A full property inspection is key to ensuring that the commercial space you’re leasing or buying is free from issues that could develop into a full blown crisis down the line. Although it’s strongly recommended that you call in a third party professional with no stake in the game to perform an in depth inspection on your behalf, there are some things you can do on your own to help weed out some of the less desirable properties.
Do a walk-through of the grounds surrounding the property. This includes the parking lot itself and any landscaped areas. Ensure that all parking spaces are well marked, and pay attention to the condition of the parking lot itself. Excessive pot holes, cracks in the cement, or an uneven layout can sometimes result in injuries to your employees or clients and can leave potential clients with an unprofessional impression of your business. Check landscaped areas for signs of operational sprinklers and properly situated irrigation that will prevent flooding in the event of heavy rain.
Walk the perimeter of the building and check the structure itself. Needless to say, you probably won’t have the equipment or the expertise to identify any complex structural or foundational issues, but there are some areas you can focus your attention on that may tip you off to whether the property in question is worthy of a closer look. Check for signs of unnatural wear on the exterior of the building itself. Whenever possible, check any exposed sections of the building’s foundation for cracks. Note any broken, frayed, or otherwise damaged electrical cables leading outward from the inside of the building.
Ensure that emergency exits aren’t blocked from the outside, and confirm that all entries into the building are easily accessible to wheelchairs.
Perform an extensive walk-through of the inside of the building, from top to bottom. If it’s possible to access the basement of the facility, take the opportunity to look for any cracks in the foundation that may be visible. Look at every single window and door and make note of any damage that you see. Also pay attention to static light fixtures, spots in the ceiling that could indicate past leaks, and carpet damage that could have come from the same cause. The condition of a property’s plumbing is also essential to its suitability. Since it’s not likely you’ll be able to inspect the plumbing yourself, you can detect problems by testing all faucets and toilets for leaks or low pressure.
If you encounter any serious issues during your property walk-through, raise it with the current property owners before taking it as a sign to turn and run the other way. Repair of minor issues can sometimes work to your benefit by giving you leverage in price negotiations.
Before you bring in a third party to perform a commercial property inspection, it’s prudent to first make sure they know what they’re doing. You can do this easily – and without ruffling any feathers – by checking to see if they’re certified by an accredited organization like the NACBI, which is short for the National Association of Commercial Building Inspectors. This will ensure that you don’t sign up for a five-year commercial lease, only to discover major electrical or plumbing problems six months down the line that should have been identified in the initial property inspection.