Get the Finder app 🥳

Track your credit score

Free

What inspections should you conduct before buying a property?

What everyone should know about property inspections and why it’s an important task to complete before committing to a purchase.

Updated

Fact checked

We’re committed to our readers and editorial independence. We don’t compare all products in the market and may receive compensation when we refer you to our partners, but this does not influence our opinions or reviews. Learn more about Finder .

Buying a property is one of the biggest financial decisions you'll make in your lifetime, especially given the inflated property prices in many of Australia's capital cities.

So before you sign any contracts, you want to be sure you’re buying a property that is structurally sound, doesn’t have any pest problems, and has generally been maintained. To do that, there are several inspections you should carry out during the purchase process to ensure that you make the right decision.

It’s important to note that all these costs can add up. To estimate the costs of buying your property, you can use the property buying calculator for an indication.

Skipping on pre-purchase inspections may save time and money in the short term, but if problems crop up later on, you'll have the financial responsibility to cover repairs and maintenance.

Inspecting the property may give you leverage when negotiating a price because it counts against the value of the property.

In all cases, inspections must be done by a qualified and experienced professional.

Tips for first home buyers

Personal inspection

The first chance you get to inspect a property is at an open-house viewing. Open inspections give potential buyers a chance to cast their eye over the property and see what they think. They usually last for around half an hour and offer a great opportunity for you to get a general feel for the overall quality and features of a property.

If you can, take someone else along to help you inspect a property because having a second perspective can help you pick out potential issues and faults you may otherwise overlook.

What does a personal inspection involve?

Wandering through a property with several other buyers allows you to get an overall feel for the property, including what you like about it and what you don’t.

If you like the feel of a property, use this inspection time to take a closer look. You can:

  • Check that windows and doors open easily. Do they get stuck on the hinge? Or do they open and close easily?
  • Look for any signs of dampness or mould on walls and ceilings.
  • Examine the structural integrity of the property – check for sagging ceilings or walls that may be buckling.
  • Check the taps to see if they run.
  • Look under sinks to check the age and condition of the plumbing.
  • Look for rotting floorboards hidden under carpet or rugs.
  • Try all the light switches and take a look inside the fuse box to determine the age of the circuitry.
  • Look for defects in exterior walls, the roof and gutters.
  • Use all your senses to inspect a property. Is there significant noise coming from a major road nearby? Is there a bad smell from a nearby factory or sewage treatment plant?

Building inspection

While a personal inspection can tell you a whole lot about a property, if you’re interested in a property and are considering buying it, it’s essential that you get an expert to assess the property. This is known as a building inspection report or a standard property report.

A professional building inspection report can be completed by a licensed builder, a surveyor or an architect. The expert you hire to complete the report will inspect the property for any structural defects or other issues, for example rising damp, that may be missed by the untrained eye. The inspector will ensure that the building conforms to Australian building code.

Qualified inspectors can look beyond cosmetic repairs or improvements, and identify unsafe renovations and repairs, thus minimising the issues of ‘unforeseen damages’ down the road. Knowing the ‘cons’ of a property can also help you negotiate for a lower price.

Building inspections are usually carried out before the exchange of contracts, allowing you to identify problems that could be expensive to repair in the future. If the building inspection report reveals significant issues with the property, you can withdraw your offer.

It’s recommended that you use a third-party professional, rather than one suggested or provided by the seller.

What does a building inspection involve?

A professional building inspector will visually inspect all areas of the property for signs of structural defects or expensive problems. The inspector will cast their eye over every part of the property they can access, including:

  • Building interior. From cracks in the walls to problems with electrical wiring, doors that won’t shut and broken windows, the inspector will look at every aspect of the property’s interior.
  • Building exterior. The inspector will examine the construction of the property for any defects.
  • Building roof. Loose or damaged tiles or roofing, damaged gutters and downpipes will be included in the report.
  • Roof and under-floor spaces. If these areas can be accessed, the inspector will check them for any structural damage.
  • The property site. The building inspection report will also include details of the condition of garages, carports, garden sheds, retaining walls, separate toilets or laundries, fencing, surface water drainage, driveways and paths.

If there are any particular items or areas on the site you’d like checked out, make sure to mention these before the inspection begins.

Pest inspections

Just like a building inspection, a pest inspection can save you thousands of dollars when it comes to potential future repairs. If you live in an area prone to termites or other pests, this type of inspection is essential for your peace of mind before you buy a property.

A pest inspection should be carried out before you exchange contracts, and sometimes it’s possible to get a combined building and pest inspection.

What does a pest inspection involve?

A pest inspector will thoroughly investigate the property to check for the presence of any wood-destroying insects, such as termites or borers. The inspector will also look for any existing damage caused by those pests already, plus any potential damage they could cause in the future. The interior and exterior of the home will be inspected, including any accessible under-floor or roof cavity areas.

If pests are present and active, inspection reports help determine what treatment should be taken.

Termite inspection is mostly a visual process and is done by a qualified professional. Aside from the building interior and exteriors, areas such as roof and crawl spaces, trees and fences are also inspected. Ideally, this is all done before the property is purchased with a recommended repeat every four to six months.

Experts advise that pest inspections be done simultaneously with building inspections. Any damage detected from the former can be assessed by the latter and immediately determine the extent of repairs to be done. Pest inspection can range from $200 for a simple report, to up to $500 to include infrared thermal images.

Repairing termite damage to a house can cost you several thousands of dollars, so a pest inspection can be the difference between buying your dream home and buying a property that turns out to be a nightmare.

Pre-settlement inspection

A pre-settlement inspection is one of the final steps in the property purchase and settlement process. Also referred to as a final inspection or a pre-purchase inspection, this takes place just before you take ownership of the property – often on the same day as settlement.

The standard contract of sale terms require sellers to hand over the property upon settlement in the same condition it was in on the day the sale was finalised. Buyers should ask what is included in the sale before purchase to prevent misunderstandings once the contract has been signed.

The purpose of a pre-settlement inspection is for you to ensure that the property is in the same condition it was when you signed the contract. You can check that all the fixtures and fittings work, that any rubbish has been removed, and that no damage has been done to the property since you signed the contract.

What does a pre-settlement inspection involve?

There are several issues you can investigate during a pre-settlement inspection, including:

  • Whether the home is vacant
  • Whether the home is clean and in a good condition
  • Whether the previous owners have damaged the property in any way
  • Whether all the fixtures and fittings are functioning
  • Are any items that were included in the sale (e.g. a dishwasher, air conditioner, in-built microwave)
  • Whether the gardens and the exterior of the property are in good condition
  • Whether any excess rubbish or waste has been left on the property

If there’s a major issue with the property then the seller will be in breach of contract, giving you the right to withhold settlement until the issue is fixed to your satisfaction.

Organising pre-purchase property inspections is vital before buying a property. This minimises the risk of encountering issues in the future and it can also give you an edge when negotiating a price with the seller.

Frequently asked questions

Need a home loan? Start comparing

Data indicated here is updated regularly
$
Loan purpose
Offset account
Loan type
Repayment type
Your filter criteria do not match any product
Name Product Interest Rate (p.a.) Comp Rate^ (p.a.) Application Fee Ongoing Fees Max LVR Monthly Payment Short Description
UBank UHomeLoan Variable Rate - Discount Offer for Owner Occupiers, Variable P&I Rate
2.49%
2.49%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Enjoy flexible repayments, a redraw facility and the ability to split your loan. Plus, pay no application or ongoing fees.
St.George Basic Home Loan - LVR 60% to 80% (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.64%
2.66%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Up to $4,000 refinance cashback. A competitive variable rate loan from St.George. Refinancers borrowing $250,000 or more can get $4,000 cashback (Other terms, conditions and exclusions apply).
Athena Celebrate Home Loan - 60% LVR  Owner Occupier, P&I
2.34%
2.34%
$0
$0 p.a.
60%
Owner occupiers with 40% deposits or equity can get this competitive variable rate loan. No upfront or ongoing fees.
Westpac Flexi First Option Home Loan - Basic Variable Rate (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.29%
2.72%
$0
$8 monthly ($96 p.a.)
95%
Up to $3,000 refinance cashback.
A flexible and competitive variable rate loan. Eligible borrowers refinancing $250,000 or more can get $2,000 cashback per property plus a bonus $1,000 for their first application. Other conditions apply.
homeloans.com.au Low Rate Home Loan with Offset - LVR Under 60% (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.29%
2.31%
$0
$0 p.a.
60%
A competitive rate with no application or ongoing fee. This loan is not available for construction.
HSBC Home Value Loan - Promotional Offer (Owner Occupier P&I)
2.59%
2.60%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Get a low interest rate loan with no ongoing fees. Plus you can make extra repayments and free redraw online.
Yard Variable Home Loan - LVR 80% Special (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.39%
2.42%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
A very low variable rate loan for home buyers with an optional offset account ($10 monthly fee). 20% deposit required.
Well Home Loans Balanced Variable - LVR 80% Special Offer (Owner occupier, P&I)
2.17%
2.20%
$250
$0 p.a.
80%
A very low interest rate for home buyers with 20% deposits saved. Add an offset account for a small fee. This special discount rate is available for new borrowers who apply and get approved by 30 November 2020. Not available for construction purposes.
Virgin Money Reward Me Variable Home Loan - LVR ≤ 60% (<$500k Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.64%
2.81%
$300
$10 monthly ($120 p.a.)
60%
$3,000 refinance cashback.
A variable rate loan for owner occupiers with a 40% deposit (or equity) borrowing under $500,000. Get a $3,000 cashback when you switch to Virgin Money with a loan amount of $300,000 or more with an LVR up to 80%. You must apply by 29 November 2020 and settle by 28 February 2021.
Athena Liberate Home Loan - 70% to 80% LVR Owner Occupier, P&I
2.44%
2.38%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
A competitive variable rate mortgage for owner occupiers $0 application and $0 ongoing fees. This interest rate falls over time as you pay off the loan.
loading

Compare up to 4 providers

Aussie Home Loans Logo

Enter your details and get a free consultation with an expert broker from Aussie.

By submitting this form, you agree to the Finder Privacy and Cookies Policy and Terms of Use

Applications are subject to approval. Conditions, fees and charges apply. Please note that you need to be an Australian citizen or permanent resident to apply.

Credit services for Aussie Select, Aussie Activate and Aussie Elevate products are provided by AHL Investments Pty Ltd ACN 105 265 861 (“Aussie”) and its appointed credit representatives, Australian Credit Licence 246786. Credit for Aussie Select products is provided by Residential Mortgage Group Pty Ltd ACN 152 378 133, Australian Credit Licence 414133 (“RMG”). RMG is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia ABN 48 123 123 124 AFSL and Australian Credit Licence 234945. Credit for Aussie Activate products is provided by Pepper Finance Corporation Limited ACN 094 317 647 (“Pepper”). Pepper Group Limited ACN 094 317 665, Australian Credit Licence 286655 acts on behalf of Pepper. Credit services for Aussie Elevate products are provided by AHL Investments Pty Ltd ACN 105 265 861 Australian Credit Licence 246786 (“Aussie”) and its appointed credit representatives. Aussie is a trade mark of AHL Investments Pty Ltd ABN 27 105 265 861. Credit and any applicable offset accounts for Aussie Elevate are issued by Bendigo and Adelaide Bank Limited ABN 11 068 049 178 AFSL / Australian Credit Licence 237879.

Aussie is a trade mark of AHL Investments Pty Ltd. Aussie is a subsidiary of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia ABN 48 123 123 124. ©2020 AHL Investments Pty Ltd ABN 27 105 265 861 Australian Credit Licence 246786.

By submitting this form, you agree to the Aussie privacy policy.

After entering your details a mortgage broker from Aussie will call you. They will discuss your situation and help you find a suitable loan.

  • A comparison of home loans from multiple lenders.
  • Expert guidance through the entire application process.
  • Free suburb and property reports.

Aussie Home Loans Lender Logos

The Adviser’s number 1 placed mortgage broker 8 years running (2013-2020)

More guides on Finder

Ask an Expert

You are about to post a question on finder.com.au:

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • finder.com.au is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
  • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
  • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

Finder only provides general advice and factual information, so consider your own circumstances, or seek advice before you decide to act on our content. By submitting a question, you're accepting our Terms of Use, Disclaimer & Privacy Policy and Privacy & Cookies Policy.

4 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    TyJune 19, 2019

    Is it common for a building & pest inspection to be requested before a contract offer is submitted? Are there any disadvantages to allowing an inspection ahead of an offer?
    Cheers Ty

    • Default Gravatar
      BellaJune 21, 2019

      Hi Ty,

      Thanks for your inquiry.

      Building and pest inspection should be carried out before you exchange the contracts. This is to allow you to identify problems that could be expensive to repair in the future. If the building inspection report reveals significant issues with the property, you can withdraw your offer. According to our article written above “Qualified inspectors can look beyond cosmetic repairs or improvements, and identify unsafe renovations and repairs, thus minimizing the issues of ‘unforeseen damages’ down the road. Knowing the ‘cons’ of a property can also help you negotiate for a lower price.”

      I hope this helps.

      Kind regards,
      Bella

  2. Default Gravatar
    BevAugust 11, 2017

    How long do i have in Qld to get a build and pest inspection done and to make my decision to proceed or withdraw? Is there a penalty for withdrawal due to pests?

    • Default Gravatar
      ArnoldAugust 11, 2017

      Hi Bev,

      Thanks for your inquiry.

      It all depends on the agreement but usually, you are given ample amount of time to conduct inspections.

      Building inspections are usually carried out before the exchange of contracts, allowing you to identify problems that could be expensive to repair in the future. If the building inspection report reveals significant issues with the property, you can withdraw your offer. Meanwhile, a pest inspector will thoroughly investigate the property to check for the presence of any wood-destroying insects, such as termites or borers. The inspector will also look for any existing damage caused by those pests already, plus any potential damage they could cause in the future. The interior and exterior of the home will be inspected, including any accessible under-floor or roof cavity areas.

      Experts advise that pest inspections be done simultaneously with building inspections. Any damage detected from the former can be assessed by the latter and immediately determine the extent of repairs to be done. Pest inspection can range from $200 for a simple report, to up to $500 to include infrared thermal images.

      Hope this information helped.

      Cheers,
      Arnold

Go to site