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Why building and pest inspections matter

An essential step in the home buying process, building and pest inspections offer invaluable insight into the condition of the property. The reports look for possible structural, drainage, plumbing, termite and roof damage (just to name a few), which is essential to know pre-purchase. 

As appealing as a home may be, there are specific issues a home can present that you don’t want to take on, such as major structural issues that can be costly to fix. But when building and pest inspections uncover minor problems, this can give you leverage when it comes to negotiating the final sale price.  

What are building and pest inspection?  

Building and pest inspections report on the current condition of a property and are designed to protect you during the purchasing process.  

The reports arm you with detailed information about potential issues before you invest valuable time and money into a property. Asking the right questions and understanding your role at this stage of the home-buying process is invaluable. 

What do building and pest inspections look for? 

Building and pest inspectors look for a wide variety of issues, such as cracks in walls, rust, dampness, mould or leak stains. They check to see if windows and doors are functional and if there are potential plumbing or electrical issues, rotting timber and pests.   

Externally, they inspect the roof, walls, large trees and fire and garden hazards, as well as external structures. The inspection can also expose any previous pest infestations, what damage was caused and how it was fixed. Finally, they will check that any extensions to the property are legal and have council approval. 

How to get the most out of your building and pest inspection 

Before enlisting a building and pest inspector, ask them questions to make sure you’re getting the most out of your reports:  

  • What areas of the property does the inspection cover?  
  • What does the report include?  
  • What experience and qualifications do they have in residential home inspections?
  • Will you be able to attend the onsite inspection?  
  • How long will the inspection take and how long will it take to get the report back? 

Before the inspection, discuss any concerns that you have. Attend the inspection as this an excellent opportunity to educate yourself on the state of the property and ask further questions and get advice or suggestions on any potential issues. If you’re unable to attend, ask for detailed photos of areas not visible to you during an inspection. 

Building and pest inspections are not a market appraisal – the inspector is only there to give you the facts about the current state of the property. 

Interpreting a building and pest inspection  

There is an Australian Standard that states what is to be included in a report, but the inspector you use and the amount you pay will determine the level of detail you’ll receive in a report. It can be a tick the box style report or an extensive 15-page report, either way, the reports are designed to expose any past, present or potential future issues of the home. 

The Australian Standard requires that defects be located, identified, categorised under a type of fault (damage, distortion, water/damp related, deterioration etc.) and an indicator or marker or classification of each defect as to the significance or magnitude of defects. At first glance, the reports can be daunting, but any good inspector will talk you through the report.  

At this stage, it’s important to remember that the majority of homes have minor issues, so try not to get too caught up with these issues. If anything, the minor issues will give you more leverage when it comes to negotiating. It’s when the home is riddled with problems or has a significant issue, that you should consider whether the cost, time and resources are worth you moving ahead with the purchase. 

Although some inspectors will assist with interpreting the report and pinpointing key issues, they can’t advise on whether you should purchase the property or not. If you need help with assessing the report, talk with your conveyancer or a trusted family member, friend or colleague who has experience dealing with inspection reports.  

Finding the right building and pest inspector for you  

Finding a building and pest inspector who is reputable and takes a thorough approach is critical. Ask family and friends who they have used recently or ask your real estate agent to recommend professionals who specialise in your local area.   

Make sure you ask them all the questions we discussed above and ask for previous reports that they have done so that you can understand what type of report you will receive from them.  

There is a lot to think about and cover, but it’s such an essential step in the home buying process. It will safeguard, and arm you, with all the information to make an informed decision before putting a final offer on the property or for when you go to bid at auction. 

For more tips and advice on getting ready to buy, read our blogs what first home buyer wish they knew before buying property, or getting ready to buy this financial year.