Types of commercial building inspectors

Jan 8, 2019 // By:Scott Hamele // No Comment

Public versus private construction examiners

By Scott Hamele, DBIA President and founder of Nationwide Commercial Inspections, LLC (NCI) and Construction DesignWorks, LLC

There seems to be confusion in the commercial real estate sector as to the different types and sub-categories a commercial building inspector can be and their relationship to a property condition report. Most individuals that provide construction examinations can be put into two major categories: private and public. There are, of course, sub-categories within each major category.

What does a private commercial building inspector do?

In general, a private commercial building inspector provides property condition assessments (PCA), which are for the benefit of the owner or buyer of a building. Whether evaluating existing property conditions or a new investment, the purpose is to inform the client of building deficiencies. In some cases, the owner is required to hire a third-party inspector as a condition of a building permit. Each client has specific needs and each building has its own specific problems, age and characteristics that may require a multitude of inspections.

There are different types of specialized inspectors that may be required for a comprehensive PCA. Most PCA’s are in accordance with the ASTM Standard E 2018-08.

Below are typical sub-categories of a private commercial inspector:

  • Private commercial – general (provides the full PCA)
  • Acoustics
  • American with Disabilities Act (ADA)
  • Building code expert
  • Civil engineering (soil compaction, flood plain, etc)
  • Concrete/footings
  • Electrical, plumbing, and fire safety
  • Elevator and conveying systems
  • Energy conservation
  • Environmental phase 1 & 2
  • Erosion control
  • Health
  • Infrared/thermal
  • Irrigation and landscaping
  • Lead-based paint
  • Masonry
  • Mechanical
  • Mold & asbestos risk assessment
  • Moisture protection (roof, joint sealants, masonry moister absorption, etc)
  • Radon assessment
  • Retaining wall
  • Security and risk assessment
  • Storm sewer
  • Structural steel
  • Well and septic
  • Wood destroying insect


What does a public building inspector do?

Nearly all municipal jurisdictions throughout the United States have adopted building codes in which all residential and commercial properties are to be constructed.In most cases, these jurisdictions, cities, counties and/or states hire full- or part-time commercial building inspectors to police the construction of these buildings. Their sole purpose is to protect the lives and welfare of the public. In doing so, they are highly trained and educated professionals, most with a college degree in a related field.

The typical commercial building inspector provides generalized inspections in accordance with the adopted building code. In Shawnee, Kansas, the applicable building codes are in accordance with the 2012 International Building Code. This includes fire, mechanical, plumbing, electrical and energy conservation. Other requirements include adhering to the 2005 National Electric Code, 2000 National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 101 Life Safety Code and 2010 American with Disabilities Act (ADA) Standards for Accessible Design.

Due to the number of codes, a public commercial building inspector is required to comprise a vast knowledge of all the codes and may from time to time require the assistance of a third-party specialized inspector.

Below are typical sub-categories of public commercial building inspectors:

  • Public commercial building (in charge of most of the required code inspections listed above)
  • Fire safety (fire alarm, fire sprinkler, path of egress, hazardous materials, egress lighting, etc)
  • Seismic and hurricane resistant structures
  • Public works, infrastructure and facilities (storm sewer, streets, utilities, etc)

It would be prudent that an owner, buyer, investor, architect and builder understand the different types of inspectors. They will be more apt to comply with building codes and develop a plan of action and protect the client and building’s return on investment (ROI), and most importantly, protect the safety of the public.

Nationwide Commercial Inspections, LLC Is the most comprehensive commercial building inspector in the industry

NCI utilizes their architectural, engineering and construction expertise to create and develop a high-quality PCA. These reports are customized for each type of real estate: office, retail, flex-space, industrial, hospitality and healthcare. If you are interested in protecting your real estate investment by utilizing a property inspection checklist, contact us at 913-667-7774 or visit our website at www.nwc-i.com.

Click here for a video about the property condition assessments we provide.

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