When you’re in the market to buy a property, whether it’s a rental or your own home, there is one step in the purchasing process that many people skip: the humble building and pest inspection.
There are a dozen reasons why people don’t think it’s important to arrange an inspection. Perhaps the home looks like it’s in great condition, or it has been owned by the same house-proud owner for 20 years.
You may consider yourself handy and therefore able to deal with any repair issues that do crop up – or maybe the property is relatively new, so you expect building problems to be minimal.
All of these reasons are valid to a degree. However, potential problems can arise without warning, because when you buy a piece of real estate, you’re buying it ‘as is’. This means that regardless of what it looks like, you really have no idea how much (or how little) maintenance the previous owner did.
“Paying for home upkeep is expensive,” says Shelley Horton, founder of Sydney based buyers agency Albion Avenue.
“Regular maintenance on a home adds up and over time bigger ticket items, like replacing roof tiles and re-wiring, are particularly costly when they fall due.”
This could mean that if the vendor didn’t have the spare cash to properly repair the leaky roof or upgrade the faulty air-conditioning unit, then you as the new owner may pay the price.
Uncovering the secrets you can’t see
As well as picking up on routine repairs that you may have overlooked, a building and pest inspection will shine a light on the ‘hidden’ risks of that property.
These include insulation concerns and termite infestations – two issues that can be difficult to see at first glance, but that can cost thousands of dollars to rectify.
“Many building and structural faults can go unnoticed to the untrained eye,” explains Andrew Cook, marketing manager at Mint360property.
“It’s important to get an inspection report from an independent building inspector before you purchase and for units, to get a strata report done. They may cost you money now, but they could potentially save you thousands of dollars down the track.”
The real-life dangers of skipping a building inspection
When property buyers Lyndall* and Jacob* put an offer in on a three-bedroom townhouse on the Gold Coast, they decided not to bother getting a building and pest inspection.
“The building was only five years old so we thought there couldn’t be much wrong with it structurally,” Lyndall explains.
They saved around $500 by skipping the inspection, but they regret their decision. Two years after buying the home, they received a notice from their body corporate manager stating that their levies would increase – up from $55 per week to $128!
“It turns out that the builder had taken some shortcuts and the warranty insurance period had expired. Every owner in the complex had to chip in substantially, in order to get on top of the issues,” Lyndall says.
A building and pest inspection may have picked up on some of the complaints, which included both structural and cosmetic issues.
Lyndall says she would never buy a property again without a building and pest inspection, even if it were brand new. After all, an outlay of $500 is a small price to pay for the peace of mind that you’re not buying a money pit.
* Names changed to protect identity.
The information in this article is general information only and does not constitute financial or legal advice. This does not take into account your personal circumstances and accordingly you should seek independent financial and legal advice before taking any action, or refraining from taking any action in reliance on any information contained in this article.