Having new office buildings, warehouses, apartments, residential homes, strip malls, or any other structure built from the ground-up according to your own specifications often sounds like the easiest way to avoid extensive (and expensive) repairs later on, but before you start talking to architects and builders, you should know that new construction is plagued by the same pitfalls and issues as any building.
If you’re planning a new commercial construction project, hiring a construction inspector to monitor the building’s progress from start to finish can save you time, money, and stress.
“New” Doesn’t Mean “Perfect”
At BIS, we see it all the time: governmental building inspectors are overloaded with too many inspections, contractors rush jobs in order to make a profit, and sub-contractors have been beaten down to the lowest prices. Unfortunately, this means that quality suffers, systems aren’t up to code, and workmanship is substandard.
In short, just because a building is brand-new doesn’t mean that it’s in flawless condition or that you won’t experience any additional (and costly) issues with your new building.
Construction projects—especially commercial buildings—involve careful coordination of multiple complex systems. It’s not a question of whether something will go wrong, but when.
For example, BIS recently inspected a newly constructed building that had passed city/county inspection and was ready to open its doors…or so they thought.
Our inspectors discovered that neither the exterior stairs nor the exterior ramp was ADA-compliant and thus did not meet Florida Building Code standards. The stair risers and treads had inconsistent dimensions and the ramp’s slope was off by 1.5 inches.
If we hadn’t discovered this issue, the property owner may have ended up with a hefty fine to pay. The Department of Justice may file lawsuits in federal court to enforce the ADA, and courts may order compensatory damages and back pay to remedy discrimination if the Department prevails. Under Title III, the Department of Justice may also obtain civil penalties of up to $75,000 for the first violation and $150,000 for any subsequent violation.
Aren’t the County & City Inspections Good Enough?
Throughout the construction of a residential or commercial building, city and county inspectors (as applicable) will periodically check that the building meets Fire Code. If your new strip mall has passed the building inspection, isn’t that good enough?
To be blunt: no.
City and county inspections only check whether a building meets the minimum requirements in that municipality. Every city and county has a different set of standards, which may or may not be right for your particular needs.
Think about it: would you be satisfied with knowing that your industrial warehouse didn’t meet the basic requirements for industrial warehouses in your area?
Further, county and city inspectors simply don’t have the time to test every single socket, wire, and corner of a building. There are certain systems that may get only a cursory glance and others might not be inspected at all, depending on the inspector’s checklist.
City and county inspections are useful and necessary (you won’t be able to occupy the building without them!), but they don’t replace the need for a construction inspector.
A new construction inspection is a much more thorough, accurate, and detail-oriented way to make sure that you got what you paid for.
Take Advantage of New Construction
Whether you’re buying or building a commercial property, it’s a costly venture. You’re already paying for the various costs of bringing your vision to fruition; don’t pay for your builder’s mistakes!
Existing buildings and new construction can both require repairs and renovations, but the advantage of new construction is how easily repairs can be done. With a construction inspector, you can catch mistakes while they are still relatively simple to fix (at the builder’s expense…not yours).
Having a construction inspector perform a series of thorough, accurate reviews at key moments throughout the project is the best way to avoid paying for costly mistakes later.
You Have the Right to Hire a Construction Inspector
If your builder fights your attempt to hire a third-party construction inspector, that should be a giant red flag.
They might reassure you that they will take care of everything and that the county and city inspectors are going to check it anyway. They may remind you that you have a warranty and that any issues that crop up in the first year will be promptly taken care of.
These promises, however, are no match for a properly performed construction inspection.
Any good builder who stands behind their work should have no problem with a neutral party inspecting the building. Not to mention that it is easier for all parties involved to have all major issues taken care of before you close on the building.
Once you have closed on the property, you have no easy recourse if the builder refuses to honor your warranty or answer your phone calls. Simply put, DO NOT CLOSE on a property until you have had an inspection!
When it comes to construction, there’s no such thing as “perfect.”
Even a brand-new building will always have flaws—whether major or minor—that can be improved on. But without a construction inspector, how would you know what those flaws are?
Municipal building codes don’t come close to the high standards we have at BIS. Since 1975, we have inspected tens of thousands of buildings, lent our expertise to nationally recognized TV stations, and provided expert testimony in county and state courts.
If you’re building a commercial storefront, warehouse, restaurant, or other project, don’t rely solely on the builder’s word, website, or reputation. Get a construction inspection and take the guesswork out of your next project.