Hey there! If you’re looking to purchase or lease commercial property in California, a thorough commercial inspection is a crucial part of the process. As a business owner, you want to gain a comprehensive understanding of the condition of the building or space to make an informed decision.
In this blog post, we’ll walk through the key elements of a thorough commercial inspection in California. We’ll look at what should be examined, who should conduct the inspection, what to expect from the inspection report, and tips for choosing the right inspector. Let’s dive in!
What Should Be Inspected?
A commercial inspection in California covers a wide range of building systems and components. Here are some of the main things a thorough inspection will examine:
- Foundation and slab
- Walls, floors, roof
- Windows, doors, stairs, railings
- Any cracks or evidence of settling/shifting
Getting the thumbs up on the structural integrity is super important for any property. You want to ensure there are no major defects or repairs needed that could become costly down the line.
- HVAC systems
- Fire sprinklers
- Security systems
Vetting the condition of the mechanical systems provides insight into future maintenance and repair costs. Check that HVAC, plumbing, electrical etc. are up to code and running efficiently.
- Type of roof
- Age and condition
- Flashing, vents, gutters
- Signs of leaks/damage
Roof condition is critical, since issues here can lead to costly repairs and even damage contents of the building. Inspectors will thoroughly examine to identify any areas that need patching, coating, or full replacement.
Parking Lots and Exterior
- Paving and striping
- Fences and gates
- Facade/exterior walls
While you’ll be focused on the interior as the occupant, don’t forget about inspecting the exterior portions too. Check for cracked asphalt, fading striping, overgrown landscaping and other issues.
- Walls, floors, ceilings
- Doors, windows
- Light fixtures
It’s not just about structural and systems – you also want the commercial space to meet your aesthetic standards. Inspectors will look at the condition of finishes and fixtures to highlight any areas needing updates or repairs.
- ADA accessibility
- Fire and building codes
- Zoning regulations
It’s essential to verify the property’s compliance with ADA and other codes/regulations. If not up to current standards, you could be facing pricey updates down the road.
Who Should Conduct the Inspection?
Great question! You’ll want to hire a qualified commercial real estate inspector to perform the inspection. Avoid just going with your buddy who “knows buildings.”
Look for an inspector with:
- Professional training and certifications specifically in commercial inspection in California. The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) has a commercial certification program.
- Extensive experience inspecting a wide variety of commercial properties – office buildings, retail, restaurants, warehouses, etc.
- Expertise in building systems, construction, and code compliance.
- No ties to the property or stakeholders involved. You want an impartial third-party.
Many real estate agents have inspectors they work with regularly that they can recommend. But it’s smart to do your own research and vet a few options to find the best fit.
What to Expect in the Inspection Report
The inspection report is one of the most valuable deliverables you’ll receive. The report should provide a detailed, unbiased assessment of the overall condition of the property.
Here’s what the report should include:
- Summary of major findings, recommended repairs, and cost estimates
- Description of inspection methods, scope, limitations
- Photos documenting issues discovered
- Individual sections detailing condition of all systems and components inspected
- Catalog of potential code violations
- Discussion of remaining useful life of major systems like HVAC and roofing
- Recommendations for any additional specialized inspections needed
The thoroughness of the report is more important than length. The best reports concisely communicate the most important information you need in an accessible way.
Beware of reports that are very general or just vague boilerplate language. You want specifics about the actual building and its systems.
Tips for Choosing the Right Inspector
Hiring the right commercial real estate inspector makes all the difference. Here are some tips:
- Check credentials: Verify licenses, training, and certifications are up to date.
- Look for specialization: Search for inspectors focused on commercial rather than solely residential.
- Review sample reports: Ask for a sample report to gauge the inspector’s writing skills, formatting, photos, and overall thoroughness.
- Ask about equipment: Advanced tools like infrared cameras can spot hidden moisture and electrical issues.
- Compare service options: Some inspectors offer expedited turnaround on reports while others have add-ons like thermal imaging.
- Check references: Speak to past clients to confirm providers consistently deliver high-quality inspections and reports.
- Trust your gut: You want an inspector you feel comfortable asking lots of questions before, during, and after the inspection.
- Avoid conflicts of interest: Don’t use an inspector referred by the property owner or agent.
Putting in the legwork to find the best commercial real estate inspector pays off exponentially. The comprehensive condition information in their report will inform smarter property decisions, negotiations, and budgeting for improvements.