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Should I Get a Building Inspection or Not?

Jul 13, 2008
I have been asked many times how important is a building inspection? Do I really need one? This is a new building why should I have an inspection? The city said it was ok, so I dont really need an inspection, do I? It all looks good to me so why do I need to spend even more money having someone else go through it?

Here are my thoughts. Yes, you do need a building inspection. Here is why. If you went to a doctor and got a complete physical and he said everything is ok would you be upset and feel like you had wasted your money? No, you would feel good.

You are now going about the most expensive venture of your life or at least a very substantial one. Doesn't it make sense to have a professional examine it for you who has no vested interest in telling you if something is good or bad?

I did a commercial inspection on a brand new building in Downtown Los Angeles about a year ago. It wasnt even completed but the new buyers wanted me to go through it and tell them what I thought. I had talked to them to let them know I was NOT going to be doing a code inspection. That is the cities job.

They understood this very well, they just wanted a professional, other than the current contractor or the city to look at everything and list out what still needed to be done and how well things were being done. This is not what I usually do but I agreed. I did this and found maybe $200,000 - $300,000 of work either not done or not done properly. I took many pictures and detailed my findings. I was then called in about a month later when the contractor said he was done and found about $20,000 - $30,000 still left to do or not done to professional standards. I was then called in about a month after that and found everything was done and done to professional standards. All of this cost the buyer less than $3,000 for this building. It was the best money they ever spent.

Usually we look at buildings that are older. The oldest so far was from the 1860s. We go through them fully. This most often takes about 1 to 3 hours using at least two building inspectors depending on size and complexity. We gather our notes and take pictures and ensure we have everything we need to put together the report back in the office.

We usually go through what we have found on the site with our client if they are present or one of their representatives. We then assemble everything back at the office and usually email the report out that same day. It could take up to 3 to 5 days later depending on the size and complexity of the site. We can usually do up to a 20,000 - 30,000 thousand sq. ft. office building in one day and get the report out that same day.

We let you know what we have found. We inform you what shape the building is in and how much you should expect to pay over the next five years on the building per industry standards.

Here are the six things we have found to be the most important aspects of any building:

A. Roofing B. HVAC - (Heating Venting and Air Conditioning) C. Electrical D. Plumbing E. Structure F. Site/grounds

We take each one and let you know: 1. What is the expected useful life left in the system per industry standards? 2. What repairs/maintenance are needed now and how much this will cost? 3. What you should expect to pay over the next five years for each system?

What we do not include is the costs of routine maintenance or any cosmetic issues. This is up to buyer or lessee.

These three things above are the things we call a RISK Assessment. It gets you the answer to the most important question that is asked regarding Commercial Real Estate. Namely - How Much? It can be how much anything but it is always, How Much?

That is the question we can and do answer. We answer it per industry standards and consultation with local contractors.

We can tell you who we feel are reliable contractors. We have not found it workable to refer you to the cheapest contractors. This never seems to work out over the long haul. And we are in this for the long haul.

You can always call us. We will be glad to answer any questions.

I hope this answered your question. Do I really need to get a building inspection? Yes you do.
About the Author
Bob has been a Certified Inspector since 1994 and a licensed contractor for nearly 4o years. For more information about commercial real estate inspections visit his website at http://www.commercialrealestateinspectors.com to find out how he can help with your real estate inspection.
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