So, you’ve found your dream home – what’s the next step? Before you jump head first into what might be a financial disaster, you need to have the property inspected by a professional. Building inspection reports can be really handy tools when helping you to determine if a house is the right one for you. It will enable you to see the larger picture – and whether the house you think might be your dream home has any skeletons hiding in its closet.
Everything You’ve Wanted To Know About Building Inspection Reports!
Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about building inspection reports is right here in black and white, to make your home buying experience that much easier! Read on to find out more about building inspection reports and what they involve.
What is a building inspection report?
Essentially, a building inspection report is a type of report you get performed by a professional inspector before you buy a property that will tell you about its condition. It will inform you of any significant defects with the building, or anything that needs repair. Such issues usually include mould, cracking in the walls, safety hazards, or a faulty roof. They’re necessary to carry out prior to purchase because anything left unchecked might prove to be an expensive repair job further down the line. You want to go in with your eyes fully open, with absolutely no surprises.
What’s in it?
While there’s a general accepted format for building inspection reports, some inspectors will tailor the report for each property and include photographs. What’s essential is that the report complies with the Australian standards and includes all the necessary information for you to be well aware of the state of the property you want to buy.
The report should contain observations about:
- The interior of the building
- The exterior
- The roof and its exterior
- The space under the floor
- The site of the property
You can always ask a building inspector to examine a particular area of the property if you have any concerns. These might include any signs of asbestos, or whether there are functioning smoke alarms.
Areas that the inspection should cover should include:
- The garage
- Any garden sheds
- Any non-structural retaining walls
- Driveways and footpaths
- Storm water run-off areas
- Surface water drainage areas
Of course, the report should include your name, the address of the property being inspected, the reason for the inspection, the date, the areas included in the inspection and the areas that weren’t included, reasons why these areas weren’t inspected, a summary of the overall condition of the property, a list of anything signification that requires repairs, and any recommendations that the inspector might have. The summary is the most important part of the report, as you’re going to base your decision on whether to purchase the property or not on it. It should be detailed but also concise.
What’s not in it
There are a variety of things not included in building inspection reports. These can include:
- Areas that couldn’t be inspected
- Areas or issues that are outside the experience or expertise of the inspector
- An estimate of the cost of any repairs
- Pest infestation
These reports aren’t all-encompassing, but rather a reasonable attempt to identify any major problems that might exist prior to a sale.
The list of things that inspectors don’t usually examine or are only very basically evaluated can include:
- Electrical wiring
- Plumbing and drainage
- Gas fitting
- Swimming pools
- Watering equipment
- Air conditioning
- Dishwashers etc.
- Every single window
- TV, mobile and internet reception
As we’ve stated, these reports are visual inspections. If significant problems are evident or you find you have specific concerns, you may decide its worth contacting a specialist such as a structural engineer or a pest inspector.
What factors should I consider that might affect the report?
It’s important to remember that the majority of properties are going to have minor issues such as weathering, general deterioration depending on the age of the house, and cracking and peeling in regards to materials and finishes like paint. If you want something more detailed, you’ll need to ask for a ‘special-purpose’ property report.
You also need to remember that there are specific conditions that might affect the outcome of the report. These can include:
- weather or rising damp and leaks causing other problems to be hard to detect
- the consultant’s experience and areas of expertise
- problems that may have been covered up deliberately to prevent them from notice
- If certain appliances haven’t been used for some time, like the shower, it may be hard to detect any leaks or issues with them.
The purpose of these reports
These types of building inspection reports are designed specifically for the use of people looking to purchase a property. Its role is to give you an expert view of the condition of the property, so you can decide if you want to buy it.
These reports are not intended to be used as a certificate of compliance, and you can’t use them in an insurance policy against future problems. They also won’t help you estimate the cost of fixing any issues that arise during the scope of the inspection. As we’ve stated, if you require the inspector to estimate any necessary repair costs, you need to ask for a special purpose property report.
The building inspector themselves won’t be able to comment on things like the location of fences in relation to boundaries – for that kind of information, you need to consult a conveyancer or a solicitor.
What should you ask the building inspector?
Now that you know what is and what isn’t included in a building report, you can begin to format the types of questions you should be asking your building inspector. Even though it’s not all-encompassing, they are still there to help, so don’t be shy. You can ask them about any areas that may be of concern to you – such as an area behind a hot water system, or the ceiling in the bathroom, or anything that you’ve noticed that might be unsafe. At the very least, they can offer advice on what might be the issue, before you call in someone who might be able to offer you more concrete information.