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DIY pre purchase building inspections

DIY Pre Purchase Inspection

When shopping for a property, it’s a good idea to do two types of checks; the first is your own DIY appraisal and the second, if you’re serious about the property, is to bring in the professionals who can ensure the home is free from defects.

Having experts conduct building and pest inspections on every property you are interested in would be an expensive exercise. One solution is to take the time to do your own thorough inspection of each property that you are serious about. Using our DIY building inspection checklist, this will eliminate the properties on your shortlist with the most obvious or potentially costly issues. You can then call in the professionals at Your Building Inspector to do a full inspection of the property that you decide on!

Doing building checks yourself is also a great way to find flaws, which puts you as a buyer, in a stronger position when it comes to the negotiation process.

When conducting your DIY building inspection, divide the property into four areas: the outside, the inside, the roof and the surrounding land and structures. Here’s a checklist to print off and take with you when you go to inspect a property:

What to take along with you

  • The checklist
  • Safety boots
  • Sturdy gloves
  • A good torch
  • Flathead and Phillips head screwdrivers
  • A power point tester (this can be purchased for around $15 from Bunnings)
  • A ladder (if the current homeowners don’t have one you can borrow)

On the outside

  • Check all external plumbing for potential leaks or rust
  • Ask if any asbestos has been used in the house and, if so, where. If you are planning renovations, asbestos can be very expensive to have removed professionally
  • Check for termite damage. This will most likely show up where timber touches the ground eg the base of walls, pergolas and decking
  • Make sure there is proper grading drainage away from house
  • No evidence of standing water

Up on the roof

  • If you can access the roof, take a look for broken or missing tiles, rust patches on tin roofs or faded colour on concrete tiles. This may indicate the need for new sealant. A sagging or undulating roof could be a red flag indicating underlying structural problems
  • Check the guttering for rust, leaks and warping
  • Check that downpipes and drainage are in order

On the inside

  • Turn on each tap in the house to check the water pressure, water colour and drainage
  • Dishwasher drains properly, no leaks, and check the door springs operate properly
  • Built-in appliances operate properly
  • Toilet operates properly
  • Check all walls and ceilings for mould, stains, water marks and any other signs of ventilation problems, dampness or roof leaks
  • Check for cracks in walls or doors that stick when you try to open them as these could be signs of subsidence or serious structural problems
  • Check that all windows open and close properly and note any cracked or broken panels that will need replacing
  • If the windows have timber surrounds, check these for wood rot
  • Check that there are no problems with loose grout, cracked or lifting tiles that may indicate water damage in bathrooms
  • Check the hot water service for leaks and rust and ask when it was last serviced
  • Ask if the roof and walls are insulated and check in the man hole if possible
  • Inspect all electrical switches and sockets and check all power points with your power point tester
  • Ask for permission to turn on any heating or cooling systems to check they are running well
  • Check over floors carefully and lift all rugs to check they are not hiding problems

Around the house

  • Check any trees around the house and in neighbouring properties that could pose a danger and damage the property if they fell down or dropped large branches
  • Check if there are taps in the garden and their condition
  • If the property includes a pool or spa, check for cracks or bulges in the bottom or sides, and inspect the filtration system, heating system and lighting. Check the condition of all surrounding paving or decking
  • Check for any wet or muddy patches in lawns that could indicate poor drainage
  • Make sure the yard, landscaping, trees and pathways are in good condition
  • Exterior structures (fences, sheds, decks, retaining walls, detached garages) in good condition, no evidence of termite damage or rotted wood
  • Railings on stairs and decks are adequate and secure
  • Check the driveway, footpaths, patios, entrance landings are in good condition

After your inspection, reflect for a moment on what you’ve discovered. Does the property just need a good clean, or does it need solid repairs?Document your findings and estimate how much any repairs will cost. If the problems seem overwhelming then it could be best to move on. If you think the problems are fairly minor and you still want to proceed with the purchase, then it’s time to bring in the experts!

Taking the time and effort to carry out an inspection using the above DIY building inspection checklist is a great way to consider a property purchase in greater detail and allows you to take off the rose-coloured glasses and make a considered purchase rather than a purely emotional one. For further information about pre purchase building and pest inspections or to book, contact

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