Nowadays a Building and Pest Inspection has become almost a prerequisite to buying a home. This is wise considering the enormity of your financial decision. That's why a detailed, independent Building and Pest Inspection Report is an important information tool to assist you in your decision making. But what separates a good report from a mediocre one?
For a start, your Building and Pest Inspection and Report should be conducted according to Australian Standards AS 4349.1 and AS 4349.3. In keeping with these, a Building and Pest Inspection is a visual-only inspection with limited tests including probing and tapping of the property's readily accessible and unobstructed areas only, to detect timber pest activity and damage, structural damage, conditions conducive, which if not rectified may result in timber pest and structural damage, any major defects to the condition of secondary and finishing elements, collective minor defects and any serious safety hazard noticed by the inspector at the time of inspection.
Your report may mention the property's overall quality of construction & maintenance, however it will not include an extensive itemisation of maintenance, decorative and finishing items, but may address these minor items generally or collectively. Rather, the emphasis, from a Building Inspector's point of view, will be upon more significant structural and timber pest issues, together with conditions conducive. As an alert to your solicitor for necessary searches, your report may note whether additions, extensions and improvements have been undertaken. Compliance problems may be alerted, but only for further investigation by an appropriately qualified certifier, because a Building and Pest Inspection is not a compliance audit. Serious safety issues may also be highlighted, although a Building and Pest Inspection is not a safety audit.
Because Building and Pest Inspections are visual-only with limited testing, they are not intrusive. Despite best efforts, a Building Inspector will only be able to inspect areas that they can actually access and see – perhaps providing an opportunity for vendors to occasionally hide issues. For this reason, a good report will clearly set out the inspections' scope and terms and conditions within your report so that you clearly understand the context of your report's findings. Areas that were inspected within the property, inaccessible and obstructed areas that were not inspected, and obstructions should all be set out along with the inspector's rating of the building's susceptibility to timber pests at the time of inspection, the rating of the building's risk of undetected timber pest activity and damage at the time of inspection, the rating of the building's risk of undetected structural damage at the time of inspection and how these ratings were derived.
A good report should then take you step by step through the property to address safety hazards, and significant defects (and less so, minor items) where each defect should be clearly described with its location, it's extent whether localised or widespread, with an accompanying picture and recommendations including which professional should be consulted for further advice, and in what timeframe.
A good report should be set out in an orderly, easy to read fashion, with supporting photographs and lots of assisting information. The clearer and more methodical the layout of the Reports, the easier it will be for you to understand its content and read it in its entirety. The more comprehensive, the more information you have to help you make your decision. It's always a good idea to examine a sample report to see what you'll be getting for your fee. Most reputable inspection companies should include these on their website for you to peruse. View our example Building & Pest Inspection Reports.