Defining your commercial construction project involves a lot of details. Desired outcomes, goals, and milestones all have to be considered. How can you make sure that the goals you have set forth are realistic? Let’s look at some of the factors that should go into the goal setting process so you will have a more successful plan.1. How will you know if your project has been successful? From the very beginning, be sure you set forth what will be used to determine the success or failure of the project. This goes way beyond just meeting a deadline. Are there any measurements like higher sales volume from a better workflow design or increased data storage performance that need to be measured? Be sure you also involve all of the stakeholders to ensure that everyone is on the same page.2. Bring in a project manager if it makes sense. When you are starting a project, you want to get things started right the first time. It might make sense to bring in a project manager who can help you and your team evaluate what it is you need and help you better define your goals and objectives. A project manager can also help determine if the timelines you are thinking of are also realistic. For commercial property holders, this can be a major asset, because the project manager is used to thinking of all of the construction details that might otherwise be missed.It is OK to admit that you don’t have the skillset to be able to handle a construction project. Being realistic about your own limitations can actually lead to the project being more successful in the long run.3. State the objectives and the progress markers in writing. It might seem obvious, but it’s easy for someone to say something that is critical, but it never gets written down. Then when that deadline is missed, people are looking back into their memories to try to conjure up what was agreed upon. Just the simple act of putting it all into writing helps make sure that no misunderstandings will occur.4. Consider the budget. A goal is nothing but a dream if there is no funding for it. It is OK to put everything on the table and value engineer out those items that are not financially possible at this time. Keeping everything under budget is a key part of making sure that the entire project’s goals can be met.5. Know what the risks are. Beyond just the budget and the milestones, you need to know what risks there may be. A project can be derailed completely if there are no buffers for risks. If you need to bring in inspectors along the way to ensure everything is on track, this can help mitigate the chance of a project shut down and the project’s goals can be checked.Obviously no one has a crystal ball and can know for certain what the future holds, but as much planning at the outset that can be done will serve to benefit everyone in the long run and help ensure that all of the project’s goals are realistic, measurable, and on track.
If you are the owner or manager of a commercial construction company you well know it is crucial to stay on schedule when completing a project. When you fall behind on a project you tend to rush everybody who is working on it. As a result the workers and the bosses feel pressured. That is the point on a particular job where people become careless. For the sake of faster time they cut corners. This is when accidents happen; with sometimes tragic consequences. What can you do to avoid having this happen? What is your best course of action? We will look at that a little more closely right here and now.One thing you can do might sound trivial but is a viable part of your plan of action. That is to prepare a checklist of things you must do to complete your current job. This checklist should cover the whole time-span of your job and spell out all of the steps you and your workers will be taking. We are certain we don’t need to remind you of this; but the checklist should definitely include all safety measures regarding your project. After you are finished documenting your checklist; go over the entire thing with your full staff. Do this for every project; as these steps may well change from one job to another. Make sure everyone is onboard with the list and understands what work will need to be done and also answer any questions in as much detail as possible.The next thing you can do is to actually create a schedule for each job. Again; this is something that is likely to differ with each one. Therefore be certain to prepare a new schedule for every project. In this schedule you can detail every step to complete over the course of the current project. Give your team an estimated deadline for every step. We suggest a time-frame; as opposed to a one-day deadline. This will ensure you don’t have the rushing scenario we outlined earlier in this article. When you are developing this schedule; be reasonable with your estimated completion time for each step. Do not create a negative work environment where all of your workers are rushing around like chickens with their heads cut off. Doing this only leads to the unsafe work methods we talked about before. This schedule is another thing you will want to discuss with your staff prior to beginning each job.Another excellent procedure you can take here is to go over the details of your checklist and schedule with the client who is paying for this project. Be certain he is also onboard with everything you plan to do. Lay everything out on the line for him and thoroughly explain why it is critical that your company stick to these plans. Let him know about the possible safety risks if you do not follow the proper procedures at all times. In doing this; you and your staff will feel comfortable with the time-frame to complete the project, then nobody’s safety will be compromised. Everyone will be happy about this.
On the West Side of Los Angeles high-density apartments and commercial buildings are being planned. Some locals decry the density stating it will do nothing but add to the already insane traffic causing total grid-lock. Still, developers have the green light now and are going ahead with things. A few opponents of the project are already making signs; “Tear Down this Mall!”If you look at the high-rise apartments in Florida, New York, San Francisco, Boston, Seattle and elsewhere you do not see outrageous traffic, instead these units are being built in a way that everything you need is within walking distance, so you really do not even need a car at that point.In Los Angeles some ambitious and aggressive developers, veteran commercial builders are going for a vertical mall. Yes a mall that goes straight up, seven stories. And it’s not that it has not been done before, but for LA it’s something new. The project will be completed circa 2011 and has the Red Line Subway running underneath it. There will be 100 stores in this mall and a super-plex movie theatre.Retail all the way up with restaurants and food courts on top. Many urban planners are carefully watching this development and other similar projects are being submitted around the country, question is will this work in LA? Some say no, others say; why not? It will bring good retailing jobs and there are high-rise apartments already nearby, and with the Red Line below folks can get to work by walking or taking the subway.There is a lot of wealth in the Wilshire Corridor, surely enough to support the mall, but will shoppers come in droves and if they do what traffic will that bring to the already over congested area? This will be very interesting indeed, this is one commercial construction project everyone will be watching and no matter what the predictions on its success, only time will tell.
There are times it feels like it’s newsworthy to announce a commercial project that came in either on budget or even under budget. But the truth is most projects are undertaken with the expectation that they will be completed on budget, even though that can also be the hardest aspect of the project to complete. Here are a few tips to keep in mind so you, too, can bring your commercial construction project in on budget.Few contractors are willing to take less profit to compensate for any cost overruns that happen on the project. As such, there is almost no contract written that expects a contractor to take a loss. Change orders are de rigueur, so expect to see them. Even if a contract is based on a fixed price or bid, the contractors and subcontractors can still pass cost overruns on to you. A time and materials contract often means your contractor will end up paying for overruns himself or herself, but even this is not guaranteed.To keep this from happening, look over the contract carefully. Omissions are the leading cost overrun category. Check the contract to be sure it covers things like permits, licenses, fees, and so on. Also make sure that every aspect of the project is covered in the plans and contract documents. A clearly crafted contract ensures that all parties involved understand exactly what is expected. Never assume anything when it comes to a contract.Before anything is finalized, have an engineer and/or an architect look over the specs and the plans to be sure they are complete. You should also make sure your project manager is on the same page you are and that he or she fully understands the plans and the project scope before anything gets started. A consultant may be able to give you some advice as well, and though it costs more up front, you could end up saving thousands in the long run.If your project has anything unusual about it or it will be using exotic materials, be sure these are accounted for in the contract. Also do an inspection if you can of the job location so you know exactly what condition the property is in. Will there be a lot of trees to clear? Is the existing building that will be retrofitted in good shape or does it have water or insect damage?Make sure you build in an allowance for price increases that may occur between the time the contract is granted and the project completion. This is also very important in a rapidly changing market to keep you on budget.One last big thing you as the project owner can do is ensure you are all set with the materials that will be used and that the plans meet your specifications. Changing your mind part way through and deciding you want tile floors instead of concrete or a wall removed that wasn’t called for in the original drawings can cost you a lot more than you had bargained for.No one has a crystal ball and can look into the future with absolute certainty, but doing everything you can ahead of time to anticipate the project’s needs will go a long ways towards saving you money and frustration.
To gain a commercial construction project it is often important to demonstrate that you are adequately able to estimate the costs involved in the project. This usually requires putting together a detailed tender that shows exactly what needs to be spent and where. Estimating these costs can be quite difficult and a number of factors need to be considered before sending a quote or tender.Labour CostsEstimating the cost of labour can be tricky as it requires knowing how many people you need to complete the job and also requires estimations for parts of the work that may not be directly related to construction.Having experience in the field helps, as it provides prior knowledge, as does having a regular staff of people that you trust to carry out the work.One of the big issues is estimating the time the project will take, which plays directly into the amount of labour that will be required to complete it. Create a proposed timetable and be realistic about timescales. Try to be as efficient as possible but don’t skimp when it comes to allocating work. If a job would require two people don’t base cost estimates on one person finishing it. Also ensure that you leave some room for error in the estimate.MaterialsThe cost of materials is also an extremely important factor to take into account. You will need to have a good idea of exactly what is needed to complete the project and where it can be sourced at a price that is satisfactory to all involved.It is often best to include an architect or other professional at this point to let you know how much of each material that you need. Bear in mind that the cost of said professional will also need to be taken into account.Having good sources for materials is also a benefit as it means that you can get solid quotes on your estimates. Having to source new suppliers can lead to issues relating to the quote that they provide, which in turn can lead to issues with the eventual estimate.Use Cost Estimating SoftwareThe industry has recognised how difficult it is to estimate the costs for a construction project and there are currently a number of cost estimating softwares available on the market.Using one of these can provide you with a structure to base your overall quote around and will ensure you cover every possible base. Bear in mind that the software itself will involve an initial cost, though it isn’t advised to include this in the estimate if you are tendering for a contract.Many of these programs will allow for a database to be kept relating to each important cost and will also allow for calculations that can incorporate your mark-up on any materials purchased in addition to other important calculations. With proper training such software can streamline the entire process and make it much easier to provide an accurate estimate for any work that needs to be undertaken.
If you are a commercial construction company owner you may be interested in our article. In it we will give you some tips on great strategies for growing your business. This information is taken from the advice of people who are in the industry and are successful. We hope you find it helpful.It is important for you to understand what the term “marketing” actually means in this context. Its concept encompasses far more than advertising or selling your company. Rather it is a complete plan you draw up that takes into account all of its strengths and weaknesses and applies them to your targeted market. Additionally this plan will help you to determine the method you wish to utilize for arriving at your prices. This plan is best put into action after spelling it all out in a document. You can store this document on your computer; however, it would be wise if you kept a hard copy of it in a safe place. That way; should you lose access to your computer files, you have something to fall back on. The best place for that hard copy would be a fire-proof safe or even a bank vault incase of a disaster occurring in your office.The overall advice you will need to follow to design and implement your marketing plan is similar no matter what the size of your company is. The important thing here is that it must be thorough and well-analyzed. We highly recommend that you type it up on your computer; as this is the easiest way to update it. This document will need to be updated as the industry changes; which will happen relatively often.Along with your company’s strengths and weaknesses you also want to account for any threats that may pop up. You will want to state what those threats could be and how you plan to deal with them; should they occur. In a similar fashion you will want to prepare for any good opportunities that come into the picture. Are there any opportunities you wish to take advantage of right now or in the near future? What about long-term opportunities? You ought to detail your strategy for making the best of them too. Remember; both threats and opportunities will change over the years. This means your plans should change as well. Again make sure you update your documented plans as often as you need to. This will ensure you are prepared for any business situation that may arise.There is much more information available on this topic right on the Internet. If you do a search you will find pertinent articles written by experts in the field. Not only that; but you will note that there are companies out there who will create your commercial construction marketing plan for you. This is useful if you are excellent at running such a company but not so great at developing a marketing plan. You can always hire one of these companies and learn from them how to do it yourself as you go along. Then perhaps down the line you can take over this task yourself; as you will now be properly prepared to do so.
Investing in a facility that adheres to green building standards and performance efficiency is a smart and responsible decision. When considering the value energy efficient and environmentally friendly buildings can bring to the commercial real estate market, it seems as if going green is the wisest of investments. The practice of “going green” has been gaining popularity within the last decade.It is more important than ever to ensure we are doing all we can to lessen mankind’s harmful impact on the environment, and the government is offering tax incentives to those who take on environmental challenges with green building practices. Our society as a whole has changed the way it sees building, living and working. That’s why living and building “green” is more attractive than ever to both residential and commercial real estate investors. Green building design consultants can help a facility reach its efficiency goals. Green design can alleviate and reduce exposure to toxic materials, as well as ensure the conservation of non-renewable materials and energy.When it comes to green facility construction, a green design consultant will make sure the building process minimizes the ecological impact of building as well as oversee the construction to guarantee the protection of local water, soil, air, plants and wildlife. When designing a green facility, it is important to take into account the lifestyles of those who will be using the building. Make sure the facility offers support of transportation alternatives, such as walking, mass transit, biking and alternative fuels. Incorporating design features that will make it easier for commuters who use non-traditional transportation is a responsible and modern necessity.Of course, you’ll want to utilize non-renewable energy and recycled, environmentally friendly materials in your building. Many wonderful decorations and practical applications can be made out of the abundance of recycled plastic and rubber. Plastic and rubber are extremely durable, but not very environmentally friendly. It is a wise choice to use the recycled plastic and rubber, however, because otherwise it would end up sitting in a landfill for thousands of years. And, by using recycled materials, it eliminates the need to create new, un-degradable plastic.You may think that going green and increasing building performance efficiency would cost a lot of money. While this has been the case in the past, it is becoming more and more cost effective. In fact, green design and building often costs the same as traditional building methods. And with all the money that can be saved through efficiency and recycling, green building can actually cost far less than traditional methods over the long run. Corporations and businesses are far more likely to invest in a green building if they know it will increase their bottom line.If you consider the long-term maintenance and energy costs, using green and energy efficient products and designs will significantly increase profitability. As green building continues to gain popularity, tax incentives will increase. It’s easy see how green design and construction will pay for itself as times goes on.
IntroductionThe Energy Performance of Buildings (Certificates and Inspections) (England and Wales) Regulations 2007 SI 2007/991 as amended was the Government’s response to European Union Directive 2002/91/EC on the Energy Performance of Buildings. The Directive requires member states to have a system for comparing the energy performance of buildings in place by 4th January 2009 or fines will be imposed, so there is no further scope for the Government to delay the introduction of commercial EPCs.The EU directive was part of the Union’s response to the Kyoto Protocol, an amendment to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. All the main political parties in the UK are committed to action to cut CO2 emissions and as non-domestic properties contribute about 20% of our CO2 emissions it was inevitable that action would be taken to try to change the behaviour of building owners and occupiers. EPCs are part of that action and they are here to stay.Recommendations ReportIn addition to the certificate the Commercial Energy Assessor (CEA) must prepare a Recommendations Report which is designed to help owners and occupiers to improve the energy efficiency of their buildings. The report only includes improvements that the CEA considers to be appropriate for the building that has been assessed. For each recommendation indicative payback periods are noted. The recommendations are provided in four categories, i.e. those:*with a short payback period of less than three years*with a medium term payback of between three and seven years*with a long term payback of greater than seven years*other recommendations based on the CEA’s knowledgeThe calculation methodFor most properties the calculation method is a piece of Government approved software called the Simplified Building Energy Model (SBEM). Before entering the required data into the SBEM software, the CEA needs to follow the following procedure:*The CEA splits the building into zones according to the type of activity, heating, cooling, ventilation and lighting in each zone. A single room might contain multiple zones. The floor area, wall, ceiling/roof and glazed areas for each zone must then be calculated.*The CEA then needs to determine the construction of the building and zone envelopes and may need to calculate U Values (the amount of heat that can pass through the material) and Cm Values (how much heat the material can hold).*The CEA needs to find out as much information as possible on the heating, cooling and ventilation systems in addition to the lighting, glazing and water heating.*Once all the information has been obtained to the CEA’s satisfaction, they will input the data into the software and run the EPC calculation. They must also prepare the Recommendations Report.For complicated buildings, or where little or no information has been provided by the person responsible for procure the EPC, the whole process can be very time consuming. It is important to remember that the CEA owes a duty of care to all parties, not just the person or company that has instructed them, to ensure that the EPC is accurate. CEAs may face criminal proceedings for producing an EPC fraudulently and anybody who believe that an EPC may be wrong can apply to the CEA’s accreditation body to have the matter reviewed.General InformationEPCs are valid for 10 years in normal circumstances or until a newer EPC is prepared. From 1st October 2008 virtually all commercial properties will need to have an EPC following exchange of contracts for a sale or letting. From 4th January 2009 this requirement will be extended so that all such properties will require an EPC when they are placed on the market and available for interested parties to view the premises. A lease assignment is considered to be a letting for these purposes. Responsibility for ensuring that here is a valid EPC for the building or any part that is being offered for sale or to let rests with the owner or lessor respectively even if they have appointed an agent to act on their behalf.EPCs are also required when buildings are constructed. He party carrying out the construction is required to obtain the EPC and Recommendations Report in this case and must inform Building Control when this has been done.EPCs are not required for the following transactions:*lease renewals or extensions*compulsory purchase orders*sales of shares in a company where buildings remain in company ownership*lease surrendersEPCs are not required for the following types of buildings:*places of worship*temporary buildings with a planned time use of less than two years*stand alone buildings with a total useful floor area of less than 50m2*industrial sites, workshops and non-residential agricultural buildings with low energy demandCostsThe cost of preparing an EPC will depend on the amount of time that the CEA needs to take to inspect the property, obtain the information required for the SBEM calculation and to consider the contents of the Recommendations Report. This will vary depending on the size and complexity of the building and the services in it. The market will determine the costs of an EPC, but most CEAs will determine their costs based on the time that all the work involved in expected to take.The Government’s regulations state that the EPC must be made available to prospective buyers or tenants free of charge , but in some cases (usually where a building has a single heating system) landlords may be able to obtain a single EPC for a building that is split into several parts and recover the costs involved from the tenants of the various parts via the service charge. This will depend on the wording of the various leases.Penalties for not having an EPC when requiredLocal authorities (usually their Trading Standards Officer) are responsible for enforcing the requirement to have an EPC on sale or letting of a building. Failure to make an EPC available when required means that you will be liable for a civil penalty charge notice. If the Trading Standards Officer receives a complaint they may request you to provide them with a copy of the EPC and Recommendations Report within seven days. They can make such a request at any time up to six months after the last day for compliance with when the duty was to make it available.The penalty for failing to make an EPC available to any prospective buyer or tenant is fixed , in most cases, at 12.5% of the rateable value of the building, with a default penalty of £750 where the formula cannot be applied. The range of penalties under this formula are set with a minimum of £500 and capped at a maximum of £5,000.You have a defence against a penalty charge notice if you made a proper request for an EPC to an appropriate person at least 14 days before it was required and despite all reasonable efforts you have not received a valid EPC at the relevant time, or where you rent to a tenant in an emergency requiring his urgent relocation.Additionally, if you fail to provide an EPC there is a danger that any sale or letting may be delayed.Display Energy CertificatesDisplay Energy Certificates (DECs) are also required from 1st October 2008, but these are almost exclusively for public bodies with frequently visited public buildings. DECs record an Operational Rating, which is calculated directly by reference to the energy consumption in the building over the course of a year. DECs are valid for one year and the accompanying Advisory Report (similar to the Recommendations Report with the EPC) is valid for seven years.
What to Look For In a Commercial Landscaping CompanyFinding a commercial Phoenix landscaping company that can achieve the exact look that you want without compromising quality and environmentally sound practices can be quite tricky. There are landscaping companies out there that focus just a little bit too much on the aesthetics, and not on the equally important groundwork like irrigation and pipeworks, soil testing, bush fire prevention, and greenery maintenance.If you’re currently on the search for a good commercial landscaping service that can turn your Phoenix property into a beautiful horticultural haven, there are a couple things you may want to consider aside from their rates. Sure, rates and costs are usually the first things you will look at, but more importantly, you should look at the specific services that the commercial landscaper offers.Landscape Construction and MaintenanceA good commercial landscaper should be able to coordinate and work with you regarding your desired look, design, and landscape layout. This is also why it helps to have at least a clear idea of how you envision your property to look like after landscaping work has been done on it – so that the main idea or theme will come from you, and the company will talk you through how that specific look can be achieved. The company should also conduct a site visit before they give you a definitive amount for their charges and construction expenses.A good landscaper will also offer you maintenance services as part of their landscaping package. This means that their work is not and should not end with just the commercial landscaping construction. You should also ask the landscaper about their customer service.Irrigation InstallationAs mentioned, a good landscaping company will also thoroughly construct and examine the necessary pipework and irrigation system of the landscapes they create. The pipes and valves of the water supply system should be in good working order to ensure that the plants and trees in your landscape won’t wither and lessen the beauty of the landscape. For the environmentally conscious, it would also be nice to get a Phoenix landscaping service that follows principles on water conservation and engages in other environment-friendly practices.If you’re looking for a good commercial Phoenix landscaping company, you should also check if they’re certified by your local business bureau and have the necessary permits to operate in the area. For example, the contractors and employees working with the company should be backed by the Arizona Landscape Contractors Association, Arizona Certified Landscape Professionals, and Arizona Municipal Water Users Association, to name a few. If available, you should also check out their portfolio so you can get a glimpse of the work they’ve done in and around the area.
When you inspect a commercial, retail or industrial property, it is the physical aspects of the property that should be well explored and documented. These matters below are some of the key issues for you to review before you complete the property listing or promotion.Tenant compliance to physical building use: The tenants to a building may be obliged to undertake compliance to the way in which they use the building. Such matters will be detailed in the lease. You should read the leases in this regard to identify these things.
Antennas and aerials: Some buildings feature communication antennas and aerials. In the first instance these should have been approved by the landlord and in some circumstances the local planning authority. The antenna or aerial installation will have been made on the approved structures with supporting plans and documentation together also with access restrictions and risk signage to prevent people in the area being exposed to radio frequency radiation. You need to know that these things have been correctly handled.
Asbestos: It is common knowledge that asbestos is a hazardous building material that still exists in buildings constructed prior to 1990. From that time onwards, it was largely avoided and prohibited as a construction material in most buildings. Originally it was used as an insulation material in areas including electrical switchboards and also on the beams and columns of the building structure as a fire resistant material. It is therefore quite possible that you will sell or lease a building in which asbestos is still located. In your town or city there will be legislation rules and regulations that apply to the existence of asbestos. It is necessary that you get information from the building owner regards compliance to Legislation in this regard.
Asset replacement value: With commercial real estate properties, it is common for regular valuations to be undertaken by the building owner for insurance purposes regards asset replacement. This type of valuation would be applicable in the event of a fire or building disaster. You can also get building replacement values from information sheets provided by local quantity surveyors. You can usually obtain these from the internet. Importantly the construction costs and replacement value need to be applicable to your location given the costs of sourcing the construction materials and the labour.
Building Code Compliance: When buildings are first constructed they are done so to the current building code. As time progresses the building code changes and it is sometimes necessary for existing buildings to be upgraded to current code. A good example of this is the need for disabled access to buildings and internal disabled facilities. When you inspect and list a building you should identify if any such notices under the building code currently exist. A note of caution here; when a building is put through a major refurbishment, the planning authority may regard the refurbishment activity as a trigger for a code compliance upgrade. This can be a large cost. A quantity surveyor is the best person to consult on costs of this nature.
Floor and site surveys: When working with investment properties it is the internal lettable space that is of prime importance to the generation of rental and occupancy. All the leases for the tenants will be linked to the survey plans and the net lettable area therein. For this reason you should ask to see the survey plans for the building and the lettable space. You need to know that they are accurate and up to date at the time of sale or lease. Part of this process is to inspect the property with the plans so that you can identify any discrepancies. In all cases of error or concern with the plans you should get a building surveyor to give assistance and guidance.
As Built Drawings: Every building has a set of plans that were approved for the building to be constructed. They are a great source of information and cover, structural, hydraulic, electrical, mechanical, and lighting layouts. They are an excellent source of information on which you can base your leasing strategies.
Building approvals and permits: Does the building still comply with the original building permit issued by the building authority? Most particularly does the use of the property still comply with the approval as granted? It pays to get a copy of the current building approval when possible because a wise purchaser or tenant will want to see it.
BMU: This stands for the ‘building maintenance unit’ and is likely to exist in multi level buildings. The BMU is the device that hangs over the side of the building to clean the exterior and the windows at different times of the year. Importantly the BMU has to be safety compliant and also approved for use. When you know that the building has a BMU, it is wise to ask about its use and approvals.
Certificates of Occupancy: When a building is first constructed it is inspected and certified for occupancy. The certificate of occupancy is granted by the local building approval authority. From that point onward the occupancy of the building must comply with the approval guidelines. It is possible that the certificate of occupancy can be withdrawn at any time if the building is deemed unsafe or has been damaged. It is therefore something that you would question if doubts about the building exist. In such circumstances get a copy of the certificate of occupancy.
Development Approval: When property development is a consideration on the property, seek copy of any existing development approvals. They will stipulate the type of development that has been approved, the elements needed to comply with the approval, and the time line. Properties with existing development approvals may be attractive to purchasers that want to undertake new construction and property developments. You will also need to know if the development approval is transferable with the property to a new owner.
Disability and Discrimination Notices: Whilst the commercial property is simply a building constructed at a certain point in time, it is possible that it does not now comply with the current disability access codes and access provisions for buildings of that type. You need to know if any orders have been applied to the building by the building authority for compliance to new disability codes. If any orders exist, it is likely that they will have to be discharged prior to any building sale or lease.
Electrical Services: All electrical services in the commercial property must comply with current standards of electrical installation and maintenance. In such circumstances a contractor will normally be undertaking inspections and maintaining a log book for this purpose. If in doubt (and particularly with older buildings), call in an engineer to advise. Thermal scanning of switchboards in older buildings is a good practical processs to identify if matters of breakdown and heat could exist.
Electromagnetic Radiation (EMR): In some properties EMR can be generated from plant and machinery (such as the power feed for lifts or mobile antennas on the roof of the building). This then becomes a safety issue for people on site and also will be notable in the poor or erratic performance of sensitive electrical devices such as computers. When this problem is noted it is necessary to involve engineers to advise you. It is also common for barriers to be installed in the area that is involved in EMR.
Environmental Risks: In most locations there will be a register of contaminated sites and properties that do not comply with the environmental guidelines. Ask about this when looking at new properties. The most common issues in this regard are tanks in the basement that were used to store heating oil or diesel. They may be now redundant but they are regarded as an environmental risk and will need to be remediated.
Essential Services Certification and Compliance: All buildings need to be compliant with fire safety regulations. This can include, sprinklers, smoke detectors, smoke dampers, exit routes and signage, evacuation plans, fire hoses and hydrants, and the list goes on. Importantly all of these essential services systems in a building are regularly checked for compliance by qualified tradespeople. The results of the regular tests are maintained in log books on site. It is wise to question the compliance and checking process. It is something that can hold up sale and settlement.
Facade and Cladding: Given the large nature of commercial buildings, it is common for the exterior of the property to sometimes leak or fail. Deterioration is also an issue in the older properties. Whilst you can do your own visual inspections you are not an expert in building construction, and therefore it is sometimes necessary to call in an engineer to give qualified comment and guidance. The integrity of the building fabric will be of concern to the purchaser. In the case of older rendered buildings it is common for rainwater to penetrate cracks in the facade or walls, and cause the render or the concrete to fall away. This process is called ‘spalling’ and if noted will require engineer comment. It is regarded as a risk to the public and people on the grounds that are accessing the property.
Fire protection systems and compliance: Many buyers of a property will want to ensure that the property does comply with safety codes for building occupancy. Part of that will be formalised and operational systems such as building evacuation plans. It pays to ask the seller of a property as to their establishment of the evacuation plans and who is controlling the regular tenant drills and practices. This is highly important in a building with multiple occupants. In such circumstances the landlord is responsible for establishment of the plan and its integration to the tenant’s occupation. The lease for each tenant will also refer to their involvement with the fire safety systems and evacuation processes.
Geo Technical Surveys: This will be more relevant with land and development sites given that the property and building is still to be established or redeveloped. Has the property had such surveys undertaken? If so what is the status of the survey and the report? If a property is located in an area that appears unstable or if it is on sloping or rocky land, the report will be important to the future of the property. The geo technical report can help with the understanding of construction costs and strategies.
Historic site listing: If the building or the property is listed on a register of historic sites then you need to know what this means to the future of the property. Restrictions and limitations can be imposed on future property changes because of the heritage listing. This will add to the development costs and approval processes. If in doubt consult with the local planning approvals authority. If you have a property that is so affected or listed, then you will need an expert such as an architect to assist with the future considerations and costs for the property.
Hydraulic services: This is the plumbing and drainage systems for the property. You can ask for the ‘as built drawings’ of the property as part of your inspection process to understand how these systems integrate into the building and service the tenants. Usually the hydraulic systems will be centred on the core of the building. If a tenant wants to connect tea rooms and kitchens to the system then it is an engineering issue and needs the landlords approval to the process.
Indoor air quality: For some older buildings this can be a concern for occupancy. Properties located adjacent to major traffic corridors will also be high on the list when it comes to air quality concerns. Today tenants are very aware of the ‘sick building’ syndrome and its impact on the workforce both physically and legally. Reports can be obtained from the air conditioning contractor to assist with this problem, and if greater concerns are identified then engineers can be sourced.
Lead paint risk: Older buildings may contain surfaces that are coated in lead based paint. This has been proven to be a health concern in occupancy and will deter tenants. When in doubt see expert opinion from an engineer.
Legionella health risk and safety compliance: Building owners must comply with the local health regulations regards the health and function of the air conditioning system. Most particularly the issue of legionella is of more concern when there is a ‘cooling tower’ that functions in the air conditioning system. It is the ‘cooling tower’ that can become infected with the bacteria and then spread the infection through the building. Larger buildings will commonly contain ‘cooling towers’ as that is the accepted way to achieve economical function of the air conditioning system. The air conditioning consultant that maintains the air conditioning system for the building owner should have this health risk in check. If in doubt ask the questions. When a property owner self manages a building it is possible that they will either not have the knowledge to do so correctly, or they will cut corners as they do not want to spend money. This is a trigger to ask questions in the property sale.
Plant Life cycle: In older buildings the economical and functional life cycle of the plant in the building will become an issue. It can be a costly concern for the building to operate into the future. Buyers will need to assess the stability and function of the plant in the building. It pays to get an engineer’s report of the existing plant and machinery before you go to sale when transacting older buildings.
Maintenance contracts: Every property will have a selection of maintenance contracts and systems underway. Some of these will pass through settlement to the new property owner as the item under contract involves the amortisation of costly machinery and repairs. A good example here is the lift maintenance contract in the building. Cleaning contracts are also large expense contracts in major properties. As part of the property listing process it pays to understand the contracts that could fall into this category of ongoing cost to the buyer. If they do exist, then get a copy of the contract(s) and review it (them) for details and impact on the sale.
Mechanical services risks: The larger the property, the larger the risks when it comes to the mechanical services function and compliance to current operational codes. In the sale of larger properties it is likely that you will need an engineer’s report on the mechanical services before you move towards sale. The engineers know what compliance issues exist and how they should be assessed. Have the report available to provide to serious and qualified buyers if they ask any pertinent questions.
Nickel Sulphide Inclusion: If you are selling buildings with a lot of exterior glass it is possible that you will have heard of this problem or seen something about it elsewhere. Most particularly nickel sulphide (NS) is an impurity of the glass manufacturing process. NS when it exists in glass it will likely cause the glass to break within 5 years or so of manufacture and this is particularly the case if the glass is on the exterior of the building where it is under the stresses of daily heat and cooling. Given that architects like to use extensive glass on the outside of buildings, the problem of NS breakage is common. If the building is multi storey then you can have a risk event to members of the public that pass the building at street level. If you sell a building with a history of NS then you will need an expert to get involved in a detailed property report on the glass involved and installed in the building.
Noise emissions and risks: When working with any commercial property, the problem of noise emissions should be considered. Noise can emanate from the subject property or even neighbouring properties can also create the problem. This will obviously affect the ability to let the property and may create legal action or controversy whilst the property is occupied. Should the tenants in the property be the source of the noise then have the lease document create controls on the tenant in that regard. If you are selling a property with noisy tenants then you should review the lease documentation for similar protection to the purchaser or property owner. Industrial properties are most particularly the properties of concern in this category.
Occupational health and safety: The local building code will require compliance to occupational health and safety rules and regulations. It is appropriate to ask the building owner to identify any matters of noncompliance or irregularity. If in doubt seek the assistance of a building engineer or property inspector that is familiar with the health and safety codes in the building type that you are handling.
Machinery risk and unsafe workspaces: This is normally the concern of the tenants that occupy the premises given the way they install and use the machinery on the property as part of their business operations. There are however situations where the landlord may also have responsibility and this regard. This can be in areas which create risk or injury to people. It may be enclosed spaces where people can enter and be accidentally locked away then unable to escape. It can also be areas of danger such as radio frequency exposure from antennas on the roof of the building.
Ozone depleting substances: This will be in the form of gases that damage the environment. Older air conditioning plant can be affected by the problem. Building owners should have the plant maintained within current plant and machinery codes to control the threat. A report from an engineer will assist here.
Polychlorinated biphenyls: PCB’s are a group of manufactured organic chemicals that contain chlorinated chemicals (known as congeners). Concentrated PCBs are either oily liquids or solids and are colourless to light yellow in colour. They have no known smell or taste. There are no known natural sources of PCBs. PCB’s are residual contaminants from industrial processes and remain in the soil and on the property for many years unless correctly remediated. Given that industrial property was usually the source or storage of PCB’s, it still remains a problem today for real estate agents and brokers as they sell older properties. PCBs were originally used extensively in industry as they are a good insulating material. They have been used widely as coolants and lubricants in transformers, capacitors, and other electrical equipment. The manufacture of PCBs stopped generally around 1977 because of evidence that they build up in the environment and cause harmful health effects. Products containing PCBs are old fluorescent lighting fixtures, electrical appliances containing PCB capacitors, old microscope oil, and hydraulic fluids. During the time that PCBs were manufactured, there were often no effective controls on disposal.
Plant and equipment lists: When selling a commercial property, it is necessary to itemise the plant and the equipment across the property. This would normally be done in conjunction with the building engineer suitably skilled in the process. If your property is complex and large, it is a wise move to get this list creation process underway early.
Registration of plant and equipment: Some plant and equipment within the building is required to be registered with the local authorities. This is generally because that plant and equipment is regarded as a threat to the environment or to the public at large. The most common listings of plant and equipment are storage devices. The authorities like to know what is being stored on the property and where the storage devices are located. It can also be the case that the storage devices are suitably certified and registered the each year for compliance to matters of structural integrity. If any plant and machinery is certified in this regard, you should seek a copy of the latest certificates of registration.
Boundary survey: If the boundary of the property shows irregularity or is not clearly defined, then it is appropriate to get a surveyor to peg the boundary points and provide a plan of the site. Real estate agents and brokers should not give any guarantees as to the locations of the boundary of the property. If the buyer requires this information, then get a surveyor involved for the buyer’s satisfaction.
Standby generator: In larger buildings it is common for standby generators to support essential power circuits in the building. This does not mean that full power is supported to the tenants in the event of a power outage. If the building has a standby generator, it is appropriate to ask for clarity on what circuits of energy are supported by the generator. This information should be supplied to tenants in the building and any purchasers of the property. It is likely that the leases for tenants will make reference to the standby generator and the way it operates. If the building operates the standby generator to support 100% building demand by then it is usually tested annually in this regard. Certificates of compliance can be sourced. In large shopping centres it is common for standby generators to supply 100% power for a period of time (usually 30 minutes) in the event of a power outage. This allows the tenants to safely shut down their business and the occupants of the building to be correctly evacuated at the time of the major power outage.
Flooding risks and storm water: The local environment can present flooding risks. This can be identified from the location of local creeks and rivers, the coastline, and the levels and slope of land across the property. When in doubt, seek the assistance of property surveyors to clarify the risk of flooding locally and to the property. If the risk of flooding does exist and is known to all parties, it is necessary to apply restraints on occupancy so that the environment and the property are not damaged. These restraints will be reflected in the leases for the property. In such a situation, you will need to review the leases prior to any sale.
Structural risks: Every constructed property has the potential for structural risks. The older the property, the more likely this is to occur. The exterior facades of buildings are a common culprit here. The purchaser of a building will not want to assume or acquire structural risks, for this reason you will need to get engineers’ reports prior to moving to sale if issues are known or have been experienced on the property. It may also be necessary for the landlord to remediate the structural risk prior to marketing a property.
Synthetic mineral fibre: Most particularly this will be the installation or existence of Fibreglass and similar manmade fibres. Whilst this may not necessarily be a risk to the occupants of the building, it should be understood and documented by engineers to the building.
Trade waste: The tenants to the property may very well produce hazardous trade waste as part of their business. If this is the case, you will need to identify the controls and processes that the tenant uses to comply with property usage. Certification and regulation regards the hazardous trade waste will be an ongoing matter to which the tenant must comply. It is likely that the leases to the property will impose restrictions and obligations on the tenant in this regard. When in doubt, read the leases to check what is required of the tenant.
Traffic management: The property could be located on a major or minor road which has restrictions regards traffic access. This can apply to both the time of access and the points of access. If the tenant or the owner of the property requires extensive deliveries, this can be an issue. When in doubt, consult the local planning authority and highways commission for details of access rules and regulations. Also enquire as to the impact of any rights of way and easements which may apply to the subject property.
Underground storage tanks: Whilst we have mentioned this elsewhere, the existence of underground storage tanks is regarded as a hazard to the environment. These tanks are usually certified and regularly inspected. Awareness and disclosure of the tanks existence is imperative.
Vertical transport compliance: In multilevel buildings, vertical transport will be achieved through mechanical lifts or escalators. These mechanical services are regulated as to safety and operation. Annual certification and regular contractor maintenance will ensure compliance. Reference to the contractor involved will allow you to cover this issue and ensure compliance prior to sale.
Building warranties: When a building is newly constructed, or plant and machinery is newly installed, or tenant fitout is newly installed, the works involved will usually have an existing warranty for a period of time. If these warranties exist, they should transfer to the new owner of the building at the time of sale. Your job is to enquire as to the existence of any warranties as you move towards sale.
Zoning of the property and itcompliance: The property will be located in a zone detailed in the local development plans. Importantly, the property and its usage must comply with the zoning. If the property is a non-conforming or illegal usage to the existing zoning, then this should be detailed, advised, and acknowledged by all parties. As to how the contract is designed for such a sale, is up to the solicitors for both parties. In most circumstances of this type, special conditions are constructed which explain the intentions of the parties involved.