Commercial Structural Building Inspection (Checklist Included)

When it comes to commercial office buildings, safety and compliance should always be a top priority for owners and operators. Neglecting routine inspections can lead to unforeseen risks and costly repairs down the line.

To help you maintain a safe and compliant building, our commercial structural engineers and inspectors have compiled a comprehensive commercial building inspection checklist.

This checklist covers a wide range of crucial areas, ensuring that no aspect of your commercial building inspection goes overlooked.

Understanding the Distinction: Structural Inspections vs. General Building Inspections

When evaluating the condition of a commercial building, it is crucial to distinguish between a structural inspection and a general inspection.

A general building inspection aims to provide an overall assessment of a property. Inspectors examine various components, including , plumbing, HVAC, roofing, and other major systems. Their goal is to identify potential issues or areas of concern that may require further investigation or maintenance.

Structural inspection, especially for commercial property, involves the expertise of qualified structural engineers. Structural inspections focus on the building’s structural elements, specifically to determine how the existing structure is performing and if it has been inadvertently damaged due to modifications from its original design.

Structural engineers meticulously evaluate the foundation, walls, beams, columns, and other load-bearing components to assess their strength and stability.

A key purpose of a structural inspection is to determine if the structure can carry design loads and whether any modifications or structural repairs have occurred, or are necessary to ensure the building is operating within safe occupancy and can perform its intended commercial function.

They analyze the structure’s ability to withstand anticipated loads and environmental forces, such as wind, snow or seismic activity, as well as evaluating the structure’s occupancy loads.

Based on their findings, structural engineers provide recommendations for modifications or repairs to ensure the building meets required performance standards and continued useful occupancy while assuring safety and welfare as well as maintaining property value.

Engaging qualified structural engineers for a comprehensive structural inspection report ensures preserving the property as a valuable asset by thorough evaluation of the building’s structural integrity and load-carrying capacity.

The Shift Towards Enhanced Safety: From Cost-Saving to Mandatory Inspections

In most jurisdictions, there has been a significant shift in the approach to commercial property inspection. With so many different priorities to manage, building owners, building managers, condo associations and boards would often have to focus on other concerns, inadvertently neglecting thorough building inspections.

Unfortunately, critical issues are not always obvious to the untrained eye, and can often be missed by regular maintenance staff, leading to potentially dangerous situations including compromised safety, structural issues, and even catastrophic failures that could endanger lives – such as the Miami Surfside condominium collapse in 2021.

Recognizing the need for heightened safety measures, authorities and regulatory bodies have taken action. In response to these concerns, there has been a noticeable transition towards making inspections mandatory for commercial buildings.

This shift reflects a collective commitment to ensuring the well-being of occupants and minimizing the potential risks associated with poorly maintained structures.

The shift towards mandatory inspections has brought about a more proactive and preventive approach.

Building owners and operators are now required to adhere to specific inspection standards and guidelines to maintain compliance with local regulations.

By embracing this change, they can prioritize safety, identify potential hazards, and take appropriate measures to address potential issues promptly. This is not only potentially life saving, but timely commercial building inspection can also mitigate the need for costly repairs.

Why would you require a commercial building inspection?

During a property inspection of a commercial building, our commercial inspector can identify various issues that may compromise the integrity and safety of the structure.

Structural inspections will delve into the foundational elements, walls, floors, and ceilings of the subject property, enabling the detection of cracks, settlement, or signs of structural damage. Beams, columns, and load-bearing elements are carefully examined to ensure their stability and integrity.

Commercial building inspections serve as a vital tool in safeguarding the longevity and safety of commercial buildings with the inspector’s findings providing owners and operators with invaluable insights into the health of their structures.

Complete Commercial Inspection Checklist for Safety and Compliance:

1. Structural Integrity:

  • Examine the foundation, walls, floors, and ceilings for signs of cracks, settlement, or structural damage.
  • Assess the condition of beams, columns, and load-bearing elements to ensure their stability and integrity.
  • Look for any signs of moisture intrusion or water damage that may affect the building’s structural stability. These will be evident on the roof surface, inside the roof space or in other areas of the commercial property located close to sources of water.

Engaging professional engineers such as Level Engineering and Architecture for the structural part of any commercial inspection will provide detailed insight into the structural system of the property.

2. Heating and ventilation systems/ Mechanical and Electrical Systems:

  • Inspect the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) for proper functionality, cleanliness, and energy efficiency.
  • Evaluate electrical systems, including wiring, panels, and outlets, to identify any potential fire hazards or electrical malfunctions.
  • Check plumbing systems, including pipes, fixtures, and drainage, for leaks, blockages, or inadequate water pressure.

3. Life Safety Components:

  • Verify the functionality of fire alarm systems, including smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, and sprinkler systems.
  • Inspect emergency exit signs, lighting, and evacuation plans to ensure compliance with safety regulations.
  • Assess the condition of life safety equipment such as emergency response kits, first aid supplies, and AED devices.

4. Interior and Exterior Assessment:

  • Evaluate the overall condition of interior spaces, including walls, flooring, ceilings, and windows.
  • Inspect staircases, elevators, and escalators for proper operation and safety features.
  • Check exterior elements such as roofs, gutters, facades, and parking areas for signs of damage, deterioration, or inadequate maintenance.

5. Documentation and Records:

  • Review maintenance records and logs to ensure regular upkeep of the building’s systems and equipment.
  • Verify compliance with building codes, permits, and regulations by examining relevant documentation.
  • Obtain a final property condition report from a qualified inspector, detailing the findings and recommendations.

Engaging qualified professionals like Level Engineering & Architecture to conduct inspections, maintaining accurate records, and promptly addressing identified issues are critical steps towards maintaining a safe and compliant commercial real estate property.


Maintaining a safe, secure, and compliant commercial building requires a trained eye and diligent attention to detail.

By following a comprehensive commercial building inspection checklist, owners and operators can identify potential issues, address maintenance needs promptly, and ensure the longevity of their investment.

Remember, a regular commercial inspection along with proactive maintenance not only protects occupants and potentially mitigates the need for costly repairs but also contributes to the overall value and reputation of your commercial property in the market.

Picture of Scott Zurn, P.E.

Scott Zurn, P.E.

Founder and CEO of Level Engineering & Level Design Partners. With more than 4 decades of experience, Scott Zurn has contributed to all aspects of the building industry, serving both public and private sectors. He’s achieved tremendous success in commercial and residential markets, held leadership roles such as building official, city engineer, and director for local governments, and accomplished hundreds of millions of dollars in successful commercial building and civil infrastructure as a designer, project manager, and leader. As the Founder of the Level brand, Scott is dedicated to ensuring the entrepreneurial success of design professionals, as well as creating positive environmental impacts through design work. Read Scott’s full bio here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Structural Engineering Architecture, and Inspection, Simplified

Your Local Network of Engineering, Architecture, and Inspection experts providing commercial, residential, public and private Civil Infrastructure services. Call today to find your local expert. 
Find your local LEVEL office to get started.