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First Commercial Inspection


Mark P
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A couple times a year I get a call to do a commercial inspection. To this point I have declined. Today I get a call to inspect a building that was a carpet store and will be turned into a restaurant. There is a small apartment in the back. I told them that on commercial jobs I like to take a first hand look at the building before I give a price quote. I’ll go tomorrow. Now this will be my 1st commercial inspection, I’m in my 3rd year of home inspections, with around 600 under my belt.

I have read through the old post here on TIJ and what I have gartered as general guidelines for commercial inspections are:

#1 get / read and use as a general guideline ASTM E-2018-01

#2 Sub out electrical and HVAC

#3 Charge by the hour

# Pay special attention to the roof

Now looking at the pic on the MLS it looks like an old house turned into business.

So I don’t know if electrical and HVAC will be a problem?

Are the following items normally included for light commercial inspections:

#1 Handicap access, parking, etc. If so where do I find the standards? Are they included in ASTM E2018?

#2: OSHA

#3 would you recommend a Level II Environmental Site evaluation on this property?

Also since there is an apartment for rent attached to the building I was thinking to make it 2 separate inspections 1) commercial 2) home…?

Any suggestions / advice will be greatly appreciated

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They're probably gutting the sucker out, so electro-mechanical will likely be planned for all new. If not you need to know.

Ask them what sort of requirements they have, and you can recommend the mechanical renovation to reflect those requirements.

A carpet store getting turned into a restaurant is called a Change of Use in most zoning dept's. Change of Use normally triggers a requirement to be ADA compliant, i.e., barrier free entry and bathrooms. I can get you spec's for that, but they're all over the internet. You might be able to get variance; I don't know how it works in your town.

You disclaim environmental. Their lender is most likely going to require a Level I or II survey anyway.

ASTM E2018 is a decent guideline, but you should modify it so you aren't responsible for researching municipal records. If they want you to do that, do you know how? It isn't hard, but it's a lot of time dinking around @ City Hall.

Parking requirements will be available at the City Planning and Zoning dept. They may need to request a variance through the Zoning Board of Appeals if they don't have the requisite parking. If it's CBD, you may not even need to provide parking. That's all at the zoning office.

A lot of the muni stuff depends on how business friendly the current administration is. If they want business, zoning variance is not hard. If they're hardcore, they can make you miserable.

How much do you know about restaurant equipment, i.e., the hood in particular. Exhaust systems for restaurants can be (are) expensive. Of course, they're going to be required to have a fire suppression system, or at least I'd be surprised if they weren't.

Does your town require suppression (sprinklers)?

Lottsa stuff to think about, more than I can hit on in one single post without knowing a lot more about the building.

These are fun jobs. Congratulations. Very cool.

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Hey Mark,

your inspection is going to be in part/sections...for now seems ur doing just the building itself.and as the conversion comes along..so will different inspections.

as for when it is converted to the restaurant..that will be totaly additional inpsections..

As for 2 parts..commercial and home...be best...seperate inspections to refer to.to keep everything seperate.

When and if u get to the restaurant part..let me know..i'll stop by and help u on that part...been there worked in a lot of them[:-magnify

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Originally posted by kurt

They're probably gutting the sucker out, so electro-mechanical will likely be planned for all new. If not you need to know.

Ask them what sort of requirements they have, and you can recommend the mechanical renovation to reflect those requirements.

A carpet store getting turned into a restaurant is called a Change of Use in most zoning dept's. Change of Use normally triggers a requirement to be ADA compliant, i.e., barrier free entry and bathrooms. I can get you spec's for that, but they're all over the internet. You might be able to get variance; I don't know how it works in your town.

You disclaim environmental. Their lender is most likely going to require a Level I or II survey anyway.

ASTM E2018 is a decent guideline, but you should modify it so you aren't responsible for researching municipal records. If they want you to do that, do you know how? It isn't hard, but it's a lot of time dinking around @ City Hall.

Parking requirements will be available at the City Planning and Zoning dept. They may need to request a variance through the Zoning Board of Appeals if they don't have the requisite parking. If it's CBD, you may not even need to provide parking. That's all at the zoning office.

A lot of the muni stuff depends on how business friendly the current administration is. If they want business, zoning variance is not hard. If they're hardcore, they can make you miserable.

How much do you know about restaurant equipment, i.e., the hood in particular. Exhaust systems for restaurants can be (are) expensive. Of course, they're going to be required to have a fire suppression system, or at least I'd be surprised if they weren't.

Does your town require suppression (sprinklers)?

Lottsa stuff to think about, more than I can hit on in one single post without knowing a lot more about the building.

These are fun jobs. Congratulations. Very cool.

Thanks as always Kurt. Good points / questions.

Sounds like one has to do an interview with the new owners to determine their requirements / plans for the property.

The only thing I know about restaurant equipment is how to wash it. Back in high school I worked as a dishwasher in a number of restaurants. But since the place has not been converted yet, that should not be a concern. Do you have a learning reference for future use?

Do you check for ADA compliance? I saw someone over on the ASHI board disclaims that section and does not include it.

Coming up with a revised report format for commercial inspections off the cuff will keep me busy over the weekend. Which leads me to ask: for you others that do commercial inspections what report format do you use? I see in ASTM 2018-01 they have a recommended outline. Do you use this and just write it in MS word? Did you buy a program?...

I'm headed down to look at the building now.

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Originally posted by kurt

A carpet store getting turned into a restaurant is called a Change of Use in most zoning dept's. Change of Use normally triggers a requirement to be ADA compliant, i.e., barrier free entry and bathrooms. I can get you spec's for that, but they're all over the internet. You might be able to get variance; I don't know how it works in your town.

Is this them?

http://www.ada.gov/smbusgd.pdf

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I simply write my commercial report in WORD. You need to find out what your client wants, what are they looking for with the inspection?

I had a 145,000 sf warehouse with an office area this week. All my client wanted to know about were the big ticket items. This was a simple inspection that only took about 3 hours and most of that was trying to find my way around the building. Then it took a little under two hours to write the report. I made more than if I did two normal size home inspections that day.

You need to take as many pictures as you can. I take very few notes and I use the pictures to reference back as needed or to remind me.

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Originally posted by AHIS

Is this them?

http://www.ada.gov/smbusgd.pdf

Those are for basic retail and counter food service. There's no bathroom spec's.

The fundamentals will be for architectural barriers (entries, stairs, etc.), and bathrooms.

Without going into the specifics, the bathrooms have to be *big* to accommodate wheel navigation requirements. The basic measurement is a 4'x4' navigation space on both sides of the bathroom door. That's often a kicker in a small restaurant, because it chews up a lot of square footage.

Sometimes you can get away w/only one/unisex barrier free bath. This is why you need to talk to the zoning and building guy in your town. It can go lots of ways. The main thing I stress is getting the customer to understand they need to get approvals, approvals are dependent on multiple variables, sometimes you can get variance, and they need to research it thoroughly. I offer to provide assistance, but most often, a simple consult w/the buildings dept. will tell you what you need to know.

There's a lot of other barrier free stuff w/clearances to sinks, toilets, fixtures, etc.

I'll stress that it can get real local. You need to talk to the local folks.

Go here. This is the whole kahuna.

http://www.ada.gov/stdspdf.htm

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  • 7 months later...
Originally posted by kurt

They're probably gutting the sucker out, so electro-mechanical will likely be planned for all new. If not you need to know.

Ask them what sort of requirements they have, and you can recommend the mechanical renovation to reflect those requirements.

A carpet store getting turned into a restaurant is called a Change of Use in most zoning dept's. Change of Use normally triggers a requirement to be ADA compliant, i.e., barrier free entry and bathrooms. I can get you spec's for that, but they're all over the internet. You might be able to get variance; I don't know how it works in your town.

You disclaim environmental. Their lender is most likely going to require a Level I or II survey anyway.

ASTM E2018 is a decent guideline, but you should modify it so you aren't responsible for researching municipal records. If they want you to do that, do you know how? It isn't hard, but it's a lot of time dinking around @ City Hall.

Parking requirements will be available at the City Planning and Zoning dept. They may need to request a variance through the Zoning Board of Appeals if they don't have the requisite parking. If it's CBD, you may not even need to provide parking. That's all at the zoning office.

A lot of the muni stuff depends on how business friendly the current administration is. If they want business, zoning variance is not hard. If they're hardcore, they can make you miserable.

How much do you know about restaurant equipment, i.e., the hood in particular. Exhaust systems for restaurants can be (are) expensive. Of course, they're going to be required to have a fire suppression system, or at least I'd be surprised if they weren't.

Does your town require suppression (sprinklers)?

Lottsa stuff to think about, more than I can hit on in one single post without knowing a lot more about the building.

These are fun jobs. Congratulations. Very cool.

Yes you can sub divide building inspection into commercial inspection and home inspection.

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