Buying a property for yourself or as an investment will probably be the biggest financial decision you ever make. You really need to make sure you’re making the right decision. It’s not unusual for buyers to find out they have $50,000+ worth of repairs required to a property bought just months prior. If that doesn’t motivate you to get a building and pest inspection then nothing will.
For this article we spoke to Richard Eedy about his experiences with building and pest inspections. He gave us many examples of homes bought that incurred massive costs within months of purchase. One lady had $70,000 worth of repairs required. (We’ll come back to her story later, as it’s an important one.) Another man, buying an investment property, wasn’t going to get an independent contractor to do his building and pest report. The real estate agent had supplied him with one. He later described the building and pest report as the best $300 he’d ever spent. That report stopped him from making an expensive decision.
We’ll come back to both of those cases later because they both have interesting lessons to highlight. But for the meantime, let’s have a look at what the building and pest inspections are, and why you need to get one.
What Is A Building And Pest Inspection
There are, of course, two parts to this inspection. The building inspection will look at the structural elements of your building. They also check interior and exterior fittings, balconies, subfloors and roof voids. A building inspector will check the home to make sure there are no outstanding building repairs. They will also be on the lookout for potential problems, such as water leaking into a floor or roof.
If you live in an area that has termites, then the pest inspection is pretty much a termite inspection. There are other bugs to worry about, like wood borers, but it’s the termites that can cause the most damage. These insects can invade a home unnoticed and eat away at timbers for years.
The image below, supplied by Richard, shows a roof truss that was eaten by termites. This is a fairly extreme example of what termites can do. He also shows us a picture of a bathroom that was completely destroyed.
The pest inspector will search out termite activity and notify you of it.
What To Look For In An Inspector
Two inspectors are better than one. Both inspections are important enough to require expertise in that area. A building inspector can do pest inspections in many areas if they do a short bridging course. This course, often a weekend, doesn’t make up for the many years of experience a dedicated pesty will have.
Ideally, a building inspector will have a background in building. They’ll have been a builder, or still are builders. This gives them an insight into what can go wrong and the cost of repairs.
You want independent contractors. This is hard to emphasise enough. Too many people rely on recommendations from their real estate agents. What we see in this industry are contractors who rely on agent referrals for 90% of their income. They do not, therefore, foul their own nest, so to speak.
We mentioned in the opening paragraph the story of man buying an investment property. He had a report from the real estate agent that indicated the property was solid. He wasn’t going to get his own report but changed his mind. He’ll not hesitate again because the property was in such bad condition that he couldn’t see any way or making the sale work for him.
Another case highlighted by Richard was the woman with $70,000 worth of termite damage. She had an inspector check the home only months before Richard saw it. And yet he found all this damage by termites. It seems that some inspectors don’t try hard enough to find termite activity, whether through incompetence or through a desire to avoid conflict with the agent we don’t know. The important thing is, look for experience and independence.
Below is a Picture of what used to be a Bathroom
You will do your homework when you’re buying a property. You’ll research markets and look at many homes before making your decision. Before you finalize the deal, make sure you do one more piece of due diligence. Get a building and pest inspection. Importantly, do your homework when choosing a building and pest inspection. Follow these tips:
- Get a team. One for building, one for pest.
- Get independent inspectors.
- Choose experienced and reliable contractors.
If you follow these tips you’ll avoid making expensive mistakes on your new property.