The Building Inspection in ACT and Canberra, and New South Wales, has a purpose to have someone who is external to the property transaction, look at the property, and state if it represents what both parties believe the transaction is about.
Most sellers are really only trying to get what their property is worth, and most buyers are only willing to pay what its real value is. Some people in such a transaction are only motivated by money. The person representing the seller wants to get a sale as they get a percentage of the sale. So where does that leave the buyer?
Traditionally it had been a builder or architect who was relied upon to walk through a new and sometimes used property, and see if it was what the prospective buyer was expecting. Many decades later traditions have changed.
In the Australian Capital Territory it was legislated to make it compulsory to have all houses that were being sold to have a building inspection done by the seller. That inspection was to find out if the property is really what is being claimed.
How The Inspection Occurs
First the inspector has to check for structural defects. As a builder these are simple enough but have to be able to be seen. These defects are shown with evidence such as cracks and the like. Of course all buildings crack when they have masonry and concrete. Cracking also occurs when soils move or shrink as water leaves it. Some cracks open and close as the seasons change. Bricks grow as they absorb moisture.
Concrete shrinks as it dehydrates and moisture leaves it. So an inspector has to know what all these are and why the cracks in front of him exist. A structural crack, once found, needs to have the reason why it was there if found. If the inspector needs a more informed opinion, such as from a structural engineer and the like, then he must inform the client in the report and ask the client to pay for that.
Timber is also checked for sagging, and it also changes as it loses moisture. It will also deflect (bend) under pressure. You will sometimes see a roof sagging. The inspector cannot predict what the roof will do but he can report what he sees with no other evaluation, other than it may or may not need a more informed opinion.
Our inspector will look for sags in the ceiling, gaps in walls and roof and timber. They all add up to a story. But the inspector may not intrude beyond what he can see. These inspections are basic. More sophisticated specialists can be engaged and we encourage that.
Appliances And Fittings
We check many appliances and fittings. Do they work or not? We cannot say if they work well or not. But we can test if they warm up, or not turn on. We can check the electrical points. Do they work when turned on? Not all will in some old houses. Does the hot water work? The air-conditioning, does it turn on? We do not check washing machines, driers or dishwashers. The client needs to do that upon his house visit. We also do not test security alarms, NBN, farm pumps, solar panels or septic tanks. These are specialist’s inspections and we encourage them all. The same for swimming pools.
This was used to support an outside roof.
Fungal decay from water entering outside, or termites? You have to know.
We Do Not Inspect Drains
Inspectors are not plumbers so we do not test pressure. We do not say if the drains, flashings or gutters are clear, but we can say if we see evidence of a bad blockage. But the evidence must be there. We can see evidence of a leaky tap, or a tap that does not flow.
We can see ceiling stains, as evidence. But if the evidence is not there to see we do not look further. We also do not lift tiles, or cut holes in walls or ceilings. Inspectors only look. We can see water go down the bath tub drain, but we do not let the water drain through for very long. So, we cannot tell if it blocks further down.
The building inspector is not a plumber. If you need a plumber, or roof plumber, please do not hesitate to get one. It is up to the client to decide where his due diligence ends.
Clients are very proud of having a house well represented. So, before your inspection for sale, we ask that you check all your power outlets again to see if they work or not. Same with your taps.
You Can Help Your Sale Inspection This Way.
The building inspection is non-intrusive, which means we do not gouge or dig. We also do not move furniture. If there is a cabinet up against a wall, we do not move it. We might pull out a moisture-meter to test a wall, if we are suspicious. We will note readings, and we may ask that someone else move the furniture. But a Building Inspector’s job is not furniture removal. I think you get the idea.
We take photographs. Especially if areas that are closed off, like a garage of junk that prohibits a proper inspection. Same with under the house or in the roof. If we fail to get the right access, we photograph it, and note it in the report.
And if we find a leaky tap, we generally ask the home owner if they want to get it fixed by their plumber and when ready we will come back. And if all good, it does not go on the report.
Our Own Rules
We work on the Golden Rule. We will do for others what we hope others would also do for us. I do not charge for that extra service of returning – once, and if close by. But if there are multiple returns, or if it is on the other side of town, I think it is fair that the client pays some more.
Also understand that we would like the buyer to walk down the street one day, and meet the seller again, shake hands and both be very proud of the sale and purchase they both made. If that happens, then we are happy.
So, while our standard reports are short and easy to read, being a checklist, we really look hard for both parties. Oh, and yes, Nick wrote the text and made this website. He also writes books. So, he does not crave to write long building reports. There are other people who like reading his books.
Press here for a sample download of the report style, without photos:
If you need us to go to the local shire and read the building file, get those files, do a Compliance Report Summary, that is an extra cost. If you need travel outside of ACT more than 30 minutes away, that is an extra cost. We allow an hours travel to the house and back. That is generally from Googong, to Bungendore to Yass, with ACT in the centre. If your house is beyond, then it is fair that it costs more to inspect. In Australia we say that fair is fair, and it is. See the inspection prices page for the the rate.
The inspector has to know why this is happening.
Asbestos roofing shingles coming lose over a shopping complex.
Please see our Terms and Conditions page for more information on the limits of a Building Inspection.
Written by Nick Broadhurst, our inspector. For more information on Nick: See here