Understanding The Commercial Inspection Process In Los Angeles, Ca

Understanding the Commercial Inspection Process in Los Angeles, CA

Buying or leasing commercial property in Los Angeles can be an exciting yet daunting process. A key step along the way is having a commercial inspection performed on the property to help identify any issues or needed repairs. This ensures you fully understand the condition of the property prior to finalizing the transaction.

In this blog post, we’ll break down everything you need to know about commercial inspections in Los Angeles. We’ll cover the basics of the process, what to expect, and tips for making the most out of your inspection.

Overview of Commercial Property Inspections

A commercial property inspection is a detailed examination of the physical condition of the building and property. It is completed by a qualified inspector prior to the purchase or leasing of the space.

The goal is to identify any material defects, safety hazards, or necessary repairs. This helps inform negotiations and allows the buyer or tenant to make an educated decision about the property.

Some key things covered in a standard commercial inspection Los Angeles include:

  • Structure - Checking for issues with the foundation, walls, roof, etc.

  • Electrical - Testing outlets, breakers, wiring, and lighting.

  • Plumbing - Assessing pipes, fixtures, water pressure and signs of leaks.

  • HVAC - Reviewing heating/cooling equipment, ductwork and ventilation.

  • Fire and Safety - Looking at alarm systems, sprinklers, emergency exits.

  • Pest Infestation - Inspecting for termites, rodents or other pests.

  • Zoning and Parking - Confirming adherence to commercial zoning laws.

  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Compliance - Verifying accessibility standards are met.

  • Overall Condition - Identifying areas in disrepair or need of maintenance.

The scope and specifics of the inspection will vary based on the property type, age, size and locality. The inspector will assess all accessible areas unless restricted.

Having an inspection performed is highly recommended for commercial real estate transactions in order to gain a comprehensive understanding of the property's physical condition from an objective third party.

Choosing a Commercial Inspector in Los Angeles

It's important to pick an experienced, knowledgeable inspector to perform your commercial inspection. Be sure to research inspectors' qualifications, certifications, experience, reputation and fees.

Here are some tips for choosing a commercial inspector in Los Angeles:

  • Verify proper licensing - Inspectors should be licensed professionals. California requires licensing for most commercial inspectors.

  • Look for specialization - Seek out an inspector with extensive experience inspecting commercial properties, especially those similar to yours. Their expertise can prove invaluable.

  • Check associations - Many belong to professional organizations like the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) or International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) which indicate a certain level of qualifications.

  • Read reviews - Look online for ratings and feedback on inspectors from past clients to gauge quality of inspections.

  • Compare multiple bids - Get quotes from a few leading inspectors to find the right balance of service, expertise and value.

  • Ask about their process - Do they use checklists? Will you receive a written report with photos detailing findings? What's their follow up like?

  • Inquire about equipment - Modern tools like infrared cameras, moisture meters, CO detectors and thermal imaging technology can identify hidden issues.

  • Request references - Reputable commercial inspectors should be able to provide references from satisfied customers.

Taking the time to find the right inspector for your commercial inspection Los Angeles CA is well worth the effort. Their findings will arm you with objective data to inform a major business decision.

What to Expect During the Commercial Inspection

The inspection itself usually takes several hours depending on the size and layout of the building. The inspector will be methodically evaluating all areas of the property.

Here's a general overview of what happens during a standard commercial inspection:

  • Introduction - The inspector will explain their credentials, outline the scope of work, and note any restricted areas. Feel free to ask questions.

  • Interior Assessment - They'll evaluate hallways, offices, bathrooms, lobbies, basements, etc. looking at floors, walls, ceilings, doors, windows and built-ins testing outlets, plumbing and HVAC vents.

  • Roof Inspection - Using ladders and binoculars as needed, they'll scan the roof for leaks, damage, debris, drainage issues and age/condition of materials.

  • Exterior Evaluation - Parking areas, landscaping, signage, lighting, dumpster enclosures, fencing and overall building exterior will be inspected.

  • System Checks - Electrical, plumbing, HVAC and other systems will be started up and tested. Fire sprinklers may be triggered briefly.

  • Follow-up Questions - Inspectors will often recap their initial findings and allow you to ask clarifying questions while onsite.

  • Report Delivery - You'll receive a full detailed writeup of the inspection results typically within 24-48 hours.

Being onsite during the inspection allows you to get a first-hand look at the building. You'll also get to meet the inspector and learn more about property maintenance best practices.

Key Areas of Focus for Commercial Inspections

When evaluating a commercial building, there are some critical areas and systems warrant extra attention during the inspection:


Having sufficient power capacity and well-maintained electrical systems are vital for commercial spaces. Look for:

  • Damaged/outdated wiring, panels or breakers

  • Grounding and outlets properly installed

  • Light fixtures in working order

  • Ample circuits, capacity for future needs


Heating and cooling systems need to adequately serve the entire building year round.

  • Roof-mounted equipment secured and operating properly

  • No leaks in air ducts distributing air

  • Thermostats placed appropriately

  • Sufficient ventilation reaching all areas


Faulty plumbing can lead to catastrophic disasters. Assess:

  • Piping in good condition, no leaks or rust

  • Water pressure adequate

  • Water heater properly vented

  • Fixtures working properly

  • No moisture damage under sinks or around toilets


Roofs endure heavy weather and need regular upkeep. Look for:

  • No sagging sections or obvious repairs needed

  • No evidence of standing water or ponding

  • Flashing around vents/penetrations intact

  • No exposed nail heads or missing shingles

  • No trees or branches overhanging

Fire Safety

Fire prevention is a top priority. Confirm presence of:

  • Operational smoke/carbon monoxide detectors

  • Properly maintained fire extinguishers

  • Clearly marked alarm pull stations and emergency exits

  • Sprinkler inspection current and no issues noted

Paying attention to these critical areas will give you peace of mind about some of the property's major systems.

Potential Red Flags to Watch For

While inspecting the property, keep an eye out for any of these common red flags that could indicate larger issues:

  • Water stains on ceiling or walls suggesting past leaks

  • Freshly painted walls that could conceal cracks or water damage

  • Soft spots or sagging visible in floors or roof

  • Strong mildew odors indicating excess moisture

  • Mismatched flooring sections that may cover prior repairs

  • Exposed wiring that presents a safety hazard

  • Leaks under sinks, around toilets or behind appliances

  • Cracked glass in windows and doors that will need replacing

  • Damaged sidewalks/asphalt in parking areas in need of repair

  • Infestation signs like spider webs, termite swarms or droppings

Make note of any concerning issues and request clarification from the seller/landlord. This will prep you to negotiate any repairs that may be needed to make the property functional and safe.

Using the Inspection Report in Negotiations

The commercial inspection report provides you a complete, unbiased assessment of the property's condition from roof to foundation. Now the question is – how can you use it to your advantage?

First, thoroughly review the detailed report once received, taking note of any major deficiencies. Prepare your list of highest priority issues you would like to see addressed. These may include safety hazards, inoperable systems, or major repairs like a bad roof.

Next, bring this list to the negotiating table along with cost estimates for the more complex repairs. Use the objective inspector’s findings to respectfully but firmly request concessions from the seller or landlord.

Some examples of reasonable requests:

  • Price reduction to account for upcoming repairs needed

  • Credits or allowances to cover basic maintenance items

  • Compensation for deficiencies not disclosed prior to inspection

  • Time to conduct follow up inspections for serious issues

The seller may reject some items as “minor wear and tear” issues. But significant problems can often be addressed through negotiation, especially if repairs were not initially disclosed

Tips for Getting the Most from Your Inspection

To make the inspection process as smooth and useful as possible, keep these tips in mind:

Attend the inspection - By accompanying the inspector, you can ask questions in real time and learn about the property first-hand.

Take notes - Document any concerning issues to clarify in the report or request repairs for later.

Take photos - Visuals of major problems can help support your requests for repairs.

Ask about lifespans - Inquire when roofs, HVAC systems, etc. may need replacement based on condition and useful life.

Request cost estimates - For bigger issues, ask the inspector to provide ballpark figures to aid negotiations.

Review the property’s use history - Make sure it has been utilized in compliance with zoning laws and commercial regulations.

Compare similar properties - Research the typical condition of comparable buildings to gauge if issues are normal wear and tear or more significant.

Clarify what’s covered - Know what’s included in the scope of work and what requires separate inspections like sewer line examinations.

Look into warranties - See if active warranties on the roof or equipment can be transferred to the new owner.

Leveraging the inspector’s expertise and maximizing their time onsite will provide you the details needed to make a well-informed decision on the property.

Why a Commercial Inspection is Worth the Investment

Spending money on a commercial inspection may seem unnecessary when funds are tight or you face pressure to close quickly. But consider these benefits that make it more than worthwhile:

Avoids surprises post-purchase - Finding out about major repairs needed after closing is financially and logistically challenging. Inspections provide the full picture upfront.

Identifies non-compliant conditions - Ensures you won’t inherit pre-existing violations of building codes, zoning laws and accessibility standards.

Serves as a bargaining chip - Objective inspection reports give you firmer ground to negotiate repairs, credits or price reductions.

Protects your investment - Foregoing an inspection often leads to more expenses down the road repairing preventable damage or replacing neglected systems.

Provides documentation - Thorough reports may protect against liability for issues originating under previous ownership.

Brings peace of mind - Knowing exactly what you’re getting, especially with older properties, allows you to move forward with confidence.

View the inspection as an opportunity to fully understand the property’s true condition and make the deal work in your favor. The information gained will pay dividends over the life of your ownership or lease.

Common Questions about Commercial Inspections in LA

If you’re new to commercial real estate transactions, you likely have lots of questions about the inspection process. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions:

How much does a commercial inspection cost? Inspection fees are usually based on square footage, ranging from 10 to 20 cents per square foot for a basic inspection. Large properties or extensive scope may cost more.

How long does it take? The average inspection takes 3-6 hours for properties up to 10,000 square feet. Larger buildings can take 8 hours or more to thoroughly inspect.

What does the report include? Expect a 20-30+ page report with detailed narratives, photographs and a summary of urgent vs. recommended repairs. Checklists and cost estimates may be separate.

Can I attend the inspection? Yes, you or your representative are encouraged to accompany the inspector to get a first-hand look and ask questions.

Do I need multiple inspectors? A qualified general inspector is fine for most commercial buildings under 20,000 square feet. Above that size or for complex properties, additional specialists may be recommended.

When should it be done? Ideally after core building systems are operational but before closing. Schedule inspectors in advance as top firms book up quickly.

If you have any other questions about commercial real estate inspections in LA, don’t hesitate to ask! Knowledgeable inspectors are happy to explain the process and make sure you feel fully informed.


Having a professional commercial inspection performed provides immense value for prospective buyers and tenants. It equips you with a detailed, unbiased report on the true condition of the property. This allows you to make negotiations with confidence and avoid unexpected costs down the road.

While inspectors do look for issues, their larger goal is simply to give you the full picture. Armed with the facts, you can determine if the overall opportunity aligns with your objectives and risk tolerance.

Finding an experienced local inspector you can trust is key to getting the most out of the process. And attending the inspection yourself gives you added insight.

With a quality commercial inspection in hand, you can proceed on the deal knowing exactly what you’re getting. This provides invaluable peace of mind.

So don't skip this important step when considering commercial property in LA. The few hours and dollars spent upfront can save you big time frustration, inconvenience and expense through the duration of your lease or ownership