Building inspections versus strata inspections

The type of report you need will depend on whether you're buying a house or a unit.

Apartment juxtaposed against house.

When you're buying a property, it's crucial to have the proper reports prepared before you sign a contract. Inspection reports can identify problems that could cost you thousands of dollars to repair.

The type of report you need will vary depending on the type of property you're buying. If you're buying a house, you'll need a building and pest inspection report. If you're buying a unit, you'll need a strata inspection report. The two reports examine different features of the respective properties and can reveal different details.

Building and pest inspection reports

Inspection reports for houses examine a variety of details about the building and site. The inspector will examine different parts of the property to determine its state of repair. Some of the areas the inspector will examine are:

    • The exterior of the building
    • The roof exterior
    • The interior of the building
    • The roof space
    • The underfloor space
  • Fencing
  • Stormwater run-off
  • Separate buildings such as laundries, sheds, garages or carports
  • Paths and driveways

Your inspector will identify areas of damage and potential problem areas. They may also identify visible signs of asbestos and any termite damage. The inspection report will also detail any areas not inspected, and provide a reason why they weren't inspected.

It's important to note that a building and pest inspection report will not examine some areas. These include:

  • Electrical wiring
  • Plumbing and gas fittings
  • Fireplaces and chimneys
  • Appliances
  • Footings
  • Air-conditioning systems

There are a variety of companies that conduct building and pest inspection reports. Most will need two to three days’ notice and will then arrange access with the vendor. In most cases, prospective buyers pay to have inspection reports done, though they are sometimes provided by vendors.

Strata inspection reports

Inspecting a unit requires a different set of criteria than inspecting a house. In addition to the physical condition of the unit, inspectors will examine the strata agreement itself and some of the more intangible attributes of the building in which the unit resides.

Strata inspections look at details such as:

    • The exterior of the unit
    • The interior of the unit
    • Whether the strata scheme complies with fire and asbestos rules
    • Any other special levies
    • Major expenditures and proposed major expenditures
  • Voting rights and entitlements
  • Quarterly strata fees
  • Insurance for the building
  • Building reports
  • Whether or not the building is harmonious
Strata inspections will also look at copies of the owners’ corporation annual general meeting minutes, as well as minutes from any other meetings.

Strata inspection reports are important because the unit you're buying doesn't exist in a vacuum. It will be part of and subject to rules and regulations governing the community in which it resides. If these rules and regulations are onerous, or if they come with exorbitant levies or sinking funds, a strata report can warn you off a property before you commit.

While building reports and strata reports examine different details, both are vital for property buyers. The cost of the reports can run to a few hundred dollars, but the peace of mind they can provide is priceless.

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Adam Smith

Adam has more than five years of experience writing about the Australian home loan market.

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