What is included in a commercial building inspection or property condition assessment (PCA) and how do I prepare for the site assessment?


  • Generally, the same items listed in the home inspection FAQ. We follow the internationally recognized ASTM E2018-15 standard for our commercial inspections and property condition assessments. This standard allows for a variable scope of work that is mutually agreed upon between the consultant and the client and can be limited to a single item or expanded to include a team of specialized consultants. 
  • A set of pre-survey questionnaires are provided to the client. These questionnaires request disclosure, supporting documents, equipment lists, maintenance logs and a history of capital improvements. The questionnaires should be completed by the seller or property manager prior to the site visit.


We generally place commercial property condition assessments into two categories: 

  • Commercial Inspections that do not include: Opinions of probable cost, document review, building plan review, assessment of flood zone and seismic zone, assessment of vertical transportation equipment, fire protection equipment, assessment of ADA accessibility features, assessment of egress and ingress to the site and a review of municipal zoning and/or code violations.
  • Commercial Inspections generally document the defects in greater detail and is similar to our home inspection report with a custom report structure tailored to the ASTM E2018 standard. Greater emphasis is place on the defects with little or no emphasis placed on information that is publicly available. This service is less expensive and generally performed on buildings under 25,000 square feet, apartment buildings and for our triple net lease clients. The reports are generally delivered within one week depending on the size and scope of the project.
  • Why are opinions of probable costs omitted from the commercial inspection? Many of our clients work with contractors and simply obtain bids for the recommended repairs or improvements. Providing accurate estimates is time consuming and ultimately adds to the cost of the inspection, especially when providing a 5-12 year reserve term. Opinions of probable cost are based on approximate quantities. We always recommend obtaining multiple bids from qualified contractors. If you get six bids you get six different prices.
  • Baseline Property Condition Assessments (PCA) that do include: Opinions of probable cost, document review, building plan review, assessment of flood zone and seismic zone, assessment of vertical transportation equipment, cursory survey of ADA accessibility features (does not constitute an ADA compliance audit), cursory survey of fire protection equipment (does not include technical analysis or testing of components), assessment of egress and ingress to the site and a review of building permits, municipal zoning and/or code violations.
  • The property condition assessment report (PCR) generally omits items that are considered routine maintenance or items that have an aggregate repair or replacement value of less than $3,000. These reports are provided as a written narrative with photographs and supporting documents attached to the appendices. This service is more expensive and is generally performed on buildings over 25,000 square feet or when requested or required by the client or their lending partners. The reports are generally delivered within two to three weeks but may vary based on the scope of the project and the responsiveness or the seller, property manager and municipal entities to document requests.
  • Opinions of probable cost are obtained from a variety of sources, including; proprietary cost information, recent contractor estimates and RS Means facilities construction cost data. Opinions of probable cost are based on approximate quantities. We always recommend obtaining multiple bids from qualified contractors.


What items are excluded from a commercial inspection or PCA?


The following items are generally excluded, but are generally available at an additional fee or by engaging additional consultants. Please refer to the standards of practice for a complete list.

  • Phase One Environmental Site Assessment (ESA). We strongly recommend performing a Phase One ESA to most clients. We work with some of the best environmental consultants in the Country and would be happy to provide a recommendation.
  • Items that are owned by the tenant or that are the responsibility of the tenant
  • Process related equipment. These items include manufacturing equipment, medical equipment, commercial restaurant and kitchen equipment.
  • Commercial electrical panel covers are generally not removed due to the potential for disruption of business activities and arc flash hazards on high voltage equipment.
  • Fire sprinkler equipment is not inspected. Fire sprinkler and fire extinguisher inspection certificate dates are documented with a recommendation for immediate inspection if the tags or certificates are expired.
  • Technical analysis of elevator or vertical transportation equipment. Operating licensees and inspection certificates are documented. Equipment is operated via normal operating controls. A visual inspection is performed in the car/s and elevator equipment room/s.
  • ADA compliance audit. 
  • Inaccessible areas.
  • Items that are missing controls or lack adequate access to operating controls such as power roof vents and HVAC components.
  • Baseline PCA’s may only assess a portion of very large buildings or complexes. This is defined in the scope and discussed with the client prior to the site visit.
  • Standby generators and power transfer switches are not tested. Documents related to maintenance are requested in the pre-survey questionnaires.
  • Structural testing or engineering services. These services can be provided at an additional charge.
  • Concealed items such as insulation concealed behind wall coverings, concealed plumbing, electrical and duct work.
  • Concealed surfaces such and snow and ice covered roofs. We do our best to provide a thorough inspection and carry brooms and shovels to inspect a portion of snow covered surfaces.
  • Concealed foundation walls and structural components. We will look for evidence of settlement or structural cracks in the walls, floors and ceilings above concealed foundations that suggest potential problems.
  • Wells. Water testing is available for an additional fee.
  • Septic systems. The state requires that septic systems are pumped prior to the inspection. A state septic inspector license is required. Most cities require the seller to provide the septic inspection.
  • Accessory buildings such as sheds, barns, shops and pole buildings. This service can be provided for an additional fee.
  • Radon testing. This service can be provided at an additional fee.
  • Environmental concerns including asbestos, mold and Chinese drywall. If we suspect these items we will document it in the report and recommend further assessment by an environmental specialist.
  • Technical analysis of heating and cooling equipment. We can recommend commercial HVAC contractors if needed.
  • Heating and cooling components that are not visible or that cannot be observed via normal operating controls.
  • Humidification equipment.
  • Irrigation equipment. This service is available at an additional fee.
  • Pools. Heaters and some electrical components are inspected when requested. Werecommend a pool specialist to inspect the drains, pumps and other relevant components.
  • Spas or hot tubs.
  • Security systems and alarms.
  • Telecommunication equipment.
  • Playground, fitness and recreational equipment.
  • Water treatment equipment such as filters and water softeners.
  • Invasive testing or removing wall, floor or ceiling coverings. If we suspect damage to concealed components we will recommend further evaluation or intrusive testing services.