When is the best time to get the House Inspection done so that there is no stress on you?

Mr Inspector has been carrying out pre-purchase building and termite inspections in Melbourne since 2004 and has a vast experience with many people buying homes around Melbourne.

Home buyers get a building inspection on their potential home as they wish to know what is wrong with it, what needs to get fixed and what will it all cost.

That’s smart.

I’m not going to discuss Auctions here as you need to get the inspection before you bid and buy otherwise the home’s yours regardless of any problems with it, seen or unseen.

I’ve inspected many homes after my clients have rushed in and bought at auction without getting an inspection.   Some will never do it again.  In 2009 one client purchased a home without getting an inspection in Frankston and it cost $148,000 in termite damage.  The only happy person about all this was the vendor who knew all about the problems.

The question remains as to the best time to get the inspection when a home is for sale – before you sign the contract or after with inspection conditions?

Your lawyer or conveyancer should provide you with sound advice when you engage them but I’m going to give you mine from experience in the field.

Do not sign anything – get it inspected first and then make up your mind.  Below is a scenario I see way too often.

Once you have done your due diligence with your lawyer or conveyancer some will make an offer on the home “subject to a building and termite inspection”  so you advise the agent that you want to make the purchase subject to a building and termite inspection.  The agent says “yeah sure thing, that’s not a problem”

The agent goes to the building inspection clause page in the contract which is a proforma from the REIV and he fills it out for you.  You, being so excited that you’re purchasing a home, all you see the agent write is the words “building inspection”, “pest inspection”, and “structural defects” so you sign on the dotted line, go home and organise an inspector.

You, like 3-5 of my clients per week, have just unwittingly signed a contract that says –

“Subject to no Major Structural Defects and no Live Termites carried out by a licenced builder”

But you still don’t know what is coming. You have organised the inspector and he does his inspection and then emails the report through to you. You sit with your partner and go through the report and see all these costly defects and call the inspector.  You have a chat with the inspector and he says you’ve got about $40,000 worth of rectification works due to a rusted roof, rotten weatherboards, rusted gutters, excessive damp and mould under the home, a shower recess leaking into the floor frame timbers and old termite damage in the weather boards and 5 window frames.think to yourself ”

You think to yourself “thank god we signed put in the building and pest inspection clause”

You call the agent and tell him the sad news that you no longer wish to purchase the property and ask for your deposit back.  Rightly so he asks for the report and you send it to him.   An hour later he calls and tells you your qualified building inspector is not a builder and although he is more qualified than a builder to inspect properties you needed a builder to inspect it.  (This act by the REIV is a tad concerning in my opinion and some inspectors are seeking legal advice.)

 The agent calls you back and says “Sorry but the homes and the $40,000 repair costs is all yours. There’s no major structural defects in the report and no live termites”

You scramble to ring the inspector and he says the agent it correct.  Things that are not considered structural could be a new roof is required because it’s totally rusted, rising damp, poor drainage, excessive damp under the home, balustrade on the deck is non compliant with building regulations, the gutters need replacing, the down pipe is not connected to the storm water, the window frames are rotten, 6 windows have broken glass panes, the shed needs to be demolished, the bungalow is clad with asbestos, all the sewer needs replacing because of tree roots blocking them, the retaining walls are rotten and leaning, the carport roof is rusted through and the list goes on.

You call your lawyer in the morning trying to get out of the purchase.  He charges you 3 times the inspection fee to read our report and your section 32 that you signed and tells you your stuck with it.  That would not be a nice feeling.

So after all that, what is the best way to get a building inspection done without all the hassles mentioned above?

Well there are two ways to put the ball back in your court where it should be since you’re the one spending all the money. This is what I would do;

Firstly, buy the home “subject to a satisfactory building and termite inspection report by a qualified building inspector within 5 days”. 

If the vendor and the agent do not agree to those terms walk away, do not sign anything. Its your money they want. Yes they might have other interested parties but do you want the scenario above where you need to come up with another $40,000 to repair the home which could blow out to $100,000 once things start getting pulled apart.

If they won’t agree on your purchase conditions above, do not sign anything, walk away and get the inspection done and then decide what you want to do after reading the inspection report.

If you follow this simple advice you will not have any issues, you won’t be stuck with a home with expensive fixes or termite damage and you wont need to engage expensive lawyers to try and get out of buying it.

After 17 years doing these inspections I have seen clients purchase homes they didn’t want to buy after reading my report.

This building inspector inspects before signing or buying anything as he likes a stress free life and wants his clients to as well.