When a structural building inspection identifies a defect in a property, it will often surprise both the vendor and the buyer. Building defects range from relatively inexpensive issues that can be resolved for less than $1,000 to significant structural defects, costing tens of thousands of dollars to fix. Identifying potential structural problems can be challenging, so an inspection by a licensed building inspector is imperative.
Building inspections intend to inform buyers and builders of structural defects and necessary repairs. It also helps buyers negotiate the property’s price due to costly repairs. The report should identify everything that could be wrong with the property.
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What is a structural defect?
Structural defects are faults in the architectural integrity of a building, most commonly referring to load-bearing walls, slabs and footings, subfloor or roof frame components. Defects are classified as ‘minor’ or ‘major’. Understanding the categories and severity of structural defects will help you make a more informed decision when purchasing a property.
Major and minor defects
A major defect is damage or inconsistency in any of the major components of a building. It could cause the structure or part of the structure to collapse and requires a part of the structure to be repaired to avoid unsafe conditions, loss of utility or further deterioration of the property. The defect can be a result of defective design, faulty construction, faulty materials or aged materials.
The following are classifications of structural defects:
- Distortion, warping or twisting
- Water penetration or rising damp
- Material deterioration
- Termite damage
A property purchase can only be cancelled if a major defect is found within the structure during a pre-purchase building inspection. So, it is best to get a qualified inspector to inspect the property for minor defects and if time is of the essence, place a conditional offer on the property, stating it is subject to property condition report..
Defects classified as minor can still be significant issues, but don’t make the home ‘unlivable’.
Minor defects include:
- Plumbing issues
- Smoke detector defects
- Hot water system or air conditioning defects
- Insulation issues
- Pergola and decking defects
- Broken doors and windows
It’s hard to find an established property without any fault. What is important when property hunting is determining whether these faults are minor or major defects , who is responsible to repair defects (seller or buyer), and if the cost to repair outweigh the price of the property.
REIWA standard inspections vs private building inspection report
REIWA is the Western Australian real estate institute. They represent the industry and provide a range of services for home buyers and sellers. One of these services is the Australian standard pre-purchase structural inspection.
This structural inspection is the most commonly used pre-purchase inspection. The REIWA annexure informs on any major structural defects of the building in question to ensure it meets the intended structural performance. However, this inspection doesn’t cover any minor common building defects.
Real estate agencies can use their version of the REIWA annexure documents if they would like to provide a more comprehensive report. However, these documents are generic and may not include structural defects specific to unique homes. This is why it is valuable to have a private inspection conducted by a specialist building inspection company.
If the home in question is under construction, it can be easier for a qualified building inspector to identify any issues as they arise throughout the building process. This is beneficial as defects can be fixed as they occur, saving money in the long run.
Inspections that can be conducted during the building process include:
- Concrete slab inspection
- Plate high inspection
- Roof frame inspection
- Practical completion inspection
Are you building a house?
We have a range of inspection services that should be conducted throughout the building process.
What is included as part of the property structure?
If the building inspector identifies a major defect, the seller may be obligated to conduct repairs. However, major structural repairs don’t apply to the entire property, only areas that are found to be a part of the residential building structure.
The following boundaries are considered to be on the residential building:
- Everything under the main roof even if added to post initial construction
- Veranda – if constructed at the same time of the residential building
- Standalone granny flats
- Alfresco under main roof
- Standalone structures containing habitable rooms
- Retaining walls directly associated with the foundations of the residential building
Furthermore, major structural damage not viewed as part of the residential building structure includes:
- Patios & pergolas
- Fences & retaining walls
- Swimming pools
- Garden walls
- Decorative installations
- Retaining walls not associated with the foundations of the residential building
Structural inspections at Sure Building & Pest
Properties are massive investments. A thorough building inspection is key to ensuring it doesn’t cost you more than you intended.