What Is a Building Inspection Report?

We dive into everything you need to know about a building inspection report.

While you may be aware of some hefty upfront costs that people face when buying a property, such as a stamp duty, there other pre-purchase costs you need to consider such as a building inspection report.

What is a building inspection report?

A building inspection report provides a written evaluation of a property's condition. It will include information such as:

  • Detailing significant defects
  • Potential safety hazards and
  • Notable issues (eg. wall cracks, dampness, or roofing concerns)

It’s typically conducted before a property sale is finalised, so you can identify problems that may need to be addressed.

Why do I need a building inspection report?

The benefits of getting a building inspection report done before buying a property include:

  • Helps you understand potential issues with the property before purchasing
  • Provides information that may help you to negotiate a lower price for the property (eg. Identifying issues with the property and using it as a negotiation point)
  • Receive expert guidance about any major problems and their potential long-term implications

What information is included in a building inspection report?

While the format, details and cost can vary, a typical report will include:

  • Your name
  • Address of the property to be inspected
  • Reason for the inspection
  • Date of inspection
  • Scope of the inspection
  • Areas and items that wasn’t inspected, reasons for their exclusion and if necessary, a recommendation for further investigation
  • A summary of the overall condition of the property (considering its age and type) and any major faults founds in the property
  • A list of any significant problems that need fixing
  • If necessary, a recommendation that a further inspection or assessment be carried out by a suitably accredited specialist (eg. pest inspector, electricity supply authority, water supply authority, structural engineer, geotechnical engineer, surveyor or solicitor).

This inspector will typically inspect all accessible parts of the property. This includes:

  • Interior of the building
  • Exterior of the building
  • Roof space
  • Under-floor space
  • Roof exterior
  • The site

Within the site, the following will typically be inspected:

  • Garage, carport and garden shed
  • Separate laundry or toilet
  • Small retaining walls (ie. non–structural)
  • Steps
  • Fencing
  • Surface water drainage
  • Storm water run-off
  • Paths and driveways

You may also ask for a particular item or part of the property to be inspected, such as:

  • Identifying visible signs of asbestos
  • Verifying that there is an functioning electrical safety switch
  • Ensuring the functionality of smoke alarms

It’s important to ensure you specify with the inspector any particular items or areas on the site that you would like to be inspected.

What is not included in the report?

A building inspection report is primarily focused on identifying major visible issues at the time of the inspection. It takes into consideration the property’s age and type, which can influence the extent of identified problems.

While providing valuable expert advice, the report will not typically include:

  • Areas of the property that were inaccessible or unable to be inspected
  • An estimate of repair costs
  • Minor defects
  • Termite detection (if you would like this to be inspected, consider completing a pest inspection)

A building inspector would not typically check:

  • Footings
  • Concealed damp-proofing
  • Electrical wiring and smoke detectors
  • Plumbing, drainage, and gas fitting
  • Air conditioning
  • Swimming pools and pool equipment
  • Watering systems
  • Fireplaces and chimneys
  • Alarm and intercom systems
  • Carpet and lino
  • Appliances such as dishwashers, incinerators, ovens, ducted vacuum systems, hot plates and range hoods
  • Paint coatings
  • Every opening window
  • Television reception

What happens if there are minor defects on the property?

Most properties will have minor defects such as blemishes, corrosion, cracking, weathering, general deterioration, and unevenness and physical damage to materials and finishes. If you want the consultant to report on minor defects and imperfections, you will need to ask for a special purpose property report.

Who should conduct a building inspection?

Make sure you always engage with a qualified professional with relevant experience such as a:

  • Licensed builder
  • Surveyor
  • Architect

These professions have experience in identifying any cosmetic improvements covering up faults that might otherwise be missed by an untrained eye. Additionally, a qualified professional will ensure that the format and content of the report complies with the relevant Australian Standard.

It’s important to that the person you choose has adequate insurance cover, particularly for professional indemnity. You can check whether a tradesperson is licensed on your state or territory’s Fair Trading (or equivalent) website.

When should you arrange for a building inspection?

Ideally the inspection will be conducted before the exchange of contracts or during the cooling-off period. If the property inspection report convinces you not to go ahead with buying the property and you have already exchanged contracts, it’s important for you to know your cooling-off rights and implications of exercising those rights. A building inspection typically takes around 2-3 days to complete.

How much does a building inspection cost?

Typically, a building inspection will cost a few hundred dollars. Many inspectors will offer a combined building and pest inspection service for less than the cost of separate inspections. You may end up ordering an inspection report on more than one property during your house hunting though, so it’s necessary to factor this into your budget.

This article is intended to provide general information only. It does not have regard to the financial situation or needs of any reader and must not be relied upon as financial product advice. Please consider seeking financial advice before making any decision based on this information.‍

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