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Before signing a warehouse lease consider these critical factors

Before Signing a Lease: Is Your New Space Adequate?

Finding an appropriate warehouse space and signing a lease is a major commitment for any business.  Many factors go into making that decision: price, location, availability, etc.  But what’s far too often overlooked is the suitability of the new facility for your pallet racking system.  And that mistake can be a very costly one.

Imagine signing a 5 or 10-year lease only to find out the building’s slab may not be capable of supporting the load requirements of the racking system you designed. Then what?

This is the exact situation many business owners have found themselves in during the last few years and it can be a devastating blow to the business.

You could find yourself:

  • Stuck in a lease that is now less financially attractive, and very difficult and expensive to terminate. Landlords expect you to do your due diligence and ensure the facility is adequate for your needs so they are likely to enforce the lease you signed.
  • Frantically searching for a new, additional, or temporary facility. If you find out at the last minute that your building is not suitable, you will be scrambling to find an alternative and may have to choose from limited availability.
  • Facing substantial and unplanned costs to upgrade your newly leased facility.

Problems most often get discovered as you begin the permitting process which requires engineering documentation verifying the facility is adequate for your needs.

Most racking permits will require an engineer stamped letter for each of the following:

  1. Capacity of the foundation / slab
  2. Adequacy of the fire suppression system
  3. Drawings detailing the elevations, layout, and egress
  4. See our detailed article on Racking Permits for more information.

To avoid these mistakes, make sure you do the following before signing your lease:

Ask the landlord for the structural drawings and specifications for the building’s foundation / slab. If the landlord is not able to provide adequate information regarding the slab’s construction, then you will need to take core samples for analysis. If you wait until the lease is signed, you will be responsible for these costs and you may not like the results.

Request any geotechnical information available for the site. The soil classification and seismic rating of the area can have a major impact on the slab rating and the racking design requirements.

Have the Fire Suppression system reviewed by a fire engineer to ensure it is adequate for the racking structure and the class of materials you will be storing. If it’s not adequate, you may be able to upgrade the system, but there will be a lead time and additional expense. It is best that you know this in advance.

The foundation and fire suppression system are the two biggest concerns, but if you want to be thorough, here are a few more things to consider, before you decide on the lease:

Obstacles, Column Spacing, Lighting

Plot your racking system into the space, using the necessary aisle widths, and see how it aligns with overhead obstacles such as heating and ventilation systems. Where do the building columns land in your drawing? Will the lighting need to be moved to accommodate your layout?


Make sure there are enough man door egress locations in the facility, particularly when there have been previous renovations or demising walls added. Adding exterior man doors for egress purposes can be an expensive proposition.

Building Height

Higher isn’t always better.  Your ability to utilize the full height of a high bay warehouse will depend on capabilities of your lift equipment, the slab, and the racking system. It may be cost prohibitive to try and utilize the full height and then that’s just wasted space that you’re paying to heat and cool.


Make it a smart move.

Are you relocating your warehouse or looking for help with pallet rack permitting?

cam|industrial offers start-to-finish pallet racking solutions: design, engineering, permits and support. Send us an email with your specifications to get the conversation started today. 

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Looking for more information?

Read our other Smart Move Articles:

  • Moving Your Pallet Racking? You’ll Need a Permit
  • Everything You Need to Know about Pallet Racking Permits
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