DIY Office

It’s a conundrum nearly every fast-growing company faces: your office lease is set to expire, or your headcount is growing so fast people soon will be sharing desks.

You need new office space. Now.

As the CEO, you envision a generous space with smart and innovative layouts, comfortable and cool furniture, great lighting, inspiring colors, and branding that fits your team to a tee. You envision a home base, an engine for a creativity and productivity.

Then reality slaps you in the face: Building out a custom office is a pain in the neck.

Not only is it distracting — it’s time-consuming and costly. A simple DIY office usually turns into a maze of permits, city building department headaches, landmark approvals, greenlighting from landlords, problem contractors, surprise costs, change orders, delays and time-consuming decisions over trivial details. And it could cost six to seven figures.

So what does building-out an office on your own mean, exactly? Let’s start from the beginning. You contact your broker who promises to show you available office space. That back-and-forth may take a week or so. She shows you 10 spaces. Three of them look good, so you make an offer, create a term sheet, and draft a letter of intent.

Then comes the negotiations for square footage price and whether your team will be able to get into the building on the weekends.

After your broker steps out of the way, in walk the lawyers. You pay them by the hour, which means the incentive to move fast evaporates.

Then comes move-in day, right? You’ve got an office!

Nope. That “office” is empty space. Now comes the hard part: making it yours. While the opportunity thrills, it’s also subject to a labyrinth of potential problems and a litany of details to manage.

Instead of drumming-up new business and charting the future, your head is stuck in the world of square footage, plumbing and furniture. Wall colors and layouts. Standing-desk requests, and figuring out who gets views. Phones. IT.

Maybe it’s a two-month turnaround or, in hot market like San Francisco, it’s six months or more.

You hire an office designer and an architect, and like the attorney, they’re expensive. Together, you spend hours planning furniture, lighting, layout, paint, branding on the walls. You order new furniture only to find it may take two to four months to arrive.

Next, you hire and manage a general contractor to move walls, create a kitchen and upgrade the bathroom. Oh, and you’re ripping out that ugly linoleum flooring too, which involves getting on the schedules of busy plumbers, masons, electricians, drywallers and painters. All told, it’ll take another month or two, and each step must go in order.

Then, there’s a final checklist: Call your Internet provider, deal with insurance, schedule movers, set up furniture, hang your corporate logo, go to Home Depot for the right kind of lightbulbs for the bathroom.

You’re inside your office. Your employees smile. You cut a ribbon, you eat cake, you get back to work.

Eighteen months later, you do it all again.

Or not. Maybe instead you call a company like Knotel. You’d skip the office walkthroughs, the real estate negotiations, the architect and office designer. You don’t order the furniture, deal with contractors, handle the Internet— and you wouldn’t run to Home Depot for light bulbs.

Everything would be done for you. Your office. Your branding. In as little as two weeks. No wait. No headache. The easy button for offices.