The Comprehensive Guide to Choosing a Structural Commercial Building Inspector: Everything You Need to Know

Navigating the complex world of commercial real estate is no small feat, especially when it comes to ensuring that your investment is sound and secure. One of the most crucial steps in this journey is the selection of a qualified commercial property inspector. This comprehensive guide aims to simplify this process for you by detailing the various types of inspections, the qualifications to look for in an inspector, and much more.

The Indispensable Role of a Structural Engineering Inspection during Commercial Building Purchases

Why Structural Engineers are Non-Negotiable

In many cases, commercial buildings undergo modifications to accommodate a variety of tenants, sometimes without the proper permits. Even when permits are involved, the structural integrity may be compromised if proper commercial building inspection procedure is not followed.

As commercial properties are usually occupied by members of the public, safety is a paramount concern. A comprehensive commercial building inspection by a structural engineer or qualified commercial inspector can ensure existing problems are identified prior to occupation and the building does not pose any safety hazards.

A structural engineer specializes in assessing the commercial building from its foundation to the roof. This expert is trained to identify potential issues that may not be visible to the untrained eye but could become serious problems down the line.

Q&A: What is the purpose of a property inspector?

Simply put, a property inspector provides a detailed report on the condition of the property. They identify existing issues, potential hazards, and might even offer an estimation on necessary repair costs. A property inspector is not qualified to review structural changes.

Five Categories of commercial building inspection.

Understanding the various categories of inspections is crucial for making a well-informed investment or leasing decision. Whether you’re tenants seeking to understand the condition of your future office buildings, an investor eyeing a residential complex, or a business owner overseeing commercial properties, commercial property inspections tailored to each scenario are indispensable.

The five categories of commercial inspections include Tenant Inspections, residential Inspection, Building Inspection (Construction), Vacant Building Inspections, and Environmental studies. Each type of inspection addresses specific aspects, be it structural integrity, safety requirements, or environmental hazards affecting landscaping, providing a comprehensive overview that can impact your property’s rental income, safety, and future repair costs. Trusting a commercial property inspection company that employs highly skilled structural engineers like Level Engineering, ensures that all issues are thoroughly examined and provides written evidence to be used in commercial real estate transactions.

Structural Commercial Building Structural Inspection 

When it comes to commercial property inspections, you must select a company with a track record of reliability and expertise, such as Level Engineering & Architecture. They can provide a comprehensive structural inspection that goes beyond mere surface-level checks.

Testimonial

“Steven Norton has done several property inspections for me, always professional and thorough, and he is timely in his reporting! Highly recommend!” J. Cole

Commercial Building Inspections Near Me – Why Local Matters

Inspectors familiar with local building codes and regulations can offer additional insights that could be crucial in evaluating the property’s condition and value. Building systems and environmental factors can vary depending on the region. Using a company like Level engineering provides in depth knowledge of the areas where they undertake commercial inspections which is a major value add for commercial property owners looking to maximize on real estate investments.

General vs. Structural Commercial Inspection

While general commercial inspectors can offer a broad overview of a building’s condition, they are not legally permitted to evaluate structural integrity. That job requires a licensed Structural Engineer. Understanding the limitations of general commercial inspections vis-à-vis a structural inspection can profoundly impact your investment and safety.

Remedial work on Structural deficiencies are expensive to fix. However, routine maintenance and regular commercial building inspections will ensure critical issues such as roofing, plumbing and even building code violations are detected in time to prevent serious damage.

Commercial Construction Inspectors

These professionals play a crucial role in ensuring that new constructions adhere to all local and federal building codes, safety regulations, and other mandated standards. It’s important to note the difference between general property inspectors and Structural engineers that undertake professional inspections. 

Protecting Your Future Investment

Having an engineer undertake a professional inspection as part of your commercial building inspection, will provide a deeper understanding of all major systems in the building. These include visual inspections of the building’s exterior, detailed inspection of the roofing, plumbing, electrical installations and an expert evaluation of the building’s structure. This information is critical to making informed decisions when investing in property or safeguarding existing investments.

Qualifications and Certifications

Structural engineers are distinguished by specialized qualifications that accredit their expertise in assessing the buildings integrity and adhering to safety standards, essential in commercial structural building inspections.

Becoming an Engineer

The journey to becoming a structural engineer is intensive, involving a degree in engineering, followed by practical training under a Professional Engineer (PE), and state certification. This path ensures engineers possess the advanced skills needed for detailed structural inspections.

In contrast, General commercial property inspectors receive training and certification through organizations like the CCPIA, focusing on broader and more surface level property inspection. Both of these are essential to the overall safety of the commercial  built environment. 

The Journey to Becoming a Commercial Property Inspector

If you’re considering a career in this field, you’ll need a strong educational background in construction, architecture, or engineering, along with certifications and field experience.

Various training programs and certifications are available to aspiring commercial property inspectors. These programs cover different aspects of inspections, from structural evaluations to systems assessments.

The Commercial Inspection Report – Your Roadmap

A commercial inspection report is your comprehensive guide to understanding the condition of your prospective property. This document details everything from structural integrity to safety hazards and necessary repairs.

Look for detailed descriptions and photographs documenting the inspector’s findings. The information in this report will be critical when making your investment decision.

The Aging Infrastructure Dilemma in the USA

With a significant number of commercial buildings in the United States now past their intended lifespan, the need for commercial building inspections is greater than ever. The most critical of these being structural inspections as structural issues are often hidden beneath the surface,and can worsen over time. Hiring a reputable structural engineer can extend the lifespan of an aging building and prevent expensive repairs further down the line. 

Regular inspections can help identify issues that are common in older buildings, from structural weaknesses to outdated electrical systems, thereby helping you make an informed investment decision.

Conclusion and Final Thoughts

Choosing a qualified structural inspector is one of the most critical steps in safeguarding your commercial property investment. Special considerations, such as the age of the building, its structural integrity, and the credibility of the inspection firm all play into making a sound investment. At Level Engineering, it is our business to ensure your property is a safe space to obtain good returns.

Key Takeaways:

  • Always opt for a certified and reputable structural engineering firm for commercial property inspection.
  • Understand the limitations and scopes of different types of inspections.
  • Never underestimate the value of a detailed commercial property inspection report.

Contact Level Engineering & Architecture today to ensure your next investment is a secure one.

Scott Zurn, P.E.

Scott Zurn, P.E.

Founder and CEO of Level Engineering & Level Design Partners. With more than 4 decades of experience, Scott Zurn has contributed to all aspects of the building industry, serving both public and private sectors. He’s achieved tremendous success in commercial and residential markets, held leadership roles such as building official, city engineer, and director for local governments, and accomplished hundreds of millions of dollars in successful commercial building and civil infrastructure as a designer, project manager, and leader. As the Founder of the Level brand, Scott is dedicated to ensuring the entrepreneurial success of design professionals, as well as creating positive environmental impacts through design work. Read Scott’s full bio here.

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