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How to Best Approach Commercial Inspections

Commercial inspections

A building of this size would be suitable for your first commercial inspection.

As a home inspector, you may want to expand your offerings and begin providing commercial inspections as well. But how do you get into this particular segment of inspections?

Limit Your Commercial Inspections to Smaller Buildings

Here at ICA School, inspecting commercial buildings is part of our home inspection course. In it, we advise you, the home inspector, to start small and not take on large or multi-building campuses like schools and factories. You may eventually branch out into these inspections, but even when you choose to do so, you will likely need to form a team of experts and engineers to help you, as the experience you gain as a home inspector will not provide you with the knowledge necessary to sign off on large commercial systems.

Some commercial buildings that would be suitable for you to start with include small office buildings that are similar to houses, small apartment buildings and strip malls. We refer to these as “light commercial” inspections, which have a lot in common with home inspections.

Roofs Are a Major Part of Commercial Inspections

A light commercial building is usually not more than two stories. While more than two stories is not in itself so complicated, inspecting a roof that high off the ground might be. Your ladder likely isn’t that tall, so it would be hard to do a complete roof inspection. If you have a drone, however, this could allow you to adequately service this segment of light commercial buildings.

However, if a taller building has an elevator or an escalator, this will be out of your scope of expertise. Only specialized certified technicians should inspect vertical transportation. Also, pass on inspecting buildings with heavy machinery or manufacturing equipment. This would generally be beyond your area of expertise.

For apartment buildings, the ASTM identifies apartment buildings with more than four units as commercial. Therefore, you may be qualified to inspect an apartment building with four or more units, but the number of apartments will depend on its classification as a home inspection or a commercial inspection. The standards of practice for each can vary, as well as the pricing structure and contract.

Glass building with blue sky in the background.

Commercial buildings larger than 20,000 square feet should be inspected by a team of professionals.

Review the Standards of Practice for Commercial Inspections

ASTM sets Standards of Practice for Commercial buildings that can be detailed and complex.

We recommend you set a limit of 20,000 square feet on the size of the commercial buildings you will inspect. This is because a building larger than this will likely take more than a day to inspect and document, and this could backlog your regular inspection schedule. It also may end up making the job less profitable for you, depending on the fee schedule you set up.

These are just some of the helpful things the ICA commercial inspection course can teach you before you embark upon your first commercial inspection. If you have previously earned a home inspection certificate from ICA school, you can still use your logins to review the course on performing light commercial inspections. If you have yet to earn your home inspection training certificate, enroll now.

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