This could be one of the easiest decisions that you ever have to make about your home. The purchase of a home, for most of us, is the single largest investment we will make in our lives.
Now consider the fact that over 90% of the homes sold in Australia have some type of building defect, structural problem or illegal structure. Of course these defects vary dramatically from one home to another and run the gamut from simple, inexpensive fixes to major problems costing thousands, or even tens of thousands, of dollars.
You could simply roll the dice and hope for the best or you could invest a very modest amount up front to potentially save you thousands later. So let me explain a little bit about why pre-purchase inspections are worth the time and money, plus what you should look for in a Pre-Purchase Inspection and the company behind it.
The most obvious benefit is to become aware of any problems that the home may have so that you can include that in your negotiation process with the seller. Having a certified inspector document any issues that need immediate attention will undoubtedly give you some leverage in your negotiations. Another benefit of the inspection is that it is going to enable you to develop a more comprehensive budget for home repairs in the first few years of home ownership.
Yet another benefit is that this information will help you recognize when you need to walk away from a particular home. Getting a professional assessment and really understanding the condition of the home may be just what is needed to make that kind of tough decision. On the other hand, if the condition of the home is good, it can help your confidence in knowing that you are making the right decision.
What to look for in an inspection
First of all, make sure that the inspection is compliant with Australian Standard AS 4349.1. The report should be quite detailed and yet easy to read and understand. It should include the following sections:
- External Roof
- Gutters and Downpipes
- Interior Roof (framing and insulation)
- Interior (ceilings, walls, windows, doors, floors)
- Kitchen (fixtures, tiles, sinks, taps)
- Bathrooms (fixtures, tiles, taps)
- Laundry (tubs, taps, tiles)
- Exterior (walls, windows, stairs)
- Decks, Pergolas, Verandahs, Balconies, Awnings etc.
- Outbuildings (sheds, studios etc.)
- Site (driveway, fences, gates, paths, drainage)
- Services (water lines and pressure, hot water service etc.)
It should include a detailed report of major defects and safety hazards together with a comparison of minor defects with other similar properties. It should also include an estimate of repair costs associated with any problems uncovered.
What to look for in an inspection company
First of all, they should be licensed building consultants using fully qualified, licensed and insured inspectors. Find a company with considerable experience and an extensive list of satisfied customers, including conveyance and legal firms. The company should guarantee a quick turnaround, ideally within 48 hour of gaining access to the property. They should also be willing to pay particular attention to any specific areas of concern that you may have, at no extra charge. Additionally the inspectors should be willing to make themselves available to discuss the findings of your report, either onsite or over the phone.