While not as well-known as the Home Inspection, there are a large number of commercial property inspections each year. These inspections should not be performed according to home inspection standards by traditional home inspectors.
Standards for Commercial Property Inspections
The best standards for commercial property inspections are put out by the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM). This company sets the standards for everything from motor oil to light bulbs, and is also very active in engineering and construction standards. The standard that is recommended for inspecting commercial properties is the ASTM E2018-08. This many paged standard lists the findings that should be achieved in each of the technical areas such as plumbing, electrical, roofing, parking areas, etc. As it includes many items not found in home inspection reports, it is important that commercial inspection reports refer to the standard being used.
Inspector Qualifications for Commercial Property Inspections
Just as when you have a residential home inspection you want an inspector experienced in home construction, with commercial inspections you want someone experienced in commercial construction. If possible, use a licensed general contractor. Secondly, inquire as to whether the inspector has commercial construction or property management experience.
Commercial Property Inspection Reports
The report resulting from the commercial inspection should cover all the items in the ASTM E2018-08 standard and summarize the information into an Executive Summary, List of Significant Defects, and a List of Deferred Maintenance items. This allows the user of the report to quickly understand the significant findings and focus upon these. There are also options for the report to contain a Finding of Probable Cost for the needed repairs or corrections and to fill out an ADA checklist. These are usually extra charges to the basic commercial property report.
Commercial Property Inspections May Lead to Environmental Assessments
Above and beyond the inspection of the buildings and grounds, there may also be an Environmental Assessment Phase I. This is a review of the history of the property to determine if there are likely to be contaminants in the ground. This EA Phase I is not in the scope of the ASTM E2018-08 standard, and should be discussed with the commercial property inspector.