Jump to content

Recommended Posts

Yes, yes, and you better have some.

NY regulates commercial inspections to licensed engineers. I'm not sure about Ohio. Check your State laws first.

After that, get the ASTM e2018 standard and look it over to get an idea of the minimum baseline standard you should be looking to satisfy. I think the new one is e2018-08. Get it.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Whether or not it's legal, I've done probably close to a thousand commercial inspections over the years. Trained myself on the job (and milked my HVAC & electrical gurus several dozen times each). Kurt is correct, ASTM-something-or-another should be the basis for such, but nobody I've ever worked with wanted to pay for that; they're happy with a *visual* inspection, as my agreement differentiates. (Heck, as far as I can remember, that ASTM thingy wants one to investigate the building repair history.)

All that said, just wondering; what's the difference between a commercial building and an industrial building? Far as I can tell, it's how the building is used. . .

Link to post
Share on other sites

Whether or not it's legal, I've done probably close to a thousand commercial inspections over the years. Trained myself on the job (and milked my HVAC & electrical gurus several dozen times each). Kurt is correct, ASTM-something-or-another should be the basis for such, but nobody I've ever worked with wanted to pay for that; they're happy with a *visual* inspection, as my agreement differentiates. (Heck, as far as I can remember, that ASTM thingy wants one to investigate the building repair history.)

All that said, just wondering; what's the difference between a commercial building and an industrial building? Far as I can tell, it's how the building is used. . .

I usually identify commercial and industrial by the wiring method used. EMT is commercial. RGS (rigid galvanized steel) is industrial.

Marc

Marc

Link to post
Share on other sites

A majority of my inspections are now commercial, industrial and apartment complexes. We've done, at last estimate, about 27,000 commercial building inspections. Experience as a home inspector is a start, but there's a whole world of different building materials and standards.

I've done the popular Commercial Inspection course. I picked up a couple tips, but in my opinion, it does not completely prepare anyone for inspecting commercial buildings. I think anyone doing commercial inspections (other than converted houses or a shop w/apartment above) should have a prior career and training as a facilities manager.

Many of the inspections I do are for companies expanding into a larger facility or acquiring additional buildings. They often send an architect and/or their facilities manager to attend the inspection - they usually have extensive knowledge of commercial building products and the IBC. If you don't show you know more about the building than they do, they'll fire you on the spot.

In our opinion, ASTM E 2018-01 focuses very little on the technical aspects of building systems and structures. It's a "walk through survey" by a "field observer", who is not required to have comprehensive knowledge of building systems. The standard seems to lean more toward document research on the property and collecting hearsay from folks associated with the building, that have no incentive to provide accurate data.

It was much more than 5 employees. We've done 72,000 inspections.

Link to post
Share on other sites

It's been quite a few years since I've looked at e2018 (mine's from 1999), but your description isn't right. I agree that it's a baseline minimal approach, but it isn't what you're describing. It covers a lot of stuff that's superfluous, but it's an SOP; it's hitting all sorts of stuff.

Where does it mention collecting hearsay?

Where does it say the "field observer" doesn't need comprehensive knowledge? Section X.1.1 (I think) has descriptions about the folks doing the job, but I don't recall anywhere it says the person needn't be competent.

One might look at Section 8 which outlines the basic technical aspects of a commercial inspection.

One might also consider some of the document collection it cites, and although I disclaim that stuff, it's useful information to have. If one doesn't want to research documents, that's fine.

It's a minimum standard of practice. Like any SOP, it's open to all sorts of interpretations.

Folks can adopt or omit whatever portions they want, but it's not a bad description of the stuff one should be looking at and how to approach the task. It's overblown, like most ASTM documents, but I'm not aware of any other document describing what one might consider when doing commercial inspections.

I'm curious....

There's about 5 inspectors at Tri County, aren't there? 27,000 inspections would break down to about 5400 inspections each, or around 900-1000 inspections for the company each year since (about) 1985. Broken down into individuals.....that would be about 200 commercial inspections each year for each employee since 1985-ish.

That seems to be some very serious activity. Is my arithmetic way off?

Link to post
Share on other sites

You probably remember more about it then I do. I couldn't tell you what is where in the document.

My opinion of the standard is influenced by litigation support. I'm amazed at how many home inspectors claim to do commercial building inspections to the ASTM standard and have never even read the document.

Where does it say the "field observer" doesn't need comprehensive knowledge? Section X.1.1 (I think) has descriptions about the folks doing the job, but I don't recall anywhere it says the person needn't be competent.

From what I recall, the qualifications of the field observer are never defined. Only the experience of the PCR reviewer are discussed and even then, there is no requirement for the reviewer to have any degree or license (it does mention architects and engineers), only that the experience can vary, dependent on the property type/scope and the "risk tolerance" of the client.

Where does it mention collecting hearsay?

Relying on information from interviewing current and past owners and tenants of the property has been shown to be inaccurate in some cases and not backed by any documentation or corroboration.

It was more than 5 employees for decades. We've done about 72,000 inspections.

Link to post
Share on other sites

My E&O currently does not cover me for commercial inspections. I can get the extra coverage, but have chosen not to. You need to justify the extra costs with a decent volume of work.

Price the work for what it is worth. Plan to call in a structural engineer, and maybe HVAC or electrical consultants. If you don't need them, fine, but you should price the job accordingly. You collect from the client, but you pay for the extra consulting if needed.

Plan to walk a lot of flat roofs. What's under the gravel? How old is that top layer and what's under that?

I am hearing of commercial inspections done for slightly more than a residential. That is ludircrous and may not be giving the client what he needs to know. It is a huge investment and the client will pay accordingly. Commercial clients will not sweat the minor details, but you had better know your stuff dealing with the majors.

Link to post
Share on other sites

It's just another ASTM standard. Some good, some bad, some stupid and silly.

I review information from past tenants and owners, and of course in some cases the information is not reliable or backed up with documentation. I don't think that's a good reason to not ask questions.

If an inspector is being smart, they're not asking questions with obvious answers. I ask questions of owners and tenants all the time, intentionally leading them places where it would be easy to lie, obfuscate, or misrepresent stuff. Sometimes folks are honest and true blue, sometimes I catch them in contradictions.

An inspector's gotta be smarter than an ASTM standard and past owners/tenants.

I still think it's a good idea to go over e2018 if one's going to do commercial inspections. Dismissing it without any recommendation to something similar or better leaves on without any guide whatsoever.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Price the work for what it is worth. Plan to call in a structural engineer, and maybe HVAC or electrical consultants. If you don't need them, fine, but you should price the job accordingly. You collect from the client, but you pay for the extra consulting if needed.

Plan to walk a lot of flat roofs. What's under the gravel? How old is that top layer and what's under that?

Most of my commercial clients have their own structural engineer, usually aligned with a general contractor. I've got a couple HVAC teams depending on the job. Electrical stuff.... clients are usually changing it all around and are mostly interested in the service capacity.

Roofs. They can be problematic. If it's a big EPDM, someone's usually calling Carlisle. TPO? Same thing. Duralast gets the call if it's PVC.

If it's a big ballasted BUR, it's often easy. Most of them are pretty crappy nowadays. If a client has other facilities, they already know they want new roofing, or they've got their guy figuring out the costs.

I've found commercial to be better paying and easier work than residential, for the most part.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...