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Building surveys for business premises

23 May 2016
This article is part of our Business Premises Guide
Providing information to support business owners with some of the more common decisions and considerations that you would need to take into account when moving business premises, from taking a commercial lease or buying a property to tips on who you should seek help from at each stage.

Whether you decide to buy or lease a commercial property, you will most likely need a certain degree of surveying done on the premises to ensure that it is structurally sound and suitable for your business needs.

Paul Bagust from RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) explains that it’s important to know the condition of the building and to highlight any problems prior to your lease or buying commitment, “The decisions that you make about your property at the beginning will impact your business throughout its lifecycle. If you’re not mitigating those risks at the start then you are leaving yourself exposed to a risk that you might end up with financial exposure.”

For both buying and leasing, it’s worth considering whether you should get a survey before completion. A qualified Building Surveyor will inspect the building and report any areas of defect and disrepair.

Lease agreements will often state that the building must be in the same or better condition by the end of the lease period. If you are taking lease of an entire property and are responsible for the interior and exterior of the building, a survey should be carried out in order to highlight any defects or areas of disrepair. If the property is in a poor state of repair, you might want to consider agreeing a schedule of condition with the landlord.

“A schedule of condition is paid for by the tenant and records the condition of the building prior to their occupation. If the landlord will not agree to a schedule of condition, then the tenant can request that the property is repaired and in good order prior to occupation.” says Jonathan from Talkspace Group.

You can opt to have a building survey when you are in the process of purchasing a building, the survey should be carried out by qualified surveyor. This is different to a Mortgage Valuation in that it goes into a more in-depth look at the building and its structure.

“Surveyors can certainly flag up any problems with the condition of the structure and the safety of the building and will also advise on the suitability in terms of any costs you may need to factor in, which is very important.” adds Paul from RICS.

You should tell your surveyor if there are particular areas or aspects of the building that you would like them to look at. For example, a chartered surveyor wouldn’t report on heating or drainage unless instructed otherwise.
These may be necessary to find out what has happened and what may happen to a particular property and the surrounding areas. For example, any road works, new developments nearby, flood risk assessments and Chancel charges (liabilities to the upkeep of local churches) which could incur an additional cost.
You should also ask for the Energy Performance Certificate for the commercial property. This will give you an indication of the buildings energy efficiency and the likely charges for your energy costs. By law the building owner should have an up to date copy of the certificate and should hand this over on request.
 If the building has any air conditioning or heating systems, you should ask to look at the Air Conditioning Report. Legal requirements now mean that these reports should be logged within the Energy Performance Certificate.
It is important to make sure that you have the right insurance in place to protect the business that you have built. Every business is different and has its own business insurance needs, which is why we work with some of the UK’s most well-known insurers to ensure that you are getting the right insurance cover for your business.
The information and tools contained in this guide are of a general informational nature and should not be relied upon as being suitable for any specific set of circumstances. We have used reasonable endeavours to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the contents but the information and tools do not constitute professional advice and must not be relied upon as such. To the extent permitted by law, we do not accept responsibility for any loss which may arise from reliance on the information or tools in our Insight Hub.