Contractor, Specialist or General Property Inspections for Multi-Family or Commercial Buildings?

Contractor Holding Ladder

Every once in a while a broker and/or buyer feels no need to have a generalist do an overall inspection when they already know a few systems need help.

Why not just have these looked at by their contractor or a specialist instead of having a generalist inspect everything and then simply recommend further inspections anyway? There are three advantages to having a generalist inspect your property first rather than just having your contractor “take a look” or attempting to line up a number of specialists.

Three Advantages of Having a Specialist Inspect Your Property Include:

  1. The specialist is only looking at his specialty. For example, if a roofer is looking at the roof and sees issues (and they always do) but he does not notice that the building structure underneath needs seismic (earthquake) upgrades, then any work he does may have to be redone once the seismic retrofit work is done. Getting the whole picture first helps keep things coordinated and saves money.
  2. Often the specialist has a vested interest in finding “issues”. When you get an inspection from a generalist who does not perform the work on anything he inspects, there is no conflict of interest. The generalist will give you an unbiased report because he has no vested interest in finding problems that need to be fixed.
  3. A key factor is that many aspects of a building operate as a cohesive unit, not a bunch of unrelated parts. Evaluating the overall condition of the property takes judgment. The generalist who has done thousands of inspections and dealt with thousands of different sites and structures knows what is an issue and what isn’t. He knows when to call in a specialist or when something will need to be replaced per industry standards even if it works well now. He can tell you if that type of electrical panel is known to be problematic or if it will meet your needs.

He will also be able to tell you what has to be done in order of importance from an overall viewpoint. He can tell you if two upgrades or repairs will need to be done together so they properly coordinate and don’t step on each other’s toes or create a bigger problem.

Most Multi-Family and Commercial properties are huge investments. Getting a good general visual inspection done by a true professional will give you the complete picture you and your broker actually need in order to make a sound decision.