Canberra Building Inspections. Lake Burley Griffin and parks and trees.

Practical Completion Inspection

My Canberra Building Inspections ACT

This Inspection Report can be long

This is an important Inspection

The Practical Completion Inspection is offered to the client at the end of construction. It can be after the house is built, or it can be after the unit is finished. In both cases the client has bought a home and it is finished.

The home may be a unit bought off the plan or the home may be one that the owner commissioned a builder to build.

Pre Settlement Inspection

If the home is bought off the plan, the building developer may call this a Pre Settlement Inspection. It is the same inspection.

Here is a brief summary But the inspector is simply going to go through the building, as he normally does, and see what is not completed. There are things often unfinished that even the builder is unaware of, such as the tops of doors, are they painted? The manufacturer will not warrantee a door unless so painted.

Is the back of the wash trough wall painted? If they they are not they should be.

We use a night light to test all the power points. Sometimes they are not all working. Do all lights work?

We will check for paint runs, overpaint, scratches and so on.

Are all the taps all working? Doors close right? Privacy latches working etc?

We will check the brickwork outside, and anything else external.

We will look for what is there that should not be, and is there something not there that should be. Plus a lot more.

We will blue-tape it all if needed so rectification work can begin. And we will photograph it all to go in the report.

This name, Practical Completion Inspection, is selected because the building is not really completely finished. But it is practically finished.

Multi Storey Units bought off the Plan

With multi storey units bought off the plan, the garages are possibly not finished, and the storage areas are sometimes not finished.

Often the inspector is not invited down there to view the multi car basement levels as they still have workmen there. Also the building entry and foyer may still be a building site.

Sometimes the community landscaping may not have even started. But that is usual.

However, the unit itself is ready to be inspected. And by inspecting it the owner is attesting that his property is finished and completed inside, subject to whatever is found to fix.

Ninety Day Defects Liability Inspection

Please know that your inspection of 90 days afterwards – usually timed after your handover, or after you move in. It is not the same inspection as the Practical Completion Inspection.

If you have accepted the painting standard now, having already inspected it before handover. You cannot come along ninety days later, now having lived there, and now bring up all those things you should have brought up before. That has to be done at Practical Completion.

The ninety day inspection, unless written otherwise into the contract, is for those parts of the building that have faulted as defects in the first ninety days.

In the pre-settlement inspection you have approved of the standard, except what you nominate to be fixed.

Why This is Done Now at This Time

After you move in, if you do not think the painting is all good and you do not like the tile grout smudges, and you do not approved of the scratches on your sliding door frames, understand that if you have already approved these earlier at practical completion, it will be hard to get the builder to agree to fix them now.

And, unless you have a contract that says you can look and revisit all those same defects again, it is very probable that you cannot, regardless of what someone might tell you verbally.

If someone gives you verbally what to do, follow that up with a polite email accepting it, or otherwise.

The reason is simple. This Practical Completion Inspection is done when there is still a building site. Elevators are dedicated to construction in a multistory project.

Teams of painters and the like are there fixing other units up. It is not expensive to fix your faults when the same people are there doing work on the site. But to come along when you have moved in is very expensive for the builder.

The same works with a house too.

Later Costs Increase

After the building has been handed over the occupation, the costs to fix have trebled, or maybe are even ten times more.

So, please make sure that you take full advantage of this inspection opportunity.

Also, always get what is said put in writing if someone tells you otherwise. And that means that if the other party will not write it, then you put it in writing what is said and you send that to the other party.

Further, if in doubt, please consult your lawyer.

Practical Completion Inspection

All the photos below were taken at the Practical Completion Inspection stage.

The inspection is for homes that are practically complete. It is a very legal definition. It is when the building – for all extent and purposes – is livable in a practical sense.

The Housing Industry Association has a good definition.

‘Practical completion’ means when the building works are complete except for minor omissions and defects that do not prevent the building works from being reasonably capable of being used for their usual purpose.

What happens when you reach practical completion?

Again, below are the quoted recommendations for the builder from the Housing Industry Association.

“At least five days before you actually reach practical completion you must give your client a notice of practical completion. The notice must: 

  • state what you believe will be the date of practical completion
  • state a date and time to meet your client on site to inspect the building works
  • have attached to it your final progress claim.”


“When you meet your client on site to inspect the works, your client must either:

  • pay the final progress claim, or
  • give you written notice stating what he/she believes needs to be completed or rectified before practical completion is reached. 

If your client pays the final progress claim, the date of practical completion is that stated in your notice of practical completion. 

If your client gives you a list of things to be done for the works to reach practical completion you can either: 

  • do those things that your client wants done and then give your client another notice of practical completion


  • give your client a written notice rejecting your client’s claims and referring the matter to dispute resolution.”

Defect Examples

Some items not practically complete are as follows:

The gutter does not have its downpipe.

The gutter needs to discharge into its downpipe.

Downpipes are not connected.

But the downpipe is not there connected to the stormwater.

A building without fly wire windows is not practical to live in. Nor is a home without its taps. The same goes for having lights that do not work, smoke alarms not working or not even having a driveway.

Definition of Practical

A good definition of practical is: of or concerned with the actual doing or use of something rather than with theory and ideas.

Not finished in the garage.

The door jamb is not completed down the bottom.

This stage does not mean that the building is completely finished. But it seems to be finished, and it seems that one can now take it as finished and it can be occupied even though things will be found to fix.

To help with this we have an inspection. And in it we will include all those things we find that do not comply with standards. We photograph the things that are not finished. We put them in the report. It can be what we have mentioned, but it can also include minor scratches, chips, and obviously defective tradesmanship.


If the painter left drips on the skirting, that needs to be fixed. If a door does not close it needs to be fixed. And, if the screen doors are scratched they need to be repaired. Most builders use common sense and will not fight you.

A general easy to understand rule for the builder would be, what would he think if he was the client? Would he accept that work for his own home? Honest people understand this. And that is most of us. After all, it is your expectation. But it is also good to put in the contract what to do with minor defects.

The ceiling patch has not been finished.

The patch on the ceiling is not completed.

Even if you are being seen through the property by a representative of the builder, most understand this as they are people too, and they all want nice homes to live in.

Brickwork more splatter, paint splatter all needs cleaning.

These bricks need more cleaning so as to finish.

What Else is in This Stage?

This section usually brings already built items that are not finished inside, like heating and cooling commissioning, installing oven and hot plates, floor coverings not finished, sealing, such as shower screens, flooring and the like to a completed finality. It includes putting up downpipes and connecting them to the stormwater. It includes installing driveways, paths and landscaping.

In general the inspection does not include inspecting works inside the roof space. But it can be arranged as a separate inspection if wanted in a pitched roof and the ceiling manhole is less than three meters in height.

Rubbish on site

The rubbish needs clearing away.

The Builder

Note that most builders are generally good. It is not easy to get that license. Some will have a rule, just keep the client happy and give them what they want. For some, reputation is important – and it should be. Some however will be tighter. Some might also be going bankrupt. You just may not know.

So, there are codes that tell you what you can ask for to be fixed. We generally just stay inside those codes.

And above all, understand that not all people are perfect. Some are also more error prone. Build that into the equation as well.

One last thing to remember is this. There is a Building Certifier, and what he does is certify that the building is built to the building codes. He is also on your side, even if employed by the builder. Do not be afraid to contact him. See more here.

Extra Reading

There is more here on this Access Canberra page on how to resolve disputes.

“As soon as you identify an issue or have a concern, raise this with your builder in writing. Your builder should take steps to address your concerns. If the issues are not resolved and are about building or planning of a technical compliance nature, and construction is still underway talk to your building certifier and consider making a complaint to Access Canberra. The building certifier is appointed by the land owner and not the builder. They work in the interest of achieving compliance with the relevant building and planning laws.”

More Here

“If your concerns relate to your contract, such as issues with payments, quality of inclusions, or communication, you can contact:

Full List of Building Stages

Also see more about the full list of building stages and contracts below. We would recommend five of those be inspected. The bigger the house the more inspections we recommend you have.

     Your Building Contract

     Slab Inspection

…..Frame Inspection

…..Façade Inspection

…..Roof Inspection

…..Lock Up Inspection

…..Pre Lining Inspection

…..Fixing and Fit Off Inspection

…..Practical Completion Inspection

…..Ninety Day Defect Liability Inspection

Worksafe ACT

To report unsafe work practices, such as faulty scaffold, please contact Worksafe ACT.

We hope this page helps you.

Written by: Nick Broadhurst, building inspector, registered Class A Builder, Bach. Arch. UWA. For more information on Nick: See here

Nick Broadhurst building inspector on top of a roof.

Call us today for your next Building Inspection.

We will answer your questions. Our Building Inspector is registered here at Access Canberra. No. 111.

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