Scope of the Commercial Property Inspection
Commercial Inspection Standards of Practice
When entering into an agreement to inspect a property, it’s common for the inspector to include in the agreement the Standards of Practice that will form the basis for his inspection. Members of CCPIA perform commercial building inspections according to the International Standards of Practice for Inspecting Commercial Properties (ComSOP). Refer to Section 10 for a Commercial Inspection Agreement (between inspector and client) template. Any deviation from the Standards of Practice should be agreed to and stated in writing in the Exhibit A: Scope of Work section.
In general, inspection standards of practice are guidelines describing the minimum that inspectors must examine and report on, and, equally important, what they don’t need to do. Standards of practice for inspection of commercial/industrial properties are typically less restrictive than standards for residential inspection. This allows inspectors to adapt their services to the needs of their clients with less risk of failing to comply with a more restrictive standards of practice.
During the initial meeting with the client, the inspector will discuss the client’s needs and adjust the agreement as needed to address those needs. Some issues that can differ significantly from residential inspection include:
- Inspection of commercial/industrial buildings involves research that lies outside the scope of a typical residential inspection.
- The client may want estimates for repair, correction or other work related to the findings of the report. Inspectors may include language in their agreements making clear that any estimates provided in the report are non-binding, and actual costs may vary; or, the report may include written, binding estimates, depending on the client’s needs. CCPIA has a Repair/Replacement Cost Estimate Clause for use by commercial property inspectors.
- The client may want a limited inspection with only certain building systems inspected. If this contravenes the relevant standards of practice, any deviation from the standards should be clearly stated in writing in the inspection agreement.
- The building may contain systems and/or components that require specialized knowledge or experience to capably inspect.
- The seller (or client) may want to keep the inspection confidential from the building’s tenants or occupants, especially if it involves a potential sale. Such inspections may be performed when the building is empty. Always defer any questions from third parties to the client.
- Those inspecting commercial/industrial properties are more likely to employ the services of one or more specialists, such as contractors. In such cases, the report would consist of compiling data collected by the inspector, along with reports supplied by any specialists. CCPIA has a Professional Services Contract (between inspector and specialty consultant for use by commercial property inspectors).
Inspection Note: Inspectors are typically required to substantially abide by the Standards of Practice unless exclusions are agreed to in writing by the inspector and client. Refer to CCPIA’s online Commercial Inspection Standards of Practice Course.
Document Review and Interviews
Common defects and warranty requirements vary with – and are specific to – individual membrane systems. Both are influenced by:
- the type of roof structure on which they’ve been installed;
- the type and quality of the materials used;
- the quality of the installation and maintenance;
- changes in roof configuration, roof-mounted equipment, or building use; and
- the environment/climate in which a roof is installed.
Gathering as much information as possible before the on-site inspection takes place may help the inspector identify problems even before he performs the walk-through survey. On occasion, the commercial property inspector may be required to perform research after the on-site inspection, too. Once research is completed, the inspectors will have a better idea of the problems they’re likely to encounter during the walk-through survey.
Information may be in the form of:
- documents or interviews supplied by the seller, his representative, or staff (CCPIA’s has Pre-Inspection Questionnaire for use by commercial property inspectors);
- research performed at the local building department; and
- information from the roof system manufacturer.
The following are examples of research sources:
- contract documents, including drawings, specifications, and change orders;
- interviews with or notes from building maintenance personnel;
- the roof system manufacturer’s installation manual;
- list of approved subcontractors and material suppliers;
- samples of any approved materials submitted (for visual check);
- any material certifications;
- copies of roof-related warranties and guarantees;
- building permits;
- reports from past inspections; and
- roof historical file (maintenance log).
Building historical records are especially important documents. They typically contain information such as:
- building description, including height and area (footprint);
- roofing contractor:
- service agreement;
- roof system component description:
- check for compatibility;
- membrane manufacturer:
- installation requirements;
- termination and flashing details and specifications;
- year of installation of the existing roof system;
- dates and descriptions of damage, repairs, and alterations;
- dates of changes in:
- building use;
- roof configuration;
- roof-mounted equipment;
- guarantee and warranty details; and
- drainage system descriptions and details.
In summary, members of CCPIA perform commercial building inspections according to the International Standards of Practice for Inspecting Commercial Properties (ComSOP). The Standards of Practice outlines the minimum the inspector must examine and report on, along with what the inspector isn’t required to examine. Any deviation from the Standards of Practice must be agreed to and stated in the writing in the Exhibit A: Scope of Work section.
Commercial property inspections require inspectors to perform research before, and sometimes after, the on-site inspection takes place (the walk-through survey). There are many documents and resources the inspector may want to request from the building owner or client. The extent of the research depends on the Scope of Work set by the client.
Inspection Note: The level of due diligence should be set where the cost, in time and money, of acquiring information about the subject property will not likely exceed the value of that information; this includes document procurement and review, and personal interviews with relevant parties (maintenance personnel, building manager, etc.).