Important Questions

Who decides if the building inspection has passed or failed?

You! No building inspector has the right to give a pass or failure. Their role is to identify problems and if necessary, guide and compare the results with other buildings of its age and type also to put things in perspective.

When should I pay for a building inspection, before or after?

Never pay upfront for any building inspection or pest control firm before they carry out the inspection. If they have achieved what they said they would and have confidence and detail in their report, they should not have a problem with this.

Does my lender carry out building inspections as part of their process?

Be aware your lender does not arrange or carry out building inspections, they do valuation appraisals only. You must arrange building and pest inspections yourself.

Should I be present during a building inspection?

Yes:

  • Spend more time to be familiar with the property.
  • Take some measurements.
  • Ensure the inspector gains access to areas they said they would.
  • Ask questions about items that may concern you.
  • See at first hand the faults to gain a better understanding.

If a building inspection service does not want you there, don’t use them!

How to spot a bad building inspection report!

If possible download a copy of inspection reports and look for:

  • Cosmetic and meaningless items identified in report.
  • Lack of major faults.
  • Repeated comments and photos.
  • Areas they didn’t access, their excuses.
  • Generic comments and N/A throughout the report.
  • Yes/no, one liners, lack of detail.
  • Lack of photos with comments.

What qualifications are required in Qld for building inspectors of pre-existing homes?

The Queensland Building and Construction Commission are the governing authority that set the requirements for building inspectors. Refer to links:

QBCC Completed Residential Building Inspection Licence requirements

QBCC license search

What are the guidelines for building inspectors and their reports?

They are set out in the AS 4349.1—2007, booklet, titled: Inspection of buildings Part 1: Pre-purchase inspections—Residential buildings
Australian Standard®

Also refer to links: 

QBCC Completed Residential Building Inspection requirements

Saiglobal 4349.1-2007.pdf

What do scope and limitations mean in a building inspection report?

These are set requirements of insurers to make buyers aware of what the building inspector can and cannot cover in their building inspection report also outlining limitations of the report. Scope and limitations are available to clients upon request.

I have had a building inspection done do I need other inspection reports?

If concerned about other areas that require expert and specialised knowledge that is not within the builders area of expertise. Also if directed in the building inspection report.

What structures on a property should be checked by my building inspector?

Anything that may be of concern and costly to have rectified or replaced or in the opinion of the inspector may present a potential safety hazard. 

Should I use a building inspector recommended by a relative, others?

Not necessarily. 

  • Ask about time taken by inspector.
  • Did they answer questions.
  • Were they in a hurry to go to the next job.
  • Was the inspector contactable, after.
  • Ask to see report, look for lack of detail, cosmetic items, one liners and generic comments, photos of meaningless items. 

Should I ask the seller about any faults noted in a building inspection report?

Not a good idea! Don’t expect the seller to tell you the truth about faults that may potentially stop a sale. Seek independent advice and trust the people you have engaged.

Should I ask a tenant about any faults they are aware of?

Yes, but be careful of what you ask for. Tenants often will tell potential buyers what they want you to hear for whatever reasons and are sometimes wrong. Take any comments onboard but only trust your inspector to give you the right advice not others that are not professionals or may have an ulterior motive.

Should I follow the building inspector around and ask questions?

Ask questions before they start or at the end. Do not chat with the building inspector during the inspection, so you do not break their focus. No small talk on current events or football only about the property and buildings. Remember it is an inspection not a social meeting!

What if I cannot be present for a building inspection due to commitments or being located interstate?

Insist:

  • The report results are to be confidential and are not to be discussed with the agent or seller.
  • They gain access to all areas (where physically possible and safe).
  • They note any items that may have been built without Council approval.
  • Any items or areas that require further investigation, quotes or expert opinion.

Why should I bother with a building or pest inspection report with all of their disclaimers?

Disclaimers are an insurer requirement and necessary part of any report to outline areas accessed, items that cannot be checked or accessed also the responsibilty and limitations of the inspector. Without them no one would be able to get indemnity insurance to operate their business.

Should your building inspector discuss outcome of the report with the agent or seller?

Definitely not! The outcome of the report is confidential and discussed with the buyer only. This eliminates arguments from unqualified and biased people. Remember that you are the one buying the property and have to live with the problems and expense of rectification, not anyone else.

Can I ask the building inspector if I am paying too much for the property?

Definitely not! Building inspectors are not qualified valuers and would not be able to advise on price. A property is generally only worth the price someone is willing to pay for it. This is usually based on an individuals needs also how much money they have.

Can I ask the building inspector if I should buy the property or not?

Definitely not! This is up to each individual to decide, based on the degree and extent of faults, their severity, cost to have rectified or replaced also the personal requirements of the buyer also how much they can afford and want the property. 

How to make sure your building inspector is doing their job properly!

  • Make sure you attend inspection for the full duration.
  • Check time taken doing the inspection (no less than 1 hour, not including consultation).
  • Watch them check: around property including structures, building exterior & interior, roof exterior & interior, sub-floor (if applicable).
  • Ensure they get in the roof and sub-floor.

What is the life expectancy of content in a building inspection report?

If basing your decision on a report to buy a property or not, the report must be current and carried out by someone you have employed, do not rely on older reports. Anything can change and sometimes for the whose even over a short time frame. Some faults may also have been replaced or rectified.

Should I request a walk through with the building inspector at the end of my inspection?

Most definitely! If attending, this can be a great opportunity to gain a better understanding of the faults and overall condition of the property and structures. The report is also likely to be more understandable after a walk through.

Should I buy a renovated house? Advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages of buying a renovated home:

  • Already done
  • Don’t have the problem of dealing with tradespeople.
  • No arranging for plans, approvals, quotes.
  • Don’t have to move out.

Disadvantages of buying a renovated home:

  • Quality of finish may not be to an acceptable standard.
  • Layout is not suitable.
  • Paying a premium for renovation.
  • May still have problems.

Should I buy a unrenovated house? Advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages of buying an unrenovated home:

  • Cheaper purchase price.
  • Can change layout to suit you needs.
  • Have choices of materials.
  • Select tradespeople that you are comfortable with.

Disadvantages of buying an unrenovated home:

  • Live on a building site or shift out.
  • Additional cost of renovating.
  • Plan the project.
  • Have the hassle of obtaining quotes.
  • Deal with builders and tradespeople.
  • Variations and material cost increases.

Does a new house need a building inspection?

Most definitely! New buildings do have faults that are sometimes built into them. Some can and some cannot be rectified. A building inspection service should also make recommendations regarding preventative maintenance. This can help you in maintaining your home for the long term.

Does a unit need inspecting?

Most definately! Units can have faults some the same as a house, although some faults may be different, this would be dependent on the type of building and its age. The common property of a unit complex must also be inspected, where possible.

Should I accept “free” building inspection reports from agents or sellers?

Definitely not! If you rely upon a report that is inaccurate and does not include major expense items. This can prove to be a costly when the house with its problems become yours and at your expense to fix either now or before you sell. Free building inspection reports can be costly from their omissions!

Is it wise to buy a house over the internet?

Definately not! Never rely upon internet or agents photos. In my many years of carrying out inspection I have never seen their photos that portrat the house as it really is. Make sure you physically look at a property before committing yourself to a contract.

Should I be concerned about any structures that have not been Council approved?

You better be! Structures that have been built without Council approval are a liability and must be approved or removed. Insurance companies are not likely to cover them in case of a claim (check with your insurer).

Can I make an insurance claim later for anything identified in my building inspection report?

Not likely! Anything claimable item that you have been made aware of in a report is not likely to be covered by your insurer. They will request copies of reports to determine if any claimable faults were pre-existing or have occured after the property purchase.

Is a building inspector likely to pick up hail damage to a roof?

Dependent upon: If roof access could be safely achieved, height of building, weather conditions, if damage is slight and/or localised, debris, moss, wet roof. These conditions would make it impossible to assess. Check with insurers and locals for any past claims made in the area.

Will my building inspector check for flooding in the area?

No, but they may note the possibility of flooding if it is a low lying area also if there are any nearby creeks or rivers. It is safer to do a local Council search of the area for flooding. It is also worthwhile checking with long term locals for possible flooding.

Does the building inspector check the body corporate records for faults?

No. This is up to your legal representative to access the Body Corporate records for what faults that they may be aware of, what funds they have available also what their future intentions with the building regarding maintenance are.

Would I need a building inspection if I access the Body Corporate records for faults?

Body Corporates are only aware of faults that have been brought to their attention by owners/tenants. Neither are experienced and qualified building inspectors. My building inspections have often identified faults with properties, buildings and units that the Body Corporate were not aware of.

Does a building inspector access Council records?

Definately not. That is up to your legal representative to carry out the required searches.

What Council searches do I need?

At least building construction approvals, plumbing, flood any nearby future developments intended by Council or others that may affect your resale. Contact your legal representative for advice on what searches are absolutely necessary to protect you.

When do I need insurance cover on a property I am considering buying?

As soon as you have signed a contract to purchase a property in Queensland. Check with your legal representative, your insurance broker or insurance company, before you sign a contract.

Can a building inspector check the pool, equipment and fencing?

Not unless they carry the required QBCC licenses and insurance. It is highly recommended to employ a pool builder with the appropriate licenses that also has a pool background and experience.

How does your legal representative know what structures need to be checked for Council approval?

A competent building inspector may note in their report items that appear to have been constructed after the original building or make comments on structures they feel may have been built without approval. This may assist your legal representative considerably.

Does a building inspection report come with guarantees?

Although any reputable person or firm should be covered with indemnity insurance against negligence. No inspector can guarantee someone else’s work without knowing precisely how it has been constructed. Watch out for guarantees that limit the inspectors liability to a monetary sum or specific faults only.

What does a floor plan with a stamp of approval indicate?

Only that a proposed building construction plan has been approved. Without inspections carried out and signed off by a qualified certifier or engineer during stages of construction an approved plan on its own is not of any use. A final completion inspection must also be carried out.

What should I expect from a building inspector?

  • Give an unbiased opinion, independent of agent.
  • Gain access where possible and safe to do so.
  • The report is confidential and not discussed with seller or agent.
  • They are available for questions after.
  • Explain areas of concern in simple terms.
  • Put faults in perspective.
  • Can recommend economical solutions on how to rectify faults.

Should my building inspector check the operation of all installations?

No. Not unless specifically asked. Be careful of what you may ask for. Be aware that any installation can work today and not necessarily afterwards. Consider this: very few items are made to last. Also remember there can be much more costly items your building inspector needs to focus on!

What should I expect from a building inspection report?

  • Recommendations on preventative maintenance.
  • Written in simple terms.
  • Highlight major and expensive faults.
  • Numbered headings for easier future reference.
  • Detailed text with references made to photos throughout the report.
  • List items that require further investigation or quotes.
  • Brief summary with an overall comparison.

What should I expect from a pest inspector?

  • Determine borer/termite activity and or damage, extent and degree.
  • If treatments are still effective or out of date.
  • Advise if any termite treatment cannot be guaranteed.
  • Are from a pest control background, not a builder!
  • Report is confidential, not discussed with seller or agent.
  • Available for questions after.
  • Provide a quote on treatment, if necessary.

Does a building inspector comment on areas of specialised knowledge?

If necessary, to a limited degree only, and from a builder’s point of view only, not as a qualified person in areas of specialised knowledge. A qualified person in the specific field must be employed, when required for expert advice and/or quotes regarding rectification or replacing of any major costly items.

Should a building inspector comment on retaining walls?

Yes, this would be dependent upon the type and height of the wall. In some case it would be necessary to employ a structural engineer for expert advice, in particular if the retaining walls may have an affect on other structures also where they are over 1 metre in height.

What areas are accessed during a building inspection?

All areas of the property and buildings from top to bottom that can be accessed without removing linings, furniture and stored items, also where safe to do so without endangering the life and well-being of the inspector; also without gaining access to private property areas.

Does a building inspector check for Asbestos?

No. A building inspector is not qualifed to test or check materials for Asbestos. Unless samples are taken and sent off to a laboratory for testing. Otherwise testing can be carried out onsite using a MicroPhazir AS Asbestos Analyzer, a device specifically designed to test for Asbestos.

Does a building inspector check for lead paint?

No. A building inspector is not qualifed to test for lead paint. Lead paint can be analysed chemically. 3M produce an instant lead testing kit available at Bunnings.

How long does a building inspection take?

Approximately an hour and a quarter or more on site, depending on the size and accessibility of the main buildings, other structures and number of faults identified. Also time taken for onsite client consultation. Detailed reports take up the rest of the day to compile.

Are boundary locations checked by building inspectors?

No. Building inspectors do not check boundary locations. If any buildings are close to the fence lines, it should be recommended that a qualified property surveyor be employed to determine their exact location. Bear in mind that fences are not necessarily a true indication of the boundary locations.

Are common property areas of units/townhouses checked in a building inspection?

Yes, in most circumstances the common property areas are checked and commented on by the inspector. Where possible also without gaining access to private property also locked areas.

Is the roof exterior checked by a building inspector?

Yes, in the majority of cases when safe to do so, even two storey buildings! But not when the roof is too high for a two storey ladder also where the pitch is too steep or the roof is slippery. In some cases the ladder may be repositioned around the building to allow for assessment.

When do I receive my building inspection report?

Usually within 24 hours, earlier in some circumstances. Be warned about short turnaround reports. They lack any meaningful content other than minor cosmetic items and often miss major expense items.

Don’t expect to receive a detailed report quickly, otherwise be prepared to suffer the consequences and pay dearly, later!

Is age taken into consideration in the building inspection report?

Yes, but age must be not used as an excuse for any fault. Faults can be compared and put in perspective but must never be understated because of age.

Should age of the building be used as an excuse to accept problems?

No! What is most important is if a building has been properly maintained over its life span. Whether faults are acceptable or not should not be based on age of the building but severity, extent and above all, cost of rectification.

Would my home insurance policy cover termite damage?

No! Not under normal home and contents insurance. To be certain, check with your insurance broker for any firms that may cover termite damage in their policy, highly unlikely!

What is a handover building inspection report?

They can vary considerably from a cosmetic only report, that can be carried out by anyone without any building experience whatsoever. Or it can be carried out by a builder that identifies major faults and makes recommendations on preventative maintenance to ensure the life of the building for the long term.

Who does a handover building inspection report?

In most cases, people with very little or no building licenses or experience. Anyone that can walk around and place tape around a building to identify only minor blemishes. You don’t pay a professional to do what you or anyone for that matter can achieve.

Should I employ a combined building/pest inspection service or a company that will arrange both?

Definitely not! Employ separate companies yourself, one that does building inspections and a company that currently operates a pest control business with experience.

Don’t rely upon a builder to have the necessary experience to look for termites!

Would a building inspector be able to find termites during their inspection?

Building inspectors have their work cut-out looking for numerous other problems with the property and structures. Builders are neither experienced or qualified to carry out pest inspections. Employ people that do termite treatments for a living.

Builders do not do termite treatments!

What would stop me from proceeding with a purchase?

This would be dependent on what the fault(s) may be, their severity and rectification cost also whether you are comfortable with the inspection results and additional outlay that you were not aware of before signing the contract to buy.

What would be the definition of a major fault that would stop me from proceeding with a purchase?

A fault that would be costly to have replaced or rectified or a fault that cannot be effectively or economically fixed.

Can I contact the building inspector after the inspection?

Most definitely! You must be able to contact the inspector after the inspection to clarify any items in the report that that you do not fully understand also if necessary, put them in perspective and compare to problems in other buildings of its age with similar problems.

Should I ask the seller to replace or rectify anything?

Never! They are not likely to have anything rectified or replaced to an acceptable standard that is likely to last for the long-term. If time allows, obtain quotes from trusted people of your choice.

Can I negotiate the buying price?

Most definitely! This may be dependent on seriousness of the faults also whether you feel the cost to replace or rectify faults have been factored into the selling price. More importantly, whether you are still interested in the property after being made aware of its faults.

Will insurance pay for major items the building inspector has missed in my inspection report?

Not necessarily. You would need to engage a solicitor/lawyer for advise on whether a claim against the inspector or company can be achieved. This is why it is important to do research beforehand to ensure the inspector personally carries the licenses and insurance, not just the company!

Will the QBCC help me if the building inspector has neglected to mention major items in my inspection report?

Highly unlikely! The QBCC will most likely recommend you consult a solicitor/lawyer for advice on what options regarding possible compensation for major items not mentioned in an inspection report. Legal action does not necessarily mean you will win and can be very costly.

Why does the seller have the right for a building inspection report that I have paid for?

This is most likely dependent upon a clause in the contract that you have signed. The majority of contracts include a clause that stipulates you must give a full copy of the building report to the seller (at no cost to them whatsoever) if they demand it.

Is the outcome of a building inspection report to my discretion and who decides?

In most cases this is worked out between the buyer and seller legal representatives or at worst, a court of law. What could affect the outcome considerably is the contract you have signed. Always seek advice from your legal representative before signing any contract to purchase!

Should I arrange a building inspection before making an offer and signing a contract?

Always the preferred way to go as this allows you to have a better understanding as to the true condition of the property and buildings after being made aware of faults identified in the report and before deciding on a price to offer.

Should I engage a solicitor/lawyer before signing a contract or do I trust an industry standard contract?

Most definitely engage a solicitor/lawyer before signing any contract so they can advise on what clauses are required to protect your interest and put the decision-making process entirely in your hands. Standard contracts have been drafted to help agents sell properties, not to protect buyers!

Do all buildings have faults?

Yes! The most important things to consider are whether the faults are acceptable or not acceptable. In other words apart from normal wear and tear, items that are major and costly to have repaired or replaced.

Can I use a friend, relative or builder to carry out my building inspection?

Definitely not! Unless: they are qualified, experienced and carry insurance or willing to accept responsibility for costly items that they neglected to mention, from lack of experience. Ask anyone that is willing to carry out an building inspection for you, if they carry insurance for negligence.

Can a Member of the Master Builders Association do an inspection for me?

Not without also carrying the required Queensland Building Construction Commission completed residential building inspection licenses also indemnity insurance.

QBCC license search

What qualifications does a building inspector need?

  • Hold a current QBCC domestic builders license or open license if carrying out commercial building inspections.
  • Have at least 5 years as a builder.
  • Carry current indemnity insurance.
  • Have a completed residential building inspection license.

QBCC license search

Should I use a builder, architect, engineer or certifier to do my building inspection?

Any one of the above providing they carry the required Queensland Building Construction Commission licenses and insurance for the particular field that they are inspecting and reporting on.

QBCC license search

Should I use a builder inspector to check a bathroom, roof or retaining wall that I have had replaced and not happy with?

Not a good idea! First determine the field. Engage someone that is qualified and experienced in that particular field to give you their professional opinion, otherwise comments from a non-expert can be disputed.

Should I use a home builder to do a commercial building inspection?

Not a good idea! Home builders are not experienced in identifying faults related to commercial buildings. Their insurer may also not cover them in case of a claim of negligence or omissions. Employ experts in the particular field to carry out inspections and make sure they have insurance!

Can I do my own building inspection?

Most definitely! To a limited degree only. Take your time and look for items that you may believe to be costly to have repaired or replaced before engaging a qualified building and pest control firm.

What to do after the building inspection?

Read the report thoroughly, contact the building inspector immediately for clarification on any items of concern also regarding any items that you do not fully understand. If necessary consult your legal representative for advice.

When should I employ experts?

When directed in the report for advice on items that require expert and specialised knowledge regarding rectification and/or costing.

Should I expect quotes regarding rectification in my building inspection report?

Definitely not!  The role of the building inspector is fault finding not issuing quotes on items. Quotes must be obtained, from experts in their particular field. Guesstimates can be very costly to a buyer after the purchase has become unconditional and the opportunity for renegotiating is long gone.

What reasons do I need to terminate a contract?

This is dependent upon the contract that you have signed also if you have had additional clauses included to give you the right as to whether to buy the property or not.

Should I ask agent for referrals and get them to arrange anything?

Definitely not! Make sure everyone that you use is totally independent of the real estate agent. This will help avoid biased opinions from people that rely upon agents for referrals also their source of income.

Should a building or pest inspector rely solely on a Moisture Meter and/or a Thermal Imaging device to determine faults?

Definitely not! These are handy tools to use to verify what the inspector should already know but must not be relied upon solely. Experience and other factors must also be taken into consideration to avoid misleading a buyer!

What if illegal plumbing has been identified during an inspection or search should I be worried?

Yes. Council authorities may consider illegal plumbing to be a health risk and do treat it seriously. Council may request you have the plumbing rectified by a qualified contractor or have it removed completely.

Plumbing in Queensland, what an owner can and cannot do

Commonly asked questions on completion of a building inspection?

  • Is it structurally sound? There can be many more costly faults than the structure to be concerned about.
  • Is there anything that would stop me from buying? Only you can make this decision after having read the report.
  • How much to have replaced? Quotes from tradespeople would be required, not guesstimates.

The pest inspector found termite evidence but they are not active, is this OK?

Active or not is important but what is more concerning would be the extent and damage they caused while they were active.

The pest inspector told me termites don’t like hardwood frames, would this be a safe bet?

Definately not! Termites will destroy any type of timber, be it treated hardwood or softwood, even Cypress pine!

The termite damage has been treated, would this be acceptable if I bought the house?

Treatment against termites does not rejuvenate timber. Same as water does not fix a house after it has been burnt down. Don’t be conned by treatment!

Can building inspectors do certification of structures?

No! Not unless they have the required QBCC qualifications and are covered by insurance.

My building inspector has identified major problems, where do I go for quotes?

Do a search on the particular problem. If possible, obtain at least 3 quotes. Request their guarantee period and limitations, also read the fine print. If obtaining guesstimates only, always ask for worst case scenario costing then you are less likely to be out of pocket.

Does a building inspector check wiring and plumbing?

Although a building inspector is not qualified to comment on these areas that require an expert opinion they may make comments from a builders point of view only and/or make recommendations that further advice from an expert is required.

Who do I ask for an extension of my building inspection?

Contact your legal representative, they will make a request for an extension from the sellers legal party. Do not ask an agent, they will most likely tell you what suits them and may not pass on the request.

How much does a building inspection in Brisbane cost?

The fee varies considerably between different inspectors and companies. It usually depends on detail and time taken to produce the report. Size, access, number of problems also structures to be inspected make a big difference in the fee charged. Tailored reports cost more than generic reports as they take more time.

Owner built houses should I be concerned?

Yes! Owner built houses do not come with a 6 year warranty through a builder or the QBCC. Although they may be cheaper to purchase initially when you decide to sell it is more often than not at a reduced price.

Are new home builder warranties transferable?

Q: I was told that because the house is new it would not be necessary to have an inspection as the remainder of the warranties are transferable. Is that true?

A: Not necessarily! Check with the Queensland Building & Construction Commission (QBCC) ph 139 333, regarding the property location to see if there are any warranties would be transferable to you.

Can unlicensed people do building and/or pest inspections?

Unlicensed building and/or pest inspector’s can legally operate under a company and their QBCC licence without having any experience, qualifications also insurance. Do a license search through the QBCC and make sure your building or pest inspector personally carries indemnity insurance, not just the company! 

QBCC License search

Will movement of a retaining wall affect my house?

No.

  • Not if the house has been built correctly with its own independent footings for support.
  • Or if the retaining wall has been purposely built to support any part of the house.
  • If the retaining wall collapses onto the house.

Paving around the house has moved considerably, will this affect the house?

Definately not!

When the footings have been dug out and laid, loose soil is placed to fill the void and more often than not the paving is then laid over the soil without it being compacted. This is a common occurence and usually nothing for concern.

When should I be concerned about movement of paving?

When it moves to such a degree that it presents a safety hazard or if any plumbing pipes within it become damaged from movement of the paving. Plumbing must always have approprate clearance around them to allow for movement of paving.

Does my home insurance policy cover movement of my building?

Not necessarily. Only if the movement is caused by other problems that are specified in your insurance policy. If in doubt, check with your insurer.

Is the building and pest inspection industry corrupt? 

You better believe it. It is so easy to understand and here are the reasons why. Where do you think the majority of building and/or pest inspectors receive recommendations and their source of income from? real estate agents! If they receive 50-200 or more referrals from the agents and one from you, where do you think their loyalty is and who their best friend is? and it’s not you!