Building and pest inspections may set you back a few hundred dollars, but are a crucial piece of information that can serve to be either a negotiation tool or a warning sign about the property you’ve been considering.

For those who haven’t seen many building and pest inspections, you need to be prepared. A mention of termite damage isn’t necessarily a death sentence, while smaller elements can be more worrying than you’d think. The trick is to keep a calm mind.

First things first, you need to pick a building and pest inspector. Just like every other profession, they’re not all made equal and you want to know exactly how good their services are first. You can get the building inspection and pest inspection done separately, or opt to have one but not the other. However, it’s common to have both done in one go. It is also increasingly common for inspections to be undertaken even on new builds, to ensure everything was done to standard.

Usually, the standard turnaround from booking is within 48 hours – however, you should always prepare in advance in case they are busy.

Then, when you have the report, don’t be taken aback.

It will include information about the internals and externals of the property, and most likely will include photographs. Some include videos as well, and some are presented entirely in digital form (usually preferred).

Usually, the first page will give you an idea of the overall condition and how this lines up with other properties locally (this is why it can be beneficial to use a local building inspector).

While the building and pest inspectors are legally required to meet thorough inspection standards, their reports often come with a number of clauses, terms and conditions to avoid potential lawsuits in the future. This is now standard and the inspection is no warranty or guarantee of the quality of the build.

If you don’t understand something in the report, call the inspector and ask them to go through it in detail. However, they are unable to give you advice as to whether you should still purchase.

Then it’s time to either decide that the faults identified in the report were expected or not an issue, choose to not continue with the purchase, or look to re-negotiate the asking price based on any faults you’ve found in the inspection. This is increasingly common practice.

For every defect you see noted, you need to ask yourself (or head to a builder or other professional) how much it will cost to rectify that issue. If the damage or any infestation seems excessive and leaves you concerned, it’s worth asking a few builders to quote you on the repairs. Keep these quotes as they can help in your negotiations for justifying any discount you are asking for.

It’s also interesting to note how the buyers are expected to prepare for the inspection, as this can give you an understanding of where issues may be hidden – and why your inspector is warning you they didn’t get access to a certain area.

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