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Commercial inspection questions


homnspector
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It all depends on the local AJJ. I could not find anything in the IBC that would prohibit a panel in a bathroom. By separation in the attic area, I'm assuming that you are talking about a firewall. If it is no the same suite or owner, then they should have a firewall. This is for fire safety as well as security.

Keep in mind that a commercial inspection is not like a home inspection. You report what you find, the condition of what you find and then we move on.

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Originally posted by homnspector

I am hoping somebody can answer these questions on a commercial building:

Does there need to be any separation in the attic area between suites, i.e., drywall?

I think that the answer depends on many factors that you might not be able to know. There are flex buildings that are designed to have flexible separations and suites. Ultimately, the fire separation requirements will go back to whatever was approved on the original plans. If you try to guess at what it should be, you'll almost certainly be wrong.

Can the breaker panel be located in the bathroom?

Yes, as long as it's not a dwelling or a guest suite in a hotel or motel.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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By bringing up the question of separation you are treading on IBC turf (or whatever codes applied when built). Separation and rated assemblies are a whole topic in themselves, again best addressed at the design/build stage.

If a buyer wants to know about codes applications for an intended occupancy type he should be going through the permit application and design process,along with the help of a licensed designer and/or codes consultant, not hiring a home inspector, unless it is just an assessment of the physical properties of the building's components.

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"Keep in mind that a commercial inspection is not like a home inspection. You report what you find, the condition of what you find and then we move on."

I don't really understand that comment.

"If a buyer wants to know about codes applications for an intended occupancy type he should be going through the permit application and design process, along with the help of a licensed designer and/or codes consultant, not hiring a home inspector.."

Nope, nothing fancy like that, just your basic inspection. I was thinking that maybe since it isn't an area intended for sleeping, maybe a fire separation isn't required. Since it is, I am now assuming it was originally 1 suite later converted to 2 suites, so the lack of a firewall is an issue, and should be repaired.

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Usually the problem with "code" and commercial inspections is the inspector attempts to apply the residential building code. Most inspectors do not knowledge or experience with commercial code applications nor functions. This does not sound like a job for a home inspector.

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Originally posted by homnspector

"Keep in mind that a commercial inspection is not like a home inspection. You report what you find, the condition of what you find and then we move on."

I don't really understand that comment.

"If a buyer wants to know about codes applications for an intended occupancy type he should be going through the permit application and design process,along with the help of a licensed designer and/or codes consultant, not hiring a home inspector.."

Nope, nothing fancy like that, just your basic inspection. I was thinking that maybe since it an area intended for sleeping, maybe a fire seperation isn't required. Since it is, I am now assuming it was originally 1 suite later converted to 2 suites, so the lack of a firewall is an issue, and should be repaired.

Les, said pretty much what I was going to say. My suggestion would be to invest in a copy of the ASTM guidelines for commercial inspections E-2018. This is what most of us use as a skeleton or frame for commercial inspections.

On a side note: Once you read ASTM E-2018 you will see why any ASTM standards for home inspections would be a bad idea.

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I am of the opinion they are completely different processes. But, I have a different opinion about what a home inspection is or should be.

I do not think home inspections are for the protection of the home buyer. Home inspections are to present the buyer with facts they can use to make a decision. I don't think I am there to protect them nor go on and on about "lead paint, tainted faucets, fiberglass insulation, asbestos floor tile, etc." Note I said "go on and on".

Commercial inspections are highly specialized, difficult and require much more expertise than the average home inspector possesses. Of course there are inspectors that are graduates of a two week class that seem to do everything and proclaim they are experts. Me and mine take the alternate approach: education and experience and tell folks we don't know everything, just more than the two week wonder down the street.

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I am guessing we are talking about different levels of commercial inspection here. I wouldn't pretend to have the knowledge or expertise to inspect a strip mall, large grocery store, high rise or anything similar. All the commercial I have done (maybe 200 inspections, W.A.G.) have been things like 4 small connected retail units, small warehouses, house converted to an insurance office, 12 unit B&B, that sort of thing. I have always used the same standards as a home inspection, i.e, inspect and report on everything I can access. I have never had any client complaints about the scope, so will continue to inspect the same way.

I agree with you about the "protection" aspect. The protection of the buyer is that they can decide to buy or walk, nothing more. It shouldn't matter to us which they choose (although more and more I find myself hoping they will walk). You can put 100 warning stickers on a ladder and people are still going to choose to stand on the top step.

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Fritz,

Did not mean to imply anything negative regarding commercial stuff. You are right in thinking I speak of buildings a little more commercial; built that way. There comes a time when the commercial buyer(s) goes from an inspection to a reserve study to a commercial due diligence to a condition report. One of the largest commercial inspection projects we ever did was for GM. They had us working for two months everyday inspecting buildings, then demolished them the next week. Our job was to document the condition of the building(s) for tax purposes. We had no idea that was the purpose, on purpose.

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