Building Inspection - Your Sanity Saver.
Get a building inspection, and do it before you sign away your deposit. Make the contract "Subject to Building and Pest inspection".
You like the property as a potential rental. You can see its potential for improvement. It's a bit rough around the edges, but it looks sound...
You talk to the owner. They seem honest enough. They tell you they have a recent inspection report, and you can have a copy of it. Sounds great!
An independent building inspection is your first line of protection against buying a property lemon.
In North America, and in the UK (rarely in Australia, but it does happen), it's fairly common practise for vendors to "save their buyers the hassle" and pay for a building inspection before putting a property on the market.
The difficulty with this is that the concept is so open to abuse by unscrupulous or desperate vendors who want to get a bad property off their hands. All they have to do is pay a dodgy inspector a little extra to give their building a clean bill of health, and the poor innocent buyer takes the bait...
Would you trust someone with your child for a few hours just because they have an honest face? No. You should get to know them properly first.
It should be the same with buying a property that you are going to own for any length of time. One slip, and you're stuck with the problems for a very long time.
If you're serious about making an offer on a property, spend the money to get a professional inspection done by an independent firm that you trust.
Make it a condition of your contract
There's no point in buying a property that you'll have to knock down and rebuild before you can use it. Of course, that's fine if you planned to knock it down in the first place, but not if you thought it just needed some prettying-up before you rented it out!
Make sure that any contract you sign is subject to you being satisfied with the building and pest inspection reports before the deal can go ahead.
In real estate, you normally have a cooling-off period of 24 hours after signing a contract to back out. Remember, though, that you can ask to extend that cooling-off period for up to five business days so that inspections and other necessary things can be carried out.
Use this extra time to your advantage and order a building and pest inspection as soon as you agree a price. The extra expense is tiny in comparison with the thousands of dollars it may cost you to fix hidden problems.
Follow the inspector around
A building inspection is a fantastic opportunity for you to learn more about your property, and about building in general. Make sure you are present for it, and follow the inspector around to ask questions and raise concerns.
Try not to be too intrusive, but remember that an inspection report comes with a disclaimer covering the inspector in case he misses something, so it's worth being there and having a talk with them.
Remember to check for pests as well
It pays to have a pest inspection done at the same time, or preferably one after the other, so you have a chance to check out both tradesmen.
Once you have the report in your hands, you can move ahead with certainty, one way or the other.
Got a question about building inspections?