A Site Survey can save your time, your money, and your sanity

You wouldn’t buy a used car without having a trusted mechanic giving it a thorough check. You certainly wouldn’t buy a house without having it inspected by an independent specialist. So, why wouldn’t you do the same when it comes to selecting a space for your franchise? Yet, many franchisees forego a site survey.

However, as many experienced franchisees know, you can’t be penny wise and pound foolish. Time becomes a precious commodity in the beginning stages of ownership. There are many items on one’s checklist before the doors to your new business can even open. Simply visiting a space with your commercial real estate broker will take more time than you might have expected. Hiring a firm to provide a comprehensive site survey will not only save time, but it could potentially save the franchise owner money.

Having a site survey completed prior to signing a contract gives the franchise owner a deeper understanding about every aspect of the space he or she is about purchase or rent. This information provides a clearer picture of potential construction costs, possible problems with the location, and gives the franchisee more power to negotiate the purchase or lease. While not ideal, site surveys are requested after contracts have been signed, as they are an important initial roadmap for the architects and contractors tasked with turning the space into one’s franchise.

Site surveys can vary greatly in terms of scope and level of detail. The reports that our firm generates on behalf of our clients, for example, provide only the information a franchise owner needs in order to move forward with construction. Others might provide details on elements that will be removed because they are not part of the franchise design. Keep in mind that longer, more detailed reports are not necessarily better. They may look impressive, but most contain extraneous details that will require more time to examine.

Our site survey looks at six major elements: the overall site; the interior space; mechanicals, such as HVAC and elevators; electrical; plumbing; and gas.


We provide information and photographs about the parking lot, exterior elevations, adjacent tenants, the entrance, circulation, signage, and accessibility. This provides business owners with valuable information about the space. Can customers see your business from the road? How many handicapped parking spots are available? Are you vulnerable to flooding? Will adjacent businesses create unforeseen issues, such as smokers gathering outside the entrance of the restaurant next door?


Moving inside, our site survey will measure the dimensions of the space, including ceiling heights and the height of structural elements in the space. We will provide details on the location and sizes of windows, doors, and structural columns. The survey will note the number, location, and size of bathrooms. Finally, we look at issues around accessibility. For example, it would be important to know if the entry features one or two steps down to the main floor without any alternative for someone in a wheelchair.


We identify the location of mechanical units serving the space, number of units, manufacturers, model numbers, and whether the units are gas or electric.


This section of the site survey details the location of where power enters the building; the service size, type, and location; meter size and location; panel size and location; and the presence and location of transformers.


We record and detail water meter size and location; water line size; the location of the shutoff valve; the location, manufacturer, and condition of the water heater; sewer size and direction of run; and any pertinent information about sewer clean-out procedures.


The final section of the site survey provides owners with details on meter location, meter number, and gas line size.

In addition to photos and detailed information in each of these areas, the site survey will allow us to create an as-built drawing of the space. This is probably the most important piece of a site survey, as it gives the prospective buyer a complete representation of the site. It will also give architects and contractors the initial roadmap they need prior to designing and building out the space for the franchise.

Armed with photos, site drawings, and a detailed survey of the critical building elements, the franchisee is in a much better position to make a decision, negotiate a deal, execute his or her lease, and create meaningful and useful drawings.

A comprehensive site survey will cost an average of $1200 to $1500, a tiny fraction (less than 0.5%) of the overall construction costs. But it could potentially save the franchisee tens of thousands of dollars in time and money if it identifies potential problems that could impact a purchase decision. Moreover, the survey provides valuable information that could be used to lower construction costs or negotiate a more favorable deal with the property seller or landlord.

You May Also Be Interested In:

  1. Foregoing a Site Survey Can Sink Your Ship

  2. Managing Your Stress: Part 1 - Design And Permitting Of Your Retail Site

  3. Why Franchisees Should Consider a Permitting Partner

12 views0 comments