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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