• David Benfell


Should I get a Building Inspection and a Pest Inspection?

When you’ve finally found the house that you've been looking for, it can be tempting to just buy it as quickly as possible. And sometimes that works out okay. But to avoid purchasing a property infested with pests or in terrible condition (either way, needing lots of money spent on it) you should seriously consider getting pest and building inspections done.

What is a Building Inspection Report? A Pest Inspection Report?

A building inspector will generally produce a ‘Standard Property Report’, which is a type of inspection report under the Australian Standards. It is based on a visual inspection of the property by the building inspector, who will then make an assessment of the condition of the property. Building inspections can uncover structural or design defects, or defects or problems in the condition of a property (whether of the interior or exterior). Some of these defects may be obvious, while others may not be visible at first glance or to the untrained eye. Examples of possible defects include rising damp, structural cracks, evidence of leaks, and much more.

A pest inspection can uncover things such as evidence of termite infestation or damage.

How much is a building or pest inspection?

Costs vary; but they will be in the hundreds of dollars. Some inspection companies can do both building and pest inspections, which may offer some savings.

Why should I pay for an inspection, or even two?

Finding out about issues with your dream property at the right time in the buying process can save you thousands of dollars. If an inspection report uncovers significant defects, you may be able to require the vendor to fix them, or to use them to negotiate a lower price - or you may decide that the property is more of a nightmare than a dream, and keep looking!

Who should I get to do the inspection?

You should make sure your inspection is done by a licensed builder, surveyor or architect. You should check that they have adequate insurance cover, particularly for professional indemnity. Reputable inspection firms are licensed and insured and won't be surprised if you ask about these things.

When is the right time to get a building inspection and a pest inspection?

The point in the transaction at which you get inspections done can vary, but you need to make sure it is before you are contractually committed to buy the property. In the case of a purchase at auction, if you are the successful bidder at auction the purchase will be unconditional, so any opportunity to get out of the purchase based on an inspection report will be gone. There may be still some benefit in getting an inspection done after this point as it will give you a list of maintenance and repair items, but even if it discloses that the property is riddled with termites and may fall down any minute, you likely won’t be able to get out of the contract.

You are most protected by not entering into a contract at all until after you have received inspection reports which you are happy with. That way, if you are not happy, you can just move on. However, in a ‘hot’ market or for a property with a bit of interest, the time taken to get the inspection reports may mean the property is sold to someone else in the meantime. Or, the agent or vendor simply may not allow the necessary inspections without a signed contract being in place.

So, other than with auction sales, most pest inspections and building inspections are carried out once the contract is in place. It is therefore crucial that before the contract is signed you ensure that there are appropriate conditions included in the contract about the inspections.

What should the pest and building inspection conditions say? See our post "What should my Building and Pest Inspection clauses say?"