Building inspections are extremely important when buying a house. They can save you a fortune, quite literally. When you consider the amount of money committed to buying a house, they’re a very good investment. A professional building inspection can find structural issues, hidden costs, and other serious issues before you spend a cent. The building inspection report will identify any situations which may affect your purchase. Your property lawyer will be able to advise regarding the inspection report and clarify any related legal issues.
What a building inspector does
A building inspector is a person with appropriate qualifications and experience in the building industry, usually a licensed builder. The inspector should have full professional indemnity.
The inspector conducts a thorough study of the accessible areas of the premises, including:
- Structural condition: The state of the building interior and exterior
- Building defects: Any part of a building showing indications of disrepair or requiring work.
- Roofing: Tiles, leaks, supports, and state of repair, external and internal.
- Walls: Movement, cracking, physical damage or disrepair.
- Site: The condition of the site, drainage, separate buildings, fencing, etc.
Purchasers may also request investigation of other matters, for example:
- Presence of asbestos
- Electrical safety switch
- Smoke alarms
These building issues can be extremely expensive, if problems are identified. Purchasers often conduct a pre-purchase property inspection, to reduce risk when buying.
Please note: The building inspection does not encompass areas which are outside the qualifications of the inspector. Electrical, plumbing and other systems subject to professional licensing must be inspected by a qualified person.
The building report
In Australia, the building inspection report prepared using a formal reporting method under the Australian Standard AS 4349.1, which sets out the required content and format of the report. The report will identify any areas of concern, and describe the condition of the premises. This provides purchasers with an indication of any costs or problems. The report must also specify any areas which were unable to be inspected, a further consideration.
The report will not provide:
- A cost estimate regarding any work required on identified issues.
- Termite issues
- Minor defects outside the brief of the inspection.
Making a decision
The building report provides a working basis for decision making.
The purchaser now has several options:
- The purchaser may proceed normally with the purchase.
- The purchaser may wish to negotiate the purchase on the basis of the report, offering a lower price in view of the building issues. Negotiations are conducted by property lawyers, to ensure correct procedure, and that purchasers are properly represented in the course of making an offer.
- Alternatively, the purchaser may wish to withdraw from the purchase. You should be guided by your solicitors regarding the legal issues in this instance. A vendor may seek to offer a lower price, and it’s advisable to ensure that your property lawyers handle this offer to protect your interests.