All types of foundation issues are a problem for any business. The problems will vary according to the type of business you run and whether you are the tenant or the landlord.
Foundation issues negatively affect businesses in five ways:
• Customers and clients may stay away, so your turnover and profit suffer.
• You may see the value of your property fall.
• You may face high foundation repair costs.
• You may face legal action.
• Your insurance premiums may rise.
How Will You Know if You Have Foundation Issues?
Early signs of a cracked or damaged foundation include uneven floors, sloping floors, cracks in floors, wall cracks, ceiling cracks, and gaps between door or window frames and the wall. They may also show themselves in a musty smell caused by mold growing in the crawl space under the floor.
Customers and Clients
Customers and clients expect a certain level of service and comfort. You charge prices consistent with, for example, the quality of the clothes you sell in your store, the food you serve in your restaurant or the professional advice you give. A door frame separating from the wall, a sloping floor, an unpleasant smell in the waiting area or dining room all affect your customers’ perceptions of your business. If the dining room smells, what is your kitchen like? If you cannot be bothered to repair your entry door frame, how much do you care about the accuracy of the professional advice you give? Customers and clients vote with their feet, and they tell others about their experience. When a foundation repair is ignored, the negative impact on your business may be slow to reveal itself, but it will do so.
Landlords and Tenants
If you own the property, whether it is an office block, a strip mall or an industrial building, if it needs a foundation repair, the property’s resale value will fall. Your ability to lease it to a new tenant will also be badly affected.
As a tenant, are you responsible for structural repairs? Is there a clause in your lease requiring you to maintain compliance with building and health codes, and with federal laws? The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 covers chemical contaminants released from just about everything except underground tanks. Cracks in the foundation may allow any ground contaminant to leak into the air breathed by your clients, customers, employees, and neighbors. If foundation repairs are your responsibility, you may be faced with a large bill. That bill may not be covered by your commercial insurance. You may also face legal action from anyone adversely affected by any contamination.
A large crack in the floor, or in the access ramp, may negatively affect anyone covered by The Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990. In addition, any legal action taken against your business because someone trips over the crack, or suffers from breathing in mold spores growing in the crawl space, will be expensive to defend. Newspaper and TV articles may further damage your business’s reputation, and impact turnover.
A damaged foundation can become a costly problem. Scheduling a professional foundation inspection is your best, first step to minimizing or removing its negative impact.