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Building & Pest Inspections When Buying A House

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Imagine buying your dream home, settling in and making it your own, to only realise three months down the line there was an existing termite infestation all along…

Buying a house is one of the biggest investments you’ll ever make in your life - an investment you want to safeguard. A building and pest inspection is a crucial step in the home buying process, one that should never be overlooked. After all, it could potentially save you from buying a dodgy home.

This article will take you through the importance of conducting a building and pest inspection, how much it costs, and the steps you can take if the inspection comes back negative.

What is a building and pest inspection?

The purpose of a building and pest inspection is to identify any issues with the property you may have missed in your initial walkthrough - structurally or otherwise - so that you’re fully informed about the condition of your new asset. No nasty, unexpected surprises.

Essentially, the building inspection determines the physical condition of the house (major/minor defects and safety hazards), while the pest inspection involves examining any evidence of active termites or other pest infestations.

A building and pest inspection is typically performed prior to finalising a property purchase - it’s usually a condition of your purchase contract.

What is covered by a building and pest inspection?

A building and pest inspector will typically inspect the following areas:

  • The interior of the property - walls, floor, ceiling, windows, doors, bathroom, laundry, stairs, electrical and plumbing systems etc.
  • The attic and the basement
  • The exterior of the property - roof, foundation, garage, external finishes, gutters, down pipes, eaves, decking, ventilation, fencing, retaining walls, paths, driveways, and surface drainage.

Should you always get a building and pest inspection when buying a house?

Legally, you are under no obligation to have a building and pest inspection drawn up - it’s completely in your hands.

However, not doing a building and pest inspection is like buying a car without getting an RACQ check or mechanical vehicle inspection. You won’t know if there’s anything wrong with it until one day you’re stuck on the highway and the car won’t turn back on.

When buying a house, you don’t know what’s lurking behind the walls. Identifying problems early on can save homebuyers a considerable amount of money in repair costs down the line. It also provides an opportunity to renegotiate the purchase price or withdraw from the sale if the issues are severe enough.

A building and pest inspection can also provide peace of mind. Knowing that the property has been thoroughly inspected by qualified professionals can provide assurance that the investment is a sound one. Even if no major issues are identified, having a report that confirms the property's condition can provide homebuyers with confidence in their decision to sign on the dotted line.

To sum up, a building and pest inspection when purchasing a property is important as it identifies the following:

  • Structural issues with the building
  • Any evidence of termite infestations/other pest infestations e.g. rodents, cockroaches
  • Holes or cracks in the roof or walls not visible to the naked eye
  • Any mould, rust, stains, dampness, leaks, corrosion, rotting timber, or any other kind of damage to the property
  • Doors, windows, or any other feature of the home not working correctly
  • Any potential electrical, gas, or water issues

How much does a building and pest inspection cost?

There’s no one true cost for a building and pest inspection. The fee will largely depend on your home’s location, the size of the property, and the type of package you choose.

Online platform hipages gives a general estimate of $150 to $1,200 for a building and pest inspection. Below is a cost breakdown based on the size of the property:

  • Small property - $200 to $300
  • Average sized home in a regional area - $400 to $500
  • Home in a metropolitan area - $800 to $1,000

What happens if a fault is found in a building inspection?

Unfortunately, not all inspections will return with a green tick of approval.

Oftentimes, minor problems can pop up such as a loose door, a bit of paint missing, or a blown lightbulb. These small issues aren’t necessarily anything to worry about, especially with a home that might be 10 to 40 years old.

However, if major issues are identified, it can provide homebuyers with negotiating power. If significant structural issues or pest infestations are detected, homebuyers can renegotiate the purchase price to account for the repairs or withdraw from the sale entirely. In this instance, a buyer could also go back to the agent or solicitor and request the owner fix the issue at their own cost with proof they have done so.

Generally, there are three pathways to go down when a fault is found:

  1. The contract may have an option to renegotiate the price to accommodate the cost of repairing the defects found.
  2. The owner/vendor rectifies the issues found in the inspection (at their own cost) within a given timeframe.
  3. For extreme damage, the consequence is the termination of the contract.

To chat about home loans, your borrowing power, or to get started on your home ownership journey, chat to one of our friendly lending specialists today.

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About the article

As Australia's leading online lender, loans.com.au has been helping people into their dream homes and cars for more than 10 years. Our content is written and reviewed by experienced financial experts. The information we provide is general in nature and does not take into account your personal objectives or needs. If you'd like to chat to one of our lending specialists about a home or car loan, contact us on Live Chat or by calling 13 10 90.

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