When you’re buying a property you’re making the biggest investment most of us will ever make. For many, especially first home buyers, it’s a decision that pits our hearts and heads against each other. Your heart says get the one that’s a little over-budget. Your head says, hold on a minute, that’s cutting it mighty fine.
Or investors it’s a simpler decision. You want to maximize your investment.
In either scenario, you want to make sure there aren’t hidden pitfalls associated with your purchase. And that’s why you want to get building and pest inspections done before you commit.
The building inspection will let you know about the structural integrity of your prospective property. It should be a comprehensive inspection that includes interior and exterior finishes, your roof (both inside and outside), subfloor, decks and any additions to the home.
If there have been renovations to the property the inspection report should outline the quality of those and highly any issues.
During the inspection you should be able to ask questions about the property. We highly advise doing this. Many of the things contained in the report will raise questions you want more information for. There are always issues with properties and some are urgent and some not, some are costly and some not. The verbal tour will help you fill in that knowledge so you understand more completely the risks you’re going to face.
The pest inspection is important for anyone who lives in a termite zone. Termites are a major risk for any property, even newer homes. We’ve seen homes only a year or so old that have expensive termite issues. If you live in a termite area, which is most of Australia, then get a pest inspection.
The pest inspection will encompass your entire property. The inspector should inspect subfloors, roof voids, and may pull up carpet edges etc to see what lies beneath. A thorough inspection in an area like Gold Coast will almost always find evidence of termite activity. This is where the verbal tour is again very important. Historic termite activity (eg now dormant) isn’t nearly as worrisome as current activity. For instance, there may be signs of termite mudding but no actual signs of termites. You can use the verbal tour to quiz your inspector about the significance of what they found and how likely it is that you’ll run into future expenses.
A good inspector will also know what treatments have been done to the property and how effective they were. One recent tour we accompanied a local inspector, he found three types of treatment on the property in the last decade and none of them fully compliant.
Get Both An Building Inspector and a Pest Inspector
A building inspector can do a short bridging course that allows him/her to do pest inspections. Given that the average cost of termite damage in Australia is $10,00 it makes sense to get two experts. Someone with decades of experience in finding termites will be much more thorough than someone who did a short course. And when you’re buying a home, the cost of a few hundred dollars is trivial compared to what is at stake.
Get Independent Advice
It may be tempting to use the inspectors recommended by your real estate agent. After all, you’ve built up a rapport with them. They appear to be your new best friend. And yet…they have a lot at stake riding on the sale of this property. With commissions on the 10s and thousands of dollars, even a good person is going to be tempted to hide the odd blemish.
We’ve seen reports from inspectors who missed important details. We can never say whether they did it intentionally. But you always have to wonder. Why didn’t they try harder to find issues with the property? Is it because they get 5 to 10jobs a week from that same real estate company? Who knows. My advice is don’t be left wondering, get an independent contractor to do your inspections.