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Checklist: Pre-Purchase Inspections For Home Buyers in WA

The Superstruct checklist for house inspections and searches you need to do when buying a house, unit, or apartment.Timber pest inspections, building inspections, title searches, and more.

From pest inspections to title searches, there’s a lot that needs to happen between viewing a property in person and settlement day. If any of the searches or inspections reveals major problems, it is usually possible to withdraw your offer before settlement of the purchase contract.

Here’s our checklist of the inspections and searches you need to do. Some of these can be DIY searches and inspections, but for most, you will need the help of a professional.

Checklist of pre-purchase inspections and property searches:

Types of Inspections

1. Personal Inspection (before making an offer)

2. Building Inspection (offer accepted, subject to pre-purchase building inspection)

3. Timber Pest Inspection

4. Land Surveyor’s Report (if required, to define boundaries, easements etc.)

5. Swimming Pool Inspection (safety check)

6. Pre-Settlement Inspection (typically 48hrs prior to settlement)

Property Searches (things you can do and check before and during the purchase process)

1. Home Loan Pre-Approval

2. Title Search

3. Registered Plan Search

4. Land Tax Search

5. Bankruptcy Search

6. Contaminated Land Search

7. Council Development Search, Main Roads Search

8. Local Authority Search, Water Search

9. Council Zoning Search (Town Planning Search)

10. Body Corporate Records

1. Personal Inspection

Home opens and private viewings.

2. Pre-Purchase Building Inspection

The naked eye alone cannot tell you all the faults in a property. Every buyer should appoint a qualified building inspector to do a pre-purchase building inspection of aspects of the property. Completed in accordance with AS-4349.1 inspections typically cover the following:

  • Roof frame and/or subfloor frame

  • Walls, and retaining walls are structurally sound

  • Garages, carports, and garden sheds (external structures)

  • Roof cover (including battens)

  • Doors and windows

  • Roof cover, gutters, and downpipes

  • Rising damp

  • Surface water drainage around property and driveways

  • Plumbing

  • Visible asbestos

  • Electrical compliance

  • Unsafe renovations done by previous owner

A pre-purchase building inspection can be done by a licensed builder, a surveyor, or an architect. It is generally recommended that you find a third-party professional to do the inspection, rather than one suggested by the seller. It is possible and recommended to get a combined building and timber pest inspection.

3. Timber Pest Inspection

You should obtain a timber pest inspection to provide you peace of mind from several potential critter-related terrors:

  • Termites

  • European House Borers

A timber pest inspector is completed in accordance with AS-4349.3 and will check the interior and exterior of a property, including accessible in-roof or under-floor crawl spaces, as well as the trees and fence-line. If there are pests currently on the property, the pest inspector will let you know what treatment should be used to get rid of them.

Timber Pest inspections can range from $180 up to $500 depending on whether you need a simple report or images of existing damage and active pests. But when you think that repairing termite damage can cost half as much as your new house, it’s worth paying for a professional to do a pest inspection before buying.

4. Surveyor’s Report

A land surveyor can give you a report showing exactly where the boundaries of your property are, and whether there is anything currently blocking that. You don’t want to end up fighting with your new neighbours over how much of the footpath they have to mow or their trees that drop leaves into your yard.

5. Swimming Pool Inspection (if relevant)

Swimming pools must meet the safety regulations of your state or territory, including having safety and CPR signs in the area and appropriate fences. Swimming pools must also meet the required construction standards for your state or territory.

6. Pre-Settlement Inspection

The final inspection or pre-purchase inspection is one that you do in person just before settlement – often on settlement day or 2-3 days before. This is actually the last step, after all your other inspections and searches are complete. It is your last chance to check that everything on the property is in the condition you required when you signed the contract.

For example, is the home vacant? Have all the previous owner’s belongings and rubbish been removed? If the previous owner had a tenant who was reluctant to leave, did they do any damage on their way out?

Have all the conditions of the contract been fulfilled, such as cleaning or painting?

Do all the fixtures and fittings work (e.g. dishwasher, air-conditioner)? Have the gardens become overgrown and abandoned since you agreed to purchase the property?

If any of the conditions of the contract have not been met, or there is a major issue with the property, then the seller will be in breach of the contract and you as the buyer should have the right to delay settlement until the issue is fixed.

Can I be present at the inspection?

Yes, you can usually be present at most of the inspections listed. However, you should note that it is often more helpful to leave the inspector to do their job and simply wait for the results in their report. Buyers should not rely on a verbal report from the inspector at the end of the inspection. But a quick chat with the inspector is always possible and beneficial. Ensure you obtain approval from the vendor and selling agent prior to attending the inspection.

What if it doesn’t pass an inspection?

Most inspections are not a pass-fail matter, but the inspection report can help you know in advance what to expect from a property, and help you decide whether or not you really want to buy it.

Some pre-purchase inspections should be treated as deal breakers if the repairs needed to fix them would cost more than the property is worth to you. You can ask the real estate agent for an extension on the settlement date for the purposes of reconsidering the purchase.

The sale contract should be conditional on the building passing a certain inspection, so you can require that the seller either fixes the problem at their own cost, or cancels the contract to sell.However, if a property does not pass a pre-purchase inspection and the seller can’t fix the problem because they don’t have the money for repairs, then you need to decide what to do. Is it worth walking away and saving yourself the heartache, or buying it with defects you know you will have to fix?

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