Say Yes to a Commercial Property Inspection

Say Yes to a Commercial Property Inspection
  • Opening Intro -

    Your purchase of commercial property should hinge upon the property's condition, giving it the same level of consideration you would to residential property -- perhaps more so.


Where you can hire a residential inspector to check a home, your approach to commercial property should be a bit different and involve a team of professionals to give their assessment.

Your team should include qualified professionals including a plumber, an electrician, a building maintenance manager and perhaps a contractor, especially if you plan to make changes to the property. A thorough inspection can reveal potential problems and may quite possibly save you from making a costly mistake.

Building Systems — Your entire team will need to carefully go through the building to inspect the plumbing; the electrical and phone systems; the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system; and the Internet hook-up, if applicable. Outlets should be counted and tested, electrical lines inspected and the power box examined. Plumbing checks should include bathrooms, water fountains, drainage and all other pipes that bring water into the building and sends waste to the outside. The HVAC system should be functional, repairable and in easy to maintain order. Other systems, if applicable, can include elevators, escalators and the kitchen.

Interior — Beyond the main systems, the interior should be closely examined to determine the conditions of the walls, floors and ceilings. The inspection should consider tiling, doors, windows, interior walls and common areas. The facility should be compliant with government regulations including OSHA, with the required sprinkler system, emergency exit signs and fire extinguishers in place. Trouble signs include mould, mildew, staining and any unusual odor. Your inspection team will need to pull up carpeting, remove ceiling tiles and inspect doors and cabinetry for secure fitting.

Exterior — From the roof down to the ground, every facet of the building’s exterior should be examined. The roof should be free of repairs and, if a flat roof, show proper and functioning drainage. Soffits should be in place, unstained and match the exterior of the building. Windows should be aligned, sealed and unbroken. Doorways must open and close on their hinges or, if electrically operated, work without trouble. Your inspection team will look for signs of leaking and will confirm drainage around the building is sufficient, directing water away from the building.

Parking — If your purchase involves a large building with significant parking, you will want to have your team observe the lot for functionality. Are there enough spaces present? Are lines clearly marked? Are handicapped areas set aside? What is the condition of the lot? Is drainage sufficient? Finally, is signage legible and sensible?

Land — Commercial property may also include much land beyond the building and the parking area. This land may be landscaped and should be observed for proper drainage and upkeep. If there are out buildings, such as a garage or storage area, these structures should be inspected too.

Legal Compliance

A thorough review of the documents related to the commercial property are also needed. Land and building surveys, construction permits, blueprints, floor plans, maintenance upkeep, a certificate of occupant and environmental impact studies, if applicable, should be reviewed. Your building manager, an accountant and your company’s attorney will likely review these documents.

Assign someone to obtain copies of your utility bills including water and sewage, gas and electricity, phone service, Internet connection and security system upkeep. Copies of repair bills, maintenance expenses and property tax documentation should also be examined.


With your data collected, reviewed and shared among your team, you will decide whether to continue pursuing the property or look elsewhere. If you decide to commence negotiations, the information you have collected will play an important part in your negotiations. Likely, the current owner is aware of the property’s shortcomings, if any, and may consider these matters. Of course, if your property inspection is incomplete or haphazard, then you may miss uncovering important problems — a costly error that may come back to haunt you.


Chronicle: Commercial Property Inspection Checklist —

Author Information

Steve Shanahan is the Executive Managing Director at Real Capital Markets, a company that provides cost-effective solutions for Commercial Real Estate Sales, bank REO, non-performing/performing note sales and more.



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Categories: Home Inspections

About Author

Matthew C. Keegan

Matt Keegan is a freelance writer and editor as well as publisher of "Auto Trends Magazine", an online publication. Matt covers campus, consumer, business and financial topics on various websites and weblogs, and has been published in the "Houston Chronicle", "Sam's Club Magazine" and "Wisconsin Golfer".