Commercial Building Inspection Basics: What Inspectors Look For

Commercial Building Inspection Basics What Inspectors Look For

Your commercial building must be a safe space for the people who work and visit — and one of the ways safety is determined is through professional commercial building inspections. Understanding what happens during a building inspection (and how your facilities management company can help ensure you’re prepared) will help you make the most of this process.

Ideally, you’ll discover that you are in full compliance with all regulatory issues and that your facility is truly safe and operational. Any problems discovered can be addressed and resolved before your next inspection. Here’s what to expect when an inspector visits and how the process works 

What is a Building Inspection? 

A commercial building inspection is a review of an existing or new building and reviews all of the different systems and components. A building can be inspected for any number of reasons; if you plan on selling it, if you are looking for additional financing or to confirm compliance with a specific rule or regulation. Building inspections are conducted by professional inspectors and focus on commercial buildings — those that house offices, businesses and corporate entities, not residences or homes. 

Typical commercial buildings include: 

  • Retail space
  • Restaurants
  • Office Buildings
  • Manufacturing and industrial spaces
  • Storage and warehouse structures
  • Sports facilities
  • Hotels and lodging
  • Multifamily dwellings (but not individual homes)
  • Medical facilities
  • Other buildings used to offer products or services or used for business purposes. 

Who conducts an inspection of a commercial property? 

Most buildings are inspected by professional, dedicated commercial building inspectors. These inspectors may also be engineers, architects or other specialists and are skilled at assessing a building and its systems and providing the owner with a rating and a way to measure performance and success. 

What do Building Inspectors Look for? 

The goal of a commercial building inspection is to confirm that the structure is safe for occupants and that all components are functioning as they should. The typical inspection looks at: 

  • The structure of the building, to ensure it is stable and safe and no risks or potential problems exist; this means the building should be in good repair and able to withstand the elements — protecting those who work, live and play inside. 
  • The roof, which should be free of leaks or debris and regularly assessed and well maintained. 
  • The electrical system, which must be up to date and code and comply with all commercial regulations. This includes the electrical systems for the building as a whole and any internal and individual systems it powers — like the HVAC, restaurant equipment and other high energy using locations. 
  • Plumbing, assessed for both its functionality and to ensure the facilities management team is creating a hygenic and safe environment for customers and visitors
  • HVAC systems, to ensure they work as they should and that any and all environmental regulations are followed. 
  • Safety systems, including emergency systems for fire and other hazards.

The inspector will also review the building’s interior and exterior for aesthetics and any potential issues that could impact the usability and functionality of the space. This could include anything from the way the public areas are presented to the presence of harmful substances or situations. A full building inspection considers all aspects of the structure, inside and out. 

Documentation and the Building Inspection

Your inspector will also review documents associated with the building. This includes permits, licenses and reports about the care and ongoing maintenance of the building. If you have a facility management team in place, they can furnish the inspector with many of the reports needed that cover the ongoing care and compliance of the systems and components that matter most. Any areas that are not in full compliance with the law could be noted as part of the inspection process and will need to be addressed to get a successful outcome from the inspection. 

How are Results Relayed? 

The building inspector will tour your facility in persona and conduct thorough reviews of all the areas and documents listed above. The inspector will use this information to compile a full and comprehensive report about the property. This property condition report will contain images, notes and checklists that cover the inspection and relay specific details about the condition of the building. In many cases, the inspector will not only note areas of interest and damage, but make suggestions on next steps and repairs. 

Once the property report is complete, you can use it to determine your next steps — if you are the owner, you may have some work to do, or repairs to focus on. If you are a prospective buyer, you will be better able to make an offer that reflects the building’s current state and true worth. Either way, having a building inspection report on hand can help determine what is needed in the future management and disposition of the building. 

Be Prepared for a Building Inspection

The best way to be prepared for a building inspection and to get the results that you want is to work regularly with a building management team that has already identified and resolved any property issues. Integrated facility management takes all aspects of your property into mind and ensures you are in full compliance with all regulations and requirements you should be — year round. When an inspection happens, it will simply confirm what you already know, that you are in full compliance with all regulations and that your structure is in excellent repair. 

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