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Building inspections versus strata inspections

If you're buying a house you need a building inspection. Apartments require a strata inspection or report.

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When you're buying a property, getting pest and building inspections or a strata report can give you a lot of extra information so you know more about what you're really 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.

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.

A pest inspector should be able to identify signs of pest infestations such as rodent droppings or termite damage.

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

Apartment juxtaposed against house.Inspecting an apartment in a large complex 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.

What about townhouses?

A townhouse is in between a free-standing house and an apartment, and often has a strata title like an apartment. If the property has house-like features, such as an accessible roof cavity or underfloor spaces, then a building and pest inspection is a good idea.

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