Building and Pest Inspection Companies Compared

Building Inspector
 

Of all the states in Australia, only in Queensland are pre-purchase building inspectors licensed. In all other states, anyone can undertake building inspections regardless of their knowledge and experience. The only control outside Qld is provided by insurers who insist on adequate training and experience before offering professional indemnity insurance. This is why it is suggested that you always check for current professional indemnity insurance before engaging a building and pest inspector. Outside Queensland, there are many inspectors conducting inspections without insurance.

There are many types of pre-purchase building and pest inspection businesses and business models, so how do they differ and why is this important to you?

 
  1. The most common is the one man band inspector. They are typically older builders who have stopped building homes and have taken up building inspection as a less physical job. Their challenge is just keeping themselves up to date to acquire and maintain best practice systems and quality over time. They are also often under significant pressure of having to divide their time between operations e.g. conducting inspections, and administration such as scheduling and administration. To offer a combined building and timber pest inspection they also need to educate themselves in timber pests or team with a pest controller. However it is becoming increasingly difficult to operate with a viable two man team model because of competitive pricing in this sector. The quality of service offered by these inspectors may vary from very good to very poor, particularly as their resources and attention are stretched.
 
  1. The full time employee business model is a company of full time employee inspectors who hold qualifications in both Building Inspection and Timber Pest Inspection. In this model the inspectors tend to be long term employees and benefit from a collegiate environment to share knowledge and experience. It is also easier to employ best practice systems and training as well as ongoing professional development, particularly as these inspectors have support of an administrative back-up team so they can focus solely upon their inspections. With the stability of this type of organisation it is much easier to maintain a high standard or quality and service. The downside is that the business may be less flexible when it comes to handling the ups and downs of business conditions and the vagaries of the housing market.
 
  1. The Subcontractor model involves an individual or group who focus on marketing and sales. Once a sale is made the work is then passed on to a subcontractor to do the inspection and write the report. These sub-contractors often experience the same stresses as the one man band inspector and are driven to follow where the work leads them so that they can be inconsistent in their work. As a consequence, the businesses running this model often have difficulty in maintaining quality as sub-contractors come and go but have the advantage to the business that sub-contractors can be dropped if the market experiences a downturn. 
 
  1. The Franchise model involves an individual or group who have developed a marketing and business system. Sales are often made by a central “call centre” then work is passed on to a franchisee to make arrangements, do the inspections and write the reports. The challenge of this model is maintaining quality across franchisees who have basically bought their job rather than having been selected on their skills and experience. Therefore, in this model there are elements of the problems faced by one man band and sub-contractor models exacerbated by friction caused by franchisees having made a significant investment and perhaps given unreal income expectations. 
 
  1. The Aggregator model is where a digital marketing organisation gets prospective clients solely from digital marketing, presents these opportunities to inspection businesses who competitively bid to do the work and then offers these bids to prospective clients. This introduces a third party into the transaction which needs to be paid from the price you pay. Unsurprisingly, because the inspector is getting less for each job, quality often suffers as profit margins are squeezed and pricing is encouraged as a race to the bottom.