What Does a Building Inspection Cover?

What Does a Building Inspection Cover

When you’re thinking of buying a house, it’s crucial to understand what a building inspection covers. The exterior may look great, but you need to know what’s going on inside before signing on the dotted line. A professional building and pest inspection can provide invaluable insights into the property’s condition.

This article will walk you through what a building inspection typically covers, room by room and system by system. You’ll learn about the different areas the inspector examines, from the foundation and structure to the interior, exterior, and roof. Understanding the inspection process ahead of time will ensure you know what to expect in that all-important report.

What Is a Building Inspection?

A building inspection gives you a thorough report on the condition of a property you’re interested in buying. In Australia, inspections are typically conducted according to Australian Standard AS 4349.1. The inspector will check all major areas of the building to identify any structural damage or major defects.

  • Foundation and Structure: The inspector will check the foundation for cracks or water damage and ensure the structure is sound. They’ll look at walls, floors, ceilings and the roof for any sagging, cracks or water leaks.
  • Interior and Exterior: The inspector will note the condition of doors and windows, roofing materials like tiles or shingles, exterior paint or siding, porches, decks and balconies. Inside, they’ll check the condition of floors, walls, and ceilings for any damage or needed repairs.

A professional building inspection is well worth the investment. It can help identify issues early and avoid costly surprises down the road. Armed with the inspector’s report, you’ll have the information you need to make an informed decision about purchasing the property.

The Purpose of a Building Inspection

A building inspection is crucial when buying a property. It gives you insight into the home’s condition so you know exactly what you’re getting into.

  • Identifying any issues: A thorough inspection will uncover any problems with the property like structural damage. Major issues can be expensive to repair, so it’s best to identify them before purchasing. The inspector will determine if anything needs immediate repair or poses a safety risk.
  • Peace of mind: An inspection report provides peace of mind that there are no nasty surprises after settlement. You’ll know the true state of the property and can make an informed choice with confidence.
  • Room for negotiation: If the report does find significant issues, it puts you in a better position to negotiate. You may be able to lower the asking price to account for repair costs. The vendor may even agree to fix problems before the sale or provide a warranty for work done.
  • Protecting your investment: A professional inspection protects your investment in the property. It reduces the risk of unforeseen costs down the track and helps ensure the home is structurally sound. This safeguards the value of your asset for the long term.

In summary, a comprehensive building inspection gives you clarity and control over the home-buying process. It can potentially save you thousands by identifying issues early or allowing you to negotiate a better deal. For the price of an inspection, it’s well worth the investment for your peace of mind and financial security. After all, your property is likely your biggest asset, so you want to go in with your eyes wide open.

What a Building Inspection Covers

A building inspection gives you a thorough report on the condition of a property you’re interested in buying. In Australia, these inspections are typically conducted according to Australian Standard AS 4349.1. The inspector will check all major areas of the building to identify any structural damage or major defects.

Structural Integrity

The building inspector will closely examine the property’s foundation for any signs of cracks, settling, or water damage. They’ll carefully inspect the walls, floors, and roof structure to ensure they are constructed with quality materials and are free from major defects that could compromise the structural integrity of the building. The inspector will check for telltale signs of structural issues, such as sagging, bowing, or cracking in the framing, and will note any evidence of past or present movement or instability. This assessment is critical, as addressing major structural problems can be incredibly costly and complex.

The inspector will also evaluate the soundness of the home’s load-bearing elements, including the columns, beams, and joists, to confirm they are adequately sized and properly supported to safely carry the weight of the structure. Any signs of excessive deflection, warping, or deterioration in these key structural components will be thoroughly documented.

It’s important to note that building inspectors are not qualified to diagnose or assess the extent of any structural problems. Their role is to identify potential issues and flag them for further investigation by a licensed structural engineer. If the inspector suspects any significant structural damage or defects, they will recommend that a structural engineer be engaged to provide a comprehensive evaluation and professional opinion on the necessary remedies. Only a qualified structural engineer has the expertise to thoroughly analyze the structural integrity of a building and determine the appropriate course of action.

Exterior Evaluation

A thorough exterior inspection is essential to identifying potential issues that could impact the home’s weatherproofing and curb appeal. The inspector will meticulously examine the condition of the exterior walls, looking for cracks, damage, or improper sealants that could allow water intrusion. They’ll assess the windows and doors, ensuring they open and close properly and that the seals are intact to prevent air and moisture infiltration. The inspector will also closely inspect the roof, gutters, and downspouts, checking for any signs of wear, damage, or blockages that could lead to leaks or water damage. Additionally, they’ll evaluate the state of any external structures like garages, sheds, or decks to ensure they are structurally sound and properly maintained.

The inspector will pay close attention to the home’s exterior cladding, whether it’s brick, siding, stucco, or another material, to identify any cracking, peeling, or other signs of deterioration that could compromise the building envelope. They’ll also inspect the condition of the driveway, walkways, and landscaping features, as these elements can impact drainage and accessibility around the property.

Interior Condition

Moving indoors, the inspector will conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the home’s interior, starting with the ceilings, walls, and floors. They’ll carefully inspect these surfaces for any signs of water damage, cracks, uneven settling, or other issues that could indicate underlying problems. The inspector will also test the functionality of all doors and windows, ensuring they operate smoothly and provide a proper seal. Special attention will be paid to areas that are prone to moisture issues, such as bathrooms and kitchens, to identify any potential plumbing leaks or ventilation problems. The overall condition of the home’s interior finishes and fixtures will be thoroughly documented in the inspection report.

The inspector will also assess the stairways, railings, and other access points within the home to ensure they meet safety standards and building code requirements. They’ll check for adequate lighting, proper ventilation, and the presence of any potential fire hazards or carbon monoxide sources.

Roof Space

Accessing the attic or roof space allows the inspector to evaluate the condition of the roof framing, insulation, and any evidence of past or present leaks. They’ll closely examine the roof sheathing, trusses, and rafters for signs of damage, deterioration, or improper installation. The inspector will also check the insulation levels and quality to assess the home’s energy efficiency and identify any areas that may need upgrading. Any visible water stains, mold, or other indications of moisture intrusion will be noted, as these issues can lead to significant problems if left unaddressed.

The inspector will carefully inspect the roof coverings, such as shingles, tiles, or metal, to ensure they are in good condition and properly installed. They’ll look for signs of cracking, curling, or missing/damaged components that could compromise the roof’s weatherproofing abilities. The condition of the roof flashing, vents, and other penetrations will also be evaluated to identify any potential entry points for water infiltration.

What It Doesn’t Cover

It’s crucial to understand that while a building inspection provides a comprehensive evaluation of a property’s major systems and components, there are limitations to what the inspector can access and assess.

Areas behind walls, under floors, or in other concealed spaces are not typically inspected, as accessing them would require destructive measures.

Additionally, the building inspector is not qualified to conduct specialized evaluations of the home’s electrical, plumbing, or HVAC systems, which would require the expertise of licensed tradespeople.

Types of Building Inspections

Pre-Purchase Inspections

If you’re buying a new home, a pre-purchase building inspection is a must. An inspector will thoroughly check the major systems and components of the entire house to identify any issues before you seal the deal. They’ll look at the structure, roof, plumbing, electrical systems, heating/cooling, and more. A pre-purchase inspection can give you peace of mind about any expensive surprises after closing and allows you to negotiate repairs with the seller.

New Home Construction Inspections

For a home under construction, inspections are done at strategic points during the building process. A footing and foundation inspection checks that the base of the structure is sound before the slab is poured. A frame inspection ensures the building is structurally secure and ready for the next phase. Rough-in inspections look at the plumbing, electrical, and HVAC systems before the walls go up. A final inspection gives the green light that construction is complete according to approved plans and building codes.

Special-Purpose Inspections

Focused inspections target specific issues or areas of concern. For example, a roof inspection examines the condition and integrity of the roof system. A sewer line inspection uses a camera to check for any damage, clogs, or leaks in the underground pipes. An asbestos inspection tests for the presence of this dangerous material, especially in older homes. Termite or pest inspections determine if there are any active infestations that require treatment. These specialised inspections provide detailed information and recommendations for necessary repairs or further action.

Building inspections offer you an expert evaluation of a property’s condition and help ensure it’s structurally sound, safe, and up to code. The type of inspection you need depends on the purpose, whether you’re buying, selling, or constructing a home. In the end, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Building inspections are a small investment that can potentially save you from expensive hazards or liabilities down the road.

The Building Inspection Process

Hiring an Inspector

In Australia, building inspectors must be properly licenced and insured. Check your state’s licencing board to confirm an inspector’s credentials and see if any complaints have been filed against them. You’ll want an inspector who is experienced in residential inspections. Interview a few inspectors and ask about their experience, qualifications, and pricing.

The Inspection

An average building inspection takes 2 to 3 hours. The inspector will evaluate the property from top to bottom, using tools like a moisture meter, outlet tester, and ladder to get a close look at the home’s major systems and structure. They’ll look in the attic and crawl space, on the roof, and around the foundation for any signs of damage or needed repairs. Be prepared for some minor damage or holes left behind—your inspector needs to access many areas of the home.

The Report

Within a day or two, you’ll receive a thorough written report of the inspection findings. This report details the home’s condition and any areas of concern, with recommendations for what should be repaired or replaced. The report includes photographs and a grading system to indicate the severity of any issues. Read through the entire report carefully, especially noting any “serious” or “major defect” grades, as these indicate significant problems that could be costly to fix.

Minor issues like stuck windows, leaky faucets or damaged screens should not derail an otherwise solid home purchase but do factor repair costs into your offer. For bigger concerns, you may want to renegotiate the offer or ask the seller to make necessary repairs. If very serious problems are found, it may be best to walk away unless the seller is willing to drop the price significantly or make all necessary repairs before you purchase the home.

A professional building inspection is well worth the investment. It can give you peace of mind about your purchase or help you avoid ending up with a “money pit”. Carefully reviewing the inspection report will set the foundation for successful home ownership.

How to Use the Inspection Report

Once the inspection is complete, the report provides an overview of the property’s condition and any issues identified. This information is invaluable for negotiating repairs or price adjustments based on the findings. You’ll want to review the report thoroughly to understand what’s needed to bring the house up to standard and make informed decisions about proceeding with the purchase.

The inspector will walk you through the major points in the report. Pay close attention to any urgent or safety issues requiring immediate resolution. You may be able to negotiate with the seller to address these before the sale is completed. Minor issues can often be remedied through DIY or hired repairs over time.

For less urgent problems, consider getting quotes from contractors to determine costs. You can then negotiate with the seller to lower the price accordingly or get credits to handle the repairs yourself. Make sure any negotiated repairs or credits are clearly outlined in the sales contract.

Once the purchase is complete, use the inspection report as a guide for planning future maintenance and repairs. Prioritise any outstanding issues and budget for resolving them. Even for minor points, develop a schedule to reinspect and remediate to avoid bigger problems down the road.

The building inspection and report provide transparency into the property’s condition. While the results may uncover problems, they empower you to go into a purchase with realistic expectations. With the right approach, you can leverage the findings to negotiate a fair deal, budget for repairs, and keep your new home in tip-top shape for years to come.

Building Code Compliance

As a property owner, ensuring your building meets all current building codes is critical. Building inspections evaluate if construction, renovations or repairs comply with the National Construction Code of Australia and relevant Australian Standards. Failure to comply can be a safety hazard, affect your property value or insurance coverage, and may require costly repairs to rectify.

Structural Integrity

Major structural issues like settlement or subsidence can be expensive to fix and may even require rebuilding parts of the property. Building inspectors thoroughly check the condition of foundations, walls, roofs, and floors to identify any structural defects early on. It’s far better to uncover these issues before purchasing a property.

Repair and Maintenance Costs

While minor repairs are often manageable, more significant problems like termite damage, electrical issues or plumbing leaks can rack up high repair bills very quickly. A building inspection gives you insight into the overall condition of the property so you have reasonable expectations about potential repair or renovation costs in both the short and long term.

Insurance Implications

Insurers use the information from a professional building inspection to accurately assess the risk of providing coverage for a property. Undetected structural damage or safety hazards could result in higher premiums, exclusions for certain types of coverage or even denial of insurance altogether. Conducting an inspection before buying gives you the chance to renegotiate the sale price to account for necessary repairs, or walk away from a property that may be difficult and expensive to insure.

In summary, a comprehensive building inspection is well worth the investment for the legal protection, financial clarity and peace of mind it provides. While repairs or maintenance may be required on any property, an inspection can help ensure there are no major surprises by identifying issues early and allowing you to make an informed decision with realistic expectations.


Overall, a professional building inspection is well worth the investment for any homebuyer or homeowner. It provides peace of mind that your property is structurally sound and helps identify any issues that could become costly repairs down the road.

When choosing an inspector, look for one with experience inspecting properties similar to yours and proper certifications. Discuss what exactly will be included in the inspection to ensure it covers what’s most important to you, like the roof, foundation, electrical systems or plumbing. An inspector will thoroughly evaluate all areas of the home to check for signs of damage or needed repairs.

After the multi-point inspection is complete, you’ll receive a comprehensive written report outlining the home’s condition. The inspector will walk you through their findings to explain anything that requires immediate repair or further evaluation. They can also provide recommendations to improve energy efficiency or safety.

While an inspection may reveal some imperfections, that’s not necessarily a reason to call off a sale or undertake a costly renovation. Minor issues are common in any home and can often be remedied easily. An inspection simply provides the information you need to make an informed decision about the property with open eyes.

Knowing the home’s condition inside and out, and having expert recommendations on any necessary repairs, gives you confidence in your investment. For homeowners, inspections provide reassurance that your house is structurally sound or highlight areas where preventative maintenance may be needed to avoid future headaches.

Overall, building inspections offer peace of mind by understanding the true state of your property. For significant life milestones like buying or selling a home, that sense of reassurance can be invaluable.



One response to “What Does a Building Inspection Cover?”

  1. […] A building inspection covers a comprehensive check of the property, including the structural integrity, roof, foundation, drainage, plumbing, electrical systems, and potential pest issues. It aims to identify any defects, safety hazards, or areas needing maintenance. Read the full article here → […]

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