Robert Desbruslais, Director, Desbruslais Chartered Surveyors

Buying a commercial property: What type of building survey do I need and why?

While domestic surveys are a big part of our job, we also work extensively in the commercial sector, where transactions are often complex and a significant investment for your business.

If you are buying business premises, commissioning a building survey is vital. It helps identify construction defects which may be expensive to rectify, and can create cost efficient schedules for future maintenance.

If you are leasing a property, you will be responsible for the repairs either directly, or indirectly where a freeholder simply passes on the cost of repairs. So a pre-contract inspection by a surveyor is just as vital in this circumstance.

A survey can help to identify health and safety issues, reducing the risk of accidents and associated lawsuits, which can be financially and reputationally devastating.

Tailored to the needs of individual businesses, there are three main types of commercial property survey:

Building survey: A detailed inspection and report on the condition of a building or buildings, which identifies construction defects and future maintenance requirements. This is important because commercial properties are often constructed from materials such as steel and reinforced concrete frames, or claddings rarely found in domestic buildings. The repair liabilities often rest with tenants.

Schedule of Condition: This records the condition of a building at a certain point in time through photographs and detailed descriptions. If you are leasing a commercial property this can limit your liability for repairs and maintenance because you may not have to return the property to a standard higher than described in the report, potentially saving thousands of pounds.

Schedule of Dilapidations: Often commissioned by commercial property owners, these review a tenant’s repairing obligations during and at the end of the lease and help agree a dilapidations settlement without resorting to legal action.