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Multi-Family and Commercial Property Buyers: What Will Your Repair Costs Be Over the Next 5 Years?

November 18, 2016

What are the expected costs going to be over the next five years for your Multi-Family, Industrial or Commercial real estate site?Depending on the condition of the building the answer can include the cost of repairing or replacing a roof or heating and AC units or electrical sub panels, etc. Predicting how much building repairs will cost requires a lot of experience in order to cover all the bases.The more experienced your property inspector is the better this question can be answered. There are numerous industry standards concerning costs. There is also what the local contractors in your area are charging. Additionally, there can be seasonal factors and related emergency situations that affect the costs. For example, shortly after hurricane Katrina the cost of plywood more than doubled. This cost affected the roofing industry dramatically.

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When the cost of petroleum went up so quickly over the last few years it also affected the roofing industry as well as the cost of petroleum-based sealers for asphalt parking lots. It takes keeping your finger on the pulse of what is happening at the time, keeping up with industry standards and the local market to determine the costing for each aspect of a particular site.Here is another scenario: The roof mounted Heating and AC unit is on its last legs. Within five years it will need to be replaced. I know the size of the unit means the cost is usually about $5,000 just to remove the old one and install a new one – USUALLY! I can look this up in a costing book and I can give this price to my client and my job as an inspector is done. That all sounds really good but it is not the whole truth. What kind of connectors are there from the unit to the ducting? What kind of ducting is there? Are there any leaks in the ducting? This type of ducting will require replacement – what difficulties will that entail? What is the access to the roof? What city is the building in? Beverly Hills requires special permits if a crane is required. The answer to these questions may make this $5,000 unit cost more like $9,000 or more depending on many variables.Another classic area of judgment needed is the cost of roofing. There are methods being used now, putting elastomeric materials over existing roofing, that cost half or less than a new roof and will keep the interiors cooler, help the environment and use less energy. In some circumstances this method will more than pay for itself in 5 years or less. However, this method can’t be used in all circumstances.

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Legislated requirements can also affect the costs. One example of this is HVAC: heating, venting and air conditioning. In the state of California there is a mandated requirement regarding energy efficiency that has affected the costs of equipment. Over the past few years, the contractor’s direct cost for a roof mounted heating and AC unit has nearly doubled. Also, the methods used to install some types of HVAC equipment require roof mounted ducting. This can significantly affect the cost of installation or replacements.The answer is to have a commercial real estate inspector who keeps up with changes in the various industries and knows what is occurring in your specific geographical area as well as your local requirements.

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