During the property acquisition process, astute buyers will generally organise a pre-purchase building inspection prior to the expiry of the cooling period. These inspections are paramount when purchasing a property to ensure that there are no major defects that could result in an undesirable loss of utility or significant outgoing costs post-purchase. Pre-purchase building inspections are also of vital importance in identifying any potential safety hazards that may exist with the property.
But what of pest inspections?
Considering that Adelaide is geographically designated as a high risk area for white ant infestation generally, it is certainly in many cases critically important to organise a timber pest inspection prior to the expiry of the cooling off period. There are many great Adelaide pest inspection companies who hold the specific accreditations to be able to legally and effectually perform these types of inspections as per the AS4349.3 Australian Standard.
Are combined building and pest inspections legitimate?
A growing number of pest inspection companies are now also offering “combined” pre-purchase building and pest inspections. Though the pest inspection industry is regulated in South Australia with specific accreditation requirements, the building inspection industry is largely unregulated. Unbelievably there are no licensing requirements for building inspectors – in fact there are no legal requirements for building inspectors to hold any formal building qualifications at all!
Therefore, these “combined” building and pest inspections should be treated with healthy skepticism and careful scrutiny. Be very dubious of a combined building and pest inspection offered by a single inspector. Admittedly there are a small number of qualified inspectors able to provide a credible combined building and pest inspection service who will take the additional time required to adequately perform both types of inspections. However, the building inspection industry is marred by a number of rogue, negligent, and dangerously underqualified “building / building and pest inspectors” who incompetently perform combined building and pest inspections. Some of these cowboys have even been reported completing “combined” inspections within a quarter of an hour! Sadly, they often manage to get away with it undetected due to the unregulated nature of the industry.
This is clearly a serious consumer protections issue that the general public must be made aware of. Purchasing a home is generally one of the riskiest and substantial investments anyone will make in their lives, so being able to rely on the building inspector that you have engaged is absolutely requisite to the process.
How long should a typical building inspection take?
A thorough pre-purchase building inspection of a typical single-storey home situated on a standard-sized allotment should take at least one and a half (1.5) hours.
How long should a typical pest inspection take?
A thorough pest inspection for the same sized property generally takes a little less time at around one (1) hour.
“Combined” considerations to bear in mind
The bottom line is this: if your “combined” inspector is a licensed builder and/or building work supervisor with rich building industry experience who holds requisite pest inspection accreditations, professional indemnity and public liability insurance policies relevant to both types of inspections, and who is also ideally a member of the Association of Building Consultants (ABC), then odds are your inspector will be credible and will provide an effective “combined” inspection service. Just ensure that you communicate with the inspector prior to the inspection being conducted that you expect them to take the additional time required to adequately perform the “combined” inspection.
That being said, in my opinion as Managing Director and sole building inspector for Summerton Building and Inspection, though there are a small number of credible Adelaide inspection companies able to provide an effective combined inspection service, the two types of inspections should generally be conducted by two separate and specifically qualified inspectors who provide two separate reports. This way you can know as a consumer that you have got your money’s worth and can rest assured in the knowledge that both inspections have been carried out thoroughly and as per the AS4349 series of Australian Standards.
Following is a set of questions that should be asked of an inspection company that will help protect you and your precious property asset prior to their being engaged to perform a combined inspection service:
- Will there be two inspectors – one for each type of inspection?
- What will the duration of the individual inspections or combined inspection likely to be?
- What building qualifications does the building inspector hold?
- Does the building inspector/s hold current professional indemnity and public liability insurance policies?
- Is the inspector a member of the Association of Building Consultants (ABC)
- What is the inspector’s policy regarding adherence to Australian Standard AS4349.1 and AS4349.3?
Thank you for taking the time to read this article. I hope that it will assist you in selecting the right building inspectors during your property acquisition process.
Please click this link for more information on SBI pre-purchase building inspections.
Kind regards, Travis Summerton
Managing Director; Summerton Building and Inspection Pty Ltd- www.summertonbuildinginspections.com.au
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The purchase of residential property is a significant decision and should be supported by an informed awareness of the physical state of the property; thus objective professional advice should generally be sought to enable informed decisions.
A pre-purchase building inspection is a thorough inspection of a home listed for sale conducted by a qualified building inspector on behalf of a prospective buyer.
“AS4349.1 – 2007 Inspection of buildings – pre purchase inspections” states that the purpose of a pre-purchase inspection is to provide advice to a prospective purchaser or other interested party regarding the condition of the property at the time of inspection.
Subsequently a report will be provided by the inspection company to the prospective buyer detailing major and minor defects as well as any potential safety hazards that may have been discovered during the inspection. The inspector will also compare the building to other similarly aged homes that have been maintained to an acceptable standard and will appropriately classify the home as either below average, average, or above average.
The pre-purchase building inspector will inspect all accessible parts of the building and any outbuildings within 30m of the building and within the boundaries of the property.
The building inspector will inspect:
- The interior of the building
- The roof space
- The exterior of the building
- The sub-floor space
- The roof exterior
- The property within 30m of the building subject to inspection
The building inspector can only observe those areas that are visibly accessible, thus safe and reasonable access must be considered. When entering a roof space or a sub-floor, the crawl space must be a minimum of 600mm x 600mm and easily accessible by a 3.6 metre ladder as per AS4349 series of Australian Standards. Similarly when inspecting a roof it must be safely accessible by a 3.6m ladder. It is at the inspector’s discretion at the time of the building inspection as to whether the conditions allow for safe and reasonable access.
The types of building defects that are to be reported on are:
- Distortion, warping or twisting;
- Water penetration or damp issues;
- Material deterioration (e.g. rust, rotting, corrosion or decay);
- Operational (where the element or component does not operate as intended);
- Installation (where the element or component has been installed incorrectly, inappropriately or is missing components).
Often the building inspector will encounter limitations when conducting a building inspection relating to areas restricted by stored personal items, air conditioning ducts, low pitched roofs, cars, or locked doors and gates (among other factors). It is the clients’ responsibility to arrange to the best of their ability maximum access to all parts of the property. In circumstances where access to particular areas is denied the inspector, those parts cannot form part of the inspection.
Organising a pre-purchase inspection prior to committing to a property contract can be an invaluable exercise to you, the prospective buyer. It will inform you of the condition of your prospective home, will make you aware of any potential safety hazards that may exist, and will grant you an insight into potential repair and maintenance requirements prior to making a financial commitment to the property. This amplified knowledge can also result in your avoiding potentially escalating repair costs if a problem is found during its early stages, and in turn, may also bestow you with increased bargaining power when negotiating purchase price with the real estate agent.
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