Commercial Building Inspections – Tips for Finding a Reliable and Competent Building Inspector

If and when planning to purchase a commercial property, the question often arises, ‘How Can I Find a Reliable and Competent Building Inspector for Conducting a Commercial Building Inspection?’ While one could easily write an eBook on this subject matter, this article offers several tips to help you hire a reliable and competent inspector for the purpose of obtaining a thorough and diligent commercial building inspection. So without further ado, let me begin by telling you ‘What Not to Do’.

Never hire a commercial building inspector who was referred to you by the real estate agent or any other outside party who has a vested interest in and stands to gain from the sale of the property.

Although this statement goes without saying, it’s worth mentioning simply because many of those looking to purchase commercial real estate believe it is standard protocol to rely upon the realtor’s recommendation for hiring an inspector. In reality, this practice poses a conflict of interest that can have dire consequences for the party purchasing the property. Unfortunately, real estate agents who knowingly partake in this practice along with inspectors who continue to burn the candle from both ends know exactly what they’re doing and how to get away with it. While there may be a few exceptions to what I am telling you, I can assure you that the majority of inspectors who rely heavily upon referrals from real estate agents for their business are not going to rock the boat by disclosing any information to the client during the course of an inspection that may later serve to jeopardize their relationship with the broker or real estate company who referred them in the first place.

Never hire a Home Inspector to conduct a Commercial Property Inspection.

As for hiring a home inspector to conduct a commercial building inspection, suffice it to say that in most cases, conducting a commercial building inspection is altogether different from performing a home inspection for reasons too numerous to list in this article. However, the proliferation of home inspectors over the past twenty years (everyone wants to be one, especially in those States where home inspection licensing has become mandatory making it relatively easy for anyone to become licensed), hasn’t helped either as this has spawned an increasing number of home inspectors who are still unable to properly inspect a home, much less a commercial building, even if their life depended upon it. Moreover, given the number of significant and distinct differences between residential and commercial property, while experience in inspecting homes may well serve as a prerequisite, it is by no means a substitute for the vast amount of knowledge and experience required and yet to be learned by most home inspectors before they can even begin thinking about conducting a diligent and thorough building inspection.

Aside from ‘What Not to Do’, there are also other criteria you need to consider or at least be aware of in your quest to hire a reliable and competent commercial building inspector. namely:

Know the fundamental difference between a Commercial Building Inspection and a Property Condition Assessment (PCA).

Although this topic warrants a separate discussion, it’s important to note that the terms ‘PCA’ and ‘Commercial Building Inspection’ are often used interchangeably in the commercial sector. This in turn has resulted in a lot of confusion not only among real estate investors and others looking to purchase commercial property but real estate agents as well who more often than not simply do not know much less understand the difference. To make matters worse, the ASTM (American Society of Testing Materials) has also gotten in on the act by promulgating their ASTM Standards for Conducting a Baseline PCA. What this means is that since they happen to be a nationally recognized organization in the construction industry, in certain respects they’re similar to the AMA in the medical profession meaning anything and everything they write on a particular subject happens to bear a lot of weight. The problem arises in that the Standards for Conducting a Baseline PCA are often misunderstood by many in the profession and seldom if ever read by those buying and selling real estate.

To simplify things, all one really has to know is that the difference between a commercial building inspection and a Baseline PCA is like night and day since the later can be performed in a fraction of the time it takes to conduct a thorough and diligent commercial building inspection. The reasoning behind this is pure and simple in that a PCA is essentially a cursory walk-through of the property that relies heavily upon second hand information obtained through interviews and documentation (that may/may not be readily available let alone veritable) normally obtained through the owner and/or occupants of the property. Hence, my advice to anyone who is seriously considering having a PCA in deciding whether or not to purchase a commercial property is to forget it since in most cases a PCA is a total waste of time and money in providing information contained in a property condition report that isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.

Try to obtain as much information as you can about the company and the inspector beforehand

This is another statement that goes without saying but I mention it because many people feel uncomfortable in asking questions of this nature especially when speaking with someone they don’t already know. However, if you reflect upon what I’ve just said for a moment, the fact you don’t know anything about the company or the inspector should be reason enough to ask all the questions you can to solicit answers without being embarrassed.

Be sure to ask the company or building inspector for references

Last but not least, do not be embarrassed to ask for bonafide references regarding recent clients for whom they have conducted similar commercial building inspections. If the company or inspector is reputable and if they have confidence in the service they provide, they normally will not have any reservations whatsoever in providing you with this information.

My next article will provide tips as to what questions you need to ask and what else you need to be aware of in looking to hire a reliable and competent commercial building inspector.

Top Tips for Choosing Office Space

Are you in the process of starting a new business? Here are a few top tips that could help you to zero down on the decision making of choosing right office space for your business. Since your office space will represent your business, choosing the right location for your office space must not be taken lightly. Here are a few tips to consider before choosing an office space:

The Location: The most vital part of an office space is the location. You need to make sure location for your office is located preferably in a well developed office locality with good transportation facilities so that the client and employees can reach the office without any hassle. Getting a space in that locality is ideal for an office.

The Construction: It is important to evaluate the building, enquire the year of construction and ensure electricity and water facilities are adequate and there is a good backup system is in place in times of emergency. Choosing the right office space should be done right from the first time, so ensure all facilities are in place. If not, you’ll end up with aggravated employees and a lot of money and time will be spent on repairs..

Office Facilities: An office that provides extra facilities is a good choice as getting facilities set up can be a pains taking task. For example, if the building has a cafeteria for the employees working there makes it easier for the employees to have lunch and errands. Another thing is access to the office, pick one that allows 24/7 access to the office. Make sure to see the security system is in the building. Parking is also an important aspect to consider, ensure there is enough secure parking for your employees.

The Office space: Answer these few questions before choosing the office space. Is it big enough for your employees? Is there room to expand? If it’s a yes for both, you are on the right track. To make things easier ask for the layout of the office and preferably choose one which already is an office set up with a reception, cubicles, executive rooms and a meeting room.

Internet Facility: internet connection is a major requirement for any business in today’s world. Enquire if the building already has an internet service, if they do there’s nothing like it and picking it would be a smart decision. If they don’t find out who are the internet service providers in that area and how long the connection will take to put it to use.

Understand the lease/rental agreement: Understand the lease/rent agreement how long the lease/rent is for and if there are any added charges for maintenance, if required hire an expert. Ensure to read through the agreement twice and consult your lawyer about the ones that seem unclear to you. Ask about the changes you can make to the office and add to the agreement to avoid any misunderstanding in the future. Also clarify what extra charges will you be responsible to pay like property tax that is usually termed as ‘Additional rent’ or “NNN’ in lease agreements.

Analysing your options: Make sure you don’t settle on the first one you see even if you like it. Look for more options and see them and get all the required information for each office space. Then compare, first disregard the ones that had major issues like bad building structure, limited access, no security and no parking. Then with the ones remaining compare the prices and the services being provided. Your main priority must be the locality and it provides all the services. If you find a space that provides you with fully furnished office space with security, cafeteria facilities, parking and is a good structure it would be an ideal choice to make. The lesser effort in setting up of the office makes it easier for you and it gives you extra time to concentrate on evolving your business to higher level.

How To Increase Sales: Five Tips That Are Guaranteed To Work

When a business is not bringing in enough profit, it can have a negative impact on everyone, from the cashier that receives less hours, and a shorter paycheck that does not cover the bills, to the customers that notice a rise in prices or less quality in the products. Before it gets to this point, owners often begin to look for solutions that are proven to boost business. Leading experts agree that these five tips can increase the sales of a company in as little as one week.

Appearance

One of the first things that consumers notice before entering a business is the appearance. Owners are encouraged to take a good look at their commercial building for a customer. Is the paint chipped and peeling? Is the sidewalk cracked and in desperate need of repair? Does it look inviting or does it make customers want to try somewhere else first?

Owners that ask themselves these questions, and find that they are in need of a makeover are encouraged to get one. Commercial painting services are available at affordable costs, and the simple act of painting a company building can make customers more likely to go inside.

Friendly Staff

After customers notice a fresh commercial paint job and walk into the company, it is the job of the staff to keep them there. Owners should visit businesses regularly to check up on staff. When customers enter a building, they should be greeted with a smile, and asked if they need any help. A company that offers dining in should ask customers if they would like to be seated, and offer to take their coats. These small, kind gestures will help keep customers from going elsewhere, and can guarantee that they turn into loyal clients that keep coming back.

High Quality

After customers have made their purchase, they will either enjoy the meal right there, or go home to look at their product once again, depending on the type of company. Every business should surpass basic standards in this area. Every item, whether it is food or clothing, should be a high quality product that owners would be proud of. If food does not taste well or is not cooked fresh, clients may be willing to go down the street to enjoy a hamburger that is to their liking, even if it costs more.

Maintenance

After the first make over, owners should do routine maintenance on the commercial building and parking lot. Whether it is in need of a new coat of paint or concrete repair, it should be taken care of to help keep up the same level of curb appeal. When business owners refuse to hire a painting specialist, or do the job themselves, it makes a business appear as though it is unsuccessful. Customers do not want to spend their money at a business if no one else is.

Good Customer Service

The way that problems are handled has the potential to turn an unhappy customer into a person that is willing to give a business another chance. Instead of arguing with unhappy customers, staff should develop a “the customer is always right” mentality. Another great way to instill this attitude into staff is to remind them that the customers are the reason they are there. Without customers, there is no business for them to work at.

How to increase sales may be as simple as painting the exterior of the building, or everything from the building to the staff’s attitude may need a makeover. Businesses are guaranteed to see an increase in sales within the first month of implementing these five changes.

Choosing a Property Manager – Practical Tips For Real Estate Investors

Selecting a property management firm is one of the most important decisions a real estate investor can make. The following are critical factors we think you should look at when making your decision.

Customer Service

You really want to select a firm that will deliver great customer service – to you and tenants alike. If you experience any responsiveness issues when inquiring about their service, the odds are that you will experience the same on an ongoing basis if you select the firm. Ask pertinent questions such as:

  • Are they available after regular working hours?
  • How do they handle emergencies?
  • Who can you speak to if there are problems, and where are they located?
  • Do they offer any guarantees on their service?

Knowledge of Building Construction & Maintenance

Experience and knowledge of building construction and maintenance is key for your property management firm to have. We would expect a coffee company like Starbucks to have excellent knowledge about the coffee equipment in use at their stores. We should expect a property management company to have excellent knowledge about the building technology in use at their properties. Key questions are:

  • Do they have skills on staff to be able to diagnose building issues quickly & effectively?
  • Are formal and documented maintenance and capital upgrade plans created for each property?
  • Can they manage subtrade work over and above minor maintenance?

Tenant Screening Process

You will want to select a firm that takes tenant selection seriously and does more than just the standard background checks. Tenant selection requires time, solid inter-personal skills and good judgment. Ask questions such as:

  • How much time will they spend with a prospective tenant?
  • What kind of questions will be asked of the tenant?
  • Will references be checked even if a reference letter is provided?

Local Market Knowledge

The most important influence to real estate investment value is the local market influence – and local market knowledge is key. Your property manager should have excellent knowledge of the local real estate market. Ask pertinent questions such as:

· What local staff presence exists?

· How does the firm keep up with local market trends?

· Will you be dealing with any remotely located staff to get service?

· Will tenants or prospective tenants be dealing with local or remote staff?

Fee Structure

You will want to select a firm with reasonable fees and also a structure whereby fees on top of fees are avoided. For example, for a renovation you will want to avoid paying a % fee to the construction contractor, and then a % fee to the property manager on top of that. Ask pertinent questions such as:

· What fees are charged for renovation and construction projects?

· Do they use general contractors for renovation and construction? If so, what fees are charged?

· Do they have the capability to manage subtrades directly?

Information Systems

Technology helps businesses run. Your property management company should have a clear information systems management strategy and operational. As the owner of the property, in the end you are responsible for the information so you will want to make sure your property manager has a good handle on it. Ask pertinent questions such as:

· How is information maintained?

· Are IT industry best-practices followed?

· How is privacy legislation compliance achieved?

· Does a backup strategy exist?

· What is the company’s IT disaster recovery plan

Accounting

And finally, you will want your books in order. This will keep your tax accountant happy and your accounting fees low. Find out if the property management firm has a solid grounding in accounting practices. Key questions include:

· What financial and transaction records are kept?

· What is the accounting cycle for the property?

· Which reports will be provided?

· Is someone available to answer your accountant’s questions should any arise?

Understanding the above areas and getting to know a property management firm’s management approach to managing these key aspects of real estate management will lead you to making a well-informed decision.

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