Site Analysis Guidelines

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Site Requirements:

  • Easy to find, visible location.
  • Close to neighborhoods and families. (Avoid heavy industrial areas, they are often inexpensive but usually not inviting to volunteers or customers.
  • Access to public transportation - essential for volunteer access to the program.
  • Good customer vehicle access for drop-off. Parking lots are generally NOT good for drop-off, as it creates too many hazards and traffic flow problems.
  • Sufficient parking, on or off street, as long as there is enough for staff, volunteers and customers.
  • Truck access for deliveries and pick-ups. A loading dock is ideal, if not, access to a forklift becomes essential (see if any of your new neighbors have forklifts you can borrow).
  • Secure, fenced lot for keeping drop-boxes, trailers if possible. It keeps people from dumping their yard waste and other garbage in your drop-box. Drop-boxes with lids are usually availabe if you can not secure the area.

Facility Requirements:

Here are some functional recomendations based on our own operation.

Basic functional spaces:

  • Receiving - where computers, etc. are dropped off by the public and entered into database before moving further into the system. 500 SF to 1,000 SF recommended.
  • Warehouse Storage - for computers you are keeping and storage of e-scrap waiting for pick-up. 3,000 SF to 4,000 SF recommended.
  • Offices - for staff and volunteers, secure records storage, network infrastructure (server room) and a quiet place to work. 500 SF to 1,000 SF depending on anticipated size of programs and staff.
  • Recycling Space - for dismantling computers, multiple workstations for volunteers (6-8), storage for working gaylords (10), storage of the "recycling" pile (computers, etc. to be recycled). 1,000 SF to 1,500 SF recommended.
  • Workshop Space - work benches and storage space for computer assembly and testing. 2,000 SF to 3,000 SF recommended.
  • Classroom Space - 2,000 SF to 3,000 SF recommended.
  • Thrift Store - for selling excess working equipment. 1,000 SF to 2,500 SF recommended.
  • Total Facility: 10,000 SF to 15,000 SF

Other functions to consider:

  • Printer refurbish and storage.
  • Electronics refurbish
  • Secure storage - for hard drives, RAM, laptops and other items that might be tempting to steal.

Note: This amount of space may seem like a lot to start with. You may want to find a facility that allows you to start small (4,000 SF to 5,000 SF) and expand as you grow. If you have a huge resource base and are doing this a large metropolitan area, you may want to increase some area requirements.

Facility Costs

Here are some of the costs you will encounter when starting up your facility.

  • Rent: Warehouse and office space can range from around $0.25/SF to $1.00/SF. (Our space ranges from $0.25/SF to $0.45/SF for a total of $7,709/month.) The paradox is that the closer you are to good public visibility and transportation the more expense the space tends to cost.
  • Lease: Most leases are 3 to 5 years, but that is usually negotiable to a shorter duration. Leases for commercial property are often structured as "triple net" (ours is) which means the liability insurance, property taxes and utilities are tacked onto the rent and can rise or fall independently of the rent.
  • Utilities: All of the utility companies that service the building should be able to provide historical cost data going back at least one year. This will give the best estimate for your basic monthly costs.

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We need to sort out the difference between property insurance , which the landlord pays and tacks onto the rent, and liability insurance to cover us for our volunteers, which we pay. We also need to update the costs.

  • Liability Insurance: required for triple net leases, and most other lease options for that matter. Our cost is $100 per 1,000 SF of building ($1,000/year for 10,000 SF facility). Liability insurance covers your volunteers and the general public if they are injured on site. This does NOT protect you from negligence, always maintain a safe work place. You will likely have to add coverage for your landlord and for any partner/government organizations you contract with. (around $50 per/year).