Do You Need A Building Inspection For A Unit?

Unit block for building inspection

When embarking on the journey of buying a unit in Australia, whether as a first home or an investment property, it’s crucial to tick all the right boxes to ensure your purchase is sound. One key consideration that often crops up is whether to have a building inspection conducted.

While it’s commonly associated with buying houses, the importance of building inspections for units shouldn’t be underestimated. This article delves into the why, when, and how of obtaining a building inspection for a unit, aiming to guide home buyers towards making informed decisions.

Understanding Building Inspections

A building inspection is a detailed assessment carried out by a qualified professional to evaluate the condition of a property. It covers aspects like the structural integrity of the building, any existing or potential issues with dampness, the state of the roof (if applicable), electrical wiring, plumbing, and more. The inspector provides a report detailing their findings, often highlighting any areas of concern and recommending further action if necessary.

When Should You Get a Building Inspection?

Ideally, you should arrange for a building inspection after your offer on a unit has been accepted but before the contract becomes unconditional. This timing allows you to make an informed decision about proceeding with the purchase or renegotiating the terms based on the inspection findings.

Why a Unit Inspection is Critical: Strata Schemes

When buying a unit within a strata scheme, there are additional layers to consider. The building inspection will cover the unit itself, but common property issues are managed by the body corporate. It’s wise to review the strata report, which provides information on the building’s overall condition, any major works planned, and the strata scheme’s financial health.

Purchasing a unit within a strata scheme in Australia presents a unique set of considerations compared to buying a standalone property. While the allure of community living, shared amenities, and the convenience of having a body corporate to manage common areas can be attractive, it’s crucial for potential buyers to understand the intricacies involved. A comprehensive understanding of strata reports, the role of the body corporate, and how these factors intersect with building inspections is essential for making an informed decision.

Understanding the Strata Scheme

A strata scheme is a system of property ownership where individuals own their units or apartments and share ownership of common property, such as gardens, exteriors of the building, and communal facilities. The management of these common areas, along with the building’s overall maintenance, is overseen by a body corporate (also known as an owners’ corporation).

Not only do you have to consider the condition of the individual property you are purchasing, you also have to consider the condition of the overall structure as well. You could end up paying for building repairs beyond your dwelling down the line.

The Significance of the Strata Report

Before diving into the commitment of purchasing a unit, obtaining and reviewing a strata report is a pivotal step. This report offers a wealth of information regarding the strata scheme’s management, financial health, and any upcoming expenditures.

What’s in a Strata Report?

  • Financial Health: The report provides insights into the strata scheme’s finances, including the sinking fund and administrative fund. It details current balances, allowing you to assess if the scheme is well-equipped for future repairs and maintenance.
  • Planned Maintenance or Major Works: Information on any scheduled maintenance or major works gives you a glimpse into potential future costs. This can impact your decision to buy, depending on whether the scheme has sufficient funds to cover these expenses or if additional levies might be imposed.
  • Past and Ongoing Issues: The report reveals any historical or ongoing issues within the strata, such as disputes between owners, structural problems with common property, or compliance issues. Understanding these can help you gauge the living environment and potential challenges.

The Role of the Body Corporate

The body corporate is responsible for the administration and upkeep of the strata scheme. Their duties include managing the common property, organizing building insurance, and ensuring compliance with legal and safety requirements. As a unit owner, you become a member of the body corporate, giving you a voice in the management of the scheme. However, this also means sharing the costs associated with common property maintenance and repairs.

Building Inspections and Common Property

While a building inspection on a unit focuses on the individual property you intend to purchase, issues with common property fall under the body corporate’s jurisdiction. It’s important to understand the delineation between what is covered by the building inspection and what falls into the realm of common property.

Why Common Property Matters

Issues with common property can indirectly affect your unit’s value and your quality of life. For example, structural issues in the building facade or problems with shared facilities can lead to significant expenses, which, in turn, might require additional levies from unit owners to cover the costs.

Key Takeaways for Prospective Buyers

  • Review the Strata Report Thoroughly: Ensure you understand the financial status of the strata scheme, any planned or ongoing issues, and the dynamic within the body corporate.
  • Consider the Impact of Common Property: Be mindful of how common property conditions and management can affect your living experience and financial obligations.
  • Engage with the Body Corporate: Familiarize yourself with how the Body Corporate operates, its members, and how decisions are made. This can provide insights into the community you’re joining and its governance.


Purchasing a unit within a strata scheme comes with its own set of challenges and considerations. By diligently reviewing the strata report, understanding the role and responsibilities of the body corporate, and considering how common property issues might affect you, you can make a more informed decision. Remember, buying a unit isn’t just about the physical space you’ll call home; it’s also about becoming part of a community and sharing in the stewardship of common property. Equip yourself with the right information, and you’ll be better prepared to take this significant step.