Building Inspection-All About It

A building inspection is an assessment and documentation of the condition of the property and building defects by the licensed building inspector. A building inspection involves the visual inspection of all the accessible parts of the property. Modern building inspectors use new tools to make it more efficient. Building inspection is done by a licensed professional building inspector who compiles all the findings in form of a building inspection report.

A building inspection is a great opportunity for a property buyer to know about the condition of the building and building defects in the property. A building inspection is recommended as a must-have for any property purchase.  In Australia, the “subject to building inspection” condition is allowed when making the purchase of the property.

What does subject to building inspection mean?

The “subject of building inspection” is a condition that applies to the sale of the property. Subject to building inspection condition means that the sale of the property depends on the outcome of building inspection. Buyers can order this condition to be added to the sale contract and it provides great safety from unforeseen building problems.  Under this condition, the buyer must get one building inspection done by the licensed building inspector.

The buyer cannot cancel the contract based on the assessment done relative, friend, or some inspector without a license. When canceling the contract, the seller can request a copy of the report. Buyers can also request the price reduction or defects to be repaired.

A perfect-looking house could have a hidden defect that only an experienced building inspector can identify. So subject to building inspection condition is a smart decision to protect yourself from the after purchase shocks.

Are building inspections worth it?

Buying a property is the biggest investment for anyone and building inspection provides information about the condition of the building.  This helps the property buyer to make an informed decision. It provides detailed information about any risk hazards in the property and the building inspection report helps in price negotiation. Whether you are a seasoned property buyer or a naive one, you cannot be sure about the building defects in the property. 

Here are 7 benefits of building inspection making it worth every penny:

  1. Safety of family: Family is most important for everyone. It is the family we buy the house for. We buy the house to keep our family safe and comfortable but do you know there can be defects in houses that can cause health and safety risks to your family members.  A simple loose safety railing can cause a fatal accident in the house. An expert building inspector identifies these safety issues and protects your family from potentially fatal accidents.
  2. Protect your investment – Buying property is always the biggest investment for any family. If something goes wrong with this property, then the future of the whole family can sink along with this property.  As per research conducted by, 100% of houses have building defects. 5% of apartment buyers have to fork out above $50,000 to fix the building defects in their newly purchased property. Whereas 1 in every 20 house buyers have to spend above $20,000 to repair building defects in their new house. Simple water leakage can cost more than $15000.  The building inspection warns you about these defects and protects you from the potential financial sinkhole.
  3. Illegal Modification: Building inspection can save you from nasty and costly fines from the administrative departments, councils, and other stakeholders. Some owners carry out modifications or extensions without permission from the local governing body. These alterations may be illegal. A buyer may have paid extra for these appealing modifications. The new homeowner has to either face heavy penalties or get an illegal extension demolished at their own expense.
  4. Negotiation Leverage: The building inspection report list all the building defects in the property. This report acts as a great negotiation tool.  The purchaser can ask the seller to get the building defects fixed or negotiate for lower prices. On the other, without a building inspection report, the buyer does not have any solid ground to negotiate with the seller.
  5. Future cost: The building inspection report contains detailed information about current, hidden, and potential building defects. This helps the buyer to calculate the cost to get these defects fixed and provides the total future cost of the property. Buyers can also prioritize which defects need immediate attention and which defects can wait to plan out the budget.
  6. Time-saving: Many families are too busy in their profession and cannot afford time off their work to fix building defects. These families are looking for a property that does not need any kind of fixing and is ready to move in. A building inspector minutely scans every inch of the property for any defects and certify if the property needs any repair or not. Also, the inspection report list out all the defects which can help you to calculate the total time required to get those defects fixed. This helps the buyer to plan out the future plan.
  7. Discover deal-breaker: The Building inspection reports help in making the final decision to purchase the property. As the report provides detailed information about the severity of the defect- minor or major. A minor defect can be ignored or repaired. Whereas, a major defect that can cost thousands of dollars to fix may lead to a deal-breaker. may not affect the decision but a major defect can be a deal-breaker.  Basically, building inspection provides you with all the information to make an educated final decision.

So building inspection helps the property buyer in a multidimensional way. Whether you are a first home buyer or a seasoned property buyer, there is no way that buyer can figure out all the defects. A single missed defect can cost thousands of dollars and quickly deplete your savings. A building inspector has the proper education, skills, tools, and experience to inspect a property to provide you proper information about the property. This is a small investment that pays for its self many folds, so if you are buying a property then building inspection is a must.

What is a building inspection report?

The building inspection report is a document with information about the condition of the building along with the list of defects in the building. The building inspection report is prepared by the licensed building inspector in accordance with the local code. Building inspection reports have property details, client details, inspector details, defects details, inspection details, terms and conditions, and recommendations.

What is in the building inspection report?

The building inspection report is the condition report of the property prepared by a licensed building inspector in accordance with local regulations and code. It contains a list of fatal risks, major defects, and minor defects in the property.  The report is prepared by the expert and experience building inspector in an easy-to-understand format. The Australian real estate system provides the provision of the sales contract with the condition of “subject to building inspection”. The building inspection report contains the following information:

Table of Content

Like any professional document, the first part of building inspection report is table content. This table of content contains heading and subheading with the page numbers making it easier to navigate through the page. 

Client and Property information

The client and property information section contains information about the client, property, and building inspector. 

The section starts with basic information about clients who have placed the order for building inspection. The report contains the legal name of the client, the contact address of the client, the phone numbers, emails, and the mailing address of the client. 

The next part of this section contains the property details relevant to the inspection. The property details include the location of the property(full address), Style of the building, Type of the building(apartment, townhouse, or independent house), Age of the property,  Type of construction, floor types (tile, wood, carpet), types of walls (Board, brick, wood), type of roof, the direction of the property, and photographs of the front of the property. 

The last part of this section has detailed information about the inspector and the inspection.  It lists the type of inspection, date of inspection, time of inspection, weather conditions at the time of inspection, people present at the time of inspection. name of inspector and contact details of the inspector. This part also contains important definitions and tools used during the inspection. 

Building inspectors also mention the most important finding of inspection here to highlight them. 

Description of Inspection and Defects

This is the most important part of the report and contains the finding of the inspections. The property is divided into different sections based on the location of that part property. All findings belonging to one section are put together to make it easy to track. This section of the report contains common attributes and parameters of each item inspected. The following attributes and parameters are recorded for each inspected item on the property.

  • Item identity: Name and description of each item inspected (For example floor of which room, Kitchen bench-top, etc. )
  • Scope of inspection for the item: Here explanation is given that which part of the item is inspected and which part of the item is not inspected. The reasons for not able to the whole item are provided.

Example: If a retaining wall is earthbound then only the exposed part of the retaining wall be inspected. The part of the wall which is underground cannot be inspected.

  • Methodology and Tools used for inspection: Report details the methodology and tools used for the inspection of that part. (Visual inspection or intrusive Inspection, spirit levels, thermal imaging, Moisture meter,  sonar, etc.)


If there is a defect detected by the building inspector in the part of the building then the following additional information is recorded in the report about the defect for that part. 

  • Name and Type of Defect: Building inspector records the name and type of defect (Water damage, water leakage, crack in the wall, missing insulation, missing part) in the report.
  • Defect explanation: Report contains the detailed information about the defect in an easy-to-understand format. 
  • The Severity of Defect: If a tool is used then the reading of that tool(Gap measurement, offset reading, Crack size, moisture meter reading) is given to quantify the severity of the defect.  Inspector categorizes the building defects into minor, major, or safety risks depending upon the size, location, and type of defect.  
  • Scope of defect: This defines if the full defect is verified or just part of the defect is verified. Inspector also mentioned reasons for not able to verify the full defect 


Example: If there is a crack in the retaining wall which is earthbound then only exposed part of the crack can be verified and not in the underground part of the wall. 

  • Photograph: Photographs of the defects are attached with an explanation of each defect.
  • Recommendation: Inspector recommends a further course of action. 

The above-mentioned information is noted for each inspected item and then grouped into sections.

Conclusion and Summary

This part of the report contains the summary or conclusion of the building inspection. The inspector summarizes all the major concerns in the building in an easy-to-understand format. It mentions the total number of minor and major defects. 

Terms and Conditions

This part of the report explains all the terms and conditions associated with building inspection.

  • Accessibility clause description
  • Scope of the building inspection 
  • Purpose of the building inspection
  • Scope and Purpose of the report
  • Legal limitation of the report
  • Disclaimer from the building inspector
  • Copy right information of the report

General House Maintenance Tips (Optional)

This an optional section which is provided by some building inspection. This section contains the guidance for up keeping and maintenance of the building.  It is at the discretion of the owner to follow these guidelines although it is of great help to the naive owner. 

What does building inspection look for?

Building inspectors look for building defects or abnormalities in the building. These building defects can be minor or major. Different sections of the building are prone to different types of building defects. The very basic problems a building inspector looks for are cracks in external and internal walls, Water damage, Incomplete work, missing parts or fitting, Water leakages, Broken tiles, missing insulation, working of doors, Working of windows, window fixtures,  poor drainage, grade problems, gaps in the doors and windows, gutters problems, clogged gutters, bent gutters, broken gutters, missing gutters,  Roof issues – broken or worn roofs, missing or broken flashings, faulty installation, missing tiles, curled shingles, foundation problems. 

What does building inspection cover?

The building inspection is an opportunity and process to find out any building defect by a qualified professional building inspector. Research says that all properties have building defects that can cost thousands of dollars. Building inspection provides information about these defects and helps you make an educated decision.

A building inspection is an elaborate process that covers every nook and corner of the property. Having said that, there are different guidelines for a building inspection in every state. The following list of items covered during the building inspection can help property buyers. 

Property Site

These are parts of the property that are not attached to the main building of the property.

The parts covered in this section of inspection are fence, retaining wall,  fence, gates, garage, carports, sheds, driveway, paving, paths, ramps, steps, handrails,  entertainment area, bbq area, pergolas, pools, spas, ponds, letterbox, clothesline, garden beds, flag poles jetty. The inspection is not only limited to the above-mentioned part of houses and may include other parts not mentioned here.

Building  Exterior

These are the parts of the building that are attached to the exterior of the main building.

The parts of the house which are inspected under this section are lintels, brickwork, block-work, cladding, windows, doors, laundry, storage rooms, sunrooms, front patio, back patio, stairs, balustrade, verandahs, decks, balconies, chimneys, attached garages.

Building Interior

The main items covered in this section of inspection are walls, windows, doors, ceilings, floors, stairs, balustrade,  bench-top, cupboards, sinks, tubs, spa, taps, tiles, cistern, pan, showers, vanity, washbasin, mirrors, damp problems, ventilation, skylights. All the parts of the interior must have clear and safe access.

Roof interior

The interior of the roof is also called the roof cavity or attic and contains roof insulation. The building inspectors do a thorough inspection of the roof cavity. Items inspected in this part of the inspection are roof cavity, roof tiles, roof sheeting, roof framing,  insulation, lighting covers, ceiling framing, ceiling lining, wall framing, and flashing.

The building inspector must have proper access to the roof cavity to furnish the inspection.

Roof exterior

The building consultant will inspect the roof exterior and any visible major defects or safety hazards associated with the following areas will be included in the report. The items covered here are roof tiles, roof sheeting, skylights, hot water systems, solar panels, vents, flues, valleys, gutters, downpipes, fascia, bargeboards, and eaves.


Some buildings have accessible subfloor. Inspector records any visible major defects or safety hazards associated with the subfloor. Parts covered in subfloor inspection are footings, piers, bearers, floor joists, flooring, moisture damage, rot, drainage, ventilation, retaining walls.


A building inspection is not limited to the items listed in the above list and a building inspector may include more items of the building depending on customer demand, local regulation, or property condition. For more information about building inspection, please visit the building inspection council website.

What is not covered in building inspection?

Although building inspection is an extensive inspection of the potential property. It provides you information about any building defects(minor or major) in the property. But inspection does not cover everything on the property. There are some limitations that are outside the scope of standard building inspection.  

Here is the list of things that are not covered in building inspection:

  1. In-accessible area

The building inspector is obligated to do the inspection only to those areas which are safe to access. If there is any area on the property which are inaccessible due to an obstruction such as dangerous electrical wiring, heavy furniture, plumbing fitting, or gas pipes, then inspection of these areas is not covered under the standard building inspection.

  1. Under walls and Ceiling

Basically, a building inspection is a visual inspection of the property for any building defects. It is non-intrusive which means the inspector does not drill or penetrate into the surface to inspect under it.

Although, these days modern building inspectors use new technology. It improves the efficiency of the inspection and lets the inspector inspect under the surface. Thermal imaging, Moisture meter, SONAR  help the building inspector to have a better idea under the surface.

  1. The size and layout of the rooms

Building inspection or pre-purchase inspection does not check if your furniture will fit in the new house or not. The size of the room and other areas of the house is provided in the property’s sale posting. Buyer has complete information whether their existing furniture will fit in the new house or not.

  1. Home appliances

Building inspection does not include the inspection of home appliances, even if home appliances are part of the property package. The common home appliances which are not included in the inspection are Air conditioner, Oven, Dishwasher, ducted vacuum cleaner, range-hood. It is the responsibility of the property buyer to check the condition of these appliances or get the inspection done by the respective expert.

  1. Home accessories

The inspection also does not cover other home accessories such as Smoke alarms, Fire alarms, intercom systems, CCTV, lawn watering system, burglar alarm system. It is advised that the property buyer should check these items by himself.

  1. Operation of fireplaces, swimming pools, and related equipment.

Other items that are not covered in building inspection are fire-place, Jacuzzi, saunas, chimneys, and pool filters. These are not common property areas and need specialized knowledge for inspection. There are special inspectors for swimming pools and saunas certification.

  1. Solar Hot water system and Solar PV Systems

Almost 30%, Australian houses have a solar hot water system, solar PV systems, or both. Building inspection does not cover the inspection of these types of equipment. These items need specially trained electricians for inspection and are beyond the scope of standard building inspection.

  1. Building Compliance issues

Building inspection does not include the inspection or review of the property’s compliance with local building codes and regulations. If there are any compliance issues present in the building, then it can fetch heavy penalties. So the buyer should refer to the local council to eliminate any compliance issues.  

  1. Building land safety

Many areas are prone to landslides, sinkholes, or earth movement. These problems can be catastrophic for the building. Building inspection does not cover these problems and it is the buyer’s responsibility to have these verified from the related departments.

  1. Health Risk

 The standard building inspection does not cover the inspection of toxic or hazardous materials on the property. Although any visual occurrence for the presence or suspected presence of hazardous material is notified in the inspection reports. It is recommended to have the expert inspection done from the certified chemical testing lab for any suspected hazardous material.

  1. Other  exclusions
  • Any superficial or minor defect which does not need any repair or rectification.
  • Providing the cost of repair for any building defect is out of the scope of the building inspection.
  • Repairing or fixing any building defect is not included in the building inspection.
  • Adequacy of any construction element or comment on the structural design is not part of building inspection.
  • Inspection is timber termite and pest is not part of standard building inspection. For the detection of any wood-destroying insects, please choose building and pest inspection. 

Although, above list mentions all the exclusion from the building inspection but it is not limited to these only. Different states have different guideline regarding building inspection and circumstances effects scope of inspection in a great amount. On the other hand, it is between buyer and inspector who decides the final scope of building inspection. 

How is the building inspection done?

The building inspection is the process of carefully scanning each accessible part of the building for defects and abnormalities. Building inspectors check each item for defects for which that part is prone. Building inspectors make a list of all these defects and mention them in the inspection report.

Basically, they have 2 things to check- deviation from the standard and sign of damage or defects. Building inspectors council have standards to which each part or item in the building must stick. If an item in the building is not up to standard then the building inspector will mark it in the report. For example, If there is a gap between the window frame and wall in access of permissible limit then the building inspector will mention it in the report.

Same way building inspectors have a keen eye for signs of damage or defect. A slight change in the color of the part of the wall could be a sign of water damage. The building inspector will further investigate it.

Some building inspectors use modern tools which help them see under the surface and enhances the efficiency of inspection.