You’ve finally found the house you’ve been looking for. The price is right and finances are in order. But is the house worthy of purchasing? To avoid disaster it is imperative that you obtain the services of a professional independent and unbiased building and pest inspection service. But how do you choose a building inspection service out of the hundreds sprawled across the Internet and various other forms of media. Well, as the director of Action Property Inspections, I’ve personally undertaken over 20,000 building inspections and have certainly seen the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to building inspection companies and their reports. Based on my experience, I’ve compiled what I believe to be the top 10 points that should be considered prior to engaging the services of any Building and Pest Inspection Company.
No 1. Sample Report
Ask to see a completed building inspection report prior to booking the inspection. A legitimate building inspection company should have a sample of their report on their web site to be viewed by potential clients prior to booking their building inspection. The sample report should be one that was actually undertaken during the building inspection of a prospective clients house and not a pointless dummy Sample report that has not been filled out or includes every possible scenario for every different type of house crammed into the one report. The report should be very easy to understand and should not comprise of tick and flick style boxes followed by little or no specific written commentary. Where written text has been used it should always directly relate to the faults at hand as viewed on the house you are actually purchasing. Many inspectors use generic comments that are simply cut-and-paste to make up a report.
No.2. A picture is worth 1000 words
The building report should always incorporate a significant volume of photographs clearly detailing the faults found. Whilst the text within the report should be clear and easy to understand, nothing explains better than actually visually seeing the fault at hand. The photographs will often also incorporate arrows, circled sections or additional written text specifically pointing to faults or items within the photographs.
No 3. Who the agent recommends
Independence is paramount if you wish to receive a legitimate report. One would think it common sense not to ask the estate agent who they would recommend to undertake a building inspection on the very house the agent is selling, yet it is amazing how many people do just that. Many agents have become quite skilled at convincing their prospective clients that they don’t have a vested interest in who you use for your building and pest inspection. A common ploy is to provide a potential purchaser with multiple cards from various companies. This creates the illusion of independence. They want you to believe they don’t care whom you use and the cards provided are a random sample of building inspection companies within the industry. The truth is, the cards provided are all from building inspection companies that the agent knows will usually provide soft, complimentary reports on even the worst of houses. You need to be informed of the true condition of the house and not be sucked into the agent’s sales spiel.
No. 4. How much will the inspection cost?
Like they say, if you pay peanuts you only get monkeys. It may be an old adage, however certainly one you should consider. Many building and pest inspection companies, particularly larger companies, work on volume. The theory being that if you charge a small fee you are likely to get the lion share of the inspections when clients phone around. A cheap fee however results is a rushed inspection and a vague report. Some building inspectors do as many as 8 inspections per day. Building inspection companies adopting this practice have a higher rate of dissatisfied customers and more claims of inspection negligence made against them. The volume of inspections they undertake however outweighs the cost of making the occasional pay out to a dissatisfied client. This system may prove profitable for the inspection company however could prove costly to the purchaser.
No 5. Specialised equipment required
When a building and pest inspector evaluates a house they are predominantly undertaking what is generally known within the industry as a visual inspection. Subsequently the building or pest inspector will not dig or gouge into walls etc during the inspection process for obvious reasons. A thorough building inspector will however carry the latest equipment to help evaluate areas where visual inspection alone may not be sufficient. At a minimum a building and pest inspector should carry moisture detection monitors and thermal image cameras along with other standard inspection equipment such as ladders, high-powered torches and tapping sticks etc. Whilst thermal image cameras and moisture detection equipment do not give inspectors x-ray vision, they certainly provide the next step in diagnostic evaluation that can often confirm or deny the existence of a suspected fault.
No 6. Check license and insurance details
When on site it is imperative that you visually sight the license and insurance details of the actual inspector undertaking your inspection. Whilst the company may carry insurance, the actual building inspector on site may not be licensed or be covered under the companies insurance policy. When on site the inspector should be able to produce a license stating “completed building inspection” and should also be able to produce an insurance document bearing the inspector’s name.
No 7. Building inspection agreement
For Building Inspections Brisbane or for that matter generally in Queensland, it is a compulsory component of the Australian Standards that both building and pest inspectors should provide their prospective clients with a Building Inspection Agreement prior to commencing any inspection. The Building Inspection Agreement should state: the name of the client, how much they are paying for the inspections and most importantly will document the limitations and conditions of the inspection prior to it being undertaken. The client should sign this document with both parties receiving a copy. Any building inspection company failing to provide a Building Inspection Agreement prior to the inspection, is not only not complying with the Australian Standards for inspections but is also unlikely to be insured.
No 8. When do I get the report.
Time is usually of the essence. A professional building inspection company should be able to produce a completed detailed report the same day as the inspection was undertaken. Most inspection companies would release the report the evening on the day of inspection. I would however be very wary of any company that presented you with a completed report literally at the end of the inspection or within an hour or so after the inspection. An instant report usually means that the report was a premanufactured cut-and-paste report that only generically relates to your house and is unlikely to be detailed or accurate.
No 9. Separate building and pest inspections.
The qualifications for a licenced builder/building inspector in comparison with that of a pest inspector vary significantly. They are two entirely different trades and subsequently have entirely different criteria for undertaking a building inspection. Despite what some companies will tell you it is virtually impossible to undertake a thorough building and pest inspection when one inspector is trying to cover both fields in the one inspection time frame. You should always engage a fully qualified building inspector in conjunction with a separate and fully qualified pest inspector and skip the “Jack of all trades” approach that some companies practice to maximise profit with the least amount of effort. Most building inspection companies can organise a completely independent and fully qualified pest inspector to attend at the same time the building inspection is undertaken.
No. 10. Experience is everything
Have you ever seen those ads that claim a certain business has for example 130 years of combined experience. Well when it comes to building inspections, unless you’re building inspector is 130 years old the combined experience of the company is of little benefit. The experience and knowledge of the individual building and/or pest inspector on site is what counts. Where possible establish how long the company been established, how many inspections has the individual inspector actually undertaken and will the owner of the business undertake the inspection or will it just be an employee etc.
If you carefully consider the above-mentioned criteria you can’t go too far wrong when you next require the services of a qualified Brisbane building and pest inspector.
Action Property Inspections have been providing home building inspection advice to home buyers in the greater Brisbane, Logan, Ipswich and surrounding areas since 1995. Andrew Mackintosh has personally carried out over 20,000 building inspections. Andrew is a licensed builder and licensed building inspector, Member of Queensland Master Builders Association & Institute of Building Consultants. We are passionate about providing clients with excellent customer service, value for money, honest, unbiased, thorough inspection and reporting in a professional and timely manner to allow clients to make informed decisions when purchasing property. Remove the risk of purchasing a defective property and call 1800 642 465 today to book your Brisbane Building Inspection.
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