Commercial Structural Property Surveys
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Who needs a commercial structural property survey?
A: Anyone who is purchasing a commercial property, for example a retail unit, office block etc.
Q: What is a “Commercial Structural Property Survey”?
A: A commercial property survey is an objective visual examination of the physical structure and systems of the property (or unit/area) being purchased or leased. Our report will include (where relevant) an evaluation of the condition of the property’s roof, attic, roof coverings, exterior, grounds; interior walls, ceilings, floors, windows, doors, and fire egress. A cursory view of the heating, plumbing and electrical systems is included. Having a commercial property inspected is like giving it a physical check-up.
Q: Why you should choose to have a professional commercial structural property inspection?
A: With regards to commercial property, having a survey undertaken is essential for anyone looking to invest their money in such a huge financial undertaking. We cannot emphasise enough the value and necessity of a professional property inspection.
Any offer you make to purchase should be contingent upon a professional survey with a satisfactory report. Do not let anyone, whether family, friends, or colleagues and especially not the seller or builders dissuade you from having the property thoroughly inspected! Not only will you sleep much sounder after the purchase, a professional inspection can give you the ability to opt out of a contract on a defective property. If the contract is written contingent on an acceptable inspection, any defects in the property must be either repaired or monetarily compensated for. If you are not satisfied, you have the option to cancel the contract.
Be prepared, begin the search for a company to perform your commercial structural property survey before you place an offer on a property. If you only start trying to find an acceptable company at the last minute, the company you select may not be available to schedule your survey in the required time frame. This will leave you with only two choices: to either appoint a company that is not your first choice, or to run the risk of not getting the property professionally surveyed at all (which could void any chance of having the seller take care of repairs). Neither option is an acceptable alternative!
Q: Why do I need a commercial structural property survey?
A: The purchase of a commercial property is a substantial investment. It is important to learn as much as possible about the condition of the property and the need for any major repairs before buying, to minimize any unpleasant surprises and difficulties afterwards. Of course, a structural survey will also point out the positive aspects of a property. After the inspection, you will have a much clearer understanding of the property being purchased and will be able to make a confident buying decision.
The materials used in the construction of a commercial property can be significantly different to those used in residential properties. Curtain wall systems, reinforced concrete and exterior cladding are examples of systems and materials used that have their own unique complexities. A trained engineer will provide detailed information about the issues that are unique to your particular commercial property.
Owning a commercial property will also bring legislative obligations that have to be complied with. When buying a new property health and safety risks will need to be attended to, including taking into consideration escape routes and fire precautions. A professional survey will aid you in protecting your employees’ or tenant’s safety.
If you are signing up to a lease for a commercial property having it professionally surveyed as you sign will provide a record of the properties condition from the lease commencement date. When the lease expires, you will have a credible and professional schedule of repairs that can help to avoid possible conflict regarding refurbishment and repair requirements.
During ownership the report can be used to help maintain the property to its highest standards by attending to any known future defects in a timely fashion, thereby helping to minimise unnecessary expense.
Q: Is a mortgage valuation report the same as a structural survey?
A: No, the two reports are very different, and have different functions. A mortgage valuation report or ‘valuation’ as it is often called is carried out by your mortgage lender to only check the value of the property and its suitability for a mortgage.
Q: How much does a commercial structural property survey cost?
A: The cost for a commercial structural property survey is dependent upon a number of factors including age of the property, the size, and the type of building and systems involved.
However, do not let cost be a factor in deciding whether or not to have a commercial survey, or in the selection of your building engineer. The knowledge gained from an inspection is well worth the cost, and the lowest priced company is not necessarily a bargain. The company’s experience in the area of commercial surveys, along with their professionalism should be the most important considerations.
Q: Can I do the survey myself?
A: Even the most experienced property owner lacks the expertise and knowledge of a professional building engineering company. Building engineers are familiar with all the elements of property construction, their proper installation, and maintenance, and understand how the systems and components are intended to function together, as well as how and why they fail.
Buyers also find it difficult to remain completely objective and unemotional about a property they really want, and this may affect their judgment. For the most accurate picture, it is best to obtain an impartial third-party opinion by an expert in the field of structural surveys.
Q: Can a property fail a survey?
A: No. A professional structural survey is an examination of the current condition of the property being inspected. The report will not pass or fail a property, but rather describe its physical condition and indicate what may need to be repaired or replaced.
Q: How do I find a good company to perform my commercial survey?
A: The best source is a friend, relative or business acquaintance who can recommend a company that they have used and with whom they were satisfied with. Solicitors and estate agents are also generally familiar with the service and should be able to provide you with a list of names from which to choose. Whatever your referral source, be sure to ascertain that it is a professional building engineering company with relevant experience. Always make sure you see a sample copy of a structural survey report, and the terms and conditions covering the survey before you make your selection.
Q: When do I call in a building engineering company?
A: Typically building engineers are called in right after the contract or purchase agreement has been signed and are usually available within a few days. However, before you sign be sure that there is a building survey clause in the contract, making your purchase obligation contingent upon the findings of a professional commercial structural property survey report.
Q: How do I get a quotation?
A: Getting a quotation from Property Health Check is very quick and easy, just fill in a short form and click “Get quote now”. The form is very easy to complete and asks a few simple questions about the property. After clicking “Get quote now” you will be given a quotation on screen. After clicking submit an quotation for reference and booking at another time will be emailed to you directly.
Q: How do I book a survey?
A: You can book direct from the onscreen quotation, book from the “Book Now” link in your email or call our Customer Care Team who will guide you through the process.
Q: How and when do I pay for the survey?
A: Payment can be made by credit card, debit card, and Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT). Customer Care will ask for payment details when the survey is booked in, however credit or debit card payments are not actioned until the day of the survey. Payment in full is required on the day of inspection.
Q: Who arranges access for the survey?
A: All access arrangements are organised by Property Health Check Customer Care We will contact the agency or vendor directly. Sometimes this can take a little time as the contact person is not always immediately available, and dates and times must be confirmed before scheduling can be completed. Clients are emailed confirmation of the date when scheduling for the inspection is completed.
Q: Do I have to be present at the survey?
A: It is not necessary for you to be present for the survey.
Q: Can I attend the survey if I’d like to?
A: We have no objections to a client attending a survey. It is best to attend towards the end of the survey. The engineer will have had time to inspect the property undistracted and with his full attention. With this knowledge he can then discuss your queries with you. You should however contact the agency directly to request permission to attend as the property is their responsibility, and we are not at liberty to provide this permission.
Q: How long will the inspection take?
A: Each commercial survey is very individual and is dependent on the different aspects of each property. Therefore, it is impossible to provide an average time for inspection as the properties vary enormously.
Q: I am purchasing several flats (units) in one block, how will this be reported on?
A: We provide one commercial survey report which will include all units, garages, sheds etc that are included in the total square meters being purchased, leased or rented.
Q: Do you inspect the roof of the apartment?
A: If there is safe accessible stair access available at the time of inspection the engineer will include a visual inspection of the blocks roof coverings.
Q: Can the folio map be compared to the property at the time of inspection?
A: During the conveyancing process your legal adviser will probably forward onto you a folio map or title map showing the legal boundaries around the property. They will ask you to confirm that the map matches the property that you are buying. They may advise you to forward these maps to your engineer so that he can confirm that the map matches up with the property in question. However, the map is often only provided by vendors much later in the process, subsequently in most cases this request does not take place until the latter part of the conveyancing process, long after the survey has taken place.
If you can provide the folio map by email 2 days before the inspection, then the engineer can compare the boundaries on the map with the property boundaries as part of the survey fee. If the map cannot or is not provided in time a revisit will be required to compare the map with the physical boundaries of the property, and to report on the findings. This service will incur an additional re-visit fee.
To try and save clients additional costs and avoid unnecessary delays and inspection cancellations we provide a few suggestions:
- Clients obtain a copy of the map from their solicitor if it is readily available and supply it to Property Health Check Ltd at the time of booking in the survey.
- Clients obtain/purchase a copy of the necessary map themselves from third parties, e.g. www.landdirect.ie or www.osi.ie or www.prai.ie or PRAI – FAQ’S or www.elra.eu and supply it to Property Health Check Ltd at time of booking in the survey.
Q: What if the report reveals problems?
A: No property is perfect. If the engineer finds problems it doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t buy the property, only that you will know in advance what to expect. A seller may be flexible with the purchase price or contract terms if major problems are found. If your budget is very tight, or if you don’t wish to become involved in future repair work, this information will be extremely important to you.
Q: What if I find problems after I take ownership of the new property?
A: A commercial structural property survey is not a guarantee that problems won’t develop after the purchase. However, if you believe that a problem was already visible at the time of the survey and should have been mentioned in the report, your first step should be to call and meet with the engineer to clarify the situation. Misunderstandings are often resolved in this manner.
All companies providing commercial structural property surveys should carry professional indemnity liability insurance. The minimum amount of insurance coverage should cover the cost of re-instating the property if the engineer misses something that he should have reported on.
Q: If the property proves to be in good condition, did I really need an inspection?
A: Definitely. Now you can complete your purchase with peace of mind about the condition of the property. You will also have learned a few things about your new property from the engineer’s report and will want to keep that information for future reference. Above all, you can feel assured that you are making a well-informed purchase decision.
Q: Can I talk to the engineer after the inspection?
A: Whenever possible our engineers contact clients on the evening of the survey to provide a quick rundown of how the survey went and flag any key issues found. Clients are invited to call the engineer back to discuss the report once it has been issued and the client has had an opportunity to read and digest the information provided. It is important to us that our clients understand what has been reported on.
Q: When will I receive my report?
A: The full report, including annotated photo’s, is emailed to clients within 3 working days of the inspection date. The email will contain a link to a secure site, where the report can be viewed and downloaded. The reports are provided in colour PDF format.
It is most important that the report is accurate and well written and does not have errors or omissions. We therefore do not make commitments to have the report emailed to clients within 24 hours. We are very aware that clients are working within a strict timeline and that it is important that they receive their reports in a timely fashion. We provide an efficient service and always provide our reports within the quoted time scale, as client reviews confirm.
Q: Can you share a copy of my report for me with anyone?
A: Good communication and sharing of information between Solicitors and Estate Agents can significantly help prevent unnecessary holdups in the purchase or sale of a property. Some clients find it very helpful and like their report to be shared with their solicitor and/or the estate agent. If instructed, we will share an abbreviated version of your report with the advisors that you specify in the quote form. The shortened report contains information that pertains to:
1) The Overall Property Rating gives a general rating for the condition of the property.
2) The Pre-Contract Investigation of Title (PCIT) provides information and recommendations relevant to the completion of PCIT, such as:
- Potential changes carried out to property
- Site boundaries
- Property overhanging / encroachment
- Water supply observations
- Waste water discharge observations
- Garage / Sheds within site
3) The Checklist provides a list of items that should be attended to and checked off before closing.
The abbreviated report will be issued to the chosen advisors the same day as the report is issued to the client. We will communicate as required with these chosen advisors about the shared report. However, if other services are required by your solicitor or estate agents, we will liaise with you before any additional work is carried out.
Q: Do planning issues form part of the Commercial Structural Property Survey?
A: Planning searches, reviewing planning documentation, other files, maps, etc and/or making inquiries with statutory agencies or local Planning Authorities are not included in the commercial structural survey. For maximum cost efficiency, we recommend that our services are used in a staged sequence.
It is primarily essential to establish the structural condition of a property and this is done through the structural survey report. After the commercial structural property survey has been reviewed if you or your Solicitor require us to carry out additional services such as planning searches, review planning documentation, files, plans or maps etc. we will be happy to provide these services and will quote you for them as required.
Q: What is PCIT?
A: PCIT stands for Pre-Contract Investigation of Title. On 1st January 2019 the new PCIT system was introduced in Ireland with the intention of “improving the conveyancing process by ensuring questions relating to the property’s title are raised and resolved before the contracts are signed” (Law Society Ireland).
Q: Where can I find out more information about this survey?
A: If you have further questions, please read our terms and conditions. These are written in layman terms and will explain what is included and not included in your report. Our Customer Care team will provide any additional direction required.
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