Commercial Inspections: What to expect

A commercial property inspection is defined as:

the process of an inspector collecting information through visual observation during a walk-through survey of the subject property, conducting research about the property, and then generating a meaningful report about the condition of the property based on the observations made and research conducted by the inspector.  A commercial inspection requires the inspector to make observations, conduct research, and report findings.

Commercial Property Inspection: What to Expect

The commercial inspector will comply with the International Standards of Practice for Inspecting Commercial Properties (ComSOP) – the industry-accepted commercial inspection guidelines, and a proven process and system. As a baseline, the assessment includes the following services:

1. Walk-through survey.

This is the portion of the home inspection where the inspector conducts a thorough on-site examination of the condition of the property. The inspection is focused on the property’s critical systems and components, including the following.

  • heating and ventilation systems;
  • cooling systems;
  • plumbing systems;
  • mechanical and electrical systems;
  • roof surface, drainage, and penetrations;
  • exterior elements and fixtures;
  • general topography of the building site;
  • parking areas and sidewalks (for barriers to accessibility);
  • wood decks and balconies;
  • basement, foundation, and crawlspace;
  • doors, windows, and interior;
  • life safety components;
  • kitchen (including storage);
  • and other areas that are specific to the subject property.

The inspector may use a team of specialized consultants to provide additional assistance as needed during the walk-through survey. These consultants may include:

  • a plumber;
  • an electrician;
  • an HVAC contractor;
  • a Professional Engineer;
  • a commercial kitchen expert; and/or
  • an Infrared-Certified® thermal imaging inspector.

2. Document procurement and review.

For this particular section of the service, the commercial inspector requests, reviews, and looks at records regarding the property. Relevant documents may include lease agreements, Certificates of Occupancy, building and fire code violations, service contracts, repair invoices, and maintenance records. The commercial inspector will also conduct interviews with persons with the most knowledge of the property and its condition. This service will:

  • enhance the information obtained during the walk-through survey; and
  • provide supporting documentation for the inspection report.

3. Inspection report.

The findings of commercial property inspections are documented in a final report. These review the findings from the inspection, the aspects inspected, documents obtained, interviews conducted, or any sources that were used in the process.

The building inspection report will provide an in-depth overview of the inspector’s findings. The assessment will include an evaluation of the building’s major systems and components, along with detail of its functional and physical condition. This report will highlight the building’s strengths and the deficiencies, along with deferred maintenance issues. The inspection report can provide information regarding the physical, structural, and financial impacts of the building and also emphasize the health and safety issues of the tenants.

Every property inspection and subsequent report will be affected by the nature of the property, the scope of work on that property, and the inspector, so previous inspection reports should not be counted on as a reference of the present condition of the property.

NOTE: If the client prefers a more informal way of determining the condition of a property, the commercial inspector can conduct a walk-through inspection and verbally communicate his or her observations. Nevertheless, the contract between the inspector and the client should specifically state the nature of the walk-through survey, including that no written report will be generated.

Third-Party Commercial Real Estate Inspection

The inspector and any specialized consultants hired are a third party to the real estate sale, with no financial or material interest in the transaction. Their objective is to provide the client with a transparent assessment of the selling property of quality.

The commercial inspector and inspection report may identify deficiencies related to:

  • poor installation and workmanship;
  • inadequate design for the intended use;
  • deferred maintenance;
  • environmental damage or risks; and/or
  • systems near the end of their service life.

Commercial properties are costly to keep and repair, and the client’s legal liability extends to customers, employees, and other building residents. The commercial property inspection can help the client minimize their risk, and hopefully save them thousands of dollars over time. It may also assist the client in deciding if the property in question is not a sound investment.

Commercial inspections are performed on a variety of property types, including:

  • permanent multi-family housing (condominiums, apartments, and townhomes);
  • retail property (shopping centers, malls, and pad sites);
  • office real estate (office buildings, suites, and condominiums, and medical and dental suites);
  • hospitality real estate (hotels, motels, convention centers, and resorts);
  • industrial buildings (manufacturing facilities, warehouses, and flex spaces); and
  • specialty real estate (restaurants, car washes, churches, self-storage, schools, etc.).

Because every commercial property inspection is different from another, it’s important that the client discusses their needs with any potential commercial inspectors.

Article adapted from CCPIA

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