Unlike residential home inspections, commercial property inspections are commonly referred to as Property Condition Assessments (PCAs). According to document ASTM E-2018 Standard Guide for Property Condition Assessments section 2.3.26, a Property Condition Assessment is defined as: 'the process by which a person or entity observes a property, interviews sources, and reviews available documentation for the purpose of developing an opinion and preparing a property condition report (PCR) of a commercial real estate's current physical condition'. The definition goes on to state that, 'at the option of the user, a PCA may include a higher or lower level of inquiry or due diligence than the baseline scope as described in document ASTM E-2018'.
Though not all inclusive, listed below are some of the benefits a Commercial Property Condition Assessment (PCA) has been known to provide. However, it is important to understand that the benefits realized in conducting a PCA for any commercial property real estate transaction can vary considerably depending upon the existing physical condition of the property as well as the level of due diligence provided meaning PCAs performed at a higher level of due diligence can often act to further reduce the risk of purchase now and in time to come by compensating for uncontrollable variables and extenuating circumstances encountered that can adversely affect the results of a PCA pertaining to the property under consideration.
According to ASTM E-2018, Standard Guide for Property Condition Assessments, a Property Condition Report (PCR) is the end product resulting from completing a Property Condition Assessment (PCA) in accordance with this guide, that incorporates information obtained during a Walk-Through Survey, Document Review and Interviews, and includes opinions of probable costs for suggested remedies of major deficiencies identified therein.
Given no two commercial properties are exactly alike and considering that PCAs performed at a higher level of due
diligence normally take much longer than a baseline PCA performed according to ASTM E-2018, the cost of a PCA can vary
considerably notwithstanding a number of variables such as age, size, level of maintenance, distance traveled, etc. This
noted, there is really no definitive answer without actually visiting the property beforehand at no cost to you in order to
obtain and verify information deemed necessary for preparing a formal quote to conduct a PCA that best serves your needs.
A preliminary site visitation also gives us ample opportunity to become familiar with the property and its surroundings
including various access and occupancy considerations, all of which help to eliminate additional fees over and
above our initial quote to conduct a PCA. With few exceptions, obtaining information deemed sufficient in providing a formal
quote to conduct a PCA is normally unable to be initially completed online or over the phone.
As for the time it takes to complete this process, this usually doesn't pose a problem in that most commercial real estate transactions allow for adequate time in which to schedule and complete a PCA. In most cases, we will send you an e-mail along with a file attachment containing a formal quote in a Letter of Engagement defining the scope of PCA to be provided within twenty-four hours from the time we receive your request. Once more, our formal quote remains good for thirty days in addition to preventing surcharges due to surprises unlike others who will call to inform you of additional charges for everything under the sun that they were unaware of or didn't anticipate beforehand in conducting a PCA.
We're glad you asked, especially if you're contemplating purchasing a commercial building of considerable size since there
happen to be a few things we can do to help lower the cost without compromising the quality of PCA provided.
For example, in an effort to save time and money without compromising quality, given a commercial or industrial building with twenty gas unit heaters, you can opt to have us perform a higher level due diligent assessment of a representative number as opposed to all gas unit heaters present inside the building. Once more, this methodology can be applied to like building systems whenever there are a considerable number present.
In the example above, the representative number of gas unit heaters selected serve as a microcosm of remaining gas unit heaters not included in the sampling. While there remains an element of risk in using this approach, experience has shown this to be a reliable source of information carrying a minimum amount of risk.
Needless to say, the less time we spend in conducting a PCA without sacrificing quality equates to more money in your pocket not to mention any deficiencies revealed in conducting a higher level due diligent assessment places responsibility on the seller to correct said deficiencies as well as ensure that all and any like remaining equipment not included in the sampling are in reasonably sound and serviceable condition b4 closing.
Unfortunately, there is no predetermined or set amount of time as it depends entirely upon a number of variables such as the
type and size of property, type and complexity of mechanical and electrical systems, etc. known to vary considerably from
one property to the next. For example, it stands to reason that a PCA provided for a 50,000 square foot professional office
building is going to take considerably longer than that required for a 3,000 square foot office condo. Likewise a PCA performed
at a much higher level of due diligence will normally take much longer than a baseline PCA performed for a similar or identical
Other deciding factors that also need to be taken into account are the weather, access and occupancy considerations. For example, in conducting a higher level due diligent assessment of a package rooftop unit, there is absolutely no way we will perform an evaluation of the rooftop unit on a rainy day since doing so poses a risk to the inspector in opening service access panels as well as the possibility of damage to the equipment. Likewise, occupancy considerations of/affecting access and the working environment also need to be taken into account. This holds especially true with office condos whereby the tenants may/may not be present to provide access to their unit during normal working hours in which event arrangements need to be made ahead of time to allow ingress to the units.
All considered, unless we are confronted with extenuating circumstances beyond our control, we will normally be able to tell you about how long it should take to conduct a PCA for the property under consideration once we have visited the site beforehand (at no cost to you) in order to obtain the information we need for preparing a formal quote to provide a PCA that can best serve your needs.
In most cases, once we receive your request, we can often schedule a PCA within a few days if not sooner during the week following the date of your request. However, given that most commercial real estate transactions normally allow for adequate time in which to schedule and complete a PCA—as compared to the 5-day protocol for residential/home inspections—the sooner you schedule, the better. What you don't want to do is wait until the last minute to schedule a PCA much less hire anyone to do it! Remember, 'Haste makes Waste'. Once more, we can assure you that the good boys aren't sitting around waiting for their phone to ring.
Once we have completed the field portion of the PCA, you should anticipate receiving your property condition report within five business days in the form of an electronic email file attachment or download link including additional download links as may be required for accessing captioned digital photos in PDF format. This in turn normally allows enough time to carefully review our findings, make any phone calls and conduct online research deemed necessary in preparing and rendering a property condition report in a format that is easy to open and read using the Free Adobe Reader without your having to purchase expensive software. Moreover, for those with on-line capability, the benefits of submitting reports using this method are unsurpassed for convenience and expediency in not having to rely upon the post office or other mail carriers not to mention that you can print as many hard copies of your report as you like from your computer using the Free Adobe Reader. Moreover, as a professional courtesy, we won't hesitate to provide a copy of your report in an email PDF file attachment to your attorney or whomever you like per your instruction.
This is indeed a good question and one that requires a straight answer. So let us begin by stating that first and foremost we are not an insurance company. What this simply means is that while a baseline PCA or PCA performed at a higher level of due diligence serves to mitigate your risk of purchase (also refer to our Risk Reduction Chart), it cannot eliminate it in its entirety. In essence, what needs to be understood is that a PCA, not unlike a photo, is essentially a snapshot at a point in time regarding the readily apparent condition of the property. Hence, in reality, a PCA is not intended to determine nor predict how long a particular system or component may continue to last or perform its intended function. Needless to say, if we or our competition had the ability to provide an answer to this and like questions, there would really be no need for having a PCA. On the other hand, we have no reservations whatsoever in standing behind our assessment of the property on the day thereof.
Boy, this is a good one! To begin, this statement is altogether deceitful and misleading, and belongs on a late night
infomercial attempting to sell a service based upon anything but fact or reason. What's even more amusing, one can often
list the major building systems designated for review in conducting a typical PCA in about twenty line items or less. In
reality, while there may in fact exist hundreds and thousands of face brick in a masonry wall open to view, unless the party
conducting your inspection is a real loony tune, we can assure you that he or she is not going to take a magnifying glass to
carefully examine each and every brick present in an outside wall. While the semantics of such a ridiculous claim may be taken
somewhat literally in our example whereby one is observing an exterior brick wall containing hundreds of brick masonry units,
the truth is, anyone in the profession who advertises or preaches such nonsense is either being deceitful or operating on less
than four cylinders to begin with. In fact, it would be interesting to see their reaction in asking them of we may see a copy
of their report to substantiate the thousand or more items they're referring to.
To put things in perspective, what ultimately determines the Quality in a PCA provided should not be measured by the quantity of items observed but rather and more importantly in knowing how and what to look for in assessing the condition of a building system or component, including what other relevant and significant information the party conducting the PCA may have provided both within and outside the scope of a baseline PCA performed according to document ASTM E-2018.
Unless we know exactly what each PCA provides, we can only assume that the company submitting the higher quote is either extremely busy and really doesn't care if they get the job or not or you're comparing apples to oranges yet to be provided. This aside, what you first need to know is that anyone who quotes a fee to conduct a PCA site unseen based solely upon information retrieved over the phone, is more than likely intending to provide a baseline PCA that takes much less time to complete than a PCA performed at a much higher level of due diligence. This becomes even more than likely if you've been given a quote to provide a PCA based on the selling price or square footage of the property alone. Once more, if you've been quoted a fee to conduct a PCA based upon a percentage of a recent appraisal or listing price of the property, this in itself should immediately raise a red flag since neither appraisals nor real estate listing prices have anything to do whatsoever in providing a PCA. Last but not least, if the party you're talking to has never seen or bothered to visit the property beforehand in order to obtain or verify information they were unable to retrieve otherwise online or over the phone in preparing a quote to conduct a PCA, be prepared to incur charges over and above their initial quote to conduct a PCA to cover the cost for unanticipated/unforeseen field conditions encountered in conducting a PCA site unseen. The important point to remember is that, while shopping for a brand name product at your neighborhood Wal-Mart store can often save money, this practice seldom if ever works in shopping PCA fees alone in which event you usually wind up getting what you pay for. This is why it's so important to make sure you're comparing apples to apples (and not price alone) to help ensure your getting a PCA to best suit your needs.
Whereas a small office condo may take a few hours to complete, a large office and warehouse facility can take from one to several days. This being the case, since most people have to work for a living, we do not expect you to be present for the entire time it takes to conduct a PCA for the property under consideration. However, feel free to drop by any time on a daily basis so we can provide you with an update regarding important issues or concerns that may crop up during the course of the PCA. Another option preferred by many is to provide them with an update by phone at the end of each day. Moreover, once we have completed the PCA and property condition report, it is often customary for us to schedule a meeting with the client at the property or their place of business as soon as possible to review, discuss and answer any questions or concerns you may have regarding your property condition report.
In brief, the decision is entirely up to you. However, it's usually best to consult with one's attorney beforehand in regard to such matters. One thing we can tell you for sure is that we have never followed nor do we condone the practice of those who provide a copy of their client's report to anyone else without written authorization from the party for whom the report is intended. The reason should be obvious in that our allegiance is to the party to whom we have agreed to provide the PCA. As such, it is strictly up to the party for whom the PCA is intended to decide who else should receive a copy of their report. However, and as previously mentioned, in deciding whether or not to give or share information provided in your property condition report with another party, it's always best to consult with an attorney beforehand.
Once upon a time we would have not hesitated to say 'No' to this question. However, past experience in conducting PCAs for
both new building construction and renovations has proven otherwise. In reality, the answer depends entirely upon being able
to verify the following, namely: the reputation and track record of the building contractor; the diligence of the local
building department in performing required inspections assuming all necessary building construction permits have been
issued for work to be provided ; and overall quality of work completed to date notwithstanding work yet to be provided—
nonetheless, a difficult task to say the least and one we're unable to comment on without conducting a full blown PCA.
What we can tell you, based upon many years of experience, is simply this: As a rule of thumb, if you have already begun to experience problems with the builder, inexcusable delays costing you time and money, or if you happen to have any reservations whatsoever concerning the quality of workmanship or inspections provided by the local building department to date, then it would more than likely prove beneficial to have a high level due diligent PCA before you purchase or close on the property.
While experience has shown time and again that PCA's performed at a higher level of due diligence continue to outperform baseline PCA's in reducing one's overall level of uncertainty associated with a commercial property real estate transaction, experience has also shown that a baseline PCA performed according to ASTM E-2018 may often prove to be sufficient if and when: 1) there exist a number of people who are altogether familiar with the property other than the seller, agent or anyone else who stands to gain from the sale thereof, 2) all/any information obtained including but not limited to documentation and interviews pertaining to the property under consideration is freely available and forthcoming in addition to being deemed sufficient and reliable by the party conducting the PCA and 3) the seller, authorized agent, lessee and building occupants are all willing to cooperate without reservation in sharing information about the property with the prospective buyer and party hired to conduct the PCA.
The primary advantage has to do with the fact that, since we are not roofing or general contractors, our roof inspections pose no conflict of interest whatsoever meaning we have nothing to gain by not providing an objective and impartial assessment of the roof under consideration. Moreover, given thirty plus years of experience in conducting commercial property condition assessments in addition to providing roof inspections has given us a decisive competitive advantage in knowing what else to look for in regard to other building systems, such as parapet walls, of/affecting the roof. Another huge advantage is that unlike many roofing contractors who prefer or specialize in one roofing system over another or may be married to a specific roofing manufacturing company/supplier, we are more often than not in a much better position to provide you with the latest and most cost effective roofing solutions available.
Unfortunately, we cannot change the words that the majority of people use in performing an online search regardless of what they're looking for in which event keyword research continues to show words like 'property condition assessment' are seldom, if ever, used in searching for information on Google regarding the service we provide. The truth is, to achieve a higher level organic position in the SERPs (search engine result pages) and compete with those in our profession who rely upon paid ads for position, we have little choice other than using words most people use in searching for information pertaining to the service we provide to increase the likelihood of their finding our website.