Home inspection mistakes

Date: 30 September 2015

With the busy Spring selling season now well and truly here, plenty of would-be buyers are out ‘kicking the tyres’ on their potential new home. But what are some of the biggest mistakes they make when it comes to a home inspection?

Chris Short from the Association of Building Consultants helps sort fact from fiction.

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, and it is vital to do your homework before making the biggest purchase of your life. Having a building inspection done by an experienced building consultant – 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 consultant who can look for problems lurking below the surface.

FICTION – A bad report kills a purchase

FACT – A report that flags one or several issues doesn’t have to 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 signing a contract.

FICTION – A DIY inspection is just as good

FACT - An inspection done by an experienced building consultant 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 consultant, 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 – 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 defence against major defects.

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 realising the seriousness of a defect.

FICTION – Recommendations made by a consultant can be delayed

FACT – There are times when a pre-purchase inspection flags an issue that might need greater examination, and a building consultant 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.

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.