Property buyers must always ensure, when contracting subject to satisfactory building inspection reports, that adequate time has been provided for this in their contracts. In my experience, the ideal time is 30 days from the contract date.
BY TIM O’DWYER
This allows for the inspector to make his inspection, prepare his report, deliver the report to you, and for you to consider it. Thirty days also allows time for any supplementary inspections that may be needed from other professionals and for you to find out the likely costs of rectifying any matters of concern raised in the report. Finally more time is needed than the agents’ usual period of 14 days because buyers who have received a less than satisfactory report may wish to renegotiate the contract price with the sellers.
The most important thing a buyer should do when selecting a building inspector (and definitely not one recommended by the seller’s agent) is to ask for a sample copy of the inspector’s standard report. You may be horrified to find that the sample report contains more pages detailing what the inspection does not cover (and what issues are excluded) than any actual reporting on the property inspected. Below are parts of the exclusions and disclaimers from a building inspection report that homebuyer clients of mine recently received. Nevertheless the inspector happily described the property as “structurally sound”. Be afraid, very afraid.
“It is Strongly Recommended that the following Inspections and Reports be obtained prior to any decision to purchase the Property, so that the purchaser can be well equipped to make an informed decision. These Inspections and Reports fall outside the guidelines for a Standard Property Report as specified in AS4349.1-1995 and are excluded from this Report:
Timber Pest Inspection Electrical Inspection Plumbing Inspection
|Asbestos Inspection Mechanical Services Drainage Inspection|
|Mould Inspection Appliances Inspection Airconditioning Inspection|
|Alarm/Intercom/Data Systems Structural (Engineer) Geotechnical Inspection|
|Durability of Exposed Surfaces Hydraulics Inspection Swimming Pool Inspection|
|Council Plan Inspection Hazards Inspection Fire/Chimney Inspection|
|Estimating Report Garage Door Mechanical Gasfitting Inspection|
1) This report is NOT an all encompassing report dealing with the building from every aspect. It is a reasonable attempt to identify any obvious or significant defects apparent at the time of the inspection.
Whether or not a defect is considered significant or not, depends, to a large extent, upon the age and type of the building inspected. This report is not a Certificate of Compliance with the requirements of any Act, Regulation, Ordinance or By-law. It is not a structural report. Should you require any advice of a structural nature
you should contact a structural engineer.
2) THIS IS A VISUAL INSPECTION ONLY limited to those areas and sections of the property fully accessible and visible to the Inspector on the date of Inspection. The inspection DID NOT include breaking apart, dismantling, removing or moving objects including, but not limited to, foliage, mouldings, roof insulation/sisalation, floor or wall coverings, sidings, ceilings, floors, furnishings, appliances or personal possessions. The inspector CANNOT see inside walls, between floors, inside skillion roofing, behind stored goods in cupboards and other areas that are concealed or obstructed.
3) This Report does not and cannot make comment upon: defects that may have been concealed; the assessment or detection of defects (including rising damp and leaks) which may be subject to the prevailing weather conditions; whether or not services have been used for some time prior to the inspection and whether this will affect the detection of leaks or other defects (eg. In the case of shower enclosures the absence of any dampness at the time of the inspection does not necessarily mean that the enclosure will not leak); the presence or absence of timber pests; gas-fittings; common property areas; environmental concerns; the proximity of the property to flight paths, railways, or busy traffic; noise levels; health and
safety issues; heritage concerns; security concerns; fire protection; site drainage (apart from surface water drainage); swimming pools and spas (non-structural); detection and identification of illegal building work; detection and identification of illegal plumbing work; durability of exposed finishes; neighbourhood problems; document analysis; electrical installation; any matters that are solely regulated by statute; any area(s) or item(s) that could not be inspected by the consultant.
4) MOULD (MILDEW AND NON-WOOD DECAY FUNGI) DISCLAIMER: Mildew and non wood decay fungi is commonly known as Mould. However, Mould and their spores may cause health problems or allergic reactions such as asthma and dermatitis in some people. No inspection for Mould was carried out at the property and no report on the presence or absence of Mould is provided. If in the course of the Inspection, Mould happened to be noticed it may be noted in the Additional Comments section of the report. If Mould is noted as present within the property or if you notice Mould and you are concerned as to the possible health risk resulting from its presence then you should seek advice from your local Council, State or Commonwealth Government Health Department or a qualified expert such as an Industry Hygienist
9) Conditions:- This standard property report is conditional upon or conditional in relation to –
· the assessment of any apparent defect including rising damp and leaks, the detection of which may be subject to prevailing weather conditions;
· information provided by the person, the employees or agents of the person requesting the report;
· the specific areas of ‘expertise’ of the consultant specified in the report;
· apparent concealment of possible defects; or
· any other factor limiting the preparation of the report.”
Tim O’Dwyer is a Queensland solicitor, email@example.com