Property inspection: don’t become a horror story

by Chris Lang on August 17, 2009

House collapsedThe following is an article by Leon Cupit, an experienced property inspector and owner of Independent Property Inspections.

As most real estate professionals know, there is an Australian Standard AS4349.1-2007 that documents the minimum standard for a Pre-Purchase Inspection on Residential Buildings.
A good inspector will either carefully explain what’s included, or have a pre-inspection agreement for their client to read and sign, or have a sample report to show their client so they are fully informed of what will be included before placing an order for the inspection.

A good inspector will also have a preferred contractors list of service providers that can complete any other specific concerns the buyer has. It is crucial that you only engage appropriately qualified professionals. For example, a building inspector is not qualified to comment on the electrical system in a home, however if during his inspection the inspector identifies abnormalities he can highlight this and refer it to the appropriate professional for further detail. This is how the system works.

Although it might appear self serving for a property inspector to say you need the services of a professional property inspector when you buy your home. I can only say that many years of experience have repeatedly justified that advice. (To the extent that I am now writing a “Book of Horror Stories”). I really believe that this one piece of advice is the best and most valuable bit of advice in this entire article.

No one else in the home buying process (apart from your lawyer) has the comprehensive training and experience necessary for the protection of your interests. No one else in the process has the true independence and lack of conflict that are required to protect your interests than an independent property inspector.

Gone are the days of getting your home inspected by a well meaning friend of relative, this process demands professionalism and expertise that can only be delivered by an experienced independent property inspector.

Not getting a professional pre-purchase inspection done to discover hidden defects before you buy a home is one of the most expensive mistakes you can make, and is the easiest to avoid.

If you are not a professional home inspector, hire one. You should make your contract subject to receiving a satisfactory building report from a professional independent inspector. Whether the house is new or used, any home can have a wide variety of defects that go way beyond the obvious cosmetic ones and it will take a skilled inspector to uncover these defects that will only prove very costly to repair after you buy the property then it’s to late.

In addition you can also make the contract contingent on more specific systems in the property like Plumbing, Electrical, heating, air-conditioning etc. Alternatively, a well written contract can also require the seller to warrant that these systems are all in proper operating condition. If you’re buying in a Termite prone area a timber pest inspection should also be included.

If you’re to buy at auction the building inspection must be done before the property is auctioned
We have seen to many buyers dreams shattered by not having a professional pre-purchase inspection carried out before they brought the home. Not getting a professional pre-purchase inspection done to discover hidden defects before you buy a home is one of the most expensive mistakes you can make, and is the easiest one to avoid. It seems incredible that all this can be avoided with just one phone call, yet so many still make the same mistake.


Take Jim for example. Jim had just been through a really rough part in his life, his children all lived over seas, his wife of 47 years past away six months ago after he lovingly nursed her through the cancer treatments for three years. Now Jim just wanted a new start, so with what little savings he still had plus the money from the sale of the family home Jim could afford a nice two bedroom unit closer to town, something he could potter around the garden in and live out his days.

Jim went to his first open home, a nice little unit and it had a garden just like he wanted, there was lots of furniture and all sorts of rugs and mats throughout, Jim said it looked a bit cluttered but his furniture would fit right in. Jim went to the auction (His first time ever)with a pocket full of cash. It was the happiest day for years when he won the final bid and brought his own little piece of paradise.

Jim called me the day he got the keys. The unit was settled that morning and Jim went straight out there to start moving in.

Now with all the furniture and rugs removed Jim new he was in serious trouble. When I inspected the unit the next morning I found the concrete floor had completely failed and sunk by up to 150mm or 6 inches, none of the doors would close, some had even been removed completely, the tiled roof was supported through the walls onto the floor slab and had also sunk.

Jim had a major structural failure and was looking at a possible complete demolition and rebuild. When I gave him the bad news he just slumped in the middle of the empty lounge and sobbed. He kept repeating “why didn’t I take the advice and get it inspected first”.

Buying a property is a complex transaction; You will need a dependable team around you like a Lawyer, Lender, Inspector, Insurer as well as all you own due diligence and advice from friends and family. You should enlist the help of all these experts early in the buying process.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

essay writing August 27, 2009 at 6:11 pm

It’s always nice when you can not only be informed, but also entertained! I’m sure you had fun writing this article.Excellent entry! I’m been looking for topics as interesting as this. Looking forward to your next post.


speech writing August 27, 2009 at 6:18 pm

Wonderful article, thanks for putting this together! This is obviously one great post. Thanks for the valuable information and insights you have so provided here. Keep it up!


bmv property February 16, 2010 at 11:56 pm

I have heard of horror stories like these before. I have even heard of one couple who bought their dream home in cyprus they moved in for one day and it started to fall apart and they had to knock it down. Apparently the ground was not safe to build and as a result it had to be demolished. There goes their dream too.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: