What happens if the property you have your heart set on buying fails a building inspection?

You’ve been scouring the property market and found the perfect house to call home. But before you rush in to make an offer, one of the first items to check off your to-do list – and perhaps the most important – is to order a building and pest inspection. And if the building report exposes substandard workmanship and a litany of shocking defects, pay heed to the red flags. That’s exactly what one buyer didn’t do and you’ll soon see what happened.

Buyer beware: do your due diligence

Home buyers would be familiar with the phrase “do your due diligence” which basically means do your homework. It’s sage advice. Part of that homework is to order a pre-purchase property inspection report to assess the condition of the property’s interior and exterior and identify any hazards and faults.

It’s not unlike calling in an expert, like a mechanic, to thoroughly assess a used car before you buy it so you don’t end up with a lemon. Sure, you can conduct your own inspection of the property but it’s logical to call in an expert, in this case a licensed builder, who can pick up the defects you won’t detect during a walk through.

Home inspection horror

That’s just what one Sydney house hunter did when he called on our licensed builder to conduct a pest and building inspection of a two-storey brick home the family was keen to buy. The findings shocked our experienced inspector who discovered a string of minor and major defects for a property that was just six years old. The workmanship was so poor, the family was advised to walk away.

There was defective drainage, a downpipe had not been installed to drain the gutter over the front entry, there was no drainage to the balcony, the retaining wall was deteriorating and gaps between the window frame and wall indicated movement. On the inside, light fittings were incomplete, the general workmanship was inferior and live electrical cables were exposed.

The drainage problems alone were cause for concern. The unconnected downpipe which was causing water to pool had the potential to cause rising damp and termite infestation. And as for the pest report, it concluded the property was highly susceptible to timber pests.

So what happened next?

You might think after reading the pest and building report and receiving a phone call from the inspector who reiterated the poor condition of the property that the family walked away. You’re wrong. They were clearly so charmed by the property they were willing to ignore the cautionary advice.

But it gets worse. It was found the house was built by an owner-builder who failed to obtain an occupation certificate after they missed a critical structural engineer inspection during construction. (On that note, find out why being an owner-builder is not for everyone!)

A lesson to learn

You don’t have to pull up stumps on every property that fails a building inspection. In fact, there are some people who are happy to proceed with the purchase – defects and all – understanding they may have to spend big to rectify the issues.

However, if you’re sage to engage a building inspection as part of your due diligence, you should also be wise to the red flags it unfurls. Be prepared to walk away from the ‘perfect home’ if the experts tell you the property is problematic. Otherwise you’ll be digging deep!