Building Inspection Process Step by Step
This is an example of the external areas we inspect; we spend a lot of time doing the exterior of the home.
The driveway is inspected for any cracking and how bad the cracking is, the condition of the surface finish and if it is safe to walk on. Some steep driveways can be slippery during wet weather, especially tiled ones.
We then check all the fencing, in particular the posts, which may look good but with a good push show signs of wood rot and termite damage. The gate house is next including the roof, intercom system and the locking system.
The surface water is often overlooked, especially during dry weather periods. We make sure no water drains toward the house during stormy times and note any drainage points and if they are working, many don’t and are full of rubbish.
Gates and paths are next, making sure all locks work. The paths and paved areas are very important, any indication of serious cracking is an indication of possible foundation problems. The exterior paved areas protect the house from surface water before it gets to the brickwork. Any tiled areas are tested for being drummy, loose and chipped areas.
Retaining walls, of all types are inspected. They all have their problems, wood rot and termites for the timber ones. Block ones need to be core filled and well designed by an engineer if they are high. They can be a serious problem if they support the house and they do not have a good waterproofing and a working drainage system protecting the home. Experience tells us most drainage systems block up over time. One of the best garden retaining walls is a good rock wall. It lasts forever and allows controlled water to drain out. A good solution is to have an open spoon drain catching the surface water before any problems occur.
Pool gates and fences are not included in our inspection and should be carried out by a pool specialist. We check them anyway because we have found so many poor inspections, especially pool gates.
Sheds and water tanks are examined for stability and leakages. A plumber should inspect the tanks drainage system.
Air conditioning units are tested to see if they are in working order but once again this is a specialist inspection and should be carried out by an air conditioning expert, especially for mould which is very common inside behind the blades.
We spend extra time on the hot water system (HWS) checking how old is, the condition of the base and what the base is sitting on. There needs to be ventilation under the unit to help stop the base rusting. A good life span for a HWS is 20 years. Units fitted inside the house should be fitted with a tray underneath, which is drained to outside. Ventilation under the unit is still important. The unit will leak eventually.
Paint work is inspected inside and out. The type and finish is noted in all wet areas, especially bathroom ceilings.
The Garage and Carports are inspected inside and out. The type of roof and legality of any additions that may encroach on the front boundary. Garage door and motor are tested and walls are checked for car damage. Any cracked concrete floor is noted. We get inside both the roof spaces and on the roof looking for any leaking areas.
Back and front porches are checked for any loose floor tiles. Beams, handrails, ceilings and lighting are all included. Any steps and staircases are inspected for safety.
Pergolas and BBQ area get special attention because a lot of owners like to have a go at building them. The framing and flooring are checked for timber size. All exterior decking is inspected including underneath, often a good access point for termites. Stairs and handrails to elevated deck areas are checked, especially the types of balustrade used. Height off the ground controls the type of balustrading allowed.
Now we spend time on and in the house roof. Outside we look for any loose and broken tiles including ridges and hips that may need re pointing. We also check the gutters now to see if they are rusted and full of leaves or holding water. Down pipes are checked for rust and positions. A lot of homes have dutch gables and feature timber gable ends which tend to deteriorate because the are out of sight and reach, they get a good inspection. Metal roofing get extra attention for any flashing problems, when protrusions include vent pipes and sky lights have been installed.
The interior of the roof space is checked for any framework defects plus signs of leakage. We note the amount and types of insulation fitted , making sure the rear of any down lights are not covered by insulation, which can contribute to a fire hazard. If the rear of the plaster ceilings are not covered by insulation we confirm the sheeting is well fixed to the ceiling joists. This is a common fault missed by most inspectors, some of who don’t even get in the roof cavity.
All the exterior brickwork and render any signs of settlement cracking are noted. These can be indications of possible foundation problems. Gaps to windows and openings that could allow water entry are detected at this stage. All windows and sliding doors are tested for fit and ease of use.
The underside of Pole homes are inspected for stability, timber sizes and the condition of the flooring. This is a good time to look for any water leakages from the plumbing fixtures, leaking shower bases in particular. Staircases are inspected for safety and stability.
The interior gets the same thorough treatment.
Starting at the entry and hall way, floor tiling, front door condition including feature locks plus walls and ceilings are inspected.
All the walls and especially ceilings to the whole interior, including inside the robes, are inspected for imperfections and paint finish.
Timber frame finishing around doors and windows are inspected for fit and finish. The working condition of windows and doors are noted. All lights, fans, especially smoke detectors and air conditioning units are tested.
Plumbing gets extra attention, because it is one of the biggest causes of expense if things go wrong. We check under all the sinks and basins while running water to test the taps. The interior of all the cabinets are inspected for any old water damage. Toilets are flushed and showers run looking for leaks.
We use moisture meters in all the wet areas. One of the latest problems developing with plumbing fittings is the flexible braid hosing, used to connect fixtures instead of copper pipe. This product only has a 5 to 10 year warranty against failing. When it does fail the water damage can be very expensive. We check every braided hose in the house. There are warning signs the product is about to fail.
The bathroom, kitchen, toilet and laundry fixtures are all expensive and are inspected for any damage and working condition. Any damage to bench top and cabinets are noted. The tiling in all the rooms, walls and floors, are tested for drummy areas plus chips and cracks.
We deliberately use two inspectors to carry out our Pre Purchase Building Inspections. One is an experienced builder, who concentrates on all the building aspects of the house and the other inspector is a qualified Pest inspector from a current Gold Coast Pest Control Company just looking for termites using the latest electronic detection devices. The amount of termite infestation, old and new has increased over the last 10 years. We are finding almost half the homes we inspect, have had or have some form of termite infestation.
A full list of our Building Inspection Checklist