Multi-Unit Apartment Job

I have been getting some calls from local companies that are buying apartment complexes in my area and want them inspected. Recently they are between 8 and 14 units, sometimes multiple buildings. I certainly would like to take this on but have not done this type of inspection before.

How much time do you allot for these inspections? Any pitfalls to this type of business or anything I should know before accepting a job?

T.I.A. Rick

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Most insurance companies cover up to 4 units and then it goes to commercial, I believe. That is, if you have insurance.


I would never do business without insurance, but good call. I’ll check in the specifics of my policy. Thanks.


How long does it take you to do one? Multiply it. Exclude travel to the number of days it will take.

Determine how the report is expected by the client. Add this to the field time.

If it takes several days, only work on site half a day and do the report for what you just did.

You should have a breakdown of your expenses and fees. Make a spread sheet for this and you won’t have to figure this out before every inspection.

You may need to subcontract some of the work out based upon your client needs.

Yes, as Larry indicated, this is a commercial inspection. Therefor the Home Inspection Standard no longer applies. Investors want different information, Ask. There is a Standard for commercial inspection.



Having access to all the units on the day of the inspection is critical, you don’t want to drag this out over several days. In my reports the exterior of the building, roof and crawlspace are inspect and reported as if its one building. I then inspect and document each unit separately. The first picture I take of each unit is the unit number on the door, so you can keep track where you were when reviewing the photos. Identifying which outdoor AC unit goes with each apartment can be difficult. On a rare occasion the unit number is marked, but typically not. The inside furnace may be a different brand than the outside units due to replacement. If you can get the building maintenance man to go along and unlock each apartment is ideal. If any units are vacant I like to start there first. This lets you get an overall picture of how each unit is arraigned, where the furnace, water heater and electrical panel is located. The furnace closet in an occupied apartment may be stacked to the ceiling with junk, so decide how much stuff your willing to move. Be careful where you sit your tool bag, you do not want to bring bed bugs and cock roaches home with you. Just about every multi-unit apartment complex will have a sick child or grandma sleeping in a bedroom. Be prepared to document why you didn’t inspect any particular room. Plumbing leaks from units above is typically the main source of issues I find. I have inspected 8, 10, 12 unit apartments where 100% of the bathrooms have leaked and damaged the unit below. Here are a few photos to get a feel for what you may see.


As others have said, insurance.
And, access. You need to understand your area’s consent laws for entry into actively rented space. You need to allocate extra time to hassle with keys, bad keys, tenants who are on zoom calls, refusals, pets and more. And, did I mention hoarders?

Personally I would not worry that much about pricing for the first one. You’ll get a good sense the first time through. This is not super relaxing work: too many other people around and the stakes are high (My report killed a $4M deal a few months ago – but I was invited back to follow the money to the next property, which is on track to close).

You’ll want to be clear with the agent that the work has to go at its own pace. I far prefer to have a bundle of keys, compared to having an agent tagging along.

I have a form with the unit number and a checklist. There’s some limit to the number of identical units I can inspect without getting completely muddled as to which unit had which condition.
Your ability to “remember” a defect will likely NOT be the same as with single family homes.

Randy’s comment about a vacant unit is spot on.
Start in the vacant unit.
Get the Feng Shui of the building before getting into cluttered occupied spaces.

And know that the floor layout is usually done in stacks. The apartments on top of each other often have the same layout, and often share the same defects.

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Do say more…

Nice of them to prepare for your inspection :slight_smile:


As they said you need and SOP
From there, you can modify the SOP depending on your defined scope of work
Now that you know what your inspecting, you can start adding up man hours
Man hours for a helper (you will need one) special tradesmen (HVAC, Elevator, Fire sprinkler etc.)
Man hours for report writing.
I think most use a general rule of $100 per hour plus your helpers, subs and travel expense.

After you do all of this, DM me and I will let you know if you are in the ballpark.

Best of luck!

I agree with the insurance thing but I have found that commercial and multi-family far less callbacks and general liability BS (other than toilets full of poo… LOL). Over the last 20+ years my company has done 100+ projects totaling 2500+ units and I don’t ever recall having a callback about anything. Investors are just a whole better demographic to work for and I’d encourage anyone to chase down as much of this type of work as you can.


I agree. They are typically not emotional and do not want to be bothered with de minimis defects. They just want the facts so they can make a good investment decision.


Thanks everyone. Looks like I have to get a few ducks in a row before I jump into this type of inspection. Obviously there is a need in this area. It’s the third request like this I’ve had in the last 6 weeks.

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I hate it when people don’t have the common courtesy to put the toilet paper in the holder lol

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That is very true, but if you screw something up, the cost is greater than the total cost of of a residential house.

BTW: commercial insurance is much cheaper than for a Home Inspector doing residential work. HI’s as a whole, screw up more.

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Rick please call me and we can discuss you issue with multi-unit apartments, I have a few ideas for you to use. 513-617-3777

Rick did you get answer you needed, if Not please call 513-617-3777 and I can help you out.