses offer companies on-trend locations to make cool loft-style offices that encourage efficiency and motivate their team with gorgeous floor plans and stylish privacy. Warehouses are in demand.

But if you have a warehouse, what’s the deal with conversion, you ask? What do you need to know?

To help, we’ve put together the basics of what you need to know when you turn an old warehouse building into a hip, efficient workspace. Keep reading to know what to focus on and then get started on your new office space.

1. Know What You’re Getting Into

You may see the charm of the brick. Or envision the hip exterior with the wood frame and the front roller door. You may gush about how your team is so efficient under the exposed beams and the art and hanging plants.

But, whoa, whoa, whoa. There’s a lot of planning and work that needs to happen first. We’re not saying it isn’t easy and doable. It just needs to be planned right with an architect and contractor.

You need to gather all your options, look at the cost, and at the layout. You need to look at the temperature. And you need to get to it with tight blueprints that work in your hand and on the table before you leap.

The key: It has to function and be affordable amidst all the styles.

2. Get Your Contractor in Right Away

Yes, you need your plan set. So bring in your contractor and architect now. If you’re renting the warehouse, do it before you sign the lease. Start with a walk-through.

The contractor can check the structure and make sure your business can function in the space. If not, advice on additional structural support or changes can be given. You’ll know how much that will cost and if it fits your budget.

The contractor can also look at temperature control needs and tell you how much it will cost for air and heat. If you get extreme weather, this is important. Brick-only buildings often need to be sealed. Or you might need to add a new perimeter enclosure wall.

You’ll also need ventilation and stylish and working plumbing. The goal: Keep your team comfortable.

If renting, get everything set with your landlord ahead of time so you know your build-out plans work for everyone.

3. Create an Interior That Breathes

Start with your interior plan. You want a circulation path that has a logical flow. Want your team to have light. You also want your team to have their own private spaces. Because open-architecture workspaces don’t bring on productivity and collaboration like just the right amount of privacy.

At the same time, your employees don’t want to be trapped in an interior-only office. They want a view of some kind if possible. This will take some creativity, but it’s possible. And there are all kinds of great ways to block out your space, including gorgeous treated-glass window walls and easy and cost-effective FLEX panels.

Larger buildings, like 15-thousand square footers, work well for large companies. Smaller buildings lend themselves to multiple small boutique-sized offices. Think three-thousand square foot floor plates. This is why we say get planning now.

If you have a multistory warehouse, you have to really do some work to make sure it’s not claustrophobic upstairs. Most industrial two-story warehouses or buildings tend to have one or two small staircases or lifts going up.

One idea is to take out a section of the floor plate upstairs and open it up. It becomes a two-story space that’s bright and simple. You can then create small offices and your team can still breathe.

4. Don’t Forget the Surround Sound

There’s a lot of open space in your warehouse and a lot of brick and metal. And what does that spell? E-c-h-o. Sounds bounce off the walls and if you have 40 or even 10 people in there working, talking, riding around on their scooter boards, it’s going to be loud.

Be sure to figure out how you’re going to make your interior acoustics sing rather than clang. Think additional wall panels and materials that absorb sound, but that looks nice too.

5. Keep It Light

As mentioned, your team wants a view and windows ideally. A bright space boosts productivity and helps keep employees happy. Keep your space as open as possible and be strategic with your lighting.

6. Think About Your Entry and Exterior

Industrial warehouses typically don’t consider looking great for the people going in and out. But you have an office and a team and perhaps clients entering and exiting. You want to welcome them with open arms, stylish beams and floors, and plenty of light.

Also, you want to make sure there’s easy access. Parking is essential, as is a clear path to public transport if needed. Exteriors need to be well-lit and landscaped.

7. Be Safe

Your contractor should have your back here. Make sure everything’s up to code. You may need to install more sprinklers with the high ceilings, for example.

Similar to brick walls, high ceilings might play into popular design trends and evoke a loft aesthetic, but that could cause problems with acoustics. A company of 50 people in a room without any walls or structures to absorb sound will result in a loud, and often unproductive, working environment.

Tenants might have to compensate for noise with additional structures, raising the budget, Bukowski said. Opting out of drop ceilings can also have an impact on fire safety. The tenant might have to relocate sprinkler heads to stay compliant with building fire codes.

Get Started on Your Warehouse Conversion

There may be quite a few things to think about for your warehouse conversion, but really, it just takes forethought and planning to get it right.

Ready to see your options for your building?

Get in touch with a contractor to set up your walk-through. Furthermore, give us a call so we can give you the rundown on interior panels that offer great solutions for interior circulation. Amazing warehouse conversions have had a lot of success with us!