What Do Building Inspectors Look For In Commercial Properties? 

By - Chris Barnard
Last Updated - February 22nd, 2024 4:53 PM
property inspectors assessing commercial building

As someone who’s looking to own a commercial property or who already owns one, you may have come across the idea of building inspections. Moreover, you might already have consulted with commercial property inspectors or even received an inspection. 

After all, from assessing a property’s condition before purchase to ensuring your building is well maintained, these inspections are crucial in more ways than it seems. 

But have you ever wondered what do building inspectors look for in a commercial property? 

You see, as an existing or potential building owner, it is essential you’re up to date with your property’s existing condition and upkeep needs. And to that end, knowing what a commercial building inspector does and doesn’t look for is key. 

Now, I am sure you’re curious about what commercial building inspections cover. So read on as I’ve discussed everything that commercial inspectors like myself will examine in your property. 

What is a commercial building inspection in the first place? 

As the name suggests, a commercial building inspection is a visual inspection of any such establishment that identifies as a commercial property. And this includes everything from retail stores and warehouses to restaurants and cafes to educational facilities to banks and offices, to name a few. 

These inspections are carried out by qualified commercial inspectors like me who are licensed in the state of operation and also carry advanced designations like Certified Master Inspector. 

Herein, the idea is to identify and locate potential problems within the major systems and components of the building. 

For instance, a commercial inspection examines a building’s structural functionality, checks whether or not it meets required standards, looks for the presence of hazardous materials, etc. This, in turn, helps you make the right purchase decision, undertake required maintenance, and ensure that the property is safe for both occupants and visitors. 

Not to mention, one such inspection can also assist you in estimating the expenses that you might incur for necessary repairs and overall building care. 

Schedule Your Commercial Building Inspection Today!

We conduct commercial inspections as per ASTM E-2018 standards and quickly uncover hidden issues lurking in your building. Click ‘Inspect My Property’ to protect your investment and keep your building safe

What do building inspectors look for during a commercial inspection? 

Coming back to the main question as to what building inspectors will look at during a commercial inspection, they’ll examine all the areas that a commercial building inspection checklist covers. 

For instance, as per the Certified Commercial Property Inspectors Association, a commercial building inspection checklist covers the following areas: 

  • Building foundation and structure 
  • Roofing system (including surface and drainage)
  • Doors and windows 
  • Walls 
  • HVAC systems
  • Plumbing 
  • Exterior and interior components 
  • Basement and crawlspace 
  • Balcony and deck (if your building has these) 
  • Parking and walkways  
  • Fire safety systems 
  • All additional areas that might need an inspection 

As such, you can expect your building inspector to examine these areas. 

Now, you might wonder what do building inspectors look for here.

Well, a commercial property assessment has a clear objective where inspectors look at the existing condition of the above areas. Here, they evaluate the present state of these systems and components against the applicable norms and standards. 

For instance, a building’s structural integrity is one of the key things that I examine during a commercial inspection. And while doing so, I assess the condition of the building structure and check if it is up to the required commercial real estate standards for quality and safety.  

Curious about what more do building inspectors look for during inspections? 

Let’s have a detailed look at the inspection workflow that commercial property inspectors like myself follow during a building assessment. 

Here’s what commercial building inspectors look for: 

A commercial property condition assessment covers every corner of your building from the inside out. Furthermore, building inspectors also look at relevant paperwork, which helps determine precisely what the existing condition of the property is. 

And to do so, inspectors usually divide the entire inspection procedure into four parts or phases, with each covering certain aspects of your property.   

So, I’ve explained all four inspection phases to help you understand what do building inspectors look for in each phase. 

#1. Exterior components 

To start with, I’ll examine your building’s exterior components. And while other commercial building inspectors might follow a different approach, I usually start with the exterior since it brings upfront clarity about the vital systems. 

Now, when we talk about exterior assessment, it’s commonplace for people to assume that this is all about exterior walls. However, it’s essential you know that an exterior examination is more than just the walls and covers everything from building structure to roofing to parking and more. 

For instance, apart from structural integrity, I also thoroughly assess the roofing system of a building during an exterior inspection, evaluating if it meets the necessary standards. And this includes the roofing material, its surface, built-in drainage, add-on construction, etc.

Similarly, I examine the parking area within the property to check whether or not it is accessible and safe. 

#2. Interior components 

After completing the exterior inspection, I’ll start examining the interior components of your building. Here, I am going to focus on areas such as interior walls, windows, flooring, bathroom, kitchen, etc., to name a few. 

For starters, I’ll analyze if these interior components meet the expected standards for construction quality, fire safety, and other potential hazards. Thereafter, I will take a look at the individual components one by one, identifying potential problem areas. 

For instance, common problems found with interior walls include poor workmanship, seepage, mold, etc., which pose health and safety risks. 

In the same way, if there are gaps in windows and doors or if they don’t close properly, these could be signals of poor ventilation or even shifting foundations. 

As such, my interior inspection will cover all of these components, and I will look for issues like the ones I mentioned above. 

#3. Essential building systems 

Next up in a commercial real estate inspection, we’ve got the vital systems that keep the building operational at all times. This includes HVAC, electrical, plumbing, and mechanical systems, among others. 

And even though these units come after exterior and interior inspection in my inspection workflow, some inspectors might examine them first. But notwithstanding when they’re inspected or who inspects them, a building inspection will try to find the exact same issues in these systems. 

For instance, while inspecting a building’s electrical systems, I will look for problems such as faulty wiring, loose hanging wires, safety lapses, etc. Not to mention an electrical inspection will also focus on chances of potential hazards such as short circuits, electrical fires, and more. 

Likewise, an inspection of your building’s HVAC systems will be focused on the overall safety and efficiency of each HVAC unit. 

A plumbing inspection, at the same time, will be all about examining plumbing lines, sewage systems, etc. 

#4. Relevant building documents 

Lastly, inspectors like myself will analyze your building’s paperwork, where we’ll look at documents such as building plans, occupancy certificates, fire safety certificates, environmental study reports, etc. Also, inspectors might ask for some additional documents like survey or maintenance records, emergency evacuation plans, etc. 

You see, the reason why inspectors seek these records is because they want to acquaint themselves with the ideal standards for the building. And this helps compare their findings with these applicable standards and norms. 

For instance, a fire safety certificate is issued for your property only after it has met certain fire prevention and safety criteria. So, once I’ve inspected your building’s fire safety systems and identified safety lapses, I’ll compare them with the certificate’s standards to determine the extent of lapses. 

Want to know what building inspectors look for in a commercial facility instead? 

You can read my blog – Facility Condition Assessment Checklist: A Complete Guide

What happens after building inspectors have completed their assessment? 

Now that you’ve got the answer to the question ‘What do building inspectors look for in a commercial property,’ you might be curious about what happens afterward.

So, having inspected your property and its documents, building inspectors will jump to the next big task, which is preparing an inspection report. Also called the property condition report, this will contain all the findings of the inspection and will be delivered to you within a week. 

The report will highlight the existing condition of your property’s components examined during the inspection. For instance, if your building’s outer walls have cracks or mold growth, this report will point them out. 

As such, you can think of the condition report as a guidebook that you can follow and undertake essential repairs and maintenance. 

Wondering what’s more to property condition reports? 

You can read my blog – What Is A Condition Report & Why Do Properties Need One?

Commercial building inspection: Frequently asked questions 

Who are commercial building inspectors? 

Commercial building inspectors or property condition assessment experts are licensed professionals who are usually engineers or architects by profession. These professionals are licensed in their respective states and are trained to examine the various building components. 

For instance, as a licensed Florida commercial building inspector, I am licensed to carry out commercial inspections in the state of Florida. 

Further, building inspectors might also carry advanced certifications that show their level of experience and accomplishments in the industry. 

When do you need to get a building inspection?

If you own a commercial property, you’ll need a building inspection once every year in order to know about its upkeep requirements. 

Apart from that, as a potential buyer or tenant, a commercial inspection will help you make the right purchase or renting decision. 

What are the benefits of a commercial inspection? 

Commercial building inspections can be beneficial in more ways than you’d have previously thought. That’s because not only do these inspections ensure your building meets the required standards, but they also help you keep your building in top shape. 

All in all, here are the main benefits of getting your commercial property inspected: 

  • Continued safety: An inspection helps fire, electrical, and other safety hazards, allowing you to fix them in time and ensure the safety of occupants. 
  • Applicable building standards: The inspection report will help you maintain your building as per the highest quality standards. 
  • Increased service life: The fact that property condition reports highlight the existing condition of every component will enable you to ensure the best upkeep all along. And this will further increase the overall service life of your building. 

Curious about how much a commercial building inspector will charge you? 

You can go through my blog – How Much Does A Commercial Building Inspection Cost

To sum up 

The answer to the question, ‘What do building inspectors look for in commercial properties,’ lies in the intent behind conducting a commercial inspection. 

You see, as I mentioned earlier, a commercial building inspection checklist covers every area of the property and focuses on detecting problems or defects. 

As such, building inspectors look for these potential problems in every building component by inspecting its every nook and corner. 

Do you want to get one such inspection on your commercial property? 

If yes, you can get in touch with us and receive a free inspection quote

We’re FCBI, Florida’s leading commercial inspection team with over two decades of expertise and advanced-level certifications. And we’ve got budget-friendly solutions for all your inspection requirements. 

You can also find our commercial building inspectors in JacksonvilleMelbourneOrlandoSt AugustinePalm CoastDaytona BeachPort OrangeSawgrass, and more.

Chris Barnard

Hi there! I am Chris Barnard, a licensed building inspector and the founder of Florida Commercial Building Inspectors. With over two decades in the inspection industry, I’ve delivered thousands of commercial and residential inspections across various states. During all these years, I’ve developed detailed insights on the ins and outs of building inspections, something I look forward to sharing with you through my blogs.

Inspect My Property
Share via
Copy link