A property condition report (PCR), a.k.a. a commercial building inspection report, should always be ordered when looking to acquire an existing commercial real estate building. Additionally, the commercial building inspection will document the condition of items such as structural frame and building envelope, mechanical and electrical systems, and life safety and fire protection. We’ve created this blog post as a Commercial Building Inspections 101 to assist with your buying decision in and around the Victoria Texas area.
One thing to keep in mind…the majority of home Inspectors are not trained/certified for Commercial Building Inspections! You should not get a commercial inspection report on a Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) Home Inspection document! Home and Commercial are two very different building types and need different reports. Barrie Inspections has over 15 years of commercial and residential inspection experience, and is tested/credentialed by the Certified Commercial Property Inspectors Association (CCPIA.org).
Below we will elaborate on what to be especially mindful of during each of the primary system inspections (plumbing, electrical panels, heating and cooling units, etc.), so you can plan accordingly with your purchase and ongoing maintenance.
Overall Building Structure
In the overall building structure portion of the inspection, the quality and make-up of the original construction will be analyzed. This includes exterior walls, windows and doors; paved surfaces adjoining the building; interior ceilings, walls, floors, ceiling plenum; and attics. Professionals typically rule the general life expectancy of a building to be 70-100 years, depending on the various factors.
Defects such as wood rot, water staining, and similar items generally identify water intrusion that will need to be identified and remedied to prevent damage to the structure. Barrie Inspections uses a FLIR Thermal Imaging Camera on all inspections to look for this type of moisture intrusion.
Roof and Roof Structure
Roof surface scans are highly crucial, as many times it is the landlord or owner who will be responsible for its repair. One important item to decipher is whether the roof looks like it would last longer than five years with normal maintenance. If not, replacement cost will need to be established as part of the due diligence process. Larger commercial building roof replacement can easily cost over $100K.
Regardless of the findings, you should always obtain the roof install date and any active warranties from the seller. The results may become a deciding factor in whether this property will make the cut for you.
When it comes to electrical, you should consider the former use of the building and determine if it needs to be updated to accommodate your intended use. Switching from a retail storefront with a storage area to an industrial manufacturing operation will certainly use more electricity and thus need larger rated panels/wiring. The electrical distribution system is inspected by operating all accessible lighting, a generous number of receptacles, checking for GFCI protected circuits, and visual inspection of electrical service and service panels. Barrie Inspections does open up MOST electrical service panels by removing dead-front covers to perform this assessment, and to check for overheating using the FLIR Thermal Imaging Camera. Some inspectors do not perform this in-depth inspection, and will skip over potential safety hazards.
Much like roofing, determine how much of the life expectancy is left during the plumbing inspection. The general life expectancy is about 40-60 years, but do not slide past the checkup for general function and leaks. Older buildings that have galvanized piping are pretty much at the end of their useful service life. Replacing piping can easily approach tens of thousands of dollars, depending on accessibility to attic/crawlspace areas.
Included in plumbing is the sewer lines that take waste away from the building. Building owners are responsible for repairs from the structure to the city tap (connection). Tree roots, blockages, broken clay piping, and corroded cast iron piping are all found daily with an add-on service that we provide.
When it comes to heating, ventilation, and air conditioning inspections, whether the systems have been neglected or received regular preventative maintenance will be revealed. Older units should still have some useful years left, if it has been properly maintained. The main takeaways to expect will be a report on the age and condition, ductwork, and the unit heats/cools properly.
The major components are thoroughly inspected, systems run in heat/cool modes, and verification of proper condensate drain lines is checked.
An overlooked item that could end up being detrimental to your plan is the condition of the parking lot or structure. This should uncover whether and when it should be resurfaced. Look for “alligator cracking” or the distinctive appearance of an asphalt surface that is suffering from fatigue damage. Concrete potholes, major cracks, and other damage is also important. Asphalt and concrete work is not cheap, so knowing the condition of your parking lot is a major piece of information you need.
Also checked is the number of spaces, street parking vs dedicated lot, overall condition, and drainage issues if present.
Fire Suppression / Fire Alarm
When looking to purchase a commercial building, taking special care to inspect the fire suppression and/or fire alarm system(s) is a critical component. All too often overlooked or dismissed, these systems are extremely costly to repair once they have major failures. Maintenance is always needed, and is embedded into code standards that must be adhered to. Failure to maintain and repair these systems creates a very big liability for the building owner(s).
Barrie Inspections is ready to handle all your real estate inspection needs! We have the experience and expertise to give you the best value and the most detailed inspection! Call 361-298-0472, email James@BarrieInspections.com, or schedule on our website 24/7 HERE. Barrie Inspections is here to help you! If you’re interested in seeing a sample of these reports from actual Barrie Inspections client inspections, please visit HERE.