March, 2018
The ASHI School
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors



Commercial Building Inspections: Are You Certified?

RICHARD WELDON, P.E.

The most common question that The ASHI School receives about the Commercial Building Inspection Course is this: When I am done with the course, will I be certified to do commercial inspections?

There seems to be some confusion among prospective attendees as to the credentials required to perform Commercial Building Inspections, more commonly known as Property Condition Assessments (PCAs).

How long did it take you to learn how to do home inspections and be confident doing them? Six months? Two years? Is it realistic that a three-day course or even a two-week course would have you fully prepared to inspect all kinds of commercial properties?

It is a natural progression for home inspectors to expand and diversify their business by including PCAs as they gain more experience. Naturally, it helps to understand the rules of the game. PCAs are performed to the ASTM Standard E 2018.

More than 30 states license home inspectors and each state has specific requirements. Most people assume that, since additional knowledge and experience are required to perform commercial building inspections, there must be a licensing requirement or certification process.

However, there is currently no required credential for performing PCAs. 

There are several reasons why certification or licensing is not required, including the following:

Home inspections are performed for the general public. The general public is not expected to have in-depth knowledge on how houses work or even how to choose a home inspector with the proper credentials. As a home is probably the single largest purchase or investment a person will make, a poor decision can be financially disastrous. Thus, many governments protect the public through licensing.

People who buy commercial properties are generally business people making a business decision. Commercial buyers are more sophisticated when it comes to real estate transactions and exercise due diligence when buying commercial property. This includes choosing a commercial building inspector with the appropriate credentials. It still is “caveat emptor” (buyer beware).

Commercial property buyers and investors are making a financial business decision rather than an emotional personal decision as with homebuyers. Commercial investors typically have realistic expectations of the limitations of a visual PCA. Accordingly, there are far fewer complaints relating to PCAs and far less lobbying by business people for accreditation of those who perform PCAs.

ASTM STANDARD E 2018
There is no requirement to be an engineer or an architect, either. Even the ASTM Standard, E 2018-15, Section 6.7, says the following:

“Not a professional Architectural or Engineering service – it is not the intent of this guide that by conducting the walkthrough survey or reviewing the Property Condition Assessment Report (PCR) that the consultant, the field observer or the report reviewer is practicing Architecture or Engineering. Furthermore, it is not the intent of this guide that the either the report reviewer or the field observer, if they are an Architect or an Engineer, must either sign or seal the report as an instrument of professional service or identify this signature as being that of an Architect or an Engineer.” 

I agree with Section 6.7 in the ASTM Standard. We do not design or calculate. We look for evidence of non-performance in the systems and structures we review. We are not required to comment on the cause of the deficiency noted and we do recommend further evaluation (possibly by a professional engineer) when more in-depth review is required.

SPECIALISTS MAY BE NEEDED
One could argue that sometimes specialized knowledge is required to visually identify non-performance during a PCA. I agree. That is why inspectors, as generalists, must sometimes engage specialists to assist them during the PCA. The aspect of a specialist assisting the field observer is also identified in the ASTM Standard. I maintain that in the PCA business, it is important to “know what you don’t know” so you can engage specialists, as required.

Some commercial clients, lenders and others will be looking for some form of credential. If a lender is involved in the transaction, they may be the ones requiring the inspection. Depending on the size and complexity of the building, the lender may want to see a professional engineer involved in the inspection. So, you should have a structural engineer as one of the specialty consultants you can call on from time to time. 

SUMMARY
In short, you need to be competent to perform PCAs, but you don’t need a special designation or certification.


COMMERICAL BUILDING INSPECTION COURSE
March 24-26, 2018, Des Plaines, IL

A company providing residential and commercial inspections generates more business than a company doing residential alone! Commercial inspections can generate up to 80% more revenue than residential inspections in an equivalent amount of time.

The benefits to your business can be substantial. We invite you to take the first step in expanding your services, as well as your profits.

During our three-day Commercial Building Inspection Course, you will learn all you need to know to get your Commercial Inspection Division up and running. Our instructors are professional engineers, with more than 30 years of commercial building inspection experience. 

For additional information about the course, please call
1-888-884-0440.

Here is your opportunity to grow your business!

WHAT ARE THE TOP 10 THINGS I GET?

  1. An opportunity to diversify and make more money
  2. Easier inspections, with less stress and more time 
  3. Hands–on instruction from people in the business
  4. Field experience
  5. How to quote and land jobs
  6. How to use specialists
  7. How to write reports
  8. How to estimate costs
  9. Risk management 
  10. A money–back guarantee

WHY HOME INSPECTORS SHOULD LEARN TO DO COMMERCIAL INSPECTIONS:

  • Residential inspections = emotional attachment; call backs for irrelevant things. Commercial inspections = financial consideration only; clients don’t attend the inspections, so few or no call backs!
  • You’ll earn better money than residential inspections.
  • You already have most of the skills necessary to do the work.
  • You already have the inspection business machinery in place.
  • Repeat business is typical.
  • You’ll have diversification from residential inspections.
  • Halo effect—performing commercial inspections reflects favorably on your home inspection division.
  • There is room for growth in the market.

COURSE MATERIALS

We will provide our comprehensive commercial inspection textbook. You will leave with a wealth of information, including sample inspection reports, consultants’ reports and information on quoting inspections, report writing, costing and relevant business issues.

WHAT SHOULD YOU EXPECT?

You will learn how to get into the commercial inspection business. We will cover everything from business practices to technical inspection, with special emphasis on the “the TEAM approach” to commercial inspections. You will learn where and when a consultant is required, and how to find and work with consultants.

This course is approved for 24 ASHI® Continuing Education Credits, 10 HIA Membership Education Credits and 22 CREIA Continuing
Education Credits.

The course fee is $1,395 for ASHI and CREIA members, and $1,795 for non-members.