Commercial buyer beware

Commercial buyer beware

, Jimmy Braithwaite

With the rise in the number of high profile commercial properties like this one coming to market in recent times, we thought it would be prudent to touch upon some of the key aspects to consider when looking to purchase a commercial property:

When such properties come to market, many ask;

“What’s the point of undertaking a pre-purchase Technical Due Diligence survey if the building is new? Surely, there’ll be nothing wrong with it?!”

Even high profile, recently constructed buildings can have problems, so it’s important to consider a number of possible issues, particularly in relation to construction defects, warranty issues and the quality of building maintenance associated with external building envelopes.

Construction Defects

We still find construction defects associated with roof coverings, wall claddings and external joinery on buildings less than 10 years old. There can also be problems with poor material specification or installation. Some of these include latent defects which may not be readily apparent to the untrained eye, but can lead to big problems during the buildings life. Failure to identify risk in relation to these elements can lead to significant cost implications.

Quality of Building Maintenance

Although a building may be young in age, the construction elements that form a building are inevitably subject to a process of decline in condition from the day the building is constructed. This process of decline can be slowed and mitigated through regular building maintenance. However, if the building envelope is poorly maintained, building elements can begin to deteriorate at a faster rate which can lead to greater ramifications in the shorter term, rather than the long term. Manufacturers Warranties often rely on such maintenance being carried out and can be negated if this has not been undertaken. As such, it’s important to consider the lease structures that are in place and the obligations in relation to building maintenance and whether the building has been maintained adequately and regularly.

Don’t be lulled into false sense of security by high profile tenants!

Even if the Tenant is a large, trusted national company with a long lease, it doesn’t necessarily mean they comply with their lease obligations and undertake regular building maintenance. In our experience, we’ve found that even large companies have not necessarily been the best at maintaining the buildings they occupy.

Regardless of the above, it’s important to remember that key elements such as roofs, walls and joinery form the weather protection for the building and protect crucial structural elements and internal linings, not to mention mechanical and electrical plant, important tenant inventory, fixtures and fittings. So if the building envelope fails, there are potentially wider ramifications to consider!

Some people may ask;

“How do I know whether my building has construction defects or if the building has been adequately maintained?”

Short answer;

Engage an independent RICS Chartered or NZIBS Registered Building Surveyor experienced in pre-purchase Technical Due Diligence!

A Chartered or Registered building surveyor has undergone a comprehensive training programme and is skilled and experienced in inspecting and assessing building condition and risks. They will be able to determine whether your potential building purchase has construction defects, or is suffering from a lack of building maintenance that is compromising warranties or causing premature failure. A professionally qualified surveyor can prepare the necessary reports that can identify risks from a building fabric perspective and enable you to make an informed decision with all the facts and details of potential costs to hand.

Give our award-winning, Chartered building surveyors a call if you’d like to know more about Technical Due Diligence.

- Gareth Christopher - 021 640 629 / gareth.christopher@hamptonjones.com

- Jimmy Braithwaite - 021 686 619 / jimmy.braithwaite@hamptonjones.com