What Is Included in a Building Inspection?




Building and Pest Inspector - checking column

You’ve found your dream home and you’re ready to buy. But before you sign on the dotted line, you need to make sure everything is in tip-top shape. That’s where a building inspection comes in. These inspections are a standard part of the home buying process in Australia. During one, a professional inspector will scrutinise the property inside and out, checking for issues that could cost you big bucks down the road. What exactly do they look for during these inspections? And how do you make sure you get the most out of yours? Stick with us as we walk through everything that’s included in a standard Australian building inspection. You’ll learn what areas they examine, what tools they use, what problems they look for, and how their reports can protect your investment in your new home. Let’s dive in!

Understanding Building Inspections in Australia

In Australia, a building inspection is a visual assessment of a property’s structure and systems to identify any major defects or safety issues before you purchase.

In Australia, building inspections are governed by specific standards and legal frameworks to ensure thoroughness and compliance. The Australian Standard AS 4349.1 is a key guideline that outlines the requirements for pre-purchase residential building inspections. This standard ensures that inspections are conducted comprehensively, covering both the interior and exterior of a property, and addressing potential issues or defects​​.

A good inspection report, as per AS 4349.1, should be clear, detailed, comprehensive, and unbiased. It should cover all inspected areas in detail, including any defects or potential issues found. This report is a vital tool for prospective buyers, providing a clear understanding of the property’s condition​​.

Legal requirements also extend to the compliance of building codes and regulations. The Building Code of Australia (BCA) and the National Construction Code (NCC) set mandatory standards for safety, health, and sustainability in residential buildings​​. These codes are crucial for ensuring that buildings are designed and constructed to meet required standards, thereby safeguarding the interests of homeowners and residents.

Building inspectors also need to be qualified. You can learn about each state’s qualification requirements here.

The inspector’s role

A licenced building inspector’s job is to thoroughly check the major elements of a property for any signs of damage, wear and tear, or required repairs and provide an objective report on their findings. They look at things like:

  • The roof, guttering, and drainage to ensure there are no leaks or corrosion.
  • The exterior for any cracks in walls, pest damage, or water damage.
  • Electrical wiring, plumbing, gas connections, and other utilities to make sure they’re in working order and up to code.
  • Doors and windows to check they’re secure and functioning properly.
  • Any major appliances to confirm they’re operational.

What’s included in a standard building inspection

A standard building inspection in Australia typically covers all accessible areas of a property’s structure and systems, including the:

  • Roof space
  • Interior rooms
  • Exterior
  • Site (fences, retaining walls, paving)
  • Services (electrical panel, hot water system, septic tanks if present)

The inspector provides a written report detailing any defects found, estimated costs of repairs, and recommendations for further expert assessment if major issues are identified. They do not test utilities or dismantle any part of the building.

A building inspection gives you peace of mind about the true condition of a property before you sign on the dotted line. And in Australia’s hot housing market, that can make all the difference.

What Does a Standard Building Inspection Cover?

Structural Integrity

A building inspector will check the foundations, walls, roofs, and floors to ensure the structural stability of the property. They look for any signs of movement, damage or defects that could compromise the building’s integrity over time. Things like cracks in walls, sloping or bouncing floors, or damage to load-bearing beams are all red flags.

Roofing and Guttering

The roof is one of the most important parts of any building, so inspectors carefully check the condition and material of the roof, guttering and downpipes. They look for broken or missing tiles, leaks, rust or water damage. Faulty roofs and guttering can lead to all sorts of nasty problems like water damage, leaks and flooding.

Plumbing and Electrical

Inspectors test that the plumbing and electrical systems are in working order and up to current safety standards. For plumbing, they run water through taps and flush toilets to check for leaks, low water pressure or blockages. For electrical, they test power points, light switches and circuit breakers. Outdated wiring or plumbing that isn’t securely fastened can be major safety hazards.

Heating and Cooling

If the property has air conditioning, heating or ventilation systems, the building inspector will assess their condition and test to ensure they are functioning properly. Faulty systems are inefficient, and in the worst cases can even be dangerous.

A comprehensive building inspection should cover all major areas of the property. While no inspector can pick up on every little flaw, a professional report will identify any significant defects or issues that could cause problems down the line. Forewarned is forearmed, so make sure you understand the inspector’s findings before purchasing the property.

Areas Inspected Inside the Property

One of the most important parts of a building inspection is checking the interior of the home. The inspector will closely examine each room to identify any potential issues.

Structural Elements

The inspector will check that walls, floors, ceilings and roofs are properly installed and structurally sound. They look for signs of water damage, rot or pest damage that could compromise the stability of the building.


The plumbing system is thoroughly tested to ensure there are no leaks or faults. The inspector runs water through pipes and drains to check water pressure, drainage and signs of past or present leaks. They will also test water heaters, toilets and taps. Any gas fittings are checked to ensure they are properly installed and vented.


The electrical system is tested to make sure it is safe and up to code. The inspector checks the main circuit board, wiring, power points, light fixtures and safety switches. They test a sample of power points and light switches in each room to ensure correct function and grounding. Any issues like exposed or faulty wiring are noted in the report.

Heating and Cooling

The inspector will test any heating, ventilation or cooling systems like air conditioners to ensure proper and safe operation. Ducted heating vents and exhaust fans are also checked.

Other Areas

Other areas like staircases, fireplaces, attics and basements are inspected for safety and structural issues. Built-in fixtures like ovens, cooktops and rangehoods are tested to check they are properly installed and vented. The overall condition and security of windows and doors are assessed. Any pest damage or hazardous materials like asbestos are also noted.

The building inspector aims to identify any defects or safety issues in all areas of the property so you have a full picture of its condition before purchasing. Their thorough report will give you peace of mind about the home or help you negotiate repairs.

Areas Inspected Outside the Property

The exterior of a property provides the first impression, so building inspectors thoroughly check everything outside to identify any issues.


The roof is one of the most important parts of a home, so inspectors closely examine the roof and attic. They check the roofing material for signs of damage or leaks and ensure the gutters and downpipes are securely fitted and clear of debris. In the attic, they check the insulation, ventilation, and structural integrity.

Exterior Walls

Inspectors walk around the entire building looking for any damage to exterior walls like cracks, holes or water damage. They also check that windows and doors are secure and fitted properly.


Outside plumbing like pipes, taps, water heaters and drainage systems are checked to make sure there are no leaks or corrosion and that water is flowing properly. Inspectors will run multiple taps at once to test water pressure.


Inspectors test any exterior lights, power points, and wiring to ensure they are safe and compliant with regulations. They check the metre box and switchboard are properly fitted and grounded.


The property grounds provide the setting for the home, so inspectors examine paths, driveways, steps, fences, and any outbuildings like garages or sheds. They check for uneven or damaged surfaces and ensure everything is structurally sound and well-maintained.

Additional areas

Other areas that may be inspected include pools, spas, retaining walls, patios, decks, balconies and staircases. Inspectors look for signs of damage, leaks or safety hazards in all exterior areas of the property. Conducting a thorough building inspection gives buyers confidence in the structural integrity and condition of the property before purchasing.

Building Inspection Report: What to Expect

So you’ve booked your building inspection—what happens next? Once the inspection is complete, the inspector will provide you with a detailed written report of their findings. This report will outline the overall condition of the property and identify any major structural or safety issues that need to be addressed.

Structural Integrity

The inspector will closely examine the foundations, walls, and roof to determine if there are any signs of movement, cracking or water damage. They will check that the structure is level and plumb, and that there are no major defects that could compromise the building’s stability. Any issues identified will be noted in the report along with recommendations for further assessment or repair work required.


All major services like plumbing, electrical, heating/cooling, smoke alarms and insulation will be tested to ensure they are in working order and up to the relevant safety standards. The inspector will note the location of the mains for essential services, check the condition of electrical wiring, test that plumbing fixtures and drains are leak-free, and ensure all safety mechanisms like RCDs, smoke/heat detectors and exit signs are functioning properly.

Condition of Finishes

While an inspector’s role is not to assess the cosmetic condition of a property, they will comment on any obvious signs of damage or water penetration in walls, ceilings, floors, windows, and doors. Things like severe cracking, damp, rot or pest damage should be identified in the report. The inspector may also note where finishes appear dated or are reaching the end of their usable life, as this could indicate additional costs for renovation work.

Overall, a professional building inspection report should give you confidence that the property is structurally sound and safe. It may also highlight areas that need repair or replacement, allowing you to make an informed decision about any costs that could be involved if you proceed with the purchase. Be sure to go over the findings with your inspector and don’t hesitate to ask any follow up questions you may have.


So there you have it, the main things that will be covered in a standard building inspection if you’re looking to buy or sell property. While the inspector won’t be pulling apart the walls or ceilings, they’ll still examine the important structural elements, inside and out. Don’t just focus on the major expensive stuff like roofing though. Those seemingly little things like doors not closing properly can still add up. And be prepared that they’ll find at least something wrong – very rare for a building to get a completely clean inspection after all. But see the report as a helpful tool in negotiations rather than something to fear. Now armed with this knowledge of what to expect, you can feel more prepared and confident when that inspection day comes.