One in six houses inspected before final sale in 2013 had significant defects, according to research conducted by Houspect Building Inspections.

“One in 16 also had structural defects, so checking a house before purchasing is an absolute necessity, ” Houspect director Chris Walsh said, adding that statistics had shown an increase in both structural and significant defects in recent years.

“Inspections allow you to go through the house, review and evaluate any problems and make an effective cost and benefits analysis before purchasing the property, ” he said.

“If your analysis is positive and you still are keen to buy the property, inspections allow you to negotiate, building in any extra cost for repairs and renovations.”

Mr Walsh said the key was to employ a qualified person, such as a registered builder, to provide a professional building inspection before a sale was finalised to avoid any expensive surprises.

“A professional person will ensure that the format and content of the report complies with the Australian Standard; make sure the company you choose has adequate insurance cover, particularly for professional indemnity.”

Mr Walsh said the top items to check before finalising an offer were roofing, walls, guttering, decks and driveways, because imperfections in these areas could lead to costly repair bills. Looking for water damage, asbestos and termites also made the list.

LJ Hooker WA regional manager Ken Preston said outside the home checks included pools for cracking and other issues.

“If the home has incomplete additions, such as partly finished landscaping, you will need to research the cost to complete the works and factor the amount into your house offer, ” he said.

Mr Preston also suggested finding out the home’s running costs.

“Many buyers simply focus on covering mortgage repayments when deciding whether they can afford their offer, ” Mr Preston said. “Buyers should also factor in council rates and other costs such as body corporate fees, if applicable, to their budget.”

Mark Hay, principal of Mark Hay Realty, said to look beyond structural checks. He said buyers should find out if a property was strata-titled and check the title for any caveats or easements, such as proposed road widening, for example, that might devalue the purchase before signing on the dotted line.

“Make sure you clearly sign for all the documents including the strata plan, which clearly shows your parking space, balcony, storeroom and courtyard, ” Mr Hay said. “Failure to do so can find you don’t own what you thought you did.”


© The West Australian 

First published in The West Australian March 8, 2014.