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How to Protect a Vacant Commercial Building

Written by Posted On Friday, 04 November 2016 14:54

When a building sits vacant, it is at risk for numerous problems. Fire, theft, vandalism and people moving in are just a few of those problems. If you have a vacant commercial building, it’s important that you understand the risks and how to protect yourself and your building from those dangers.

Clean It Up

Keep the building, the parking area, and the sidewalks clear of any debris and trash. Imagine you have the property on the market and are showing it to a potential buyer — it should look like that all of the time. This will not only help you when you do want to show it, but it makes the property look well taken care of, which will deter anyone who wants to make it their temporary home.

Monitor It Consistently

You should be checking on your building at least once a week. Do your best to alter the times so you see your property throughout the day. If you only go by in the mornings, you miss anything that may happen during the day or at night.

Make your checks unpredictable. That way, if anyone is interested in the building and sees you driving by, they won’t be able to plan around your schedule so you are more likely to catch them entering your building or vandalizing it.

In addition to driving by, you need to enter your building and check on things such as the plumbing and security system so you know they are in good working condition and not causing problems or leaving your building unprotected.

Use Alarm Systems

A security alarm that notifies the security company when someone breaks in and sounds an alarm will usually protect you if someone tries to enter the building. If you find that an alarm system isn’t effective, consider hiring a security guard to monitor the property during the night.

You should also have fire alarms and automatic sprinklers to protect your building in case of a fire. Don’t assume that just because it’s vacant there won’t be any need for this. Vacant buildings are the site of an average of 25,000 fires per year.

These fires injure or kill people and cause hundreds of millions of dollars of property damage each year. If possible, have your fire alarm system connected to a central monitoring company so someone will be notified the moment a fire is detected.

When you enter the property and check on things, make sure you are taking a look at the alarm systems for security and fire. Check your automatic sprinkler system to make sure it remains in good working condition.

Keep It Maintained

Maintenance is one of the most important things you can do for a vacant building. Just because it’s empty now doesn’t mean it will remain empty in the future, so you need to keep the building in selling condition.

Regular maintenance also prevents problems and shows any troublemaker that the building is being taken care of and may not even be empty. Consider how environmental factors can affect your maintenance schedule. For example, the humidity in Florida may require extra maintenance to air conditioning systems, but a building in Maine could expect more of an impact on their heating system. It’s important to keep systems maintained and clean every season so they remain in working condition and make others question if the building is in use or not.

In the winter time, if you get snow or ice, keep the parking lot and sidewalks around your building clear. Snow piling up is a good sign to others that the building is not in use, which is not something you want.

When the temperatures turn cold, make sure your heating system is set to turn on to prevent pipes from freezing and bursting. If this is not an option, make sure your plumbing system is drained so you don’t have the risk of pipes bursting.

Keep the Lights On

Keeping the lights on inside the building is often recommended for residential properties. In the case of your commercial property, you want to keep your exterior lights and any exit signs on. This does make it look like the building is in use and will help you be able to see things when you drive by to monitor your building.

Exterior lights will usually prevent people who just want to make trouble for the night from messing with your building. Lights mean they might be seen and caught, which is a risk they usually won’t take. A dark building is inviting to trouble while a well-lit building can help keep it away.


By doing these simple things, you can protect your building and reduce any risks. These tips will also help keep your building in sellable condition so that it’s ready for a buyer at any moment. The building will stay in good condition, and many of the problems that happen in vacant buildings won’t happen in yours. These steps require a little time and money, but think of the money they end up saving you.

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Megan Wild

Hey there! I'm Megan, I'm a home improvement writer, blogger, and real estate investor and observer. Check out my posts for housing trends and latest happenings in U.S. and Pennsylvania!


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