Doing It Yourself
by Edouard A. Szajna

Part 3 - Measuring the Space

All paid jobs absorb and degrade the mind. - Aristotle

Starting with the outside of the building; take notice of the general condition of the structure and of the surrounding areas.

Is it well-kept and clean looking? The roofline and the walls should be straight and level and the parking lot (if there is one, of course) should be in good condition as well as the lot lights.

Look for standing puddles of water, especially around the drainage basins (if it’s dry but you notice debris gathered around them, it’s possible that they may backup during heavy rains and should be checked shortly after a storm, if possible).

Take a moment to inspect the area designated for trash removal. Let’s face it, there’s a reason that they’re usually kept behind buildings. Don’t expect a sterile area, but if it’s stacked high with trash or you see evidence of bugs or vermin, make sure to bring it up to the owner. If it lives outside, it might try to get inside and that's bad for business.

If the exterior is well cared for chances are that the interior is in pretty good shape as well. But you still need to do a thorough inspection. As you walk in the space, try to use all of your senses. We know this sounds rather Zen-like, but your first impressions usually tell a myriad of things.

There’s always some normal wear and tear on existing spaces that have been recently vacated; so if it’s a bit of mess with some minor dust and debris on the floor and a few missing ceiling tiles, it’s really no big deal, you’re going to be popping a few tiles during your inspection anyway and it will kick up a bit of dust..

However, if the space is stacked high with the former tenant’s garbage and/or you notice unusual odors emanating from somewhere, request the Landowner clean out the space, at least to “Broom-Clean Condition” before starting your inspection. It is all too easy to miss defects in the building, utilities or structure if your too busy climbing over boxes and trash and swatting vermin.

As you measure your space transpose the numbers onto the graph paper as you go. Try to draw your space as close to scale as possible and be sure to include any structural columns, load bearing walls, stairs, framed out duct chases/shafts, elevated flooring/ceiling or any unusual changes in floor/ceiling elevation. Double checking these measurements now, can save you a lot of grief later, so take your time and strive for accuracy.

Be sure to “pop” a few ceiling tiles and get a good look at your ceiling system. Are the HVAC ducts straight and clean with no sagging areas? Are there water stains or signs of vermin? While you’re up there, take a good look at the registers (those metal things where the air comes out of), they should be clean and free of dust, dirt and especially mold.

NEXT in Doing It Yourself

Part 4 -Checking the Building's Systems

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