When remodeling or building a new laboratory, many businesses often look at purchasing used laboratory furniture in an effort to reduce costs. While the savings may appear to be substantial, it is important for buyers know the hidden costs and risks in doing this.
Often, companies that sell their used lab furniture are upgrading to new furniture or going out of business. You should always find out why they are selling their used furniture, so you don’t end up inheriting their furniture problems.
As a general rule, most businesses don’t get rid of quality products unless they are going out of business or it doesn't work as expected.
Here are the issues that you could be taking on by buying used lab furniture.
It is important to inspect the furniture very carefully for damage. In addition, do your research about the product and the manufacturer. With technology by your side, it is easy to find out information. Here are some things to look for:
- Is the manufacturer still in business?
- Is the manufacturer overseas?
- Is the manufacturer still selling that particular product?
- Are there complaints about the product?
- Are there local dealers or manufacturers representatives who can assist you with the product?
Don’t be afraid to contact the manufacturer to see if they are still servicing that particular product.
Access to Critical Parts
When disassembly takes place, there is a risk of damage or parts going missing. If the furniture is outdated, you may not have access to critical parts. Manufacturers often phase out production of parts as they develop new products.
So, doing your due diligence regarding your research up front will pay off here.
When you buy new furniture, it comes with a warranty that usually includes parts and labor. When you buy used furniture and the warranty is no longer in place, you have to pay for installation and ongoing service .
There is typically no warranty available. Used furniture is usually sold after the warranty period is up. And, if an unauthorized installer hasn’t disassembled and reassembled the furniture, any warranty that may be in place will be voided.
It is important to find out about a warranty before you buy.
Many times, lab furniture is customized for the original space it is installed in. This is especially true for cabinetry and countertops. So, it makes sense that buying used furniture doesn’t always effectively adapt to your lab space.
When there are issues with fit, it usually costs companies more money to make modifications, if that is possible. Or, furniture that they paid for doesn't get used, wasting money.
Sometimes, companies get so excited by the deal that they buy used laboratory that is outdated or doesn't match existing furniture. This can end up making your facility look like it was just slapped together. This can affect employee morale and your image with potential customers, if you do tours of your facility.
If the used furniture has been in use for some time, it may have outdated electrical and data components, with minimal cable capacities. With technology having such an important place in laboratories today, this could limit operations significantly or cost more money to upgrade.
Laboratories need have long-term flexibility in mind in today's market. If you need to add components or match existing finishes as you expand, that may not be possible. Manufacturers phase out paint colors, laminates, materials and components all the time. This will leave you with furniture that is outdated and unmatchable.
Used furniture often doesn't meet environmental and sustainability standards or third-party certification. So, if that is a focus for your company, you won't be contributing to that effort.
Complete capital outlay is usually required up front and leasing is not an option. Leasing is almost always an option for new laboratory furniture.
With new furniture, your tax deduction would be either depreciated over many years or you may take a section 179 deduction to deduct all or a portion of your furniture in the year you purchase it. With used furniture, you cannot take a section 179 Election, which would have allowed you to write-off the entire expense.
It is important to consult a tax professional about tax implications before you purchase used laboratory furniture, especially in regard to depreciation possibilities.
The phrase, "Let the Buyer Beware", definitely applies when it comes to purchasing used laboratory furniture. It is important to understand all of the risks and implications before you buy, so you don't end up regretting that decision and wasting valuable resources.
You can learn more about purchasing lab furniture in our article, Go Beyond Price When Purchasing Laboratory Furniture.