You've just walked out of the perfect home. It has a fab shade of paint, the scent of jasmine and even a nook to read in the sun.
When you're in the market for your first home, remember the property has been deliberately made to look its best. Fresh paint and buffed floors can hide many sins.
Buying a lemon can take a huge financial and emotional toll. Major repairs can leave you financially skewered, while the strain of not knowing what else might go wrong is hard to bear.
Getting a property inspection before you buy could save years of heartache. Here's what the inspector will be looking for.
Danger under the surface
The fact that a power point technically works doesn't mean it's been done properly. Plenty of DIYers do their own handiwork. Sometimes that means staining a deck or hooking up a new doorbell, but it can mean electrical, plumbing or other work that's been done outside the law. A pre-purchase inspection should find the dodgy stuff before it puts you at risk.
It's estimated that around one-in-four homes in Australia can be impacted by destructive pests like termites at some stage. Along with the damage they cause, many pests like mice and rats also carry disease, so you could end up sharing with someone pretty unsavoury.
Showing its age
If you are looking at an older home, a building structure inspection could help to find any internal wear and tear. That might be things like wood rot, old wiring, mould, rusty pipes or general decay. These sorts of issues are more than superficial. A decrepit building could leave you exposed to fire, collapse or worse.
It's easy to miss the rest of the property
There's more to a property inspection than the main building. You're buying everything on the title. Your inspector's pre-purchase building inspection checklist will also include everything external.
When the reports come back, what should you consider?
The report should have a summary section at the front, which will itemise any potential problems. This should be read in conjunction with a building report for the property.
To save time and money, a combined building and pest inspection is strongly recommended.
The most important considerations are structural termite damage and safety hazards.
Unfortunately, termite damage is often concealed inside walls or where access is not possible. The inspector should be able to articulate the extent of possible damage without overly exaggerating the risk or being deliberately vague.
The biggest red flag for a property buyer is the likelihood of extensive concealed structural termite damage. This damage is impossible to quantify without dismantling the building.
A "bad" report doesn't mean it's a no-go zone.
Don't expect a blemish-free scorecard - the perfect property doesn't exist.
The building inspection cost will be worth every cent when you buy with your eyes open.
A pre-purchase pest/building report will identify the problems affecting a property and the necessary work needed to bring the place up to scratch. At around $500, it's a sound investment in the future of your most valuable asset.