What Exactly IS a “Building & Pest Inspection”?

What Exactly IS a Building & Pest Report

What Exactly IS a “Building and Pest Inspection”?

For most homebuyers, this event only happens a few times in a lifetime – maybe even only once. The whole process of purchasing a property can be quite daunting even if you’ve bought before. It’s particularly stressful as a first home buyer when there’s no previous experience to relate to.

One of the most confusing elements of the home-buying process is the pre-purchase building & pest inspection.

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So let’s try to demystify the building and pest inspection process and explain: What exactly is a building and pest inspection?

WHY Get a Building and Pest Inspection?

The building and pest inspection is undertaken before you buy a property, so it’s sometimes referred to as a pre-purchase inspection. It’s an important step in the due diligence process and can give you the heads up about any significant issues the property has, such as water leaks, wall cracks, stumps deteriorating, roof issues, and termite activity just to name a few. (For a more complete list, go here.)

The report will also note minor defects that are not considered to be safety issues such as wear and tear.

You can then use the information to negotiate a lower price for the property if there are repairs that need to be done, or, if the report indicates major defects that you are not prepared to deal with, you can legally withdraw from the contract (should the seller request a copy of the Building and Pest Report, it must be provided to them in a timely manner.)

It’s important to note that a pre-purchase building and pest inspection is a broad observation of the general condition of a property. It doesn’t encompass every single aspect and is designed to give you a good overview of the home so you can factor any issues into your purchase plan.

WHEN Should You Arrange the Inspection?

In a standard REIQ contract, Clause 4.1 offers the option to specify a date whereby the building and pest becomes due. This date can be anywhere from 3 days to 21 days after the date the contract was signed and executed by both parties. (It’s usually 14 days.)

It’s important to book your inspection as soon as possible in this window of time, otherwise the opportunity to take action could be lost and you may end up buying a home with unforeseen major issues that could be very costly to repair down the track.

Book Your Building and Pest Inspection as soon as the Contract is Signed
Book Your Building and Pest Inspection as soon as the Contract is Signed

WHAT Does it Cover?

A pre-purchase inspection is a visual inspection only, and there are specific items and areas that are covered, including:

  • Exterior roof condition
  • Roof void and insulation
  • Interior walls and floors
  • Under-floor space
  • Fences and retaining walls
  • 30m of grounds surrounding the main building
  • Wet areas
  • Doors and windows (but not every opening window)
  • Drainage and paths/driveways
  • Sheds and garages
  • Hot water system

More importantly, there are things that are NOT covered in a standard building and pest inspection, including:

  • Any electrical wiring, air conditioning units or appliances (a qualified electrician can be arranged to inspect these elements).
  • Plumbing, water pipes, gasfitting (again, we can arrange a qualified tradesman to inspect and provide a report if you require.)
  • Smoke alarm condition and testing
  • Garden watering systems
  • TV aerials
  • Home alarms or intercoms
  • Swimming pool condition, water or equipment
  • Anything that cannot be inspected due to safety concerns, eg. If the manhole is not structurally supported, the inspector will not enter the roof void.
  • Anything that is concealed and cannot be visually accessed, eg. Timber framing behind walls.
  • Property boundary checks or council plans. A registered surveyor would be required to check these items.
  • Household pests such as cockroaches or ants are not part of a standard building or timber pest (termite) inspection.
  • Quotes for repairs or rectifications.

If you have any specific concerns regarding anything that’s not normally included in a pre-purchase report, you may need to request a “Condition Report”. This type of inspection can include aspects such as an asbestos survey for example, or recommendations and quotes for repairs. A licensed plumber or electrician can also be arranged as part of a more comprehensive building report.

HOW to Book?

The process of getting a building and pest inspection is very simple and easy. Just follow these steps:

  1. As early in the buying process as possible, do some research on local building inspectors. Often your real estate agent or mortgage broker can recommend someone they’ve worked with before. It’s important to get a dependable company who is local and established, and who has a good reputation. Check online reviews and Facebook pages.
  2. Call and ask questions – are they fully licensed and insured? How much experience does the inspector have? Do they take photos? Are they flexible? You may be able to make a tentative booking before the contract is executed and confirm it later.
  3. Book it! If you would like to be present at the inspection, most inspectors are happy to answer any questions from you as they go around the property. Just let them know you’ll be there.
  4. You should receive your report within 24 hours of the inspection.

WHO Should You Call?

Contact All Building Inspections today for free, friendly advice on what exactly is a building and pest, and a no-obligation quote.

New to the Cairns Area? 5 Things You Should Consider

Cairns Esplanade

New to the Wet Tropics? Here are 5 Important Things to Consider

The Cairns Region is within the Wet Tropic zone, which means it has particular climatic conditions that make it quite different to places in drier and cooler environments. The main differences in Cairns compared to other regions, particularly through the “wet season”, are intensity and amount of rainfall, extremely high humidity levels and minimal daily temperature variation.

There’s no doubt North Queensland is a beautiful area – reef and rainforest abound, virtually right in our backyards, so it’s no wonder many southerners flock to the tropics to escape the cold winters of the southern states and gain a more laid-back lifestyle. But if you’ve decided to make that commitment and are considering purchasing a property in Far North Queensland, there are a few things to keep in mind before making an offer.

  1. Roof Drainage/Plumbing – In Cairns and the surrounding areas, rainfall can be intensive for days on end. It is not unusual for the Cairns region to experience the equivalent of a southern city annual rainfall in just a few days. Roof drainage and associated plumbing therefore needs to be capable of coping with these intense rainfall periods with gutters and downpipes needing to be somewhat oversized compared to other regions in Australia. If the drainage/plumbing is not able to cope with the rainfall, the house could experience internal flooding and damage to walls and the structure. Often gutters or downpipes are allowed to overflow onto surrounding ground, and if this is the case then specific attention should be paid to ground drainage (refer below).

Another factor to be conscious of is blockages in downpipes and drains. This could simply be as a result of organic matter collecting, particularly if trees are close to the dwelling. If the downpipes or drains are blocked this may be the cause of visible internal water staining in the ceiling or down the walls. While the solution is cheap and easy- to unblock the drains- the damage caused could be costly to fix. A good quality gutter guard can be a real advantage, so if it's already installed at a property you’re keen on, that’s a plus.

Ground drainage and tree roots

  1. Ground Drainage – similar to roof drainage, the grounds surrounding the dwelling need to be able to cope with intense prolonged rainfall periods. No installed underground drainage can quite simply mean that water will pool around the house, possibly seeping into the footings and walls. Poor water run-off can compound this problem (the surrounding ground slopes towards the building, rather than away from it).

Cairns is part of the Wet Tropics and flooding rains are common in the wet season

Look for properties that already have in-ground drainage installed to assist in transporting the water away from the footings and walls, or factor installation into your budget when considering a home without it.

Cairns has many suburbs where the soils have a reasonable clay content and are not very free-draining, and the underground water table is quite high. If it’s a dry time when you’re looking at a property, the most reliable way to get information about how the grounds deal with our torrential rain is to talk to the neighbours and ask them if the property tends to flood – you’ll more than likely find they’ll be happy to have a chat!

  1. Vegetation – in the Tropics, with a combination of high rainfall, extreme humidity and warm temperatures, plants grow very quickly. With this in mind it is important that vegetation is trimmed back regularly and kept well maintained, especially if it is directly against a wall or eave. If not cut back the vegetation can readily become dense, hard up against the walls. If this is allowed, vegetation can encourage moisture and mould.

Ground drainage and tree root damage can be noted in a building inspection report

Also, any trees or plants with extensive root systems that are permitted to grow uncontrolled close to a structure can adversely affect its foundations. This can happen by either:

  • The roots sucking the moisture from the ground during drier periods which then causes the founding soils to dry out with a potential to lead to settlement of the structural footings. This can then lead to cracking in walls and pavements; or
  • Roots growing into the joints in the footings or walls. As they grow, they expand leading to cracking, impacting the structural integrity of the building.
    1. Corrosion (rust) – in humid tropical environments corrosion, or rust, can be a major concern. This mainly occurs in steelwork that is exposed to moisture. Generally, steelwork is protected by a coating such as paint or galvanising. When the integrity of the coating is affected this allows moisture to make direct contact with the steel which then will more than likely lead to corrosion. Once corrosion starts it causes expansion of the steel surface which then leads to further deterioration of the coating – and thus ultimately leading to a total breakdown of the protective coating. The resulting stain is usually the result of the brown iron-oxide that is produced through the corrosion process. This staining could be evident in such areas as the roof cladding or in steel structural elements such as balcony posts and balustrades.

    A building inspection will detail the state of a Queenslander roof

    If the corrosion is extensive the structural integrity may be compromised which may require significant work to repair. If detected early enough, even though there might be a lot of rust staining, the fix may simply be a clean back to sound steel material followed by re-coating (eg. painting).

    Ventilation – in the Cairns region during summer the humidity can be uncomfortably high. To help both from an ease of living point of view and to minimize build-up of moisture, it’s important to have good ventilation throughout your home. There are two schools of thought when it comes to ventilation and keeping cool – to use air conditioning, or not to use air conditioning. If you choose not to use the air con 24/7, cross ventilation is the ideal manner to promote air flow which will then minimize the accumulation of moisture and reduce condensation. In order to achieve this, doors and windows should be openable across from one another facilitating the crossflow of air. It is important for these opening windows and doors to have mesh protection both from a security and insect perspective. Good quality ceiling fans are also a must.

Building Inspections in Cairns. Yes we inspect Queenslanders

Sub-floor ventilation can assist with both a cooling effect as well as assisting with prevention of the build-up moisture. This is why, in the absence of modern-day air conditioning it was common for houses to built on an elevated open frame allowing free flow of air underneath (the typical old “Queenslander”).

A building and pest inspection immediately after signing a contract can highlight any of these issues in a comprehensive report. Contact All Building Inspections today to make a booking.

Buying a home and signed a contract?

Buying or Selling a Property? You need a Thorough and Impartial Building & Pest Report
If you have found a home you love and have signed a contract to make an offer, it is vital to get a property inspection report done before the inspection date on the contract. The inspection window is generally either 14 or 21 days but can be as short as seven days, depending on the contract. Structural defects, signs of termite infestation and other problems could be lurking just out of sight. A thorough pre-purchase property inspection will give you the confidence you need to go through with a transaction that could ultimately be the biggest purchase of your life.

The Importance of an Impartial Pre-Purchase House Inspection
At All Building Inspections, our goal is not just to provide thorough property inspections, but also to be as objective and impartial as possible. We regularly work with buyers, real estate agents, builders and sellers/vendors. Regardless of whether we’re performing a vendor inspection or a buyer inspection, we will always deliver honest reports. We don’t alter our work or turn a blind eye to shoddy workmanship or structural problems to benefit either party, even if that party is our client. Here’s why that impartiality is so important:

  • You can trust us. We are professional inspectors, and our chief inspector has 40 years of experience as a registered builder in Queensland and New South Wales. We call things as we see them and provide the unvarnished truth in our reports, simply because we know it’s the right thing to do and have been in the industry for long enough to understand its importance.
  • You don’t need to get a separate timber pest inspector. Building and pest inspections can be expensive—especially when you need to hire different teams to carry out building inspections, pest inspections and (if applicable) pool inspections. All Building Inspections, as our company name implies, carries out all these inspections as one and delivers the same level of objective reporting for each.
  • You can buy with confidence. The last thing you want is to buy a home only to find that it has a costly problem that is now your responsibility. Maybe the second-to-last thing you want is to be in the buying process and have that fear in the back of your mind that the house might have an unseen issue. We eliminate both concerns and enable you to buy with complete confidence.

Benefits of All Building Inspections
We’ve already mentioned some of the top benefits you’ll experience from hiring us for your pre-purchase house inspection. Our 40 years of industry experience and holistic inspections are two things our customers love. Here are a few others:
Our urgent services. If you need a buyer inspection or vendor inspection urgently, let us know. While we can’t guarantee same-day service, we will try to fit you in as soon as we possibly can.
Our clear reports.
When we deliver a property inspection report, you won’t have to have us translate it for you. Our reports are clear, concise and written in plain English, without any super technical construction industry jargon.
Our repair services. If you are inspecting a property you already own, our history in the building industry qualifies us to provide repairs and other rectifications for you. If we find any faults during our inspection, we can provide quotes for what we would charge to fix them.

Why Trust All Building Inspections with your Pre-Purchase Property Inspection
    Between our decades of industry experience, our commitment to impartiality and our versatility as both inspectors and builders, you can count on us to provide a property inspection report you can genuinely trust. Contact us today to schedule your inspection.