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Your Commercial Property Inspection Checklist

Updated: Mar 4

When it comes to commercial real estate, the key to success often lies in the details.

Whether you're a property owner looking to make sure your investment is sound or looking to buy having a comprehensive commercial property inspection checklist is absolutely essential to making sure you tick off all the boxes you need for a seamless real estate transaction. Let’s dive right into your go-to checklist so you can make sure you’re on top of everything.

What Are Commercial Building Inspections?

Before we dive into the checklist itself, let's clarify what commercial building inspections entail. 

Commercial inspections are a thorough evaluation of commercial properties, assessing a property's condition, safety features, and compliance with relevant regulations.

These examinations are not limited to one specific purpose; they can be conducted for various reasons, including due diligence when purchasing a property, routine maintenance, or risk management for property owners.

white concrete building under a blue sky during the daytime

Why Are They Required?

Why do you need a commercial property inspection checklist? Well, there are both legal and financial factors at play.

Many lenders insist on these inspections as part of their risk assessment process. For financial institutions, understanding the condition and potential risks associated with a commercial property is essential in determining its value and whether they're comfortable lending money against it.

So, if you're planning to secure financing for your commercial property venture, you'll likely need to check off the inspection box before making any final decisions.

Your Commercial Property Inspection Checklist

Structural Integrity

First up is the assessment of structural integrity– a fundamental part of any commercial property inspection.

This is probably the most widely understood part of an inspection from outside eyes– the inspector coming into the building and assessing the structural stability of the foundation, walls, roofs, and overall structural components.

Inspectors use various processes and techniques to assess structural integrity like visual inspections, non-destructive testing, and assessments of load-bearing capacity.

Environmental Site Assessment (ESA)

Next up on your commercial property inspection checklist is the Environmental Site Assessment, or ESA.

ESAs are a fundamental aspect of ensuring that your commercial property is not harboring any hidden environmental risks or liabilities.

The primary purpose of an ESA is to identify potential environmental hazards associated with the property. This is particularly important because environmental issues can have far-reaching legal and financial consequences if not addressed promptly.

ESAs specifically look for contaminants, like soil or groundwater pollution, chemical spills, or hazardous materials, that could pose a threat to the property itself, neighboring areas, or even public health. They typically come in two phases:

Phase I ESA: During Phase I, experts conduct a comprehensive review of historical records, site visits, and interviews with current and past property owners or occupants.

Phase II ESA: When Phase I indicates potential concerns, Phase II kicks in. This involves more in-depth testing, such as soil and groundwater sampling, to determine the extent and severity of contamination.

black car parked in front of a white concrete building

Property Condition Assessment (PCA)

Property Condition Assessments, or PCAs, evaluate the overall condition of a commercial property, giving property owners and buyers valuable insights into its structural health.

PCAs cover various building components, like examining structural elements, mechanical systems, electrical systems, plumbing, and roofing systems. The goal is to identify existing issues, from minor wear and tear to major structural concerns, ensuring that nothing goes unnoticed.

Why is this crucial? Well, PCAs help identify maintenance and repair needs, which is essential for the property's long-term viability. By addressing these issues proactively, property owners can plan for necessary improvements and budget accordingly.

This not only preserves the property's value but also ensures the safety and comfort of its occupants.

Building Code Compliance Inspection

Building code compliance inspections may not be the most glamorous part of your inspection checklist for commercial properties, but they’re undeniably one of the most critical. These inspections are all about ensuring safety and legality, two aspects that should never be compromised in the world of commercial real estate.

Why are they so important? Well, building code compliance inspections cover various elements, like:

  • Structural integrity, ensuring that walls, foundations, and roofs meet the required standards is essential to prevent structural failures that could endanger occupants and devalue the property.

  • Fire safety, focusing on the presence and functionality of fire alarm systems, sprinklers, smoke detectors, and emergency exits.

  • ADA compliance, ensuring that your commercial property is accessible to everyone, including individuals with disabilities with the use of things like ramps, handrails, parking spaces, and restrooms.

  • Zoning regulations, verifying that the property's use aligns with local zoning ordinances.

Emergency Preparedness and Safety Checklist

Next, we have the emergency preparedness and safety checklist, to ensure if anything unforeseen happens, you’re well-equipped with everything you need to protect yourself and anyone else in or around the property.

This includes things like:

  • Fire safety systems

  • Emergency exits

  • Sprinkler systems

  • Evacuation plans

image of the interior of a modern office building

Additional Interior and Exterior Assessments

Adding this on, this can including anything you haven’t already included in your other assessments specifically related to interior and exterior, like:

  • Plumbing systems to check for leaks, pipe corrosion, water pressure, and the overall functionality of plumbing systems.

  • Electrical systems to check for things like wiring, outlets, circuit breakers, and electrical panels.

  • HVAC systems, like heating, ventilation, and air conditioning through regular maintenance and inspections.

  • Landscaping like overgrown trees, irrigation problems, or drainage issues that might impact the property's curb appeal and functionality.

  • Parking lots, inspecting for cracks, potholes, and drainage problems. Maintaining a safe and well-kept parking area is essential for both customers and tenants.

Additional Records and Documentation

In addition to all of this– and to be thorough– make sure you have a paper trail of all records and documentation needed, like:

  • Building plans to help inspectors understand the property's original design and layout, which is essential for identifying any deviations or unauthorized alterations.

  • Permits to ensure that all necessary permits were obtained for construction or renovation work is crucial.

  • Maintenance records to reveal recurring issues that may require attention.

  • Tenant leases to provide insights into tenant responsibilities and any specific obligations related to property maintenance.

This commercial property inspection checklist should be a great foundation for you to ensure you’re ticking off all the boxes!

However, always make sure to consult a professional inspector in your area to ensure you’re not forgetting anything specific to your property, location, or state. Rules and regulations vary, especially in commercial real estate, so be sure to do your due diligence so you’re confident everything’s in order.

Looking for a real estate partner in Ontario for your next project? Reach out to us so we can chat more about your project!

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