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 service where the inspector conducts a thorough on-site visual examination of the property’s physical condition. The assessment is focused on the building’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.
Depending on the scope of the project, the commercial inspector may use a team of specialty consultants who provide expertise in relevant areas during the walk-through survey. Specialty 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 portion of the service, the commercial inspector requests and reviews documents and records about the property. Some 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 interview person(s) with the most knowledge about the condition of the building. Many potential deficiencies can be identified about a building this way, as well as in reviewing its history. This service will:
- enhance the information obtained during the walk-through survey; and
- provide supporting documentation for the inspection report.
3. Inspection report. The final product of a commercial property inspection is the written report. It will contain concise details from the walk-through survey, documents procured, the results of interviews conducted, and any other third-party reports ordered as part of the commercial property inspection.
The inspection report will basically include a detailed summary of the inspector’s findings. This will provide the client with an inventory of the building’s major systems and components, and an evaluation of their functional and physical condition. These findings will highlight the property’s strengths and potential deficiencies, along with deferred maintenance issues. The inspection report can be used to understand and address the issues that will impact the building from a physical standpoint and financial perspective, as well as the health and safety of the building’s occupants.
Every inspection and subsequent report will be different based on the type of property and its use, the Scope of Work for the inspection, and even the inspector, so previous inspection reports should not be relied upon as an accurate record of its current condition.
NOTE: If the client prefers a less formal way of gaining an understanding of the condition of a property, the commercial inspector can perform a walk-through survey and orally communicate his or her observations. However, the inspector’s contract with the client should specifically state the nature of the walk-through survey, including that no written report will be generated as a result.
Third-Party Commercial Real Estate Inspection
The commercial inspector and his/her team of specialty consultants are a third-party to the real estate transaction, having no financial or material interest in the real estate deal. Their objective is to provide the client with an accurate overview of the condition of the property as a whole.
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 maintain and repair, and the client’s liability extends to employees, customers, and other building occupants. The commercial property inspection can help the client reduce their risk, and potentially save them thousands of dollars in the long run. It may also aid the client in determining whether the subject property 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 inspection project is different, the client should contact a member of the Certified Commercial Property Inspectors Association (CCPIA) to discuss their specific needs.