The Best Residential Building Reports in Canberra

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Residential building reports

If you’re selling a residential property in the ACT, you need to have a residential building inspection report completed before you offer your property for sale. This is by law.

A residential building inspection report is a written account of a property’s condition. It lists building defects or problems (interior and exterior) that need repair.

Residential building reports protect buyers by ensuring they have relevant information about your property before committing to buying it. These reports can also benefit you as a seller because they pinpoint issues that could prevent you from achieving the best price. Knowing about defects in advance means you can choose to fix defaults to maximise the value of your property.

While sellers are legally obliged to provide a residential building inspection report prepared by a company of their choice, buyers are also free to have their own done, if they want independent advice.

In this article, we’ll outline the qualities to consider when choosing a company to prepare your residential building inspection report, and share where to find the best in Canberra.

What makes a great residential building inspection report company?

To help remove unexpected surprises or stress relating to the sale of your property you need a company that will prepare a quality residential building inspection report that complies with legislated requirements.

It can be helpful to keep the following in mind when choosing a residential building inspection company.

  • Australian Standard. Building inspection reports must be prepared in accordance with the relevant Australian Standard for property inspections of residential buildings. The standard specifies that certain information must be included and the level of detail. Ask your residential building report company about this to ensure they comply.
  • Experience and credentials. For peace of mind, you’ll want an inspector who provides evidence of their experience and credentials. Ask if they’re licensed, where they were trained and how many reports they’ve prepared. Also ask what insurances they hold and if they belong to a professional body like the Housing Industry Association or Master Builders Association.
  • Process and quality. It’s worth asking how long it will take the property inspector to inspect your home and how they go about doing so. This will give you an idea of how thorough the company is. Also ask for examples of reports they’ve prepared so you can see if they’re easy-to-understand and include visual evidence, like photos and drawings.
  • Bundle reports. As a seller of residential property in the ACT, you must also have three other reports prepared—timber pest inspection, energy rating assessment and a compliance report. You might be able to save money if you have one company handle all four reports. As if there’s a special ‘bundle’ price.

The best residential building inspection report companies in Canberra

RiotACT’s editorial team has combed through 20 years of on-site comments to compile a list of the most recommended businesses according to you.

To be listed in our Best of Canberra series, each business needs to have consistently received positive feedback on RiotACT and Facebook as well as maintaining a minimum average of 4/5 stars on Google.

My Canberra Building Inspections

Canberra Building Inspections conducts building inspections and writes building reports on residential properties in Canberra and NSW. Inspectors are registered builders who check structural integrity, electrical and plumbing. Canberra Building Inspections provides free advice on how to fix some defects uncovered. They also provide referrals.

As Bernadette Coman wrote on Google, “Very professional and friendly, with helpful advice to aid in the selling of my house. Happy to recommend to family and friends.”

Asset Property Inspections

Asset Property Inspections is a fully licensed and insured company that handles residential building inspections and reports, in accordance with current Australian Standards. All professional inspectors have more than 25 years of building experience. The company also completes timber and pest inspection reports, compliance reports and energy rating reports.

Steve Lowe wrote on Facebook, “Highly recommended for down-to-earth, friendly service. James is a great guy with an eye for detail, so nothing is missed …”

Ethical Building and Pest Services

Ethical Building and Pest Services is a local, professional family run business providing quality residential building and other inspection services. Owner Mick Ffrench is a qualified builder and pest professional with more than 15 years’ experience. He provides comprehensive and unbiased reports on all inspections.

As Alexander Swan wrote on Google, “I cannot more highly recommend Mick and Rebecca from Ethical Building and Pest Services. Having dealt with a few local inspection companies, Ethical is a clear standout for customer service.”

First Call Property Inspections

First Call Property Inspections offers sellers peace of mind with easy-to-read and easy-to-understand residential building inspection reports. Reports are completed and supplied by email the next business day after inspection. A locally owned and operated business, First Call Property Inspections has more than 40 years of experience.

Tim Christie wrote on Google, “From my first call enquiring to receiving the invoice, the team at First Call were friendly, helpful and efficient. I received my report within a day of the inspection …”

If you’re looking for more information on residential building inspection companies, you might like our articles on the best conveyancing lawyers in Canberra, the best real estate agents and the best property managers.

Your experience with building inspection report companies in Canberra

Thanks to our commenters who have provided insightful feedback. If you believe we have got it wrong, please let us know.

Have you had experience with any of the building inspection report companies listed above? If so, share your feedback in the comments below.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does price make a difference when engaging a residential building inspection company?
Price can. Choosing an unregistered building inspector with the lowest price could affect the quality of your report. Sometimes lower pricing means the inspector spends less time inspecting your home and they might miss something as a result. Lower pricing could also mean the inspector has less experience or not as many credentials.
Aren’t all residential building inspectors the same?
No. Some are registered builders and some aren’t. Some belong to professional industry bodies ad some don’t. Some are highly experienced and have inspected thousands of residential properties. Others are far less experienced.
What all do residential building inspectors look at?
This is a question you should ask the inspector you choose, to make sure you have a common understanding. All building inspection reports must be prepared in accordance with the relevant Australian Standard which specifies that certain information must be included in the report and the level of detail.
How long does it take to get my residential building inspection report?
This varies company by company. However, many companies provide their report the next business day after the inspection.
What if my residential building inspect report reveals defects?
You can use this to your advantage by repairing defects before you put your property on the market, to increase its value and remove obstacles that buyers could use to negotiate a lower price. This can also help speed up a sale.

What's Your Opinion?


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19 Responses to The Best Residential Building Reports in Canberra
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u3962521 u3962521 2:13 am 26 Feb 20

Hi all

So I wanted to clarify something for would be sellers
In the act if you own an apartment you are required to complete a EER report prior to being able to legally list your apt for sale.
You do not need to complete a building report or a pest report, this is what I was advised by my surveyancing solicitor that only applies for apartments

Shane Robinson Shane Robinson 9:23 am 07 Aug 17

The Civil Law (sale of Residential property) Act requires three reports 1. Building & compliance report 2. Timber pest report 3. Energy efficiency rating (EER) statement. The only licence requirement is to be a A class building assessor to provide the free EER (95% of EER statements audited by the government fail and nearly all companies include the $34 lodgement fee for the free EER on top of the $116 building file search fee in the cost of the reports).
Most building reports are done to the Australian Standard and not the Act which means the property is graded against similar building of the same age and not on the current condition including minor maintenance issues.
Most inspectors don’t know much about development & building approval because they are not builders, resulting in unapproved structures being missed.

Stephanie Walters Stephanie Walters 5:41 pm 06 Aug 17

I sold my house in Weston Creek earlier in the year and used James from First Call Property Inspections. He was a lovely guy who was very prompt. I would highly recommend him.

EvanJames EvanJames 2:27 pm 13 May 11

Madashell said :

give his guide dog a pat on the head and you’re done. Am I wrong?

Well, yes, you’re wrong, because you should never pat a guide dog while it’s working.

Other than that, spot on. It’s a massive rort, like building self-regulation and letting developers take charge of an entire town area.

Madashell Madashell 1:23 pm 13 May 11

“Technically they can’t do this, as sellers are required under the legislation to provide all building reports done on the property going back to 3 months before they put it in the market.”

As far as I am aware the standard procedure for sellers is to ring around real estate agents asking who might be the worst possible building inspector in the ACT and when the same name pops up three times you get him around, right him a cheque, give his guide dog a pat on the head and you’re done. Am I wrong?

djk djk 9:26 am 13 Apr 11

toriness said :

… vendors can basically shop around to get a report that suits their purpose ie presenting their property as one with no major issues.

Technically they can’t do this, as sellers are required under the legislation to provide all building reports done on the property going back to 3 months before they put it in the market.

georgesgenitals georgesgenitals 7:09 am 13 Apr 11

puggy said :

And I should add, the competitive nature of home buying over the twelve months that we were looking meant that if you took the time to organise your own building inspection, you were likely to lose the property. This was a time when people where placing offers – and this is not an exaggeration – 30 seconds after stepping through the front door, without having seen the entire house.

I have made offers within minutes of seeing a property. I agree the price, then say “subject to satisfactory building report”. Until you actually exchange contracts, you are not committed to buy. On more than one occasion I have withdrawn my offer due to the buidling inspection. No penalties apply.

urchin urchin 12:57 am 13 Apr 11

RedDogInCan said :

urchin said :

while they need to be taken with a grain of salt, they are better than nothing.

I’d argue that they are worse than nothing. For people who don’t have the knowledge and experience to know any better (basically the majority of house buyers) they give false and misleading information.

well if someone can’t be bothered to educate him/herself before spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a home the old adage of a fool and his/her money is quite appropriate. i would certainly get another inspection at my own cost before buying a house but only after negotiations had proceeded to a certain point. the fact that you can get an inspection report at your open house (or even before going to the open house) is a good thing.

not all buyers need be experts in the construction industry, but a bit of study before one buys is to be expected…

RedDogInCan RedDogInCan 11:46 pm 12 Apr 11

urchin said :

while they need to be taken with a grain of salt, they are better than nothing.

I’d argue that they are worse than nothing. For people who don’t have the knowledge and experience to know any better (basically the majority of house buyers) they give false and misleading information.

toriness toriness 11:00 pm 12 Apr 11

the compulsory building and pest report undertaken by the vendor and freely available to potential buyers and payable by only the ultimate buyer is great policy on the face of it, but the problem is in the standards/accountability in the inspectors in ACT – like others have commented here… ridiculous disclaimers on the ‘advice’ or inspection are attached to the report, basically if they’re wrong they’re untouchable and take no liability for poor advice. real standards linked to comprehensive and honest advice which are enforceable are required to make these reports worthwhile – otherwise vendors can basically shop around to get a report that suits their purpose ie presenting their property as one with no major issues.

urchin urchin 10:14 pm 12 Apr 11

while they need to be taken with a grain of salt, they are better than nothing. having the seller present it up front means that houses with serious issues can be dismissed right away. some of the issues (previous insect infestations, signs of water damage, under the house etc.) are not immediately visible. I have seen some really dodgy ones (one inspection happened to somehow miss the fact that some form of wood-eating insect had thoroughly infested a tree 1 meter from the house) but there are others that are very thorough. if you look at enough of them you can distinguish between the useful and useless ones.

puggy puggy 1:19 pm 12 Apr 11

And I should add, the competitive nature of home buying over the twelve months that we were looking meant that if you took the time to organise your own building inspection, you were likely to lose the property. This was a time when people where placing offers – and this is not an exaggeration – 30 seconds after stepping through the front door, without having seen the entire house.

Lazy I Lazy I 12:03 pm 12 Apr 11

puggy said :

troll-sniffer said :

Owner-provided building inspections are also mostly a waste of perfectly good money by the vendors…

Except that the cost is tacked onto the buyers bill at settlement. So if if you decide to get your own done when buying (as you probably should), you’re paying twice.

I had this exact problem, the vendor supplied a building report that was obviously dodgy and I was given the option of accepting it or paying an additional fee to have my own report created.

My favourite part of their report was where the vendor obviously wanted to hide the fact that the house lacked decent ceiling insulation (and had a roof leak), so the report supplied by the inspector stated ‘access to ceiling manhole obstructed’, it was in the middle of the hallway, plain as day and took 30 seconds with a ladder to access / open and inspect.

The problem with the system is the dodgy inspectors get referred on to others and the cycle continues.

Good to see someone has brought this up!

puggy puggy 11:38 am 12 Apr 11

troll-sniffer said :

Owner-provided building inspections are also mostly a waste of perfectly good money by the vendors…

Except that the cost is tacked onto the buyers bill at settlement. So if if you decide to get your own done when buying (as you probably should), you’re paying twice.

troll-sniffer troll-sniffer 10:20 am 12 Apr 11

A good idea in theory, a bad idea and useless in practice. I will happily vote for any candidate who promises to push for an end to these mandatory reports by overpaid and generally half-hearted businesses.

I have yet to hear of a single real estate purchase ever being influenced by the energy report. Perhaps some odd ones have but the legislative intent would have a far greater effect if solar siting and design rules were mandated for new constructions, and incentives offered for older buildings to be upgraded. The current system just provides money for jam for a miniscule section of the business community.

Owner-provided building inspections are also mostly a waste of perfectly good money by the vendors, as stated above, they are too generalised and so full of discalimers that you’d nearly have to have a roof cave in on a purchaser on the day of moving in for the report author to be held responsible. I had a report done in the pre-compulsory days on a house in Downer, the bathroom wall looked a little suss so i asked for a report, the report came back saying it was of no consequence and likely to have been building settling in years before, I was young andf naive and believed the report was a document based on the author actually having crawled around a little. Ha! Turned out the entire frame structure under the bathroom had been saturated by a leaking shower pipe for years and the sub-floor structure for a metre or more around was rotten to the core, hence the slumped wall. Silly me, fancy suggesting that a $500 report in today’s money would have involved crawling a couple of metres into the underfloor space to check the problem.

As the OP says above, fix the current parody of a system or get rid of it, all it does is add a thousand dollars to a vendor’s costs for something that has time and time again been proven in the majority of cases to be useless, and often to lull a purchaser into a false sense of security.

Keijidosha Keijidosha 10:06 am 12 Apr 11

The building report for my house was informative and accurate, but honestly told me nothing I couldn’t have discovered myself with an hour to walk around. My only real concern was the lack of comprehensive pest inspection, so I paid to have one carried out before I completed the purchase.

johnboy johnboy 9:45 am 12 Apr 11

georgesgenitals said :

Most building reports aren’t great. They will sometimes pick up issues, but if an inspector is too picky, they will stop getting work. Remember who actually selects and engages building inspectors – real estate agents. The path of least resistance is a common theme in business, and our fearless leaders who introduced this stupid rule clearly don’t know much about property.

or business, or people, or life.

georgesgenitals georgesgenitals 9:44 am 12 Apr 11

Most building reports aren’t great. They will sometimes pick up issues, but if an inspector is too picky, they will stop getting work. Remember who actually selects and engages building inspectors – real estate agents. The path of least resistance is a common theme in business, and our fearless leaders who introduced this stupid rule clearly don’t know much about property.

puggy puggy 9:30 am 12 Apr 11

I realise that the ultimate responsibility is with the buyer and that really, they should get their own inspection done, but the report for our place was useless. It missed all the things that we are noticing after living in the place for a few months. Yes, we should have noticed them ourselves, but first home, very eager, live and learn, and all that…

In twelve months of looking at homes, we did see, maybe, 30% of the reports that were actually useful, and they tended to be for the older places.

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