- Real Estate
What Inspector Building Inspection Services Are Available?
Houses Inspected Can Be Old or New
The Building Inspection
Building inspections have arisen mostly since the role of the architect has vanished from all but the most prestigious of homes. The word architect comes from arkhi – Greek for chief – and tecton, Greek for builder. The architect was the chief builder in days gone by. Today that role seldom exists. Today the builder is no longer considered the architect of the home he builds. Thus Building Inspectors have stepped in to fill a vacuum.
There are inspections simply to determine if a house is ready for purchase or what its building faults are. This is often initiated by the purchaser but sometimes the vendor can order it. This is most commonly known as a pre-purchase inspection.
Here the inspector will look for major significant defects of the property, list them if found, and also list any other defects, taking into account the age of the house and the circumstances that the house is in.
The inspector will not necessarily list everything wrong with a property, every scuff mark and every scratch. A house fifty years old would have too many. But in a brand new house, where there are expected to be no blemishes, then all marks could be noted.
The next inspection could be a special inspection. This can come about because of some special reason the client wants a property inspected. Possibly the client sees a very large crack and wants it checked out, and the rest of the house too. Maybe the real estate agent has not convinced the potential buyer that the crack in the concrete is really just nothing. Or perhaps there is a note in the body corporate minutes that there was a leak years ago, and the purchaser’s attorney want to be sure it is not present. These have been real cases.
Timber Pest Inspections
The next inspection is a timber pest inspection. Here the inspector might not be the building inspector. It might be a termite specialist who exterminates termites. But sometimes they can be building inspectors too.
Termites can be a problem as they can be hard to find and can be difficult to eradicate. And termites are a necessary part of our environment. They dispose of broken trees and vegetation. However, we do not want them in our homes destroying our walls and roofs.
Termites are in all countries where there is timber. They are part of the cockroach family. They are not white ants. The term “white ants” is a misnomer. Ants actually come from the wasp family. If found, get a professional to get rid of them.
In addition to termites there is borer, and mould. All need eradicating in a house. But note, there are termites that can be found outside, but will not enter into a house. Note the difference and do not destroy a harmless nest or termites. Only destroy those that pose a risk. Otherwise, this is their world too.
A Pictorial Representations of Pre-Sale Inspections in Canberra, Australia
Energy Efficiency Rating Inspections
The next inspection that is required in Australia is an energy efficiency inspection. Here the inspector, or the contracted energy specialist, will evaluate your house on its efficiency to retain heat or cool air so as to reduce heating and cooling loads on the home.
In a country like Australia where hot days can get to 45 C degrees (113 F), or even over 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit) in the far north, it is important to know how one’s home stands up to these conditions. These inspections are done by computerized program models, and at the end the result is expressed in the number of stars a house earns. For example, poor energy efficiency could be two stars and a great one might be six stars.
The model will take into consideration the walls exposed, the insulation used, openings, party walls, orientation, construction materials, shading from eves and trees, and much more. It is worth having.
Construction Stages Inspections
The last real inspection is a series of inspections. These are when the builder is building your home, and you do not have the confidence to be able to be sure the construction is being done standard. After all, this is a big investment by you. Examples of this might be if you are building from interstate. Another might be if the builder speaks one language and you another. And a third might be where you find you just want a third party to do this interaction work for you. An example here might be a single woman engaging a burly builder, to build her home, but she feels more confident with a professional inspector on her side who knows exactly how to deal with builders.
The first inspection stage could be when concrete is poured, footings and slab. The next could be when the house frame reaches the roof, and the roof has been put on or not. The next could be when the building is finally locked up and the last could be when the building reaches practical completion. Each country could have its own stages and they could be culturally generated.
Practical Completion Inspections
The last inspection of this is the most usual and often ordered by itself. Many clients do not have the expertise to be able to tell when a building has reached this stage, and when the money for having reached this stage of construction should be released.
Practical completion is not when the building is totally finished. That is achieved after the client has moved into the house and the builder has fixed up all the defects found. This is what is called a defects liability period and is any period nominated in the contract up to about six months.
Practical completion is when the building can be lived in, and is practically complete. In Australia this stage is defined exactly by law, as it will be in most countries.
How can you tell a good professional inspector from one who is just okay? The client does have to do homework. Likely the best is to go for that person who already has building qualifications. A building inspector who is also a registered and qualified builder is likely to know a lot more than someone who was a working in a non related field beforehand. And in addition, there are now inspectors who have been engineers and architects.
It is good to have people who know buildings, and who can inspects a building and sees a fault and recognizes that what they see is actually just an indicator of something more serious. A professional will find the original source problems and inform his client. The non professional may only find the surface problems and that is all. Usually the professionals will have their credentials written on their website. But of course this does not mean that those without tertiary qualifications are without merit. By virtue of them being in the inspection industry a long time carries a lot to say they are credible and do good work.
Most inspectors carry professional public liability insurance and this can indicate again that they are professional. They care for their clients.
In the end you are going to ask yourself is it worth the cost to engage a professional inspector. If you do, you will save time, save some heartache, and even if nothing significant is found, you will have some peace. And is it worth their fees? Only you can make that decision.
This article is by Nick Broadhurst, principal of Canberra Building Inspections, Australia. His experience is decades working on buildings in Australia, Asia and the USA.