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Why building and pest inspections matter

So you’ve found your next home, it’s within your budget and ticks most (if not all) of your boxes. Firstly, congratulations: it’s not easy finding a property that sets your heart aflutter! However, there are a few more hoops to jump through before becoming its proud new owner – one of the most important being to have it professionally inspected.

Even if you’ve visited a property several times and it looks good on the surface, there could be any number of problems lurking beneath, including pest infestations or structural issues invisible to the untrained eye and costly to fix.

Read on to discover why building and pest inspections are essential before buying a property, while providing peace of mind that your investment is likely to be a smart one.

The inspection process

Building and pest inspections are carried out by a qualified professional, who physically inspects a property to uncover any major building problems or pest issues in areas including: 

  • The interior - ceilings, walls, floors, windows, doors and frames, kitchen, bathrooms, laundry, stairs
  • The exterior - walls, timber/steel frames and structures, chimneys, stairs, balconies, verandas, patios, decks, balustrades
  • The site within 30m of the property - car accommodation, garden sheds, retaining walls, paths, driveways, steps, fencing, and surface water drainage
  • Sub-floor space
  • The roof - space and exterior

Their findings, along with how any identified issues may impact a property over time, will be provided to you in a written report.

Choosing an inspector

Look for a qualified professional such as a licensed builder, surveyor or architect to carry out your inspection. Whoever you choose should have adequate insurance coverage, particularly for professional indemnity.

Some questions to ask your inspector:

  • Do they follow the Australian Standard for inspections?
  • What areas will they inspect?
  • What does the report include? Ask to see examples
  • Their experience and qualifications
  • How long the inspection will take
  • When to expect your report

If you can, it’s a good idea to also attend the inspection yourself so you have a first-hand understanding of a property’s condition.

Timing your inspection

An inspection should be completed before entering into a contract of sale or paying your deposit, that way, if you pull out you won’t lose out financially. Always have an inspection completed before bidding on a property at auction, as if you end up placing the winning bid you are committed to buying the property with no cooling-off period.

If there is no time for an inspection before you sign a contract - where a vendor is looking for a fast sale for example - speak to your solicitor about including a clause stipulating the sale is subject to a satisfactory building and pest inspection.

What’s included in the inspection report

While there is an Australian Standard outlining what a report should include, reports can vary depending on the inspector you use. As a minimum, any observed major defects should be listed, particularly serious safety hazards such as unsafe balustrades for example. The inspector may also give an overview of minor defects (anything non-major) such as significantly deteriorating exterior paint.

I’ve got my report, what next?

At first glance, your report may appear daunting, but your inspector should be able to walk you through their findings. However, they can’t advise on whether you should proceed with the purchase or not, which is more of a discussion to be had with your conveyancer or other advisor.

Many homes, depending on their age and condition, will have one or more minor issues which you can opt to live with or remedy further down the track. Where the issues are major and potentially costly to rectify, this can give you more leverage when it comes to negotiating the final sale price—or in the worst case—make it easier to walk away knowing you’ve avoided making a costly mistake!

The process of buying property can seem daunting but you don’t have to go it alone - speak to your local Hockingstuart agent today for help and assistance.

Discover more articles and advice on buying on our website and blogand search our current properties for sale.