What do Commercial Building Inspectors look out for During an Assessment?

Building Condition Assessment

When clients have a building or structure that requires remedial works, they call a consultant to a building assessment.
A Building Condition Assessment also referred to as a Property Condition Assessment (PCA), is a process that involves inspection, review, and report generation or the state of the condition of a commercial building structure. Commercial building inspection services are entirely different from a home inspection.

When is a Building Condition Assessment Needed?

Financial institutions require a PCA before approving a loan request. Results obtained from such assessment helps both institutions and owner make an informed decision on ownership and price negotiation.
Apart from the reason stated above, a PCA may also provide valuable information whether to sell, renovate, or demolish a facility based on its condition. It can provide the owner with valuable information regarding its cost and timeline for the maintenance program.

What is a commercial building?

Commercial buildings are those properties that are used for commercial purposes. The properties are used to earn income.

Who performs a commercial building inspection:

Asset managers have various options when they require the services of a commercial building inspection company. A consultant is usually hired. The competency of a consultant depends on several factors ranging from experience, professional registration, education, and training.
The consultant usually employs a PCR reviewer and field observer. The qualifications of the field observer and the PCR reviewer are critical to the performance of the PCA and resulting PCR.


Buying property requires detailed investigation and research before purchasing decision can be made. The BCA report indicates the type of repairs that are needed, i.e., short term as well as in the longer term.

Five Main Components a Commercial Inspector focus on during inspection:

a) The Building’s Five Major Systems.

In general, a commercial structure comprises M&E installations, heating, plumbing, air- conditioning/ventilation.
Building inspectors should ensure all systems are functioning at optimum capacity. Should there be a case of non-functioning systems, inspectors should estimate the cost of remedial work in his report.

b) The Building Exterior

A building’s core comprises more than just its outer walls; it also entails other infrastructure such as parking lots, landscaping, and roofing structure. The structural integrity of the buildings is determined by the inspector and call to attention any necessary repair costs. In certain instances, the inspector may seek the services of specialized experts to inspect the exterior conditions of the building fully

Read Also: Commercial Building Inspections – Tips for Finding a Reliable and Competent Building Inspector

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c) The Building Interior

This component of inspection serves two purposes: to ensure the internal spaces adhere to local building codes and to investigate risks and hazards. The inspector will check the structure walls, floors, bathrooms, kitchen spaces, and similar areas.

d) The Building Structural Integrity

The structural elements of a building make up the framework of a building. Elements such as beams, slabs, foundations, columns are designed and built to cater to both dead (permanent) load and live load (variable load). A structural Integrity Assessment checks the conditions of these elements.
The responsibility to conduct such an assessment should only be given to a registered professional engineer. Others may notice and report defects, but opinion on remedial solutions to such defects can only be rendered by an engineer.
There are many features in building structures that can not be predicted. For example, soils move in a non-homogenous pattern. Wood is a material that is subject to shrinkage, rot, etc. Loads such as snow are variable in nature.
Structural members on which integrity assessment are checked:

  • Foundation

Foundations concrete visible to the eyes should be inspected for cracks, movements, non- alignment, distress in members, and exposed reinforcement.
Report on: The impact of any distress or deterioration. Where appropriate, suggest remedies to repair, including an estimated range of costs for the repairs that will be provided.

  • Basement/Crawl Space Water

To be inspected: Check evidence of water entry and /or gathering in the crawl space/basement. Check for visible crack. The nature and extent of the crack.
To be reported:Find out if possible, the reason for water ingress, as well as cracks.

Read Also: General Knowledge of Cost to have a Building Inspected

  • Framing

To be inspected: Check visible portion of the floor, ceiling, and roof. Identify wood deterioration, rot, and other related declines, visually evaluate the adequacy of framing other structural components.
Report on: Evidence of structural deficiencies, the approximate scope of structural repairs required, estimated cost of structural repairs required.

  • Roof

To be inspected: Roof covering, flashing, sheathing (Fire Resistant Plywood), gutters for condition, type, current performance, and evidence of leakage and roof penetration like drains, hatch, chimneys, etc.
Report on: Conditions requiring repair or replacement immediately or near future. And suggest the approximate cost to repair/ replace.

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e) The Building’s Documentation

Building inspectors review several documents during the process. They may review previous assessments, building plans, environmental studies, fire safety systems records, floor plans & maintenance records. This information will show the real cost of owning the building and help the investor choose the value of the property.
An inspector’s results will be put together in a final property condition report (PCR). The final report will contain written evidence or observations as well as photos for ease of understanding. It will also provide recommendations from the inspection on how to carry out corrective action or request subsequent testing by the specialist.

Patrick Buffalo

Project Coordinator at prycoglobal
Patrick Buffalo is a Construction Engineering Technology graduate conducting Building Condition Assessments and Project Estimations. He has developed advanced knowledge on building science and is our lead BCA personnel. He also assists the project managers with day to day activities.
Patrick Buffalo

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