Building and Pest Inspection Misunderstandings

Building and Pest Inspections - Common Misunderstandings

Building Inspection

When buying a home or unit it is prudent to have an inspection undertaken on the home you are planning to buy. This will identify significant issues with the home that you may not be aware of. Armed with this information a decision to buy can be made with confidence.

This inspection is actually two inspections which are often conducted at the same time. Firstly, the inspection of the home from a builder’s perspective conducted by a licenced Building Inspector is referred to in the Australian Standards as “Pre-Purchase Inspections - Residential Buildings” and is covered by an Australian Standard AS4349.1 of the same name. This inspection is also known as Standard Building Inspection, Pre-Purchase Inspection, Building Inspection, Pre-Purchase Building Inspection, etc. The second is an inspection of the home by a Licenced Pest Management Technician with a Termite Management Chemical Licence and is referred to in the Australian Standards as “Inspection of Buildings - Timber Pest Inspections” and is covered by an Australian Standard AS4349.3 of the same name. This inspection is also known by the names Pest Inspection, Timber Pest Inspection, Termite Inspection, Pre-Purchase Timber Pest Inspection, Pre-Purchase Pest Inspection, etc.

The use of all these different names can be confusing especially because the inspection is often combined into a single Building and Pest Inspection service and report.

So here is some clarification:

The building inspection and report looks at the building from builder’s perspective and attempts to identify defects normally associated with building work. In addition to defects, condition conducive to defects are also identified. These are conditions that if not removed will lead to defects. Defects are categorised into defects in structural or primary elements, defects in non-structural or secondary or finishing element. conditions conducive to structural damage. Defect can range from minor to major.

The Timber Pest Inspection attempts to identify timber pests, timber pest activity and conditions conducive to timber pests. Timber pests are termites, borers, fungal decay, and chemical delignification. Please note, ants, flees, spiders, possums, rates, mice, toxic mould, are not timber tests and are not covered in a pre-purchase inspection.

Because impediments and obstructions are always present during a pre-purchase inspection, the standards also require the inspector to inform their client of the likelihood of building defects and or timber pests being present at the time of the inspection but not identified or reported on. These are not “missed” but are defects in areas of the building being inspected that are not readily accessible. It is important to appreciate that in the “pre-purchase” situation your inspector is a visitor to someone’s home and actions such as moving furniture or disturbing sleeping people is not appropriate and this is recognised by the standard that all inspectors should be following. The extent of obstructions present and the risk of unreported defect and timber pest is assessed by the inspector and reported.

Finally, your pest inspector will provide an opinion on the building susceptibility to termites, and recommendations as to what action should be taken to manage timber pests.