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The Ultimate Commercial Building Inspections Checklist

There are millions of commercial buildings in the United States. Property managers across the country are tasked with keeping them in working order, conducting proactive maintenance, and ensuring repair costs  are at a minimum.   

Reacting to issues in a timely manner and regularly inspecting the condition of critical elements such as roofs, HVAC units, and parking lots, is vital to keeping tenants happy and expenses down in the long term.  

Here’s our recommended commercial building inspection checklist, along with a few insights into how drones can be used to support the process.

What to Look Out For

Commercial properties come in all shapes and sizes, and vary dramatically depending on their use and location. However, there are a few permanent fixtures that will need addressing no matter the scale, location, and purpose. 

These include...

Exterior Walls, Roofs, and Masonry

Outer walls and stonework are worn over time and should be checked on a regular basis for any visible cracks or damage. 

Building arches and eaves are particularly susceptible as they take a fair amount of structural strain and are often more exposed to the elements.

Last but not least are roofs, which are constantly exposed and often harder to access and inspect on a regular basis. These need to be regularly maintained and inspected, along with any connected irrigation and drains. 

Lighting and Plumbing

It’s usually pretty simple to tell when an element of your building’s lighting system isn’t working properly. But periodical check-ups of installations and their power supplies should take place on a regular basis to catch any issues before they develop into serious problems.

The same goes for plumbing. Most of the time, problems make themselves known in no time at all. But additional checkups from specialists, along with a timetable for valve and pipework inspections, can prevent minor issues from becoming expensive (and wet) problems. 

Fire Prevention Equipment

It’s vital, both legally and for the sake of your tenants, to make sure all of your building’s fire safety equipment is regularly checked, serviced, and up to date. 

From sprinkler systems to fire extinguishers, and emergency exits, fire safety should be a priority during every commercial property inspection. 

Heating, Ventilation and Cooling

HVAC systems are key to operating a comfortable working environment. They are particularly important if your commercial property works with temperature extremes of some kind, whether that’s industrial refrigeration or a hot metalworks center.  

Regularly inspecting HVAC systems can help you avoid expensive issues and reduce any downtime as a result of repairs that are required.

Commercial Property Inspection Checklist

Each commercial building comes with its own quirks and specific features. You’ll need to adapt the general checklist below to suit yours.

Plumbing and Lighting

  • Regularly lubricate the water booster and circulation pump systems.
  • Inspect couplings to detect leaks.
  • Check water heaters and boilers are operating efficiently.
  • Check system contacts for wear and tear and run system tests.
  • Check and replace refrigerant and oils when needed.
  • Inspect sump and sewage pumps annually.
  • Check fixtures in public restrooms for leaks or damage.
  • Check lights with transformers, control gear, and other accessories
  • Inspect cables, screws, gaskets, and hardware of exposed outside lights.
  • Devise a schedule for relamping.
  • Clean bulb surfaces regularly to maximize performance.

General Long-term Checks

  • All of the doors and windows should be regularly inspected for wear and tear.
  • Ensure electrical system checkups are carried out by licensed professionals, according to local regulations.
  • Ensure fire equipment is well maintained, in working order and inspected regularly.

HVAC Units and Roofs

  • Inspect chillers and boilers.
  • Inspect cooling towers for issues with fan blades, motor bearings, wiring and more.
  • Check and lubricate HVAC pumps once a year.
  • Clean and replace air filters with a regularity depending on the type used.
  • Maintain the condenser coil.
  • Stay on top of energy efficiency settings related to the compressor and refrigerant.
  • Check the economizer for corrosion and debris and keep sensors accurately calibrated.
  • Check the roof for debris and make sure drains are cleared.
  • Inspect the roof’s perimeter for damage to metal and coping stones and tiles.
  • Check roof flashing tape for tears, wrinkles, and weaknesses.
  • Check for corrosion on metal roofs and put protection in place where possible.
  • Remove any weeds and ensure irrigation is working properly.
  • Carry out a moisture survey to locate leaks before they become serious problems. 
  • Inspect any solar panels on a regular basis.
  • Ensure the roof membrane is well protected.

How Drones Can Help

Depending on the nature of your commercial building, parking lots can represent a significant area of maintenance. In a lot with hundreds or even thousands of spaces, the ability to capture data at speed and at scale is invaluable. 

This is where drone technology comes into its own. Property managers can identify anything that’s out of the ordinary, from vegetation growing where it shouldn’t to cracks developing on the parking lot’s surface. 

With high-quality images and smart software able to analyze that data in minutes, maintenance teams can be alerted to issues and act on them quickly. And, because drones can cover ground far faster compared to manual inspections, the whole process takes place in a fraction of the time.

For roofs and external HVAC units, using drones to take a closer look results in minimized roof operations, reduced maintenance costs, and more useful data being gathered compared to manual methods. 

As well as removing the need for crews to spend more time than necessary at dangerous heights, airborne thermal imaging sensors can help inspection crews spot anomalies on rooftops and even minor damage to HVAC units that may not have been visible to the naked eye.

There are also efficiencies to be found in the processing of that data. For example, DroneBase Insights Reports use AI-assisted anomaly detection coupled with an in-house team of experts to generate actionable insights. The platform produces reports and condition assessments to help property managers work smarter. When used in tandem with our pilot network, the result is an end-to-end aerial inspection solution.

Find out more about how DroneBase Insights can support your organization’s operations here.

Tags: Aerial Inspection Commercial Real Estate Customers
Malek Murison
Malek Murison

Malek Murison is a technology journalist based in London who covers drone industry news and product reviews for DroneLife. He's written features for the Financial Times and works with some of the drone world's most exciting startups.


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