Commercial building inspections can give clients the same peace of mind that a residential inspection does. Reports can provide information on the estimated cost of repairs, the current condition of hundreds of components in the buildings and added confidence going into purchase negotiations. Still, most commercial properties are not inspected as part of the sales agreement. On the residential side, nearly 80 percent of homes under contract include an inspection as a contingency to purchase. As a result, standards of practice and codes of ethics for home inspection are clearly defined by national home inspection organizations, whereas commercial building inspection has lagged behind.
A few industry-related trade groups have attempted to establish commercial inspection standards without much luck. However, ASTM International, a globally-recognized organization dedicated to testing, measuring and evaluating nearly everything to do with construction, has written a set of standards for a baseline property condition assessment process. The ASTM does not apply to partial inspections, but it does give commercial clients the outline for a reporting process that allows for standardization of forms and clarity of responsibility.
Standards for Commercial Building Assessment
The ASTM E 2018-01 standard is a copyrighted document. It is 45-pages long and cannot be copied. Its basic tenets require the inspector to:
- review plans, drawings, maintenance records and applicable warranties
- interview people with knowledge of the property
- complete an onsite inspection of visible systems and components
- provide approximate repair/replacement costs
Having an ASTM standard property condition assessment is voluntary. It's also smart business. It can help with due diligence, information gathering and ultimately the decision whether or not to purchase the property. With a clear set of standards in mind, this type of assessment allows for better communication between client and inspector/consultant.
To learn more about ASTM and their standards, go to: www.astm.org.