How much do you charge for a commercial inspection?

How much do you charge for a commercial inspection?

I understand that it depends on many factors, but give us an idea of how you charge and how much you make?

** Is it profitable to get into doing commercial inspections?**


Why don’t you give us a commercial building scenario? If you don’t provide that, it could be all over the board.

How about a 87,000 warehouse with an RTU and AHU on the roof. 3-phase, 300-amp panel. With a switch gear, multiple panels, multiple disconnects, and a back-up generator with an ATS. Office space. With a few offices. Fire alarms. Horn strobes. Sprinkler system in ceiling. 2x4 troufflers in office area. 6-8 offices. 2 sets of bathrooms. Two womens. Two mens. Both ADA. Parking lot with pole lights. Exterior lights on the building. Part of the area used to be a restaurant with hoods, ANSUL system, ventilation. Commercial stainless steel sinks in corner. Dishwasher unit.

Open warehouse, or one with 85,000sf of pallets piled 12’ high. The other question I would ask is how many loading docks with dock levelers? I did a 100,000sf warehouse/office combo that I didn’t ask those questions. I’ll never do that again.:shock:

Commercial: Small stuff like 2 or 3 room office condo or such… usually price a little more than a “standard home” since they are usually a little more complicated. For large stuff, I never even give a “rough estimate” over the phone until a walk-through and sitting down face-to-face with client or rep, asking “now EXACTLY what is it you want me to do that’s not in this list (and hand-over InterNACHI ComSOP)?”. It’s amazing how commercial clients’ needs vary so widely.

I did a commercial course at Inspector Expo a couple years ago; “rule of thumb” for fee seemed to vary a lot but “rough norm” if I remember correctly was something around 1% of property value assuming you put the right amount of time into it with a client who doesn’t have the time to be bothered and have to call-in specialist(s) for at least one system (imagine elevators for example… might need license just to inspect those). They (clients) seem to be perfectly happy to pay a real estate broker say 5% but you can get caught as the “technical agent” doing tons of leg work checking things like use permits and zoning and municipal codes and such… I think I know all the nooks and crannies in all the town halls around here by now… so 1% really isn’t that unreasonable.

Anyhow… commercial can be profitable but it’s not for the meek at heart… you are almost always working with a fixed contract and on big jobs, better have all the facts before agreeing to do anything; and, it’s almost always competitive… most clients I’ve run across get 2 or 3 bids before deciding on inspector. And, there’s “all that paperwork”… the biggies mostly require Acord insurance certs, paperwork, paperwork, and more paperwork.

I would recommend inspector without heavy facility management or engineering background start with smaller commercial and move to larger properties as they feel more comfortable. My last bid was for a shopping center, fee quoted was bigger than a breadbox (a really big breadbox), somebody else got the job, couldn’t find out what they bid.

Anyhow… complicated subject.

Rough guess would be .06 per square foot = $5220.00
Add for trade consultation $1500.00

Total $6720.0.00

Might be tough in this market though

My E&O only covers me to 50,000 SF. Where do you get E&O that covers more? I could not do that job.

10 cent a sq ft

.10 a square foot.

Based upon Ben’s description and assuming the client wants everything, $12,500
and I’d be pretty confident about convincing them it’s the deal of the century at that. Having said that, I’d spend 3 days on site, & up to 3 days for research and reporting. Might have an electrician come out and I’d do a IR scan of the roof. Nice job overall and not herd to get if you can get to the potential client and present it to them correctly. Having said all that, IF the client’s on a budjet, I’d “eliminate” some aspects and scale it down to half that fee, get it done in possibly less time and still knock it out of the park. Gotta be adaptable.

It is VERY profitable to do commercial. It is just hard to get clients to buy into them.](*,)

Probably the most qualified/experienced inspector at NACHI to answer this is Dale Duffy.

But, to Ben’s description, there are many variables:

For instance, one would need to have true knowledge of what was to be inspected electrically. A 3-phase 300 ampere service, with switchgear? I work in an industrial environment and am involved heavily in the electrical distribution aspects. So, I question Ben’s description. As to the generator, one would need to know what is being backed up, as most generators are configured to support emergency lighting and life/safety circuits. So, siving needs to be considered. The rating of the generator would also need to be known and proposed loads. Response time is a critical aspect. Also, was it sized at one point for N+1, and outgrew it? What voltage does the generator produce. For that matter, what voltage enters the buildng: 4160V, 480V, 240V ??? Does the generator support the primary or secondary?

Too many variables…

It’s quite easy for home inspectors to give estimates via their website or over the phone.

It’s apparently NOT as easy for commercial inspectors.

So, (again) can you provide us a way/method that you go through to provide estimates (bids) for commercial properties? Please don’t say that there are “too many variables.” Instead - just list the variables, and share with us how you make a bid/estimate for your client.

Here… I’ll help… What’ the first thing you do when a client calls you about inspecting a commercial building? Go.

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On any large scale commercial inspection like the one described, I alway ask to do a walk through of the property with the client in order to see what is actually there and to define a scope of work right there on the spot. It is soooo much easier when you can walk through and point to something and ask do you want that inspected. I did one job before that I did not do a walk through on and got beat up on pricing because there was much more there than what was in the property description and what the client knew about. Never again! On smaller properties like store fronts of gas stations, it really isn’t too big of a deal. Those you can pretty much get as much information you need over the phone or by doing a street view search on Google.

I also never give a quote for a commercial property when the client first calls. I tell them that I will have to research the property a little and get back to them. I also ask them if their lender will require any other inspections such as a Phase 1 ESA, WDI, or sewer lateral inspection. These add on services are becomeing very popular with commercial lenders for requirements for a loan. I have to know what kind of equipment is going to be needed and how much time to allow to get everything done.

Thanks, Scott.
You have an excellent website.
Do you hire “outside Consultants” to help you with your commercial property inspections? If yes, any example of when/why you needed to do that?

I ask the client what they are looking for, if they would like back flow, roof certs and such coordinated with the inspection. A small strip with some basic stuff I’ll do, but for the most part if there’s a bunch of roof top heat pumps, flat roof areas and such I DO bring trades with me… they can coordinate estimates/repairs, certs and such directly with the folks needing them leaving me out of the loop to some extent.

I’ve been out of the loop minus a few calls here and there lately with Commercial stuff. It is a good market to get into, less emotional ties to the purchase.

Although I did get a call for one, a week ago asking if “I could fill in for someone” the inspector didn’t show up for a Retail Restaurant … had quoted $500. I explained they may have quoted a price and then later realized was in over his/her head having not shown up

For a standard PCA by InterNACHI COMSOP I start at $.20 per square foot with a $500 minimum. After the basic the scope of work determines the price

I do a lot of commercial inspections because I’m realistic about pricing and reporting. To quote $12,500 for the described building is outrageous. No client in their right mind would agree to that. Most environmental firms offer some sort of PCA service which is the general inspectors strongest competition. If you are confident in your commercial inspection abilities, no outside consultation is needed. You need to spend no longer than 1/2 day on-site and no more than five hours putting the report together. Most buildings, significantly less time. There are a lot of commercial inspections out there. Most of the forum post info I see here are based on inexperience and false expectations. Understand that the commercial client typically cares about one thing - how much is this building going to cost from a repair and replacement perspective.

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I am finishing up a report tomorrow on a 42,000 sf POS in my area with a 1200amp switch gear, CT cabinet, 6 panels, office space (4000 of 42,000). M&W locker rooms and many of the above mentioned goodies. The building has been all but abandoned for five years with a skeleton crew in the office. The corrugated roof decking is so rotted from leaks that some of the bar joists were affected. I actually didn’t walk some of the roof because of it.:shock: The job was $4200.00 and there is a 1300sf converted Cape Cod on the property used as an Annex Building, I got an additional 300.00 for that. $4,500.00 for two days work! Commercial is where the money is!:wink:

Wood pallets is about the worst thing to store in a building. Fire protection (sprinkler) requirements are extremely high.

For a comparison example lets compare a building storing metal car parts with a small amount of plastic up to 12’ high. This would require a density of .20 gpm over 1,500 sq. ft. plus 250 gpm for hose for a theoretical minimum requirement of 550 gpm.

For wood pallets stored between 8’ and not exceeding 12’ the requirement is a density of .60 gpm over 3,500 sq. ft. (NFPA #13 Table Control Mode Density-Area Protection of Indoor Storage of Idle Wood Pallets) plus 500 gpm hose stream demand. That’s a theoretical demand of 2,600 gpm and that is a lot of water even for the largest industrial parks.

The difference between 550 and 2,600 gpm is huge and those are theoretical minimums that are never achieved. You can easily at 10 to 20% to each of those gpm estimates.

An alternative for wood pallet storage would be to install an ESFR (Early Suppression Fast Response) sprinkler system which would allow storage to 25’ in height with building heights (measured at peak or highest point) not exceeding 40’. These are demanding as well… assume a building is 35’ you need a system that would deliver 121 gpm from 12 sprinklers with 250 gpm hose stream allowance for a total of 1,702 gpm (most likely around 1,800) which is a whole lot less water but end head pressures are so high in most parts of the country the facility would need a fire pump. My guess is less than 3% of public water systems in the country would be capable of delivering the amount of water at pressures required so a pump would not be required.

Just because a building has sprinklers does not mean it meets requirements and I doubt you will find a warehouse haing a heavy enough system to cover wood pallet storage unless it was specifically designed for the task when installed.

Generally speaking sprinkler systems are pretty light if area covered exceeds 100 sq. ft. per head and/or distance between sprinkler on lines or distance between lines exceeds 12’-0.

Doesn’t sound like a big deal until the new tenent moves in only to discover he can’t obtain fire insurance or his rates increase from $0.20/$100 to $1.90/$100 which is a big deal when you are trying to insure $5 million in commodity. Imagine expecting a fire insurance premium of $10,000 only to have it roll in at $95,000.

If it is any consolation in most buildings the existing sprinkler would probably be adequate as long as storage did not exceed 12’-0" in height and did not involve wood pallet, plastic or flammable liquids storage.

If a system is hydraulically calculated (all newer ones are from mid 1980’s on) there should be a “Hydraulica Calculation Placard” at the riser. It will read similar to:

That would help in the report.

If it is of real concern you might want to bring in someone knowledgable for an engineering review which would involve either a professional engineer knowledable in sprinkler protection or someone certified as Level III or IV in fire sprinkler layout by the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technology (NICET) which is a non-profit division of the National Society of Professional Engineers.

With sprinklers it helps to remember oftentimes we’re only 5% of the project but represent 50% of the problems.