While you may already be across the biggest upfront cost many people face when buying a property – stamp duty – there are other pre-purchase costs you need to consider. Paying for a building and pest inspection is an important one.

What are building and pest inspections?

A building inspection (or property inspection) can uncover structural, conditional and/or design defects or problems in the interior and exterior of a property, some of which may not be visible at first glance. These can include:

  • Rising damp
  • Structural cracks
  • Faulty roofs

A pest inspection can uncover evidence of things like termite damage (although not necessarily whether termites are still present in the property). 

A building inspector will typically prepare what’s known as a ‘property inspection report’ that must comply with the Australian Standard in order to be legitimate.

Why should you pay for a building inspection?

Identifying and fixing problems before you buy could save you thousands of dollars later down the track if problems are left unchecked. You could potentially also use the information to negotiate a lower price for the property, i.e. by highlighting that you’ll have to pay for some repairs.

What doesn’t a building inspection cover?

A building inspection report generally won’t include an estimate of the cost of any repair recommendations or information on parts of the property that weren’t or couldn’t be inspected.

A building inspector will also not normally check things such as plumbing/drainage, electrical wiring, appliances or paint.

How much does a building inspection cost?

Typically, a building inspection will cost in the hundreds of dollars. Many inspectors will offer a combined building and pest inspection service for less than the cost of separate inspections. You may end up ordering an inspection report on more than one property during your house hunting though, so it’s necessary to factor this into your budget.

Who should conduct a building inspection?

Make sure you always use a licensed builder, surveyor or architect. Ensure, too, that they have adequate insurance cover, particularly for professional indemnity. You can check whether a tradesperson is licensed on your state or territory’s Fair Trading (or equivalent) website.

When should you arrange for a building inspection?

Ideally the inspection will be conducted before the exchange of contracts or during the cooling-off period. If the property inspection report convinces you not to go ahead with buying the property and you have already exchanged contracts, it’s important for you to know your cooling-off rights and implications of exercising those rights.

A building inspection typically takes around 2-3 days to complete.

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Things you should know

This article is intended to provide general information of an educational nature only. It does not have regard to the financial situation or needs of any reader and must not be relied upon as financial product advice. As this information has been prepared without considering your objectives, financial situation or needs, you should, before acting on this information, consider its appropriateness to your circumstances. You should also consider seeking professional financial, legal and/or tax advice before making any decision based on this information.