A Commercial INSPECTION would normally entail an actual inspection of the whole building on its interior and its exterior, from the roof to the foundation. They are detailed as to specific condition of items sampled. Unless the customer chooses for economy sake, to request that only representative samples of similar items be tested and inspected, would most often include inspections of all surfaces, structures, and equipment within a commercial property.
The inspector would do a visual review of all areas of the building and its systems. This would normally include the interior and exterior walls, structural frame, roof, the exterior parking and pedestrian surfaces, interior floors, all plumbing, electrical and heating/cooling equipment. He would inspect the mechanical systems by opening the normal access plates and service compartment covers to allow an interior assessment of the particular piece of equipment.
Heating equipment is normally more fully inspected. At a minimum the system is run through a normal cycle. Many inspectors will do carbon monoxide testing of the heating equipment as part of their inspection. Some will even do full heat exchanger inspections where possible using inspection mirrors. The air distribution ducts should be inspected where accessible in the ceiling voids.
The electrical distribution system is normally inspected by means of doing representative sampling of the plugs, lights, and other normal outlets throughout the building. In many cases when the building is occupied some of the systems can not be turned on and off. The distribution panels should be opened through removal of the covers to inspect the wiring and the breakers. The main entry cables and transformers should be inspected for visual signs of problems. The wiring feeds are normally inspected where visible in the ceiling plenums and in unfinished basements and or utility areas.
The plumbing systems are inspected for general function and leaks. The supply and waste lines are inspected visually where accessible. Water heaters are inspected for present leaks and probable life expectancy. Where there are fire suppression systems they are normally visually reviewed and the main water supply for them is visibly inspected looking for the most recent municipal inspection tags.
The overall structure is inspected including but not limited to the roof, exterior walls, windows and doors, paved surfaces, interior ceilings, walls, floors, ceiling plenum (void above the drop ceilings where so equipped) and or the attic are inspected.
In smaller buildings a client may choose to have the entire building inspected or surveyed from top to bottom. There is normally representative sampling of systems in the building or buildings. IE X number of plugs, lights, windows and doors. The primary systems (plumbing, electrical panels, heating units, cooling units etc) are normally all tested in a full inspection unless it is otherwise agreed to use representative samples.
In many cases, depending on the type and size of the building, the client may choose to select a smaller representative sampling of units and systems. This is commonly done for economy sake to reduce the cost of the survey or inspection. By doing this the client gambles on the sampled systems being “representative” of the overall units and systems. This would be common for instance in a multi-family apartment building where viewing each apartment would be too time consuming. The data compiled, (assumed to be representative of the whole) is than interpolated as to likely type and condition of represented equipment throughout. Commonly this option requires that the sampling is random and it is prudent to select a mix of types and locations in the building or buildings. It is likely that the inspectors’ insights could help to guide the selection of the best locations to use as samples.
Usually the findings are than compiled at the inspectors’ office and the findings presented in a final inspection report. Some inspectors’ rely almost solely on the written word and others use both the written document and photos’ that may accompany the written report for clarification. Many inspectors may caption the pictures for clarity. The findings should not only discuss the issues found but also the way in which inspection was done. It should include recommendations from the inspector as to follow up testing and or corrective action required or as needed to clarify the problems the need for technical review by a specialist. In most cases there will be a cost estimate for purposes of budgeting repairs and future replacements.
Retired MI Home Inspector