With the busy spring selling season nearly upon us, plenty of would-be buyers are preparing to hit the real estate websites to see what new stock is about. Potential buyers may engage a building inspector because they have done so in the past or have had a great recommendation from family or friends. Others are only motivated to do an inspection if they think they can use the report to negotiate a better price. But what are some of the biggest mistakes they make when it comes to a home inspection?

FICTION – Not every purchase needs an inspection

FACT – A home inspection is one of the most important steps you can take to make sure your new home is a sound investment and a safe place to live. It is vital to do your homework before making the biggest purchase of your life. Most people would never dream of buying a car without getting a mechanic or a RACV check. Having a building inspection done by an experienced building inspector, even on a new-build home, should be one of the highest priorities for a buyer because it will assist in making an informed purchase decision.

To the untrained eye a building might appear to be in good order, but it is a far safer option to draw on the experience of a reputable building inspector who can look for problems lurking below the surface. We find newly renovated constructions which usually look fantastic but are often not built according to Australian Standards can be a disaster waiting to happen.

FICTION – I have a builder friend who can look over the building and he will do a similar job to a building inspector

FACT – I have seen the ”family builder friend” at many inspections. They rarely inspect the roof or get down to inspect under floor. They do not have to equipment to determine moisture or wood decay. You are also not covered by appropriate insurances.

FICTION – A bad report kills a purchase

FACT – A report that flags one or several issues doesn’t necessarily signal the end of a potential sale. Instead, it offers the buyer a clear understanding about what may need urgent attention and what longer term maintenance should be considered. Not only does it offer a negotiation aspect, it also provides opportunity to source estimates on the cost of any repairs before the cooling off period expires or before signing a contract.

Facts when hiring a building inspector

FICTION – A DIY inspection is just as good

FACT – An inspection done by an experienced building inspector can potentially save a would-be buyer thousands of dollars. You wouldn’t trust your own health to a dodgy doctor, and a home should be no different. In choosing a building inspect, remember that you are selecting a professional who will give one of your biggest investments a complete physical check-up.

Do your homework and choose an inspector who is competent, experienced, thorough and trustworthy, rather than just going with the cheapest option or one suggested by the real estate agent.

FICTION – the real estate agent or vendor must disclose any major defects in the property I wish to purchase.

FACT – Having an inspection prior to a home purchase in Victoria is vital as laws governing house sales in Victoria stipulate that it is “Buyers Beware”. It is up to the purchaser to conduct relevant checks to establish the condition of the property. Potential areas that may push your budget over the edge or make you so uncomfortable that you may not wish to go ahead are the presence of asbestos, structural issues, mold and termite damage. Many times the vendor is not even aware that the shower is leaking causing major structural damage or that previous termites have caused the deterioration of the structure of the dwelling.

FICTION – A home being built doesn’t need to be inspected

FACT – Even experienced homebuyers can believe that a home under construction doesn’t need an independent review of work being done. It can be a rookie mistake that can result in major faults that are not being picked up until well down the track – often years later, or when it comes to sale time. Don’t assume a builder or contractor is doing everything to the highest standard, and remember that an inspection might be a last line of defense against major defects.

it's important to have a building inspector inspection a property prior to purchase

FICTION – A would-be buyer can’t go to the inspection

FACT – A growing number of buyers are opting to go to an inspection so that any matters raised can be discussed with the building consultant and considered in greater context. This avoids a novice buyer placing an over-emphasis on a minor problem, or even worse, not realizing the seriousness of a defect. The inspector must inform the real estate agent that the potential buyer will be present so make sure you inform the inspector at the time of booking.

FICTION – Recommendations made by an inspector can be delayed

FACT – There are times when a pre-purchase inspection flags an issue that might need greater examination, and a Building Inspector may recommend that the buyer refers it to a specialist expert before the sale concludes. Ignoring that advice runs the risk of an issue turning out to be a far more expensive to rectify or a much bigger deal than originally anticipated.

FICTION – A buyer needs to sign the contract before they arrange an inspection

FACT – Anyone seriously thinking of buying a home can exercise the right to have a property inspection done at any stage during the sales process, and they do not have to wait until a contract has been signed or a cooling off period has started. Don’t forget that an offer on a property can also be made subject to the outcome of a building inspection report. However many contracts stipulate that the defects need to be major before you can get out of the contract. Be aware of any agent who won’t give the inspector access until after the cooling off period. In every case this has happened to me there was something big the vendor was hiding.

FICTION – A real estate agent is there for all parties

FACT – An agent is primarily acting in the best interests of the seller. In comparison, a building consultant is engaged to give a would-be buyer an honest, straight opinion about the current condition of the house and flag any potential issues to be considered during the sales process. Do your own research and engage an inspector you feel comfortable with.