Sometime this year, businesses of all kinds will get a second wind and return for a second life. At the same time, new businesses powered by new people with new dreams will be looking for an opportunity to make their mark. Some of these businesses will insist on new buildings. Most will opt to move into older, existing structures for the sake of conserving resources.
The buyer of a building in poor condition must fight the impulse to blame the seller for the unexpected. In the same way, one can sell a house in poor condition, one can sell a commercial building in poor condition. Proper inspection is required. The buyer is entitled to an honest record of the building’s condition. Even so, many things can be missed.
Financial savings are not always a given. Some repairs could wipe out the initial savings. And the liability might bankrupt the business when things go wrong. Don’t be caught by surprise. Buying an old building is risky. Mitigate that risk by doing the following:
Check the Ductworks
Not all aspects of ductwork are covered under a standard building inspection. Damage within that subsystem can result in serious health problems for the people who work in the old building. It might also leave your company open to crippling liability down the road. GE is a case study for taking the problem seriously. They used a versatile pipe inspection robot to improve their ductwork inspection. If converting old buildings into commercial or industrial spaces is a routine part of your business, It will suit you to have inspection robots as a part of your toolkit. If you are counting on third-party inspectors to get the job done properly, be sure they have the right tools for the job. It is critical you know all the issues before signing the contract.
Testing and Abatement
In New York City, the regulations clearly state that testing and abatement is the responsibility of the party doing renovation, alteration, or demolition. One reason a building might be sold for a bargain price is that the current owner suspects a costly abatement procedure might be required. By selling you the old building as is, the asbestos becomes your problem.
You are also responsible for the mold and lead paint you inherited. Every old structure built before the ’70s should be assumed to have asbestos, mold, and lead. This does not have to be a deal-breaker. But it does have to be factored into the purchase.
Be Sure Desired Upgrades Are Possible
Your big, beautiful vision for your business might not be possible in that venerable property you have your eye on. Before you decide to install a business requiring a lot of wireless communications, you need to be sure wifi can be conducted through the walls of the building. You cannot just create cellular signals from nothing. If you are in a cellular dead zone, you might not be able to do anything about that.
If your old building is determined to be a historic landmark, you will find yourself very limited in the types of modifications you are allowed to make. There are other regulatory hurdles to overcome. The property might not be zoned for the kind of business you want. You have to consider your future plans and be sure the property can support those plans.
It is okay to use an old building for your business. Companies do it all the time and for good reason. Just be sure to do your due diligence, first. Check the ductworks. Do testing and abatement. And be sure the building will support your future plans.