Building And Pest Inspections Explained

Building And Pest Inspections

Building and pest inspections are an essential step in the purchase of a new home or investment property. There are certain things you can look for while you’re on the house-hunting circuit - like checking the proximity of gardens and trees to the walls of the house - but a professional building inspection is important before you sign anything.

Example Scenario: Mike And Kylie’s (Bad) Dream Home

Mike and Kylie thought that, after six long months of searching, they had found the house of their dreams in north-west NSW; three bedrooms, large kitchen and even a sheltered sunroom for their dog.
They immediately made an offer, settled on the house and moved in – ready to begin a new chapter of their life together. However, it was not the idyll they were hoping for. They soon discovered that the plumbing needed replacing throughout the house, the entire house needed electrical re-wiring, stumps under the floor were rotten and the roof was on the verge of collapse. The cost to fix everything, just to make the house liveable, was estimated to be $100,000 – a significant proportion of what they initially paid for the property.

So where did Mike and Kylie go wrong? Simple. They failed to get a house and pest inspection prior to making an offer on the house, an inspection that may have saved them the emotional heartache and financial stress that comes when your dream house turns out to be a nightmare.

What Are Building Inspections?

House inspections will usually give you an assessment of some or all of the following:

  • roof space and sub-floor (to check for structural damage)
  • guttering;
  • footings (the base of foundation walls);
  • doors;
  • ceilings;
  • framing;
  • plumbing;
  • wiring;
  • dampness;
  • rot;
  • window space (to ensure your windows are adequately sealed); and
  • report any features of the house that do not meet current regulations, including illegal extensions or alterations to the property.

What Are Pest Inspections?

Unfortunately, a pest inspection is not about assessing your neighbour’s behaviour and their future potential as an annoyance. It is, however, about identifying if there are wood destroying insects, such as borers and/or termites (otherwise known as white ants) and any existing and potential damage they may have or will cause.

How Much Do House Inspections Cost?

The cost of a house inspection will depend on the size of the property. Expect to pay $200 for a small property (single-fronted terrace) and $1000 for a larger property.
A pest inspection, meanwhile, will set you back around $100.
As you can see, neither set of costs are prohibitive. When you consider what you could be risking, it makes better common sense to know upfront any potential liabilities prior to making your purchase.

Signs That A Building May Have A Pest Problem

Although nothing can compare to a professional inspection, there are some signs that you can look for when browsing properties. Termites are the most destructive of the pests, and thus looking for signs of termite infestation should be at the top of any home buyers mind. Termite activity can be detected by many easy to spot signs, however the following information is not a comprehensive guide, professional pest inspections should still be carried out.

Any excavated wood you see around is a sign of termite existence. Termites eat the inside of the timber and only leave a thin layer intact on the outside of the wood. Different species hollow out the wood differently, so any hollowing out whether it be big or small, is a sign.

While you are looking around for this hollowed out wood, you should also keep an eye out for tree nests. Though usually in the centre of a tree trunk, they are also found in the root of the tree, so take a close look towards the bottom of the tree trunk. They are most commonly found on oak trees, eucalyptus trees and peppercorn trees.

When inside the house, inspect the paint on the walls and doors, and specifically the architraves and skirting as blistering, bulging paint is also a sign of termites. While your there, also inspect for small masses of dirt or mud, especially on stairs, and any moist areas.

On your way out of the house, inspect the garden and the fence. If there is untreated timber used, this attracts termites, and any signs that these elements have been infested by termites should be a big warning sign that the home may also be in danger.

There are many more signs of pest inspection that cannot be seen or may be missed by the casual property buyer, so to ensure your new house won't fall apart any time soon, a professional building inspection and pest inspection definitely needs to be undertaken.

Who Do I See To Get A Building And Pest Inspection?

There are a number of house and pest inspections companies who offer varying ranges of service, which can make it confusing for the consumer.
Here are some questions you should ask before selecting a company:

  • What are the qualifications of the inspector? Some companies will use a builder whilst others will use specially trained architects. In general, the more qualified the inspector, the more likely it will be that they can identify problems in the house.
  • Do they have a good reputation? Speak to friends, family and colleagues about companies they might have used in the past. Odds are, if they were happy with the service, you will be too.
  • Do they offer any guarantees on the inspection? Some reputable inspection companies will offer you a structural guarantee on the report for 12 months. This will give you ultimate piece of mind as, if any problems are realised in those first crucial months, you have insured against financial losses.

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