Imagine finding your dream home only to discover there’s some serious issues with the property. It might be problems with the roof, water-proofing concerns in the bathroom or some dodgy paving that could prove a serious hazard. This is why building and pest inspections are so important to do before you purchase a house. A qualified inspector will be able to highlight any minor and major defects – the sorts of things you probably won’t pick up yourself at an open inspection. You’ll then be able to determine whether you’re prepared to fork out the money required to fix these problems, if you can negotiate a lower price or if you should walk away altogether.

We’ve enlisted the help of Noel Flounders, from Adelaide Property Inspections, to answer some of the most commonly asked questions on this topic.

What is a building inspection?
A building inspection will provide you with an idea of the repairs, maintenance, or other problems a house might have. You’ll likely have an emotional investment in the property – but the building inspector won’t. They’ll take an unbiased approach and are independent from the individual buying/building process. They’ll tell it like it is.

What should I do before I get a building and pest inspection?
  • Before you put in an offer, ask your real estate agent some important questions. - Has the property had any pest control treatments?
  • Have any major repairs been carried out?
  • Have these renovations/modifications been approved by the council?
If you’re planning to bid at auction, ask these questions well ahead of auction day.

When should a building and pest inspection take place?
Once the real estate agent has answered the above questions above and your offer has been accepted, it’s time to get a qualified building inspector involved. Make sure you get this done within your cooling off period. You can also ask the real estate agent to make the contract subject to you obtaining and being satisfied with a building inspection, if the vendor agrees. If you’re buying at auction, make sure you have the inspection done ahead of the auction because once the gavel has gone down, the property is legally yours.

What qualifications should a building and pest inspector have?
Buying a home is likely the biggest purchase you’ll ever make, so it’s important you get the right building inspector to examine your potential purchase. In South Australia, inspectors don’t need a licence or insurance – so it’s vital you do your own research. You’ll need to check if they have professional indemnity insurance and public liability insurance, if they are licenced and a member of any professional associations. This includes the Masters Builders Association and the Association of Building Consultants.

What else do I need to know about the inspection process?
A quick turnaround is crucial. But, in saying that, the building inspector needs to spend a decent chunk of time at the property. Ask how long the inspection itself will take – any response of less than a few hours should ring alarm bells. Most inspectors should also allow you to attend the last thirty minutes of the inspection and walk you through what they’ve found. This can also help make sure you don’t misinterpret what’s in the written report. You should also make sure you’re emailed the final report so you have a record and can plan for any repairs post-sale. How much does a building inspection cost? Costs vary depending on the inspector and the size of the house. For a standard, three bedroom house in metropolitan Adelaide, for example, you’re probably looking at around $500.

If I’m looking at a newly built property, I don’t need a building inspection. Right?
Wrong. This is a common misconception. Time constraints can put builders and contractors under the pump – and sometimes they’ll rush or miss important details. We’ve previously found paint defects, drainage problems and guttering shortfalls in homes that are almost brand new. No matter how new the house is it always pays to get a building inspection. It’s also important you ask the real estate agent if the structural warranty transfers over to you. Some companies will only allow the warranty to be held by the original owner.

Takeaway message
Don’t buy a house without getting a building and pest inspection first. Research the inspector to make sure they are qualified and thorough. If you were buying a car, you wouldn’t leave the showroom in it if it had even a few dings. Take this same approach to your potential new home and you’ll be on the road to success.