Things to do before you purchase – Part 1 – Property Inspections

Apr 26, 2013
Reading Time: 3 minutes
Written by Dominic Woolrych

Contributor: Dooleys Lawyers and Solicitors.

Sydney, NSW, Australia

March 7, 2013


What is a pre- purchase property inspection?

These are inspections which can be undertaken to ascertain things such as structural integrity of the property you are considering purchasing. Examples of Pre-purchase Inspections include: Building inspections, Pest Inspections and Surveyors/ architects and Engineers. In this blog we will cover Building inspections. Keep an eye out for our blogs on pest inspections and survey reports.

The Building Inspection Report

Why do you need a pre-purchase building inspection? Most people will have heard a horror story about the property someone did buy or almost bought, which had so many hidden problems the untrained eye would never have seen. By the time a lawyer becomes involved, it may be too late to recover what they have already paid. Of course, if the story was about someone who almost bought the property, chances are they were stopped from going through with the purchase following the results of a pre-purchase building inspection. So what do you really achieve by carrying out such an inspection?

People become emotionally attached to properties. The excitement of the purchase can get in the way of good, common sense. Employing the inspection services of a qualified person such as a licensed builder, a surveyor, Pest inspector or an architect who know what they are looking for and know to look for cover ups or faults, can be invaluable. They see what the untrained eye may have missed. Their report must comply with Australian Standard AS 4349.1.

You can obtain standard building inspection report which may only be a visual inspection and may not identify significant issues. Or you may request a comprehensive report be prepared which considers the building in question in more detail and provide a comprehensive report setting out the building’s specific rectification or repair requirements relevant to its age, general condition and structure. This can help you identify problems which may be in existence now or may need to be considered in the future. You should communicate with the person carrying out the report and brief them fully as to the scope of the report required.

A qualified Building inspector will usually look at the following areas:

Roof and roof space

Sub-floor area


Doors & door frames

Windows and window frames



Check on damp & rot

Considering the checks carried out above, the benefits of obtaining a pre-purchase building inspection report are:

• You have a written account of the condition of the property you are purchasing in advance

• Significant defects or problems will be highlighted i.e. rising damp, movement in the building causing cracking, safety hazards or roof leaks, asbestos

• Illegal building extensions or alterations will be noted

• Property compliance or non-compliance with safety regulations such as fitted smoke detectors will be noted

• It alerts you to possibly costly repairs if you continue with the purchase

• Gives you negotiating power over the price if the problems can be fixed but will be costly

Pre-purchase Building inspections will not generally include the cost of repairs or evidence of pest activity.

The purchase of a property for residential, commercial or investment purposes represents a significant outlay by the purchaser.

Why risk costing yourself dearly by not having a building inspection performed prior to committing to buying the property?

Don’t know where to start? Contact us on 1800 529 728 to learn more about customising legal documents and obtaining a fixed-fee quote from Australia’s largest lawyer marketplace.

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