So how does commercial property really stack up against residential in relation to depreciation?
While we have covered the differences between the two, there are also some similarities.
For example, the higher the quality of the commercial property the higher the depreciation. And the taller the building in commercial property, the higher the depreciation allowance. This is the same for residential property. Also, similar to residential property, the newer the building, the higher the depreciation allowance will be.
Let’s now crunch some numbers, using the Washington Brown depreciation calculator.
Note, also, that you will get more depreciation on a commercial suite than a factory unit or warehouse depreciation schedule). This is because a factory unit does not have as much plant and equipment. It is nearly all made up of concrete and steel.
In short, if you are the tenant in a commercial property, and think now might be a good time to become the owner-occupier, don’t forget to claim those tax depreciation allowances available to you as a landlord.
Or if you’re an investor, don’t exclude commercial property as an option. The depreciation is still beneficial as yields can be higher.
Let me share with you two projects we’ve worked on across various sectors. Including commercial, hospitality, retail and office/warehouse to illustrate the depreciation benefits for different investors.
CASE STUDY: Lend Lease
When I started way back when, never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be preparing reports for a multi-national company like Lend Lease. But I’m proud to say, over the years we have prepared many reports for them. From multi-million dollar shopping centres in Victoria and New South Wales, to factories in Queensland, and retail warehouses in New Zealand. Lend Lease likes that we go the extra mile.
The key to preparing depreciation reports on these types of commercial properties lies in the research.
For example, Lend Lease purchased a 20,000 square metre shopping centre in Port Macquarie. The site had already undergone multiple upgrades over various years. One approach would have been to visit the site and make an estimation based upon any drawings we might have been provided with, inspect the site and discuss any changes that may have occurred with the building manager. But I always find that you need more than that.
With large projects such as a commercial shopping centre, you should always contact the council and sift through the endless archival documentation they have. This can sometimes take a whole day. There can literally be hundreds of files to sift through as each time a new tenant moves in and out, council generally has records of that move. Every time the previous building owner made changes to the building, council will have recorded the event. The advantage of going to council is that you ascertain when and what type of upgrades were completed. Sometimes the information even includes the estimated cost of the upgrades and plans of the work that occurred. This builds up a great case to go back to the client and say, “Look at all this extra stuff we discovered you can claim, and here’s how we can prove it.”Lend Lease liked that.
CASE STUDY: Ford Factory
When I first started preparing depreciation reports, I initially focused on residential investment property. Not because the reports are that different, we just hadn’t been engaged to prepare reports for commercial property. So when one of my mentors, the distinguished quantity surveyor Jim Ford, offered me the opportunity to work with him on the depreciation report of a Ford factory in Queensland, I jumped at the chance.
Off I flew to Jim’s office in Brisbane and started work on this project. I had never been to another quantity surveyors’ office before and I have to admit I was nervous.
I sunk my teeth in. The more I researched the part of the Tax Act relating to the manufacturing industry, the more areas I found where we could save our client money.
Remember, this was early on in the game. There were very few quantity surveyors specialising in this area. I discovered a little known part of the Tax Act that allowed this type of factory to claim building allowance at a rate of 4% per annum in comparison to the standard 2.5% per annum. You may think 1.5% doesn’t sound like a lot, but on a $10 million construction cost – that’s an extra $150,000 the client could write off every year.
Both Fords were very pleased.