[Author – Tim ODwyer]
Peter Weddel is a fiercely independent licensed building inspector who goes through houses like a dose of salts, takes no nonsense from agents and can’t stand a bar of incompetent conveyancing solicitors (or their clerical staff.)
This is part of what he tells his Queensland home-buyer customers:
- Never sign a contract before showing it to a competent solicitor working on your behalf, not someone recommended by the real estate agent.
- The REIQ contract has been written by real estate agents with the blessing of the law society to sell houses, not to protect the purchaser.
- Do not accept reports from the current owner or real estate agent THEY WILL BE BIASED.
- BEWARE OF VENDOR REPORTS AND ACCEPT THEM AT YOUR PERIL! In the majority of cases they have been organised by the real estate agent for one of their puppets to carry out a favourable report. These sorts of reports usually grossly understate or omit problems (so the sale of the property is not hindered). If you have not personally paid for the building/pest control person/firm for the report you may not have any legal recourse against them for negligence. Insurance companies usually demand that a disclaimer against third party claims be put into the report, otherwise they have no indemnity insurance cover. Check with a competent legal advisor.
- Ask the building or pest inspector for a copy of their disclaimer-disclosure and scope of the report, so the purchaser knows exactly what the inspector is and is not going to cover in their report before employing them.
- Do not use anyone recommended by a real estate agent. Ask the agent for a list of their “puppets” that do favourable reports for them to achieve a sale, so you know who not to use.
- Do not allow the agent or current owner to misinterpret the building or pest control report to suit themselves, they are not qualified and will be biased.
- Do not employ anyone that does tick box or check point reports without any detailed information on specific problems.
- The report must comply with the Australian Standard AS 4349.1 property inspections-Part 1 Residential buildings. Structural reports do not comply with the Australian standard. Do not use anyone that does structural reports of any kind. Only qualified engineers can carry out structural reports that are very limited in detail.
- Watch out for reports that mention problems and understate them or use age of the building as an excuse for problems.
- Request to see current documentation from the inspectors insurer stating that the building inspector or company is fully insured.
- Ask the building inspector what areas he accesses and covers in his report.
- Make sure that you are present for the duration of the inspection, and he accesses all areas that he said he would.
- Do not talk to the building inspector until he has completed the inspection, so you know exactly how long the inspection has taken.
- Make sure the building inspector does not disclose the results of the inspection with the current owner or real estate agent acting on behalf of the seller.
- Do not pay anyone upfront for the report before they have carried out the inspection.
- Make sure the clause in your purchase contract does not stipulate the subject dwelling on the property, this may exclude other structures and problems, for example: retaining walls, rising damp, drainage, sheds, garage, carports these items and buildings can also be costly to rectify.
- Before signing any contract make sure you see a solicitor acting on your behalf not recommended by the agent. Also cross out the clause that says the buyer must act reasonably, I do not know anyone that can define this clause. Also rule out any thing that says the owner is too get a copy of the report if they request it.
- Employ a totally separate pest and building inspection firm, not a builder with a pest control licence or one that has only done a basic course, you need someone with pest control background and experience. DO NOT USE THE SAME PERSON/FIRM TO CARRY OUT BOTH INSPECTIONS. Also do not use anyone recommended by the building or pest control firm, some get kick backs from firms they recommend.
- Make sure they spend at least 1-1/2 to 2 hours doing the inspection and access any reasonably accessible areas. Roof exterior, roof interior, property, sub-floor area, buildings on property. Also that they comment on all structures not just the house. Including retaining walls and fences.