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8 Potential Problems to Look for Before Buying a Commercial Property


When you find a commercial property that appears to meet all your requirements, it can be easy to overlook problems until after you've purchased it. Once you become the owner, any hidden issues are your responsibility and expense. Before purchasing a property, it is essential to examine it thoroughly to uncover any potential problems. Being proactive at the inspection stage can enable you to have any required maintenance and repairs written into the contract or use any problems identified to negotiate a better sale price. You may even decide it is all too much and move on to another property.

Here are eight suggestions of things to look for.

1. Check for water damage

It is possible to cover water damage with a fresh coat of paint or by concealing it beneath office furniture or machines. Check closely to discover whether any repairs have been made only for the purpose of selling the property.

2. Inspect the roof 

You don’t know the true condition of the roof of a property unless someone accesses the roof and cavity and carries out a proper inspection. Many commercial roofs have several patch-up do-it-yourself or temporary repairs that cover up a problem. It is essential to have a building inspector inspect the roof thoroughly. If the property has a common title scheme, the Body Corporate is responsible for the roof, but the owner is responsible if the property is freehold.

3. Investigate for structural cracks and flooring issues

Fractures in structures are common, but they can be costly. They are another problem that can be concealed with paint and filler. Flooring issues such as cracks, creaking, and unevenness may indicate structural movement or an improperly constructed fit-out.

4. Ask questions about any mezzanines

Frequently, mezzanines in workplaces lack Council approval and an engineer's report. Both factors can incur additional costs.

5. Request a copy of the Asbestos Audit Report

If the buildings were constructed before December 31, 1989, the Management and Control of Asbestos Codes of Practice apply. Asbestos removal can be expensive if it is required.  

6. Inspect the electric metering panel

Often in commercial properties, tenants add things to the load on the electricity switchboard without the landlord knowing, such as extra air conditioning units, and machinery power supplies. This can mean that the switchboard becomes overloaded which causes electrical problems and can be expensive to rectify. Safety switches should be checked.

7. Check the heating, cooling, and mechanical systems

Determine who owns and is responsible for the air conditioning and mechanical services, including exhaust canopies and ductwork. Are these in good condition, how old are they, who is responsible for repairs and upkeep, and have they been serviced regularly? These devices are extremely expensive and expensive to repair if they are not maintained.

8. Always conduct a building and pest inspection

A building and pest inspection is required prior to the purchase of any property. You will want the inspector to assess the property for termites, detect any structural integrity issues, and identify any further potential issues. Buying a property with significant defects might be expensive. Being proactive and inspecting prospective properties thoroughly can help you uncover problems early and save you money and heartache. A professional building inspector is aware of the areas of a property that should be inspected to identify issues and will work through the above checklist to ensure that nothing is overlooked.

The above list is by no means exhaustive. Depending on whether the property has a tenant or has vacant possession, there are additional things to explore during the due diligence stage when purchasing commercial property. These are matters that should be discussed in detail with your legal counsel. 


Please remember this article does not constitute financial or legal advice and is offered as information only. Please consult your professional financial and legal advisors before making any decisions for yourself when purchasing a property.