Building Inspections 101 - An interview with Betta Inspect It
31 Aug 2016
Q. What are Building Inspections?
A. Building inspections have come a long way since the days of an inspector with a clip-board. Thousands of Kiwis now rely on building inspectors each year to professionally and independently inspect both new and existing homes on their behalf. These may be pre-purchase inspections, home inspections, house inspections and building reports, but essentially they’re all building inspections.
Q. What does a building inspection entail?
A. They’re where an independent, qualified professional is employed to carry out a site inspection of a house, home unit, town house or other “dwelling” to find out if it has any significant defects or maintenance issues. Following this extensive inspection, the inspector involved issues a written report which includes lots of photographs. This is known as a building report.
Q. What is the number one thing you recommend people should know?
A. Betta Inspect It strongly advise people to insist on getting a written building report. As there are plenty cut-price cowboy operators out there so never rely on the verbal reports that either they or a “builder friend” are offering. Building reports need to be formal, written documents which are easy to read and understand. This ensures both parties - the inspector and the client - are clear on what the defects or maintenance issues are.
Q. How invasive does a building inspector need to be?
A. Generally speaking, most building inspections are described as “visual”. This doesn’t mean a building inspector gives every room a quick glance and promptly walks out the door 10 minutes or less. Most on-site inspections normally take two to three hours. Everything that can be seen and inspected from every vantage point and angle is - from under the floor to on top of the roof. Rest assured your home or prospective purchase will look exactly the same as it did before the inspector walked in the door. No invasive tests are involved.
Q. What do building inspections cover?
A. As we’ve explained these on-site inspections normally take at least couple of hours to complete - an hour inside and another outside. The inspector closely looks at every inch of the house or building. This includes hard to reach areas such as the roof, in the roof space and under the subfloor (providing we can access them safely). You’re unlikely to get into any of these places during an open home!
Q. Do building inspections only cover the building? Or does it look at other features as well?
A. Normally an inspector is an experienced and qualified builder but he or she will also comment on electrical systems and plumbing as well, advising you if any further investigation is needed. Taps are run, drains are checked for leaks and the power points and lights are checked to make sure they work. Non-invasive moisture readings will also be taken to check for any water ingress. The exterior of the house or building is also extensively checked - including any cracks, junctions, and penetrations. All homes are treated the same whether they’re clad in plaster, made of wood or brick and tile. Every inspection is systematic with everything noted using the latest technology and software.
Q. What are the most common defects found?
A. Unfortunately, over time many building-related products common throughout our national housing stock either don’t work properly or have failed. Some of the more common ones include Dux Quest piping, Onduline roofing, conduit wiring & Weatherside cladding. Other products have other issues such as the health risks posed by asbestos and the third-party insurance risks posed by scrim. We also come across construction-related issues such as shoddy workmanship (particularly now more sub-trades are being used) and poor detailing. Buildings suffering from Leaky Building Syndrome are a prime example. The detailing, application and construction methods used in them weren’t up to scratch. This has caused major issues for home owners particularly if inferior products have also been used. Substandard internal and subfloor ventilation, dampness, borer, timber rot, corroding rooves, deteriorating piles and botched renovations are other issues we also regularly report on.
Q. What should I look for in a building inspector?
A. A building inspector should solely work for you (the client) and not be acting for the real estate agent or vendor in any way, shape or form. This protects you from any professional and ethical conflicts of interest arising from them acting for two or more parties at once. Always ask for their qualifications. An inspector should be a qualified builder or be a Licensed Building Practitioner LBP. Inspectors should work in accordance with New Zealand Standard 4306:2005 and carry current professional indemnity insurance.
Q. So what’s the rough cost of a building inspection?
A. $495+GST for any house up to 250sqm.