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Residential Building Reports in Canberra

By Emily Morris - 27 July 2017 18

Residential building reports

Selling a house in the ACT

If you’re selling a property in Canberra, you’ve no doubt had to put some thought and consideration into residential building reports.

In the ACT, house vendors are required by law to provide several building reports to potential buyers before sale—a scheme developed with the aim of protecting buyers by providing all the relevant information about the property before they commit to the purchase.

It can be largely beneficial for buyers as one previous reader commented having the seller present it up front means that houses with serious issues can be dismissed right away…’. It also means that if you’re trying to sell a property which is in good condition, buyers will know this right from the get go and potentially be willing to pay more for your property.

What to look for in a building inspection report

To make sure you meet your mandatory requirements your inspector should provide the following reports:

  • a Building Report which should look for any significant building defects
  • a Pest Report which looks for the presence of and the damage to the structure of the home caused by pests, specifically termites
  • a Compliance Report will identify the age and approval numbers of any structures on the property, and
  • an Energy Efficiency Report which will provide an overall energy efficiency star rating for the home.

A lot of building inspection companies are very experienced in conducting vendor-building inspections and will offer seller bundle packages, where all four reports are combined into a single report.

What if you’re a buyer?

If you’re looking to purchase a property, while it may not be necessary, you may feel more comfortable conducting your own additional independent building inspection for added peace of mind, however in this previous post a buyer raised the issue that ‘…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…’

While it does take a little time and some extra investment on behalf of the buyer, most building inspection companies now also offer fast tracked buyers’ inspection reports at a reasonable price, so it’s well worth giving it some consideration given your home is likely to be the largest purchase you ever make.

Another tactic suggested by a reader was that you can also make an offer “subject to satisfactory building report”, where they can request an independent inspection after making their offer.

Reputable building inspection companies

If you’re shopping around for a good building inspector to develop a report to accompany the sale of your home, here are a couple of good options to consider:

First Call Property Inspections

First Call Property Inspections (FCPI) offer a complete inspection service including property & building inspection reports, pest inspections, compliance reports and EER reports.

First Call Property Inspections offer you peace of mind as all of their inspectors are licenced building assessors with a minimum of 15 years in the building industry. FCPI inspectors have also completed a specific pre-purchase property inspection course with Housesafe Training and Education.

Completed reports will be issued within 1 to 5 days (depending on package chosen). FCPI offer a deferred payment option so you have no upfront cost, with the purchaser paying for the reports on settlement.

Canberra Building Inspections

For Canberra Building Inspections based in MacGregor, vendor inspections are their specialty and they only use highly qualified Registered Builders to conduct their inspections. They can inspect any type of property including houses, units, shops and offices and if they find any significant defects, they can recommend solutions to address the issue before sale.

The turnaround time of their reports is 4-5 days and costs $797 for the full package of all four inspection reports (or $1,077 if you opt for the deferred payment option). They’ll also charge an extra $100 if you have a large house.

Rapid Reports

Rapid Reports in Tuggeranong also offer a 4-in-1 report package for sellers with a $0 upfront option, a standard 4-5 day package for $990, a Rapid Fast Track 3 day option for $1190, or a Rapid Emergency 24 hour turnaround package for $1290. They also deal directly with your agent or solicitor. They’re a family owned and operated business and have experience in all facets of construction management and building trades.

What’s Your opinion?


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18 Responses to
Residential Building Reports in Canberra
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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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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