Pre-purchase home inspections

Buying a house is one of the biggest investments in life; it's important to do your research and take out safety precautions before you sign the contract. Just as you wouldn't buy a car without taking it for a test drive, you shouldn't buy a house without a pre-purchase building inspection. Inspections can help you avoid extensive unforeseen repairs which can turn your dream home into a nightmare, and can even help you determine how much you are willing to pay for a home.

Standard building inspections

Pre-purchase home inspections are offered and carried out by many different service providers. However, the services included in a building inspection may vary among suppliers. According to Fair Trading NSW, The Australian Standard for building inspection states that home inspections have to include interiors and exteriors of the building, roof space, under the floor space, roof exterior and the site, which can contain garage, garden shed, carport, steps and fencingi. Examining the condition of walls, doors, ceilings, framing, guttering, roof and the under floor space should be part of a standard inspection.

Carrying out a pre-purchase building inspection can help you avoid extensive unforeseen repairs.

A standard building inspection is generally only a visual inspection. Electrical wiring, plumbing, drainage and gas fitting, concealed damp proofing, fire hazards and more may not be included, and may require a special purpose inspectioni. For this reason you should make sure to pay close attention to the services included in the building inspection, and get a quote for all additional things you want to have examined, such as visible signs of asbestos problems. To rule out termites or other pest-related issues, you can also consider a separate pest inspection as well. Inspection reports that include an estimate of the cost of fixing major problems may be helpful when negotiating the contract with the vendor.

Tips for finding a good home inspection

Suitably qualified persons to carry out a home inspection include a licensed builder, a surveyor or an architecti. These professionals can often uncover faults that may be hard to identify to the untrained and ensure that the content of the inspection report complies with the Australian Building Standard. In some cases, local councils provide building inspection services. Otherwise, it may be worth having a look at the website of Master Builders Australia, where you can find links to local branches as well as a database of registered and accredited building consultants who carry out pre-purchase inspections.

You can hire a licensed electrician to inspect the electrical wiring in the house you are considering buying.

For special purpose reports, the professional support of a pest inspector, structural engineer, electricity supply authority or a water supply authority can be sought. The websites of licensing authorities in your state, such as the Plumbers Licensing board of Western Australiaii or the Environment and Sustainable Development department of ACTiii may provide a database of certified consultants and inspectors.

Before you hire an inspector, it is important to check they have adequate insurance for professional indemnity. And finally, once you do buy your property, take out home insurance to protect the investment in your home and contents.

i Fair Trading NSW, Property Inspections,

ii Plumbers Licensing Board WA,

iii Environment and Sustainable Development department of ACT, Electricians' employment,