Buying a home can be a drawn out process, and a building and pest inspection may seem like one of the more dreary components of the list of things to do, however building inspections are worth their weight in gold – let me explain why.

Would you buy a Lamborghini without taking it for a test drive first? Surely you’d be comfortable with throwing half a million dollars towards a car that you’ve never even sat behind the wheel of? No? Well then why would you do the same with a house?

The benefits of a comprehensive building inspection are monumental. A simple inspection could shine the light on a number of shortcomings of a potential property and could literally save you thousands of dollars. Most importantly of all, a good inspection will ensure that you’re keeping your family safe from harm as well.


What is a Pre-purchase building inspection?

A pre-purchase building inspection is a complete assessment of the condition of a property and is conducted by a qualified building inspector. The inspector will examine the property thoroughly and an inspection can cover everything from cracked walls to faulty roofs and rising damp and will include a report detailing the extent of the faults and whether they are repairable or not. Most inspections will also include a quote indicating the cost of repair for any identified faults.

Many buyers may also ask their inspector to check for pest damage within the property. This may cost a little extra, but is highly advisable as termite damage can be more extensive than what is readily visible on the outside and may end up costing a small fortune to repair.


How much does a building inspection cost?

As with most things, the cost of inspections can vary from state to state, and may even vary depending on whether the inspector is operating in a metropolitan area or in a rural environment, however a building inspection will rarely cost more than $600.

As stated before, given that your new home will potentially be costing you well into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, it’s a relatively small price to pay for the assurance and peace of mind that your purchase is sound, and could ultimately save you from the financial nightmare of a home riddled with faults requiring repair.


What does the inspector check during the inspection?

The primary focus of a pre-purchase building inspection is to check the structural integrity of the home and the inspector will be looking for any major structural defects and deficiencies. Aesthetic issues such as the quality and condition of materials and finishes are not crucial to the building inspection process, and inspectors may exercise discretion when reporting on these items.

Again, each state is governed by different guidelines on what is required to be included in a pre-purchase building inspection so you should check with your own state or territory’s regulatory authority for a comprehensive overview of what’s included.


I’ve provided a general breakdown below:

  1. An overview of structural issues

    This is vitally important, as some structural defects are near impossible to rectify without a significant amount of construction work. Buildings must be compliant with the Building Codes and Standards of Australia. This means that if you purchase a dwelling or premises that is non-compliant with the standards, you will become legally and financial liable for bringing the building up to code.
  2. An appraisal of required repairsOpting in to a pre-purchase building inspection gives you knowledge of what work is required to bring the building up to the standard you require or desire. This is great news if you’re looking to expedite the process and move into your new home sooner as it allows you to start pre-planning and organising quotes from builders and tradespeople. This is also helpful to your budget planning.
  3. Smoke alarm tests and electrical wiringThis is your future home and you want to ensure that it is safe for you and your family. Faulty wiring can increase the risk of electrocution or fire, and not having an adequate amount of smoke alarms places your safety in jeopardy and increases the likelihood of death or injury occurring in the event of a fire.
  4. Identification of areas of potential riskThere may be areas of potential harm within the building that will only be discovered during a pre-purchase building inspection. As an example, areas of the home may contain asbestos or other hazardous materials, or there may be areas of concern highlighted by cracks in the walls.Being aware of these dangers allows you the advantage of making an educated decision regarding the purchase of the home.
  5. Evaluation of any outlier structuresThe primary building may not be the only thing that requires inspection. Most people are unaware that any outlying structures such as patios, porticos and sheds also require examination!The construction of such structures requires council approvals, so in the absence of a building inspection, you risk purchasing a home that does not comply with these regulations, resulting in the demolition of the structure. This could be bad news if one of your main reasons for purchasing the home was because of the 6-bay man cave in the back yard!

How long does a building inspection take?

The average building inspection may take approximately one to two hours for the inspection itself, however most companies require at least a few days’ notice to arrange an appointment for an inspection time.

Once the inspection is complete, the inspector will prepare a detailed written report outlining their findings and most companies offer a guarantee to deliver this report to their client within 24 hours of the inspection.

If the inspection identifies any particularly concerning issues, it is highly advisable to make further enquiries to have these issues more comprehensively assessed by an appropriate expert such as a plumber, engineer or electrician before you make any final decisions regarding the purchase of the property.