Whether you are buying or leasing a commercial property, and whether that property is a retail
space, office, or warehouse, it is imperative to get a property survey by a qualified chartered
surveyor. Property surveys can shed light onto any damages in the building and any potential
defects, allowing you to cut costs, and know what you’re leasing or investing into.
This article highlights a number of reasons why it is essential to have a property survey carried
out. Property surveys can equip you with invaluable expertise so that you can make sure you’re
making the right decision.
- Identify Issues with the Property
First and foremost, a survey can help you spot all of the issues unique to your property, such as
access, boundaries, and party walls. These are all things you may not have even considered to
be an issue beforehand, but are all important to consider when investing in a commercial
property. This can also help highlight issues which can be communicated to the vendor by your
lawyer when negotiating a price.
When carrying out a survey, your surveyor will look out for issues with asbestos, mechanical
and electrical problems such as air conditioning and lifts, carry out a material test on factors
such as harmful materials and deteriorating brickwork, and assess environmental risk, including
contamination and flood risk.
2. Understand the Construction of the Building
A commercial property survey can enlighten you to the materials the property has been built
with and indicate any issues with them. Commercial buildings are often built out of different
materials to residential buildings, such as cladding, reinforced concrete, and hidden steel
frames, which can all pose difficult problems and be expensive to rectify.
Building surveyors can help you to identify these hidden issues and prevent any future problems
these materials may cause. It is also important to uncover these issues, as these difficult
materials may increase your insurance premiums. You will need to know how costly investing in
this property will be and make informed decisions to stop the premiums from increasing.
3. Prepare for Maintenance on the Building
In order to prepare for the worst and cut down costs, you will need to know what maintenance
will need to be carried out on your property and when. A commercial survey will highlight the
current defects of the property and expected defects, so that you can plan your maintenance,
know what maintenance will need to be carried out, and how expensive this will cost. This will
ensure that you can avoid unexpected issues, manage costs, prepare for unforeseen
circumstances, and be confident of what you’re investing into.
4. Meet Health and Safety regulations
As a business and property owner, adhering to health and safety regulations can be imperative
to your business’ success. To ensure that you are up to date with security measures and
adhering to regulations, a building surveyor will advise you on how best to tackle health and
safety issues in the building. A survey can inform you of how to handle risk and how to put
safety procedures and precautions into place, such as fire escapes and health legislation.
5. Cut Costs when Buying
If you have your property surveyed before you purchase your property, you may find a number
of defects such as leaking, mould or cracks. These issues can be used to negotiate a discount
or you can negotiate with the vendor to fix these issues before investment, saving you money
on fixing them.
6. Avoid Liability
A survey is often more important when leasing than buying, as leasing a property can be a
massive liability. Your lease is a contract, legally binding you to carry out certain procedures and
maintenance, so you have much less control over changes you want to make than if you owned
You may, for example, be required to fix internal damages whilst a landlord takes care of
external repairs. By getting a survey, you will have more of an idea of what you might be legally
required to do as part of your lease in order to maintain the commercial building.
7. Be Aware of Dilapidations
A survey of a leased property will help you to understand your liabilities at the end of your lease
when you have to carry out a schedule of dilapidations. This survey can identify the cost of the
repairs required at the end of the lease and help you to make sure that you are not liable to
undertake any more repairs than are necessary, which can significantly reduce costs.
A lease will make sure that you maintain the building and meet any repair obligations, and will
make it clear what you can alter in the premises. This is important as you need to know what
changes you are allowed to make. If unaware of these limits, you may have to reverse any
changes and spend even more money at the end of the lease. A surveyor can help you to draft
the dilapidations schedule and negotiate any changes you want to make.
Whether buying or leasing a property, a property survey can identify issues with the property,
help you understand the construction of the building, prepare for maintenance, meet health and
safety regulations, negotiate a discount when buying, avoid liability when leasing, and help you
to be more aware of dilapidations. Ultimately, a commercial building survey by a chartered
surveyor can significantly reduce costs, reduce stress, and increase your understanding of what
you’re getting into.
Allcott Commercial is a building consultancy providing project management, building
surveying, architectural and structural engineering services to a range of property investors,
occupiers and developers throughout England and Wales.