Commercial Building

Commercial Building Roofing Costs

While performing our commercial building inspections, we often run across roofing systems that need replacement due to leakage and old age. Dealing with leaky or old commercial building roofs is one of the most expensive maintenance items that building owners have to deal with on a periodic basis (today’s roof materials typically have a life expectancy of 15 to 25 years.) Roof installation costs vary from $3.50 per square foot to $7.50 per square foot. So, a 15,000 SF building roof could cost in the $100,000 range (more or less). The cost can be substantially higher depending on many factors including the condition of the roof deck, the location of the building, ease of access and total square footage of the job.

There are many different types of roofing materials and methods of installation. The 3 most common types of roofs installed these days are Bituminous, EPDM and TPO.

Modified Bitumen roofing systems have been in common use for commercial properties for many decades. This type of roof is also known as “torch-down” or “built-up”.

EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer) it is commonly known as a rubber roof and is a single-ply membrane that consists of a synthetic rubber. EPDM has been used on commercial facilities since the 1960s and is considered a tried-and-true system.

TPO (Thermoplastic Polyolefin) is also a single-ply roofing membrane and is becoming a very common roofing material used on commercial properties these days. This roof is a single layer of synthetics and reinforcing material for flat roofs.

So I hope this little bit of information is helpful to to you in dealing with commercial buildings. Feel free to call if you have any questions or if there is anything I can do for you.

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Silver Wire

The truth about Aluminum Wiring

Builders started using aluminum wiring in the mid-1960s due to the high cost of copper at the time.  Over the years, problems frequently developed, so builders stopped using aluminum wires in the late 1970s.  Aluminum wires can cause overheating, and on occasion, fires.  Since the 1970s, many houses have been “pigtailed” which is an approved method of dealing with aluminum wires.  However, some houses have not been attended to and may present a safety hazard.

During our home inspections, we remove the cover to the electrical panels and look at the wires.  If we see aluminum wires, we recommend that a licensed electrician perform a more detailed evaluation and suggest the appropriate solution.  Rewiring the house is not necessary. But, an evaluation by an electrician is necessary.  If the electrician recommends correction/repairs, it will likely be “pigtailing.”  Pigtailing consists of connecting a splice of copper wire to the aluminum wire with a special connector.  After the repairs are done, an inspection by an independent electrical inspector should be done.

I recently contacted an independent electrician (HEH Electric), for pricing.  They charge approximately $300 for the initial assessment.  The cost for correction is highly variable but a safe range is $2,000-$4,000.  It can be cheaper if some corrective work has already been done.

By the way we never quote pricing during our inspections, rather, we recommend evaluation by a licensed professional.

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Air conditioning units

Air Conditioner Replace Costs

During our inspections, we often get asked about the cost to replace an old central air conditioning system. So, I contacted 2 HVAC contractors (T.F. O’Brien – Heating & Air Conditioning and Perillo Brothers) about the average cost in a typical house such as a four-bedroom 2 bath colonial.  Because there are so many variables, the range of potential costs is large, i.e., how sophisticated and efficient do you want the system to be, does it need new ductwork or smart thermostats, does it require complicated work in a difficult to access attic, are the electrical connections adequate, 1 zone or 2 zones?

All in all, a safe ballpark range is  $7,000 to $16,000

Our policy is not to quote prices in our inspections, rather, our advice is to get a licensed and qualified contractor to evaluate and price the job. As a disclaimer, we have no financial interests with any contractors at all, period.

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Rear view of a male plumber writing a repair order while crouching in front of a kitchen sink

Avoid some of the most common inspection issues

Here are 8 things that as an inspector I feel make sense for a seller and listing agent to be aware of when selling a house because of the potential issues they may cause. Talking about these things with your seller in advance may be beneficial.  I realize this is extremely condensed and I would be happy to elaborate on any thoughts/questions you may have. Just reply to this email or give me a call.

  • Roof leaks – fix it, repair or replace.
  • Aluminum wires – hire an electrician.  Repair if needed (pig-tail).
  • Possible Asbestos – consult with a removal contractor. Depending on type, do nothing, encapsulate, or remove.
  • Mold- remove it, get a dehumidifier.
  • In-ground oil tank – convert to gas, and/or abandon tank. Or disclose in advance.
  • Basement water leaks – fix it. Check gutters and leaders, get a water proofing contractor if needed.
  • Old HVAC – consider updating, or disclosing upfront, or do nothing.
  • Get a termite inspection and annual contract/guarantee. Treat if needed.

Please feel free to respond back with any thoughts or questions on any of these items.  Let’s talk!

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Mirrored building

Commercial Property Inspections by Safe Harbor Inspections Inc.

I wanted to make sure that you knew Safe Harbor Inspections Inc. has been inspecting commercial property since 2004.  Non-alarmist, experienced and professional.  Reasonably priced.  Each inspection appropriately manned with the right number of inspectors for an expeditious high-quality inspection.  Verbal summary immediately following the inspection.  Detailed photographic reports online within 24hours.

In my previous career as a commercial property manager, I was employed by Cushman and Wakefield, Coldwell Banker Commercial, Jones Lang LaSalle, Schroder Real Estate Associates, and Meringoff Properties.  We have performed thousands of commercial real estate inspections.

  • Areas serviced: throughout Long Island and New York City
  • Types of Buildings Inspected: warehouse, industrial, retail, office, medical, mixed-use, brownstones
  • Types of Inspections Available:
    1. full building inspection includes:
      • roof
      • HVAC, mechanical
      • Electrical
      • Plumbing
      • Structure
      • exterior façade
      • roadways and parking areas
    2. Phase 1 inspections available
    3. asbestos inspections
    4. mold inspections
    5. termite inspections
    6. bulkhead inspections

So, if you have any questions or if we can be of any assistance, please feel free to call and we will do what we can to help you.

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Cracked cement

Is that crack in the basement floor a structural problem?

During our inspections we often see cracks in basement floors.  Are these cracks a structural problem?  No, we don’t consider typical cracks in basement floors to be structural issues. The foundation around the perimeter of the floor is much more important because it supports the structure.

Cracks in basement floors are typically more of a nuisance because they can enable water seepage (rarely). They can be sealed if necessary. If there is water staining, a mason can seal it. If there’s no staining don’t worry about it.

Very often we get these questions from buyers, so now you know the answer!

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Unfinished Room

Sometimes dealing with Wet Basements is easy

Sometimes it’s an easy fix. We recently inspected a house during a heavy rainstorm. Everybody was surprised to see about a foot of water in the basement. It was easy to see that the gutters and leaders were completely clogged and overflowing. Water built up along the foundation, saturated the soil, and created water pressure below grade. It poured into the basement through a crack in the foundation wall. Within a week, the owner had the gutters and downspouts cleaned, and installed downspout extensions.  Shortly after the work was done it rained hard again for a full day. We were asked to come back and check the basement while it was raining; it was completely dry. So, like I said, sometimes the fix is simple and cheap.

Of course, it’s not always that easy, but it’s always the 1st thing to check.

Moral of the story? Clean your gutters and downspouts twice a year (even more in the fall). And make sure the water is directed away from the foundation.

We hope this info will come in handy for you in the future.

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We don’t give repair estimates

During our inspections, we’re constantly asked, “how much will it cost?”. Our answer is: “It’s against company policy to give estimates, we suggest calling a contractor.”  Even when they say “they won’t hold us to it, we just need a ballpark,” we still won’t give estimates.

There are too many variables for us to try to get involved with estimates.  The only way to get a valid estimate is to get one from a contractor, someone that’s willing to do the job for the price they quote.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject so feel free to reply.

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Drain surrounding by rocks

French Drains

I always wondered why they’re called French drains.  Why aren’t they called Italian drains or Spanish drains?  I checked it out; according to Google it’s because a guy named Henry French invented them.  But I digress!

Basically, French drains are way too direct water to a planned location so that it’s not a nuisance.  For example, drainpipes can be connected to roof gutters/downspouts enabling the water to be directed to a dry well or down a hill.

French drains can also deal with water in a basement.  Trenches are dug around the perimeter of the foundation wall and pipes are installed to drain foundation water to a sump pump which collects and then pumps the water to a harmless location.  After the trenches are dug and the pipe is installed, new concrete is applied over the piping to match the rest of the floor.  Often, there is a slight opening between the new concrete and the foundation wall to enable water to drain off the foundation wall into the pipes.

French drains do work!  They can make a wet basement dry and solve the water problem on a long-term basis.  But they only work if they have electrical power.  And when do you need a French drain, mostly?  During a storm, and when does the power go out?  During a storm.  So, battery backup systems are a great idea, as is a generator.

Pricing goes by the linear foot.  Figure about $60 to $70 dollars per linear foot.  So if you have a basement 50’ x 30’ it calculates to about $10,000.

Anyway, we hope this information is helpful to you in the future.  For more related information click on this link:

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high wall with a red arrow

Is that crack in the Masonry Block Wall of an industrial warehouse building a problem?

Hi, so you’re walking around the exterior of an industrial/warehouse building and you see step cracks in the walls.  Is it a big problem?

The question is, is the block wall supporting the structure?

If the block wall is supporting the roof structure (steel or wood beams and roof joists), then any substantial cracking of the masonry wall can be a structural problem that needs repairs.

If the block wall is not supporting the structure, it’s similar to a partition wall and a few cracks are not that significant and can likely be repointed/repaired fairly easily.

So, how do you determine which type of wall you’re dealing with?  Go to the inside of the building and look for steel columns supporting a steel structure which supports the roof and holds the building together.  That means the masonry wall is more like a partition wall and does not support the structure.

However, if you’re looking from the interior and you don’t see steel columns and beams and instead you see the roof structure supported by the masonry wall, then cracks are more serious.

We’re not suggesting that you should formally come to a conclusion about cracks, but it may be helpful information just the same. Obviously, there’s a lot more that goes with this topic, but hopefully this info can help you when you’re your walking around an industrial/warehouse building.

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