How a Pre-Sale Inspection Can Help You Avoid Nasty Surprises and Make Sure You Get the Sale Price You’re Looking For

If you are selling your home, having a pre-sale building and pest inspection can help you in several ways.

First, an inspection can identify defects or problems that you may not know are present.

If no significant defects are found, a pre-sale inspection document that the property is in good condition. Finally, a pre-sale inspection helps define a fair selling price and gives a good idea of the value of the property.

What Is a Pre-Sale Building and Pest Inspection?

A pre-sale building and pest inspection consists of two types of inspections that look for defects or damage. Building and pest inspections can be done separately. However, they are often done in combination

The building inspection examines the condition and integrity of structural components and internal elements including:

• Flooring and subflooring
• Floor coverings
• Windows
• Doors
• Masonry
• Walls and ceilings
• Woodwork
• Joinery such as cupboards
• Paint
• Plumbing
• Ventilation
• Smoke alarms
• Verandahs

The inspector looks for signs of damage or weakness such as rising damp, cracks in walls, sagging subflooring or ceilings, missing tiles, evidence of water leakage around plumbing and condition of the woodwork.

If a building inspection is ordered independently of a pest inspection, the inspector may note damage by pests. However, the inspector will not investigate to define the extent of the damage.

A building inspection also examines exterior components of the property including:

• Site drainage
• Roof condition
• Chimneys, flues and flashing
• Eaves
• Fascia
• Guttering and down pipes
• Outbuildings such as garages and pergolas
• Patios and porches
• Fire hazards
• Pathways and Driveways
• Fencing

The inspector will look at exterior drainage patterns to verify that water flows away from the buildings, the condition of guttering, flashing and associated components, the condition of the roof and condition of outbuildings. 

A pest inspection is a separate examination that is often combined with a building inspection. However, a seller or buyer can request a separate pest inspection. A pest inspection examines:

• Subfloor timbers
• Roof void timbers
• Woodwork, including doors, windows, interior supports and walls
• Evidence of active ant or termite damage or nesting
• Evidence and extent of rodent activity in walls, roof and subfloor areas
• Evidence and extent of past pest damage
• Evidence of wood rot

After the inspections are completed, the inspector prepares a report that details what was examined and notes any significant defects. Older buildings are sure to have some faults.

Minor damage may not be listed in the report. Instead, the inspector is looking for evidence of major problems that may compromise the liveability, safety or structural integrity of the property. 

The report should also mention areas not examined and why. For example, if the roof void was not accessible, this should be stated. 

Benefits of a Pre-Sale Building and Pest Inspection

Documents condition before a sale. A pre-sale building and pest inspection provide information about the condition of the property before a sale. The inspector compares the condition of the building to others of that type and age.

Significant problems will be noted. The inspector should also make recommendations about how to rectify these problems. 

Avoids surprises. Often, owners are not aware of termite damage or that a leaking roof has caused structural damage. By knowing about significant defects in advance of initiating the sale, you have the option of making repairs or modifying the sale price. 

Useful as a selling tool. A buyer may order a building inspection independently of the seller. If you have completed an inspection, this can reassure the buyer that you are making a good-faith effort to document the condition of the property.

If the property is offered at auction, the report will be shown to bidders. Potential buyers may decide not to order independent inspections, which can speed up the process. 

Allows you to set a fair price. A pre-sales inspection allows you to justify the selling price based on the known condition of the property.

If a buyer orders an inspection and identifies major damage or defects, the contract could be withdrawn or the buyer could try to negotiate a lower price.

If defects are identified in a pre-sales inspection, the seller and buyer can negotiate the price and state which party will complete the repairs. 

How to Choose a Building and Pest Inspector

When you select a building inspector, ask about the inspector’s qualifications. Many have experience in building construction and renovation.

Ask about their experience in your geographical area. Local inspectors may have a better understanding of the environmental factors that affect a property. They will also be better able to compare your property others in the area. 

Pest inspectors are required to be licensed in all Australian states and territories. Ask to see the inspector’s license, and verify affiliation with the Australian Pest Control Association.