A building inspection won’t just uncover the hidden secrets of your new property – it can be used as a bargaining tool to save you thousands of dollars off the purchase price.
If you’re actively looking for a new property and have been outbid before, you’ll know, all too well, the financial angst of having to fork out for yet another building inspection for dream home number 4.
But it is worth it – and for more reasons than you might think.
By contract, the vendor is required to disclose to you certain defects relating to the property – but this goes only as far as the vendor is aware. It’s often the latent (or unseen) defects that can go unnoticed – and may end up costing you thousands of dollars in repair costs.
For example, a newly painted ceiling could disguise black mould and broken or leaking roof tiles.
A freshly tiled bathroom could be a cheap and nasty renovation that failed to lay the essentials – mainly, waterproofing. Conversely, freshly laid floorboards might cover wood rot, pest damage or rising damp.
So if your DIY building knowledge is severely limited to following an IKEA manual, your best bet is to engage an independent builder to carry out and prepare an inspection report.
WHEN TO ENGAGE A BUILDER
This is where it can get tricky. If you’re buying the property through a private listing, your inspection should occur either before exchange or within the two weeks following exchange. That way, you can arm yourself with knowledge that you can use to negotiate down the purchase price.
If you carry out the inspection shortly after exchange, you generally have a 14-day period to make requisitions to the vendor with respect to the property. This is your chance to highlight your concerns – and see what the vendor is prepared to do about them. You also may be able to exercise your cooling-off rights under the contract.
The case with auctions is different. The laws differ in each state, but generally, a purchaser buys a property as is on the fall of the hammer. So what does this mean? Ultimately, you’ve got to be 100 per cent satisfied with the property before you bid.
In this case, it’s better to arrange a building inspection before the auction, so you can make a reasonable offer and don’t get caught bidding for more than you bargained for.
HOW TO ORGANISE A BUILDING INSPECTION
Given the popularity of prepurchase building inspections, many companies and businesses offer services with flat-rate fees. You can usually also organise pest and other inspections through these companies.
Shop around, find a licensed builder and find the service that’s right for you.
A building inspection report will set you back a few hundred, but the savings could be thousands. So if you’re keen on grabbing a good buy, it pays to know exactly what you’re buying.