Having a building inspection may be a stressful event but being prepared and understanding what happens during the inspection can significantly ease your fears.
A building inspector compares the condition of your home and property with properties of similar construction and age.
Professional building inspectors may be hired by either a buyer or a seller to inspect a home before a sale. A pre-purchase inspection is usually initiated by the buyer who wants to be assured that there are no major defects or unreported problems with the building.
A pre-sale inspection is initiated by the seller who wants to demonstrate that the property is sound.
Building inspectors also undertake special-purpose reports as requested by either a buyer or a seller that examine particular elements of a property.
Clients may also ask for separate pool and pest inspection or combine these as part of a pre-purchase or pre-sale inspection.
What are the Advantages of a Building Inspection?
A building inspection is a useful and sensible tool for both the seller and the buyer.
The inspection is undertaken by an independent, licensed inspector who looks at the condition and integrity of a property and provides a written report of findings.
Inspections are in accordance with Australian standards and detail potential safety hazards, major defects and significant problems. The report includes recommendations about how to bring problems identified up to a proper standard.
There are several reasons to conduct a building inspection. The inspection helps the seller by identifying defects or problems that may not be known. This gives the owner the opportunity to remedy them before completing the sale.
The inspection helps the buyer by verifying that a property is in good condition and does not have any major defects. If major problems are identified, the report can serve as a means of negotiation between the buyer and seller.
If an owner does not want to correct problems identified, the buyer and seller may choose to adjust the price, or the buyer may agree to complete the repairs as a condition of sale.
Preparing a Property for a Building Inspection
There are several ways a seller can prepare for an inspection. Most important is to make sure that the inspector has access to all elements of the property.
Remove barriers such as furniture or cartons that cover entry points to the interior roof space or below-floor areas.
Unlock the garage and other outbuildings. Keep pets tied or penned so that the inspector is free to move about.
The inspector needs to see the condition of interior and exterior walls and have access to the attic and sub floor spaces. The inspection will look at:
- Roof exterior
- Attic space
- Flooring and sub flooring space
- Condition of the walls, including evidence of rising damp
- Garages and outbuildings
- Exterior of the property
The exterior will be examined for drainage, slope, placement and condition of vegetation, fencing, retaining walls, driveways and walkways.
Improve The Appearance of the Property
The overall appearance of well-maintained property is reassuring to a buyer.
A seller can do simple maintenance tasks that will improve the appearance and condition of the property. One of the simplest is to clean the home and remove clutter. Clean out closets so that storage space can be seen. Put clothing away.
Here are several maintenance tasks that can be done as part of preparing for a sale and inspection:
- Clear the garden of leaves and debris.
- Mow the grass.
- Remove tree stumps and trim vegetation.
- Remove exterior clutter such as garden equipment, wood piles, pots and tools.
- Tighten doorknobs, hinges and latches.
- Replace screens that have holes or are otherwise damaged.
- Make sure window glass is in good shape.
- Test smoke detectors.
- Make sure plumbing fixtures such as taps and toilets are in good working order.
- Clean guttering and make sure downspouts are functional.
- Repair flashing.
- Weatherstrip around leaking doors and windows.
- Make sure windows and doors open and close properly.
- Clean out the garage.
Other tasks may involve hiring a professional:
- Have the air conditioner and furnace serviced so that they work at peak efficiency.
- Check for signs of water leakage or mildew around bathroom and kitchen faucets and drains. Repair leaks and faulty fixtures.
- Repair exterior siding if needed. Repoint bricks if needed.
- Paint the exterior for an inviting, clean look.
- Clean or repair the driveway.
- Check the septic for leaks.
- Replace old bathroom fixtures.
- Make sure fencing is in good shape.
- Modify site drainage patterns to route surface water away from the structure.
How To Identify Major Building Defects
The inspector will look for major problems and defects including:
- Evidence of mould and mildew
- Poor site drainage
- Compromised foundation
- Rising damp
- Evidence of termites or other wood-boring pests
- Evidence of moisture in the crawlspaces
- Rotted timber in sub flooring, floor joists or attics
- Buckled flooring
- Cracks in the foundation or load-bearing walls
- Deteriorated roof coverings
- Moisture in the roof cavity
- Poor condition of bricks
- Flaked or missing pointing
If the buyer initiated the inspection, allow the buyer to interact with the inspector.
The buyer may ask questions about visible defects or request that specific elements of a property be examined. Good communication between the inspector and the buyer can help clarify the extent and severity of problems.
Although minor cracks in a wall may look like a major problem to a buyer, an inspector should be able to explain why visible cracks in the walls of an older property may not be a cause for concern. This dialogue can help allay a buyer’s misgivings.
Assemble Important Property Documents
Make sure that you have all titles, certificates and other paperwork associated with your property.
Assemble records of major repairs done by contractors such as roof repairs, renovations or termite treatment. Be able to show proof of the age of the home and ownership.
Show warranties and service records for appliances such as air conditioners and dishwashers. Keep utility and fuel bills that show expenses over the period of a year.
What is in A Building Inspection Report
The inspector will summarise the methods used to examine the property in a written report. The report will list areas not examined and why.
For example, if the weather is bad, the inspector may not be able to go onto the roof. The report will also list major defects or problems identified.
Minor problems may not be detailed. The report should provide recommendations for remedial actions to rectify major problems.
If signs of damage are present that require investigation by a specialist, the inspector may suggest more extensive analysis to clarify the extent of damage.
For example, if there is evidence of damage by termites, the inspector may recommend a pest inspection to determine if the damage is old or if termites are active.
If you prepare in advance for a building inspection and complete repairs that you know about, your property should be attractive to a buyer. The purpose of an inspection is not to give a buyer an excuse to demand a lower price.
Instead, it lets both the owner and buyer know that the property is in good condition and affirms the attractiveness of the sale.