What Do Building Inspectors look for in Australia?

Building inspector looking at a property

You’ve just bought a new house. The conveyancing is done, contracts are exchanged, and settlement is just around the corner. Now you’re wondering what the building inspector will look for when he comes to do the pre-purchase inspection. Will he meticulously go over every nook and cranny, or just do a quick once-over? Understanding what building inspectors check can help you know what to expect on inspection day. This article will give you a rundown of the key things a building inspector looks for when inspecting a house in Australia, so you’ll know what he’s doing as he wanders around your new property. From the roof to the foundations and everything in between, we’ll cover what’s on a building inspector’s checklist so you can be prepared for inspection day.

Understanding the Role of Building Inspectors in Australia

Building inspectors in Australia play an important role in ensuring residential and commercial properties meet required building standards and safety codes before sales or occupancy. Their job is to thoroughly check that a building’s structural integrity, plumbing, electrical systems, and other essential elements are up to code and functioning properly.

When a property is sold in Australia, it’s common for the buyer to hire an independent building inspector to assess the home before finalising the sale. The inspector will look for any defects or issues that could be costly to repair down the road. They examine everything from the condition of the roof and foundation to proper ventilation and insulation. Major problems found during an inspection could allow a buyer to negotiate the best price or in severe cases, back out of the sale altogether.

For new builds, council inspectors are brought in at different stages of construction to make sure specific building requirements have been met before allowing work to continue. They check things like the appropriate concrete thickness of slabs, the correct placement of steel reinforcing bars, and compliance with energy efficiency standards. Obtaining final approval from a building inspector is required before occupying any new residential or commercial building in Australia.

Building inspections provide buyers, sellers, builders, and occupants with peace of mind that their property meets essential safety standards and codes. Although additional costs may be involved, building inspections can help identify issues early on and prevent potentially dangerous or expensive problems down the road.

Key Areas Building Inspectors Examine

When inspecting a property, building inspectors look at both the interior and exterior to ensure everything is up to code and functioning properly.

Structural Integrity

Inspectors will check the foundation, walls, and roof to make sure there are no signs of damage or instability. They look for cracks, leaks, or water damage and ensure load-bearing walls are intact.


They test water pressure, check for any leaky pipes or fixtures, and ensure hot water is working. They flush toilets and run taps to guarantee proper drainage and water flow. Faulty plumbing can lead to water damage, so inspectors pay close attention here.

Electrical Systems

Inspectors look at the electrical panel, wiring, outlets, and switches to make sure everything is properly installed, grounded, and up to safety standards. Outdated or damaged electrical systems pose serious fire and shock hazards.


Proper heating, ventilation, and air conditioning are essential, so inspectors test that furnaces, air conditioners, fans and thermostats are functioning well and meet requirements.

Safety Features

Things like smoke alarms, fire exits, emergency lighting, and extinguishers are checked to ensure the property has adequate safety mechanisms in place in case of an emergency.

With so much to scrutinise, building inspections are comprehensive. But when done well, they give homeowners peace of mind that their property is safe, secure and built to last. For buyers, an inspection can highlight any issues to address before purchasing. So while the process is thorough, the benefits of building inspections are well worth it.

Checking the Structure and Foundations

The building inspector will closely examine the structure and foundations of the property to ensure it is structurally sound. This includes checking the:


The internal wall frames and roof trusses are inspected to make sure they are properly installed and secured. The inspector looks for any signs of water damage, pest damage or structural weakness that could compromise the building.


The inspector checks that all floors including subfloors, timber floors and concrete slabs are level, secure and able to handle the weight load. Uneven, sloping or damaged floors can be a safety hazard.


The roof is examined, including the roof frame, roof covering, gutters, valleys, skylights and the attic space. The inspector checks for any leaks, damage, rust or water pooling that could lead to water damage inside the building. They also check that the roof is properly ventilated and insulated.


The building foundation, including footings, piers and walls are checked to ensure the building is evenly supported and stable. The inspector looks for any cracks, tilting or subsidence in the foundation that could affect the structural integrity of the building.

In summary, a building inspection aims to identify any major structural defects or damage that could compromise the safety, security or value of the property. Minor repairs or maintenance issues may also be noted to help guide the new owners in properly caring for their building.

Interior Fittings


Building inspectors will check that all cabinets in the kitchen, bathroom and laundry are securely installed and functioning properly. They’ll open and close doors and drawers to ensure everything is aligned and closing smoothly without sticking or squeaking. Water damage or wear and tear around cabinet edges are also noted.


Inspectors examine ceilings in each room for any sagging, cracks, water damage or defects in the surface. They look for proper installation of lighting fixtures, exhaust fans, smoke detectors and any other fittings attached to ceilings. Peeling paint or plaster is also recorded.

Internal walls

The inspector studies internal walls for any structural damage, dampness, or flaws in the wall surface. They tap lightly on walls to identify any hollow sounds indicating damage behind the surface. Doors and windows are checked to ensure they open and close properly without rubbing or sticking. The inspector notes any large cracks in walls, especially around door and window frames which could indicate foundation issues. They also point out any water damage from leaking pipes or rain penetration inside the property.

Overall, building inspectors undertake a comprehensive assessment of the interior of the home to identify any urgent or minor repairs needed, safety hazards or potential structural issues before the property changes hands. Their trained eye and years of experience help provide new homeowners peace of mind about the state of their investment.

Checking for Water Damage and Mould

Building inspectors will thoroughly check for any signs of water damage or mould in the property. Leaky roofs, downpipes, stormwater drains and plumbing can all lead to unwanted water damage if left unnoticed.

Downpipes and Stormwater Drains

The inspector will check that downpipes and stormwater drains are clear of any blockages and directing water away from the foundations of the building. Blocked drains can cause water to pool around the base of the building which may lead to rising damp and structural damage over time.


They will run water through all plumbing fixtures like showers, sinks and baths to ensure there are no leaks or drips which can lead to water damage if left unfixed. Any faults found will be noted in the inspection report so you’re aware of them and can get repairs done.


The inspector will check in areas like the subfloor, attic space and basement for any visible signs of mould or water stains which can indicate excess moisture buildup. Mould left untreated releases spores that can cause health issues for the occupants. Any mouldy or water-damaged areas will need to be cleaned and dried to prevent further damage.

Regular inspections and maintenance help avoid unwanted surprises from water damage and mould. An experienced building inspector knows where to look for trouble spots to give you peace of mind in your property.

Inspecting Electrical, Plumbing and Gas Systems

Building inspectors will do a basic check of the electrical, plumbing and gas systems in a property to ensure they are functioning properly and meet safety standards, but in Australia, inspectors are not qualified to do in-depth inspections of these systems. For that, you will need to hire licenced electricians, plumbers and gasfitters.


Inspectors will check that power points, light switches and fixtures are working correctly, and that there are no exposed wires or other visible hazards. However, only an electrician can thoroughly test the electrical system to ensure it meets current standards.


Inspectors will run the taps and flush the toilets to confirm the plumbing is working, and check for any visible leaks or water damage. Again, for a full plumbing inspection, including testing water pressure and the condition of pipes, you will need a licenced plumber.


If the property has gas, the inspector will check that the metres, valves, piping and appliances like stovetops appear intact, with no gas smells detected. But similar to electrical and plumbing, only a licenced gasfitter can fully assess a gas system for safety and compliance.

While building inspectors provide a good overview of the condition of a property, for these critical systems you really need specialists to thoroughly check them over. Their inspections can give you peace of mind that the electrics, plumbing and gas are all safe, and compliant and won’t end up costing you down the line.

Looking for Issues With Insulation, Ventilation and Fire Safety


Building inspectors will check that your home has adequate insulation, especially in the attic and walls. Proper insulation helps regulate the temperature in your home and reduces energy usage. If insulation is lacking, inspectors may require it to be installed or upgraded before approving the final inspection.


Inspectors will ensure there is proper ventilation, including exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchens, as well as ventilation for gas appliances like stoves or water heaters. Inadequate ventilation can lead to excess moisture buildup which causes mould and mildew growth.

Smoke Alarms

Working smoke alarms are required on every level of the home, especially near bedrooms. Inspectors will test a sample of the smoke alarms to ensure they are functioning properly and within their recommended replacement date. Outdated or non-working smoke alarms are a serious safety hazard.

Fire Extinguishers

Building inspectors may check that fire extinguishers are installed, especially in the kitchen. Fire extinguishers should be tested and certified each year. While not always required, fire extinguishers provide an important first line of defence in the event of a small fire.

In summary, building inspectors thoroughly check the “bones” of a home—things like insulation, ventilation, smoke alarms and fire safety equipment—to ensure it meets health, safety and building codes to protect both the homeowner and any future buyers. Addressing any issues they identify will give you peace of mind that your home is safe, secure and built to standard.

Pest Inspections

Building inspectors will carefully check for any signs of unwanted pests that could damage the property. Termites, in particular, love to snack on wood and can cause extensive structural damage if left undetected. Inspectors will tap on walls and lift floorboards to check for termite droppings or tunnels.

They will also keep an eye out for cockroaches, spiders, ants and rodents. Cockroaches and rodents leave droppings and can contaminate food preparation areas. Spiders build webs in corners and under furniture, while ants march in lines to and from nests. Inspectors will search in cabinets, behind appliances and in the attic or basement for any clues indicating an infestation.

Holes or cracks leading into the building provide easy access for pests to get inside, so inspectors will check for any openings around pipes, weatherstripping and the foundation. They may recommend sealing or repairing any holes to eliminate access points. Storing food in airtight containers and fixing any leaks are also suggested to avoid attracting pests in the first place.

If signs of active infestation are found, a pest control expert should be called in to eliminate the problem before it gets out of hand. Preventative treatments like termite barriers or sprinkler systems may also be recommended to protect the building from damage and keep unwanted critters out. Overall, pest inspections aim to catch any problems early and ensure the property is free from infestation before a sale or rental.


So there you have it, a quick rundown of what building inspectors are looking for when they come to check out your property. While it may seem daunting at first, remember that they’re just doing their job to make sure your home is safe and meets regulations. Don’t stress too much – do what you can to prepare by having documents ready, making repairs where needed, and clearing clutter. If you work with them in good faith, the inspection can go smoothly. And when all is said and done, you’ll have the peace of mind that your home has been thoroughly evaluated by a professional. So take a deep breath, make a checklist, and get ready to ace that building inspection!



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