“It’s perfect!” You’ve saved and planned and dreamed of this day. You’ve found the perfect location with great parking, foot traffic, and complementary businesses. You envision the space adorned with your artsy displays and appealing merchandise.  But take a deep breath, count to 10, and consider having licensed contractors inspect the existing plumbing and electrical work before you commit.

Taking time to do these inspections can fend off potential serious issues in the future. Begin by taking a walk through the space. Do you see obvious signs of water damage on the ceiling or walls? Inspect the flooring; do you see signs of previous water leaks on floors or carpet? Go into the restrooms; turn on the faucets, and flush the toilets. Look for low pressure or leaks that may indicate a plumbing issue.

With regard to potential electrical problems, look for exposed frayed wires or damaged cables. If possible, check for inoperable outlets and light switches.  Your walk-through may have unearthed some obvious issues. You can use the repair of these items in your lease negotiations with the prospective landlord.

Plumbing or electrical problems can lurk behind the scenes. At a minimum, these problems can prove a nuisance, but undetected they can severely impact your business. Your architect or engineer can point you to licensed, professional plumbers and electricians who can do thorough inspections. Be sure to find contractors familiar with commercial properties. Their reports should include a review of HVAC, plumbing, and electrical systems concerning the following:

The landlord should remedy significant violations before you take occupancy. Code violations could mean a government agency shuts you down until compliance is achieved. Violations of fire and safety regulations threaten the well-being of you, your staff, and your customers. A fire could potentially wipe out your merchandise and furnishings. And public restrooms must be accessible to your disabled patrons.

These renovations done after you occupy the space could severely impact your business. And you may find yourself in an expensive tug-of-war with your landlord over the cost of repairs. So dream big, but act wisely. Before you commit to leasing retail space, contract with licensed plumbing and electrical professionals to do a thorough inspection.