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Commercial FAQ


1. What is the difference between a Home Inspection and a Commercial Building Inspection?

Home Inspection rules apply to structures that have (or are intended to have) people living in them but have no more than 4 family dwelling units. For instance, a 4 unit quad-home is a “home” under should be Inspected using the rules of a Home Inspection. On the other hand, a 50 unit apartment building is a Commercial Building in the sense of an Inspection. The gray area is something like a 10 unit townhouse complex. Each townhouse is normally owned and occupied by an individual owner. An Inspection of an individual townhouse unit is normally handled as a Home Inspection, even though the entire complex houses more than 4 families. If the entire townhouse complex is Inspected as a single unit it should be handled as a Commercial Building.

2. Are the rules and standards for a Home Inspection different than the rules and standards for a Commercial Inspection?

Maybe. In some states Home Inspectors and/or Commercial Building Inspectors are licensed by the State. If licensed, Inspectors will be required to follow the standards set by the State. It is frequently the case that these standards will be different for a Home Inspection versus a Commercial Building Inspection. In Tennessee, Home Inspectors are licensed by the State and standards are set for Home Inspections. Commercial Building Inspections are not regulated by the State of Tennessee.

3. If Commercial Building Inspectors are not licensed what standards do they follow?

Hopefully they follow the ASTM International Standard E 2018-01. This is an industry standard that is well developed and offers sound guidance for Commercial Building Inspections. If your Commercial Building Inspector does not follow this standard, ask them what they are using.

4. How long will a Commercial Building Inspection take?

Again the 1 hour per thousand square foot rule is a reasonable estimate for the visual walk-through. Like Home Inspections, the time to complete a Commercial Building Inspection will vary depending on the services requested, the age of the structure, occupancy, etc.

5. What services are available for a Commercial Building Inspection?

A reputable Commercial Building Inspector will offer the following services: a visual walk-through survey, a document review, key personnel interviews, an opinion of probable costs (estimate) to repair or upgrade, an abbreviated Tier II ADA survey, and environmental services.

6. What happens on a visual walk-through survey?

The walk-through survey is a non-intrusive visual observation of the readily accessible and easily visible components and systems of the subject property. The objective of the walk-through survey is to provide a representative visual observation of the site and structure(s) so as to obtain information on material systems and components for the purpose of providing a brief description, identifying material physical deficiencies to the extent that they are observable, and obtain information requested by our Client.

Systems and components included in the walk-through survey are the site, utilities, structural frame, building envelope, roofing, plumbing, heating, air conditioning, venting, electrical, vent transportation, interior elements and a limited visual observation of items for the American with Disabilities Act.

7. What is the purpose of a document review and what documents are you reviewing?

The document review is designed to augment the walk-through survey so as to assist the Inspector’s and the Client's understanding of the property and any material physical deficiencies. The documents to be reviewed may include the certificate of occupancy, maintenance records, permits for additions or alterations and any material recorded or outstanding building violations or fire code violations.

8. What is the purpose of a key personnel interview and who is being interviewed?

The key personnel interviews are also designed to augment the walk-through survey so as to assist the Inspector’s and the Client understanding of the property and any material physical deficiencies. The key personnel interviews begin with a Pre-Survey Questionnaire that is provided to the subject property’s owner or their representative. Then individuals such as the owner, property manager, on site maintenance representative, component service representative or tenants may be interviewed to provide additional insight into the property’s history.

9. How do you compute the Opinions of Probable Costs (Estimates)?

This opinion is based on information obtained during the walk-through survey, document review and key personnel interviews. This estimate is for material deficiencies and improvements as specified by our Client. The opinion may be based on various sources. Examples include property historical costs, a cost database, commercially available cost information, or third party (contractor) estimates. HABITEC uses the third party (contractor) estimate method.

The cost of the estimate varies based on which method of estimation is used. Opinions of probable costs should only be construed as preliminary budgets. Actual costs may vary.

10. How much does a Commercial Inspection cost?

Costs vary depending on the services requested by the Client. The services available for a Commercial Building Inspection are offered on an ala carte basis. Costs are then computed based on either a square foot basis or an hourly basis.
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