Commercial Properties Standards Of Practice

InterNACHI Standards of Practice for Inspecting Commercial Properties

For the full Standards of Practice for Inspecting Commercial Properties visit: https://www.nachi.org/comsop.htm#9


1. Purpose

2. Definitions (omitted)

3. Use (omitted)

4. Inspection

5. Research

6. Walk-Through Survey

7. Report

8. Limitations, Exceptions and Exclusions

9. Ethics

1.  Purpose

1.1  The purpose of this document is to define good practice and to
       establish a reasonable approach for the performance of an
       inspection of a commercial property.

2.  Definitions

2.1  Core Definitions

2.1.1  Commercial Property:  A commercial property is defined as the building structures and improvements located on a parcel of commercial real estate.  These may include structures such as buildings with residential units operated for profit, mixed-use buildings, strip malls, motels, factories, storage facilities, restaurants and office buildings.

2.1.2  Inspection:  The inspection is defined as the process of an inspector collecting information through visual observation during a walk-through survey of the subject property, conducting research about the property, and then generating a meaningful report about the condition of the property based on the observations made and research conducted by the inspector.  A commercial inspection requires the inspector to make observations, conduct research, and report findings.

2.1.2.1  Observations:  Observations are defined as those potential items of interest noted by the inspector during the walk-through survey portion of the inspection.

2.1.2.2  Research:  Research is defined as the process of gathering information through document review and interviews to augment the observations made during the walk-through portion of the inspection.  This research may include reviewing readily available documents, such as previous inspection reports, building permits, code violation notices and environmental studies. This research may also include interviews with readily available personnel, such as building managers, tenants and owners.

4.  Inspection

4.1  Objective

The objective of an inspection is to provide written communication describing the issues discovered from observations made and research conducted by the inspector, which, in the inspector's opinion, are likely to be of interest to his/her client, and to enhance the client's information and knowledge about the commercial property to improve decision-making for buying, selling, maintaining or improving the property.

4.2  Who May Perform the Inspection

Any portion of the inspection, including the walk-through survey, research and report-generation, may be performed by the inspector, his/her staff, or any consultant hired by the inspector.  This Standard recognizes that, for the majority of commercial inspections, the inspector is likely an individual with a general, well-rounded knowledge of commercial properties, and that the inspector or client may want to augment the inspector's skills with specialty consultants who have particular expertise in certain areas.  The decision to hire specialty consultants will, of course, rely on budget and time constraints, as well as the risk-tolerance of the client.  

4.3  Varying Levels of Due Diligence

This Standard is designed as a baseline from which the inspector and client can develop and agree to a scope of work that may deviate from this Standard, depending on budget, time constraints, purpose of the inspection, age of the subject property, and risk-tolerance of the client.  The level of due diligence should be set where the cost, in time and money, of acquiring information about the subject property will not likely exceed the value of that information.  Therefore, an inspection performed in accordance with this Standard will not be technically exhaustive. 

4.3.1  Sample Language for Use When Defining the Scope of
          Work 

"The inspection will be performed in accordance with InterNACHIcomsop, except that..."

4.3.2  Representative Observations

In recognizing that the client likely has the goal of acquiring information about the subject property at a cost, in time and money, that does not exceed the value of that information, representative observations are not just permitted by this Standard, but recommended, as well.

4.4  Uncertainty

The client should understand that no inspection report is completely accurate.  A report is only the written communication of the observations made and research conducted by the inspector.  The report contains those items which, in the inspector's opinion, are likely to be of interest to his/her client.  

4.5  Subjectivity

The client should understand that the inspection report is, to a large degree, the subjective opinions of the inspector based on his/her observations and research within the limits of access, time and budget, and without the aid of special equipment or meters, and without dismantling, probing, testing or troubleshooting, and without detailed knowledge of the commercial property, its components or its systems.  The inspection report is not much more than a subjective professional opinion. 

4.6  Not an Architectural or Engineering Service

An inspector performing a commercial inspection in accordance with this Standard is not practicing architecture or engineering.   

4.7  Not a Warranty, Guarantee or Insurance Policy

The inspection is not a warranty, and the inspection report is merely the written communication of the inspector's subjective opinion on the condition of the subject property.

5.  Research

5.1  Objective

The objective of research, including the review of documents and the performing of interviews, is to augment the information obtained during the walk-through survey and to provide supporting documentation to the inspection report.  

5.2  Document Procurement

It is the client's responsibility to obtain copies of all documents and provide them for the inspector.  These documents are most often obtained from the seller or from local government offices.  The inspector is not responsible for gathering or paying for copies of appropriate documents to be reviewed unless these tasks are specifically assigned to the inspector in the Scope of Work Agreement.

5.3  Documents to Be Reviewed and Included in the Inspection Report

The inspector should review all documents provided by the client and owner.  The inspector should also make an inquiry and review of any other documents that can be reasonably procured on-site or from the building owner or manager, such as Certificates of Occupancy, building code violation notices, repair invoices, and warranties.  The inspector is not required to uncover and review information that is not provided or cannot be reasonably ascertained or acquired on-site.  Copies of documents that the inspector believes may be of interest to the client and copies of documents that support the inspector's opinions should be included in the inspection report.

5.3.1 Examples of documents the inspector may want to request for review:

accessibility surveys;

appraisals;

building plans;

Certificates of Occupancy;

citations;

deck age records, plans and construction permits;

deck and balcony maintenance, power-washing, painting, treating, repair and modification history;

emergency evacuation plans;

environmental studies;

evacuation drill records;

fire-detection test and maintenance records; 

fire door inspection reports;

fire-prevention plans;

fire extinguisher service records;

fire records;

flame-resistant certificates;

floodplain maps;

floor plans;

kitchen grease-cleaning records;

kitchen post-fire inspections;

maintenance records;

manufacturers' installation instructions;

notices;

permits;

power-washing records;

previous inspection reports;

proposals;

rent records;

repair estimates/invoices;

safety inspection records;

seller disclosures;

sprinkler head replacement records;

utility bills; and

warranties.

5.4  Interviews

The inspector should identify and interview the person(s) with the most knowledge about the condition of the building.  Typically, this will be the building owner or manager.  Unless otherwise agreed to in the Scope of Work Agreement, it is the responsibility of the client to arrange to have such person(s) on hand for interview by the inspector on the day of the walk-through survey.  

5.5  Pre-Inspection Questionnaires

The inspector may request that the owner, building manager and/or client fill out pre-inspection questionnaires to gather information.  The inspector may rely that these responses are truthful.  In cases where parties refuse to fill out questionnaires in writing, the inspector may interview the parties and fill out the questionnaires for them.  The inspector should note in the report if s/he filled out the questionnaire based on an interview and whether such interview was performed in person, by telephone, or by email.  Copies of all responses to such questionnaires should be included in the inspection report.  

5.6  Reliance

The level of accuracy of information varies, depending on its source.  The inspector may rely on information obtained to the extent that the information appears to be accurate and complete.  This Standard does not require the inspector to independently verify the accuracy of the documents reviewed by the inspector or included in the report, nor the statements made by those interviewed by the inspector.

5.7  Fraud

The inspector is not a fraud investigator, and this Standard does not require the inspector to look for intentionally hidden deficiencies in the subject property.  The inspection report is supplementary to the seller's disclosures.

5.8  Previously Generated Reports 

A previously generated inspection report should be treated no differently than any other document reviewed during the research portion of the inspection, and, as with information collected from any other source, information obtained from a previously generated report should reference its source in the new inspection report.  No portion of a previously generated report should be used as a substitute for the new inspection report.

6.  Walk-Through Survey

6.1  Objective

The objective of the walk-through survey is to allow the inspector to visually observe the subject property, gather information, and note items of interest.

6.2  Access Responsibility

It is the client's responsibility to arrange for the inspector to receive timely access to the subject property for the walk-through survey portion of the inspection, as well as access to all documents and interviewees needed for the research portion of the inspection.  This includes access to all documents, information and previously generated reports in the client's possession.  The inspector is not responsible for obtaining, reviewing or providing information, should the source withhold, impede or delay access.  Anything that hinders the inspector's access should be noted in the report.

6.3  Revisits

It is expected that the inspector will perform only one walk-through survey per inspection report.  However, it may be necessary for the inspector to revisit certain areas of the subject building after performing the research portion of the inspection.

6.4  Inspector Safety

It is the responsibility of the inspector to perform the walk-through survey safely. 

6.5  Observations

6.5.1  Roof

I. The inspector should inspect from ground level, eaves or rooftop (if a rooftop access door exists):

A. the roof covering; 

B. for the presence of exposed membrane;

C. slopes;
D. for evidence of significant ponding;
E. the gutters;
F. the downspouts;
G. the vents, flashings, skylights, chimney and other roof penetrations;
H. the general structure of the roof from the readily accessible panels, doors or stairs; and

I.  for the need for repairs.

II. The inspector is not required to:

A. walk on any pitched roof surface.
B. predict service-life expectancy.
C. inspect underground downspout diverter drainage pipes.
D. remove snow, ice, debris or other conditions that prohibit the observation of the roof surfaces. 

E. move insulation.
F. inspect antennae, lightning arresters, de-icing equipment or similar attachments.

G. walk on any roof areas that appear, in the opinion of the inspector, to be unsafe.

H. walk on any roof areas if it might, in the opinion of the inspector, cause damage. 

I. perform a water test.

J. warrant or certify the roof.
K. walk on any roofs that lack rooftop access doors.

6.5.2  Exterior

I. The inspector should inspect:

A. the siding, flashing and trim;
B. all exterior doors, decks, stoops, steps, stairs, porches, railings, eaves, soffits and fasciae;

C. and report as in need of repair any safety issues regarding intermediate balusters, spindles or rails for steps, stairways, balconies and railings;

D. a representative number of windows;
E. the vegetation, surface drainage, and retaining walls when these are likely to adversely affect the structure; 

F. the exterior for accessibility barriers;

G. the storm water drainage system;

H. the general topography; 

I. the parking areas;

J. the sidewalks;

K. exterior lighting;

L. the landscaping; 

M. and determine that a 3-foot clear space exists around the circumference of fire hydrants;
N. and describe the exterior wall covering.

II. The inspector is not required to:

A. inspect or operate screens, storm windows, shutters, awnings, fences, outbuildings or exterior accent lighting.
B. inspect items, including window and door flashings, that are not visible or readily accessible from the ground.
C. inspect geological, geotechnical, hydrological or soil conditions.
D. inspect recreational facilities.
E. inspect seawalls, breakwalls or docks.
F. inspect erosion-control or earth-stabilization measures.
G. inspect for proof of safety-type glass. 

H. determine the integrity of thermal window seals or damaged glass.
I. inspect underground utilities.  
J. inspect underground items.
K. inspect wells or springs.
L. inspect solar systems.
M. inspect swimming pools or spas.
N. inspect septic systems or cesspools.
O. inspect playground equipment.
P. inspect sprinkler systems.
Q. inspect drainfields or dry wells. 

R. inspect manhole covers. 

S. operate or evaluate remote-control devices, or test door or gate operators.

6.5.3  Wood Decks and Balconies

I. The inspector should inspect:

A. with the unaided eye, for deck and balcony members that are noticeably out of level or out of plumb;

B. for visible decay;

C. for paint failure and buckling;

D. for nail pullout (nail pop);

E. for fastener rust, iron stain and corrosion;  

F. and verify that flashing was installed on the deck-side of the ledger board;

G. for vertical members (posts) that have exposed end-grains;

H. for obvious trip hazards;

I. for non-graspable handrails;

J. railings for height less than the 36-inch minimum*;

K. guardrails and infill for openings that exceed the 4-inch maximum*;

L. open-tread stairs for openings that exceed the 4⅜-inch maximum*;

M. the triangular area between guardrails and stairways for openings that exceed the 6-inch maximum*;

N. built-up and multi-ply beam spans for butt joints;

O. for notches in the middle-third of solid-sawn wood spans;

P. for large splits longer than the depths of their solid-sawn wood members;

Q. for building egresses blocked, covered or hindered by deck construction; and

R. for the possibility of wetting from gutters, downspouts or sprinklers.

*See https://www.nachi.org/stairways.htm for formal standards (compliance verification in entirety not required). 

II. The inspector is not required to:

A. discover insect infestation or damage.

B. inspect, determine or test the tightness or adequacy of fasteners.

C. determine lumber grade.

D. measure moisture content.

E. inspect for or determine bending strength.

F. inspect for or determine shear stress.

G. determine lag screw or bolt shear values.

H. calculate loads.

I. determine proper spans or inspect for deflections.

J. discover decay hidden by paint.

K. verify that flashing has been coated to prevent corrosion.

L. determine that post-to-footing attachments exist.

M. dig below grade or remove soil around posts.

N. crawl under any deck with less than 3 feet of headroom, or remove deck skirting to acquire access.

O. determine proper footing depth or frostline.

P. verify proper footing size.

Q. perform pick tests.

R. perform or provide any architectural or engineering service.

S. use a level or plumb bob. 

T. use a moisture meter.

U. predict service-life expectancy.

V. verify compliance with permits, codes or formal standards.

W. inspect for disabled persons' accessibility barriers.

X. determine if a deck blocks, covers or hinders septic tank or plumbing access.

Y. determine easement-encroachment compliance.

6.5.4  Basement, Foundation and Crawlspace

I. The inspector should inspect:

A. the basement;
B. the foundation;
C. the crawlspace;
D. the visible structural components;

E. and report on the location of under-floor access openings;
F. and report any present conditions or clear indications of active water penetration observed by the inspector;

G. for wood in contact with or near soil;

H. and report any general indications of foundation movement that are observed by the inspector, such as, but not limited to: sheetrock cracks, brick cracks, out-of-square door frames, or floor slopes;

I. and report on any cutting, notching or boring of framing members that may present a structural or safety concern.

II. The inspector is not required to:

A. enter any crawlspaces that are not readily accessible, or where entry could cause damage or pose a hazard to the inspector.
B. move stored items or debris.
C. operate sump pumps.
D. identify size, spacing, span or location, or determine the adequacy of foundation bolting, bracing, joists, joist spans or support systems.
E. perform or provide any engineering or architectural service.
F. report on the adequacy of any structural system or component.

6.5.5  Heating and Ventilation

I. The inspector should inspect: 

A. multiple gas meter installations, such as a building with multiple tenant spaces, and verify that each meter is clearly and permanently identified with the respective space supplied;

B. the heating systems using normal operating controls, and describe the energy source and heating method;
C. and report as in need of repair heating systems that do not operate;
D. and report if the heating systems are deemed inaccessible;

E. and verify that a permanent means of access, with permanent ladders and/or catwalks, are present for equipment and appliances on roofs higher than 16 feet;

F. and verify the presence of level service platforms for appliances on roofs with a slope of 25% or greater; 

G. and verify that luminaire and receptacle outlets are provided at or near the appliance;

H. and verify that the system piping appears to be sloped to permit the system to be drained;

I. for connectors, tubing and piping that might be installed in a way that exposes them to physical damage;

J. wood framing with cutting, notching or boring that might cause a structural or safety issue;

K. pipe penetrations in concrete and masonry building elements to verify that they are sleeved;

L. exposed gas piping for identification by a yellow label marked "Gas" in black letters occurring at intervals of 5 feet or less;

M. and determine if any appliances or equipment with ignition sources are located in public, private, repair or parking garages or fuel-dispensing facilities;

N. and verify that fuel-fired appliances are not located in or obtain combustion air from sleeping rooms, bathrooms, storage closets or surgical rooms;

O. for the presence of exhaust systems in occupied areas where there is a likelihood of excess heat, odors, fumes, spray, gas, noxious gases or smoke;

P. and verify that outdoor air-intake openings are located at least 10 feet away from any hazardous or noxious contaminant sources, such as vents, chimneys, plumbing vents, streets, alleys, parking lots or loading docks;

Q. outdoor exhaust outlets for the likelihood that they may cause a public nuisance or fire hazard due to smoke, grease, gases, vapors or odors;

R. for the potential of flooding or evidence of past flooding that could cause mold in ductwork or plenums; and

S. condensate drains.

II. The inspector is not required to:

A. inspect or evaluate interiors of flues or chimneys, fire chambers, heat exchangers, humidifiers, dehumidifiers, electronic air filters, solar heating systems, fuel tanks, safety devices, pressure gauges, or control mechanisms.
B. determine the uniformity, temperature, flow, balance, distribution, size, capacity, BTU, or supply adequacy of the heating system.
C. light or ignite pilot flames.
D. activate heating, heat pump systems, or other heating systems when ambient temperatures or other circumstances are not conducive to safe operation or may damage the equipment.
E. over-ride electronic thermostats.
F. evaluate fuel quality.

G. verify thermostat calibration, heat anticipation or automatic setbacks, timers, programs or clocks.

H.  inspect tenant-owned or tenant-maintained heating equipment.

I. determine ventilation rates.

J. perform capture and containment tests.

K. test for mold.

6.5.6  Cooling

I. The inspector should inspect:

A. multiple air-conditioning compressor installations, such as a building with multiple tenant spaces, and verify that each compressor is clearly and permanently identified with the respective space supplied;

B. the central cooling equipment using normal operating controls;

C. and verify that luminaire and receptacle outlets are provided at or near the appliance;

D. and verify that a permanent means of access, with permanent ladders and/or catwalks, are present for equipment and appliances on roofs higher than 16 feet;

E. and verify the presence of level service platforms for appliances on roofs with a slope of 25% or greater; 

F. wood framing with cutting, notching or boring that might cause a structural or safety issue;

G. pipe penetrations in concrete and masonry building elements to verify that they are sleeved;

H. piping support;

I. for connectors, tubing and piping that might be installed in a way that exposes them to physical damage;

J. for the potential of flooding or evidence of past flooding that could cause mold in ductwork and plenums; and

K. condensate drains.

II. The inspector is not required to:

A. inspect or test compressors, condensers, vessels, evaporators, safety devices, pressure gauges, or control mechanisms.

B. determine the uniformity, temperature, flow, balance, distribution, size, capacity, BTU, or supply adequacy of the cooling system.
C. inspect window units, through-wall units, or electronic air filters.
D. operate equipment or systems if exterior temperature is below 60° Fahrenheit, or when other circumstances are not conducive to safe operation or may damage the equipment.
E. inspect or determine thermostat calibration, cooling anticipation, or automatic setbacks or clocks.
F. examine electrical current, coolant fluids or gases, or coolant leakage.

G. inspect tenant-owned or tenant-maintained cooling equipment.

H. test for mold.

6.5.7  Plumbing

I. The inspector should inspect:

A. and verify the presence of and identify the location of the main water shut-off valve to each building; 

B. and verify the presence of a back-flow prevention device if, in the inspector's opinion, a cross-connection could occur between the water-distribution system and non-potable water or private source;
C. the water-heating equipment, including combustion air, venting, connections, energy-source supply systems, and seismic bracing, and verify the presence or absence of temperature-/pressure-relief valves and/or Watts 210 valves;
D. and flush a representative number of toilets;
E. and water-test a representative number of sinks, tubs and showers for functional drainage; 

F. and verify that hinged shower doors open outward from the shower, and have safety glass-conformance stickers or indicators;
G. the interior water supply, including a representative number of fixtures and faucets;
H. the drain, waste and vent systems, including a representative number of fixtures;
I. and describe any visible fuel-storage systems;
J. and test sump pumps with accessible floats;
K. and describe the water supply, drain, waste and main fuel shut-off valves, as well as the location of the water main and main fuel shut-off valves;
L. and determine whether the water supply is public or private;
M. the water supply by viewing the functional flow in several fixtures operated simultaneously, and report any deficiencies as in need of repair;
N. and report as in need of repair deficiencies in installation and identification of hot and cold faucets;
O. and report as in need of repair mechanical drain stops that are missing or do not operate if installed in sinks, lavatories and tubs;
P. and report as in need of repair commodes that have cracks in the ceramic material, are improperly mounted on the floor, leak, or have tank components that do not operate; and 

Q. piping support.

II. The inspector is not required to:

A. determine the adequacy of the size of pipes, supplies, vents, traps or stacks.

B. ignite pilot flames.
C. determine the size, temperature, age, life expectancy or adequacy of the water heater.
D. inspect interiors of flues or chimneys, cleanouts, water-softening or filtering systems, dishwashers, interceptors, separators, sump pumps, well pumps or tanks, safety or shut-off valves, whirlpools, swimming pools, floor drains, lawn sprinkler systems or fire sprinkler systems.
E. determine the exact flow rate, volume, pressure, temperature or adequacy of the water supply. 

F. verify or test anti-scald devices.
G. determine the water quality, potability or reliability of the water supply or source.
H. open sealed plumbing access panels.
I. inspect clothes washing machines or their connections.
J. operate any main, branch or fixture valve. 

K. test shower pans, tub and shower surrounds, or enclosures for leakage.
L. evaluate compliance with local or state conservation or energy standards, or the proper design or sizing of any water, waste or venting components, fixtures or piping.
M. determine the effectiveness of anti-siphon, back-flow prevention or drain-stop devices.
N. determine whether there are sufficient cleanouts for effective cleaning of drains.
O. evaluate gas, liquid propane or oil-storage tanks.
P. inspect any private sewage waste-disposal system or component within such a system.

Q. inspect water-treatment systems or water filters.
R. inspect water-storage tanks, pressure pumps, ejector pumps, or bladder tanks.

S. evaluate wait time for hot water at fixtures, or perform testing of any kind on water-heater elements. 

T. evaluate or determine the adequacy of combustion air. 

U. test, operate, open or close safety controls, manual stop valves, or temperature- or pressure-relief valves. 

V. examine ancillary systems or components, such as, but not limited to, those relating to solar water heating or hot-water circulation.

W. determine the presence or condition of polybutylene plumbing.

6.5.8  Electrical

I. The inspector should inspect:

A. the service drop/lateral;
B. the meter socket enclosures; 

C. the service-entrance conductors, and report on any noted deterioration of the conductor insulation or cable sheath;

D. the means for disconnecting the service main; 

E. the service-entrance equipment, and report on any noted physical damage, overheating or corrosion;
F. and determine the rating of the service disconnect amperage, if labeled;
G. panelboards and over-current devices, and report on any noted physical damage, overheating, corrosion, or lack of accessibility or working space (minimum 30 inches wide, 36 inches deep, and 78 inches high in front of panel) that would hamper safe operation, maintenance or inspection; 

H. and report on any unused circuit-breaker panel openings that are not filled; 

I. and report on absent or poor labeling;
J. the service grounding and bonding; 

K. a representative number of switches, lighting fixtures and receptacles, including receptacles observed and deemed to be AFCI-protected using the AFCI test button, where possible.  Although a visual inspection, the removal of faceplates or other covers or luminaires (fixtures) to identify suspected hazards is permitted;

L. and report on any noted missing or damaged faceplates or box covers;

M.  and report on any noted open junction boxes or open wiring splices;

N. and report on any noted switches and receptacles that are painted;

O. and test all ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) receptacles and GFCI circuit breakers observed and deemed to be GFCIs using a GFCI tester, where possible;

P. and report the presence of solid-conductor aluminum branch-circuit wiring, if readily visible; 

Q. and report on any tested GFCI receptacles in which power was not present, polarity was incorrect, the cover was not in place, the GFCI devices were not installed properly or did not operate properly, any evidence of arcing or excessive heat, or where the receptacle was not grounded or was not secured to the wall;

R. and report the absence of smoke detectors;

S. and report on the presence of flexible cords being improperly used as substitutes for the fixed wiring of a structure or running through walls, ceilings, floors, doorways, windows, or under carpets. 

II. The inspector is not required to:

A. insert any tool, probe or device into the main panelboard, sub-panels, distribution panelboards, or electrical fixtures.
B. operate electrical systems that are shut down.
C. remove panelboard cabinet covers or dead fronts if they are not readily accessible. 

D. operate over-current protection devices.
E. operate non-accessible smoke detectors.
F. measure or determine the amperage or voltage of the main service equipment, if not visibly labeled.
G. inspect the fire or alarm system and components.
H. inspect the ancillary wiring or remote-control devices.
I. activate any electrical systems or branch circuits that are not energized.
J. operate or reset overload devices.
K. inspect low-voltage systems, electrical de-icing tapes, swimming pool wiring, or any time-controlled devices.
L. verify the service ground.
M. inspect private or emergency electrical supply sources, including, but not limited to:  generators, windmills, photovoltaic solar collectors, or the battery- or electrical-storage facility.
N. inspect spark or lightning arrestors. 

O. inspect or test de-icing equipment.
P. conduct voltage-drop calculations.
Q. determine the accuracy of labeling.

R. inspect tenant-owned equipment.

S. inspect the condition of or determine the ampacity of extension cords.

6.5.9  Fireplaces

I. The inspector should inspect:

A. fireplaces, and open and close the damper doors, if readily accessible and operable;
B. hearth extensions and other permanently installed components;
C. and report as in need of repair deficiencies in the lintel, hearth or material surrounding the fireplace, including clearance from combustible materials.

II. The inspector is not required to:

A. inspect the flue or vent system.
B. inspect the interior of chimneys or flues, fire doors or screens, seals or gaskets, or mantels. 

C. determine the need for a chimney sweep.
D. operate gas fireplace inserts.
E. light pilot flames.
F. inspect automatic fuel-feed devices.
G. inspect combustion and/or make-up air devices.
H. inspect heat-distribution assists, whether gravity-controlled or fan-assisted.
I. ignite or extinguish fires.
J. determine draft characteristics.
K. move fireplace inserts, stoves or firebox contents.
L. determine the adequacy of drafts, perform a smoke test, or dismantle or remove any fireplace component.

M. perform an NFPA inspection.

N. perform a Phase I fireplace and chimney inspection. 

O. determine the appropriateness of any installation.

6.5.10  Attic Ventilation and Insulation

I. The inspector should inspect:

A. the insulation in unfinished spaces;
B. the ventilation of attic spaces;
C. mechanical ventilation systems;  
D. and report on the general absence or lack of insulation.

II. The inspector is not required to:

A. enter the attic or any unfinished spaces that are not readily accessible, or where entry could cause damage or pose a safety hazard to the inspector, in his or her opinion.
B. move, touch or disturb insulation.
C. move, touch or disturb vapor retarders.
D. break or otherwise damage the surface finish or weather seal on or around access panels or covers.
E. identify the composition or exact R-value of insulation material.
F. activate thermostatically operated fans.
G. determine the types of materials used in insulation or wrapping of pipes, ducts, jackets, boilers or wiring.

H. determine the adequacy of ventilation.

6.5.11  Doors, Windows and Interior

I. The inspector should:

A. open and close a representative number of doors and windows;
B. inspect the walls, ceilings, steps, stairways and railings;
C. inspect garage doors and garage door-openers; 

D. inspect interior steps, stairs and railings;

E. inspect all loading docks;

F. ride all elevators and escalators;

G. and report as in need of repair any windows that are obviously fogged or display other evidence of broken seals.

II. The inspector is not required to:

A. inspect paint, wallpaper, window treatments or finish treatments.
B. inspect central-vacuum systems.
C. inspect safety glazing.
D. inspect security systems or components.
E. evaluate the fastening of countertops, cabinets, sink tops or fixtures, or firewall compromises.
F. move furniture, stored items, or any coverings, such as carpets or rugs, in order to inspect the concealed floor structure.
G. move drop-ceiling tiles.
H. inspect or move any appliances.

I. inspect or operate equipment housed in the garage, except as otherwise noted.
J. verify or certify safe operation of any auto-reverse or related safety function of a garage door.
K. operate or evaluate any security bar-release and opening mechanisms, whether interior or exterior, including their compliance with local, state or federal standards.
L. operate any system, appliance or component that requires the use of special keys, codes, combinations or devices.
M. operate or evaluate self-cleaning oven cycles, tilt guards/latches, gauges or signal lights.
N. inspect microwave ovens, or test leakage from microwave ovens.
O. operate or examine any sauna, steam-jenny, kiln, toaster, ice maker, coffee maker, can opener, bread warmer, blender, instant hot-water dispenser, or other ancillary devices. 

P. inspect elevators.
Q. inspect remote controls.
R. inspect appliances.
S. inspect items not permanently installed.
T. examine or operate any above-ground, movable, freestanding, or otherwise non-permanently installed pool/spa, recreational equipment, or self-contained equipment.
U. come into contact with any pool or spa water in order to determine the system's structure or components.
V. determine the adequacy of a spa's jet water force or bubble effect.
W. determine the structural integrity or leakage of a pool or spa.

X. determine combustibility or flammability.

Y. inspect tenant-owned equipment or personal property.

6.5.12  Life Safety

I. The inspector should:

A. inspect fire access roads and report on any obstructions or overhead wires lower than 13 feet and 6 inches; 

B. inspect the address or street number to determine whether it is visible from the street, with numbers in contrast to their background;

C. inspect to determine whether a 3-foot clear space exists around the circumference of fire hydrants;

D. verify that hinged shower doors open outward from the shower and have safety glass-conformance stickers or indicators;

E. inspect to determine whether the storage of flammable and combustible materials is orderly, separated from heaters by distance or shielding so that ignition cannot occur, and not stored in exits, boiler rooms, mechanical rooms or electrical equipment rooms;

F. inspect to determine whether a "No Smoking" sign is posted in areas where flammable or combustible material is stored, dispensed or used;

G. inspect for the presence of fire alarm systems;

H. inspect for alarm panel accessibility;

I. inspect for the presence of portable extinguishers, and determine whether they are located in conspicuous and readily available locations immediately available for use, and not obstructed or obscured from view;

J. inspect to determine whether a portable fire extinguisher is stored within a 30-foot travel distance of commercial-type cooking equipment that uses cooking oil or animal fat;

K. inspect to determine whether manual-actuation devices for commercial cooking appliances exist near the means of egress from the cooking area, 42 to 48 inches above the floor and 10 and 20 feet away, and clearly identifying the hazards protected;

L. inspect to determine whether the maximum travel distance to a fire extinguisher is 75 feet;

M. inspect for the presence of sprinkler systems, and determine if they were ever painted other than at the factory;

N. inspect for the presence of emergency lighting systems;

O. inspect for exit signs at all exits, and inspect for independent power sources, such as batteries;

P. inspect for the presence of directional signs where an exit location is not obvious;

Q. inspect for the presence of signs over lockable exit doors stating:  "This Door Must Remain Unlocked During Business Hours";

R. inspect for penetrations in any walls or ceilings that separate the exit corridors or stairwells from the rest of the building;

S. inspect for fire-separation doors that appear to have been blocked or wedged open, or that do not automatically close and latch;

T. inspect exit stairwell handrails;

U. inspect for exit trip hazards;

V. inspect for the presence of at least two exits to the outside, or one exit that has a maximum travel distance of 75 feet; 

W. inspect exit doorways to determine that they are less than 32 inches in clear width;

X. inspect to determine whether the exit doors were locked from the inside, chained, bolted, barred, latched or otherwise rendered unusable at the time of the inspection;

Y. inspect to determine whether the exit doors swing open in the direction of egress travel; and

Z. inspect the storage to determine if it is potentially obstructing access to fire hydrants, fire extinguishers, alarm panels or electric panelboards, or if it is obstructing aisles, corridors, stairways or exit doors, or if it is within 18 inches of sprinkler heads, or if it is within 3 feet of heat-generating appliances or electrical panelboards.

II. The inspector is not required to:

A. test alarm systems, or determine if alarms systems have been tested.

B. inspect or test heat detectors, fire-suppression systems, or sprinkler systems.

C. determine the combustibility or flammability of materials in storage.

D. determine the adequate number of fire extinguishers needed, or their ratings.

E. test or inspect fire extinguishers, their pressure, or for the presence of extinguisher inspection tags or tamper seals.

F. inspect or test fire pumps or fire department connections.

G. inspect or test cooking equipment suppression systems.

H. determine the operational time of emergency lighting or exit signs.

I. inspect for proper occupant load signs.

J. determine fire ratings of walls, ceilings, doors, etc.

K. inspect, test or determine the adequacy of fire escapes or ladders.

L. inspect fire department lock boxes or keys.

M. determine the flame resistance of curtains or draperies.

N. inspect parking or outdoor lighting.

O. inspect for unauthorized entry or crime issues.

P. inspect or test security systems.

Q. inspect for pet or livestock safety issues.

R. inspect for unsafe candle use or decoration hazards.

S. inspect or test emergency generators.

T. test kitchen equipment, appliances or hoods.

U. verify that elevator keys exist, or that they work properly.

6.5.13  Cooking Area

I. The inspector should:

A. verify that all smoke- or grease-laden, vapor-producing cooking equipment, such as deep-fat fryers, ranges, griddles, broilers and woks, is equipped with an exhaust system; 

B. inspect for the accessibility for cleaning and inspection of the exhaust system's interior surface;

C. inspect for grease buildup;

D. verify that hoods are made of steel or stainless steel;

E. verify that visible grease filters are arranged so that all exhaust air passes through them;

F. verify that visible sections of exhaust ducts are not interconnected with any other ventilation system;

G. verify that visual sections of exhaust ducts are installed without dips or traps that might collect residue;

H. verify that exhaust ducts do not appear to pass through firewalls;

I. try to verify that exhaust ducts lead directly to the exterior of the building;

J. try to verify that exterior exhaust outlets do not discharge into walkways, or create a nuisance, in the opinion of the inspector;

K. inspect to determine that a portable fire extinguisher is stored within a 30-foot travel distance of commercial-type cooking equipment that uses cooking oil or animal fat; and

L. inspect to determine that manual-actuation devices for commercial cooking appliances exist near the means of egress from the cooking area, 42 and 48 inches above the floor and 10 to 20 feet away, and clearly identifying the hazards protected.

II. The inspector is not required to:

A. determine proper clearances.

B. determine proper hood size or position.

C. test hoods.

D. test exhaust fans or dampers, or measure air flow.

E. test fire extinguishers, fire-extinguishing equipment, or fusible links.

F. test kitchen equipment, appliances, hoods or their gauges.

G. inspect or test grease-removal devices, drip trays or grease filters.

H. inspect or test air pollution-control devices or fume incinerators.

I. inspect or test kitchen refrigeration.

J. inspect for fuel-storage issues. 

K. inspect, test or determine anything regarding food safety.

L. issue an opinion regarding cooking operating procedures.


7.  Report

7.1  Format

The report must be in writing.  This Standard does not require any one particular format.  It is InterNACHI's opinion that the commercial inspection industry and consumer clients are best served when inspectors are free to compete through report-generation innovation.

7.2  Date

The report should be dated on the first page.

7.3  Inspection Firm Information

The report should include the name and contact information of the inspection firm on the first or second page.

7.4  Property Address

The report should include the address of the property inspected, or a description of the real estate sufficient for identification, on the first or second page.

7.5  Total Number of Pages

The report should indicate the total number of pages and attachments on the first page.  

7.6  Brevity

Reports should be concise, to-the-point, and avoid the inclusion of large amounts of pre-printed material.

7.7  Legibility

Reports should be typed or handwritten clearly.

7.8  Opinions of Shut-Down Systems

The inspector should still try to render an opinion of the condition of systems even if they were shut down or were not operational at the time of the walk-through survey.

7.9  Obsolescence

The client should only rely on the inspection report at the point in time that the inspector's observations were being made and research was being conducted.  The client should deem the report as obsolete to some extent, even while it is being prepared.

7.10  Site-Specific

The client should understand that an inspection performed in accordance with this Standard only relates to the observations made and research conducted.  Consequently, this Standard does not address issues such as business operations at the subject property, deed encumbrances, neighborhood conditions, etc.

7.11  Multiple Buildings

An inspection report produced in accordance with this Standard may encompass more than one building within a single report.

7.12  Cost to Remedy

The inspector is not required to provide repair estimates or opinions of costs to remedy.  The inspector may offer opinions about such costs as a courtesy, but the offering of these opinions is outside the scope of a commercial inspection.

8.  Limitations, Exceptions and Exclusions

8.1. Limitations:

I. An inspection is not technically exhaustive.
II. An inspection will not identify concealed or latent defects.
III. An inspection will not deal with aesthetic concerns or what could be deemed matters of taste, cosmetic defects, etc.
IV. An inspection will not determine the suitability of the property for any use.
V. An inspection does not determine the market value of the property, or its marketability. 

VI. An inspection does not determine the insurability of the property.
VII. An inspection does not determine the advisability or inadvisability of the purchase of the inspected property.

VIII. An inspection does not determine the life expectancy of the property, or any components or systems therein.

IX. An inspection does not include items not permanently installed.
X. These Standards of Practice apply only to commercial properties.

8.2. Exclusions:

I. The inspector is not required to determine:

A. property boundary lines or encroachments.
B. the condition of any component or system that is not readily accessible.
C. the service-life expectancy of any component or system.
D. the size, capacity, BTU, performance or efficiency of any component or system.
E. the cause or reason of any condition.
F. the cause of the need for repair or replacement of any system or component.
G. future conditions.
H. the compliance with codes or regulations.
I. the presence of evidence of rodents, birds, bats, animals, insects, or other pests.
J. the presence of mold, mildew, fungus or toxic drywall.
K. the presence of airborne hazards.
L. the presence of birds.
M. the presence of other flora or fauna.
N. the air quality.
O. the presence of asbestos.
P. the presence of environmental hazards.
Q. the presence of electromagnetic fields.
R. the presence of hazardous materials including, but not limited to, the presence of lead in paint.
S. any hazardous-waste conditions.
T. any manufacturers' recalls, or conformance with manufacturers' installations, or any information included for consumer-protection purposes.
U. operating costs of systems.
V. replacement or repair cost estimates.
W. the acoustical properties of any systems.
X. estimates of the cost of operating any given system.

Y. resistance to wind, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes or seismic activities.

Z. geological conditions or soil stability.

AA. compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

II. The inspector is not required to operate:

A. any system that is shut down.
B. any system that does not function properly.
C. or evaluate low-voltage electrical systems, such as, but not limited to: 

phone lines; 

cable lines;  

antennae;  

lights; or 

remote controls. 

D. any system that does not turn on with the use of normal operating controls.
E. any shut off-valves or manual stop valves.
F. any electrical disconnect or over-current protection devices.
G. any alarm systems.
H. moisture meters, gas detectors or similar equipment.

I. sprinkler or fire-suppression systems.

III. The inspector is not required to:

A. move any personal items or other obstructions, such as, but not limited to:

1. throw rugs;
2. furniture;
3. floor or wall coverings;
4. ceiling tiles;
5. window coverings;
6. equipment;
7. plants;
8. ice;
9. debris;
10. snow;
11. water;
12. dirt;
13. foliage; or
14. pets.

B. dismantle, open or uncover any system or component.
C. enter or access any area that may, in the opinion of the inspector, be unsafe.
D. enter crawlspaces or other areas that are unsafe or not readily accessible.
E. inspect or determine the presence of underground items, such as, but not limited to, underground storage tanks, whether abandoned or actively used.
F. do anything which, in the inspector's opinion, is likely to be unsafe or dangerous to the inspector or others, or may damage property, such as, but not limited to, walking on roof surfaces, climbing ladders, entering attic spaces, or interacting with pets or livestock.  
G. inspect decorative items.
H. inspect common elements or areas in multi-unit housing.
I. inspect intercoms, speaker systems, radio-controlled, security devices, or lawn-irrigation systems. 

J. offer guarantees or warranties.
K. offer or perform any engineering services.
L. offer or perform any trade or professional service other than commercial property inspection.
M. research the history of the property, or report on its potential for alteration, modification, extendibility or  suitability for a specific or proposed use for occupancy.
N. determine the age of construction or installation of any system, structure or component of a building, or differentiate between original construction and subsequent additions, improvements, renovations or replacements thereto.
O. determine the insurability of a property.

P. perform or offer Phase 1 environmental audits.

Q. inspect or report on any system or component that is not included in these Standards.

9.  Ethics

Inspectors performing inspections in accordance with this Standard must maintain a high level of business ethics.

9.1  Duty to Client 

9.1.1  The inspector shall substantially follow this Standard unless the Scope of Work indicates otherwise. 

9.1.2  The inspector shall not engage in any practices that could be damaging to the client or bring discredit to the inspection industry. 

9.1.3  The inspector shall be fair, honest, impartial, and act in good faith in dealing with the client. 

9.1.4  The inspector shall not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status or handicap, and shall comply with all applicable federal, state and local laws concerning discrimination. 

9.1.5  The inspector-member shall be truthful regarding his/her services and qualifications. 

9.1.6  The inspector shall have no undisclosed conflict of interest with the client, nor shall the inspector accept or offer any undisclosed commissions, rebates, profits or other benefit, nor shall the inspector accept or offer any disclosed or undisclosed commissions, rebates, profits or other benefit from real estate agents, brokers or any third parties having financial interest in the sale of the property, nor shall the inspector offer or provide any disclosed or undisclosed financial compensation directly or indirectly to any real estate agent, real estate broker or real estate company for referrals or for inclusion on lists of preferred and/or affiliated inspectors or inspection companies. 

9.1.7  The inspector shall not communicate any information about an inspection to anyone except the client without the prior written consent of the client, except in cases when the information may affect the safety of others, or violates a law or statute. 

9.1.8  The inspector shall always act in the interests of the client, unless doing so violates a law or statute. 

9.1.9  The inspector shall use a written Scope of Work Agreement that specifies the services to be performed, the limitations of services, and fees. 

9.1.10  The inspector shall comply with all government rules and licensing requirements in the jurisdiction where s/he conducts business. 

9.1.11  The inspector shall not perform or offer to perform, for an additional fee, any repairs or repair-associated services to the structure for which the inspector or inspector's company has prepared a commercial inspection report for a period of 12 months. This provision shall not include services to components and/or systems that are not included in this Standard.