House Inspection: 9 Things To Consider For Pre-Purchase Inspections

BUYER BEWARE: 9 things to keep in mind when booking pre-purchase house inspection

These days it seems every builder and his dog will claim to be a building inspector. As a long established building company we have seen many ‘inspectors’ come and go often leaving the industry when a client comes across an issue which they failed to identify during a house inspection. The unfortunate truth is that there are people out there who go out of their way to recommend these ‘cowboy’ inspectors because they will benefit from the sale of the property. In the end the person who suffers is the unwitting home buyer who thought they had followed all the rules.

It is important for buyers to remember that the building inspection industry is unregulated so some questions need to be asked when selecting an inspection company:

1. Did the real estate agent recommend the inspector or provide you with a report from the vendor?

While not all agents will steer you in the wrong direction be aware that some certainly will. Agents have a vested interest in securing a ‘soft’ inspection for properties they are selling- remember they work for the vendor. Time and time again we hear of unqualified inspectors being recommended or reports being given out to clients which paint a ‘rosy’ picture of the property. Do you own research into the inspection company so you can make the decision for yourself.

2. Does your inspector check the council records?

We find that 1 in 5 properties have some form of illegal building work – by checking the records your inspector can compare the plans with what is onsite and identify any work that may have been carried out without a permit or consent. With insurance companies increasingly refusing to cover claims for illegal building work, this is a vital step in your due diligence.

3. Is your inspector qualified and a part of a reputable organisation?

Make sure your inspector is qualified to do the job you are paying them to do! A good indication of this is being a member of an industry organisation such as the NZ Institute of Building Inspectors (NZIBI).

4. Will the inspection be conducted to the New Zealand Standard for Residential Property Inspections?

The New Zealand Standard 4306:2005 is not compulsory so inspectors do not have to follow it, however it is good practise to follow the guidelines that NZS4306 demands!

5. Does your inspector carry indemnity insurance?

In order to comply with the NZ Standard 4306, a building inspector must carry indemnity insurance. Insurance for building inspectors is incredibly expensive and difficult to obtain so many inspectors choose not to hold it. Without insurance, a client is likely going to be to left ‘up a creek without a paddle’ in the situation where a major fault has not been identified. Pro tip: Make sure you have a guarantee in writing when you book your inspection.

6. Ask to see an example of the report you are going to get.

The quality of builders’ reports vary greatly, from a verbal report to a comprehensive written report with photographic evidence – there is a huge discrepancy! Ask to see an example of a company’s reports so that you can see exactly what you are paying for.

7. Make sure you are getting a written report.

Some building inspectors will offer verbal reports at much cheaper rates however this can cause a major headache if you discover an unidentified failure down the line. It then becomes a matter of who said what to whom and when. Get it in writing!

8. Will your inspector get onto the roof?

Particularly with older homes; the roof is a very important part of the dwelling to have inspected in order to identify leaks, rust, lead head nails, missing flashings, and other failures. Due to Health and Safety laws, many inspectors are now unable to get onto the roof and instead check it from the ground or ladder. Make sure you ask your inspector if they will be physically getting onto the roof.

9. What is the timeframe for the report?

With the current demand-driven market, many purchases are being left with as little as 5 days to satisfy the conditions of sale. It’s a small window of time when you have a long ‘to do list’! Make sure to ask your inspector when they can get there and when you can expect to have your report back – remember you need to have enough time to process the information and do your research on any failures which may be identified.

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CONTACT: Chelsea at NZ House Surveys

PHONE: 0800 487 884



Dustin Lindale August 4, 2017 Blog, Tips for First Home Buyers