Building Inspectors Should Be Regulated

Building inspectors, registered builders and engineers

Building inspectors should be regulated was the strong message in Saturday’s West according to Master Builders, Michael McLean: ‘Master Builders has asked the Minister for Commerce to register or licence building consultants in WA. The risks associated with using an incompetent person are simply not worth taking’. 

BCI and other professional building inspection companies in Perth have known of this danger for a long time. It seems now that industry leaders are starting to realise it too with talks from REIWA and this recent article by Master Builders WA (MBAWA). The potential dangers that can come from an unregulated industry that requires expert knowledge and experience are numerous. ‘Unfortunately, ill-informed opinions and reports from these consultants / inspectors can in fact exacerbate an existing difference in opinion into a protracted dispute’. Michael McLean, Master Builders Executive Director.

For a long time, there were a few main companies offering the service of pre-purchase inspections in Perth. Now due to the down turn in the economy, out of work trades people and other professionals have entered the industry and are offering the same service with a quarter of the qualifications. Other business savvy people saw the earning potential in pre-purchase building inspections and also decided to jump on the bandwagon, offering a 2 – 10 day course to become qualified in conducting building inspections. While selling the services of unqualified people, they also began offering kick backs for referrals like $30 vouchers and movie tickets etc. The general public in Perth are increasingly aware when placing an offer on a property that certain clauses such as ‘subject to a building and pest inspection’ is smart and required on many properties. They are not aware that companies claiming to be suitably qualified may not hold a trade or qualification of any relation to the building industry.

‘Presently, in WA, anyone can knock on your door or advertise that they are a qualified and experienced building consultant or building inspector. Members of the public would have no idea whether these people are qualified, experienced or competent. In some cases, these ‘building consultants’ are being asked to assess the structural integrity of a house, the causes of roof leaks, rising damp water damage to walls or cracks in plaster ceilings’. Michael McLean, MBAWA

Here are some of the risks:

1. If your offer and acceptance is subject to a building inspection, it is vitally important to read the fine print and see if the building inspector is required to be qualified. If they are, and you engage an unqualified person, your report is null and void. Not only does this mean that you have paid for a report that means nothing, if any defects were found, you can’t negotiate or get out of the sale if your agent doesn’t see that as reasonable.

2. You’re at serious risk of the building inspectors not having enough building knowledge or experience to pick up on serious defects. It could be assumed that an unqualified person with or without building experience, may have limited knowledge in the guidelines and regulations that govern our industry such as Australian Standard 4349.1 – Pre-Purchase inspection of residential buildings.

3. Some of the reports on the market look impressive but can often be full of irrelevant photographs of structures or parts of your home that have no significance to anything or anyone. We have seen reports that have over ten photos of the roof frame, showing absolutely nothing at all. So what you’re buying is a collage of your new home with minimal information to help you determine if anything needs fixing, removing or should be a good reason to not go ahead with the purchase.

‘Many of these unqualified ‘building consultants’ are out of their depth when it comes to knowledge of the National Construction Code and relevant Australian Standards.’ Michael McLean, MBAWA

So whether you are buying a 100 year old character home in Fremantle or North Perth, a million dollar mansion in Peppermint Grove, a holiday home in Mandurah, beach shack in Moore River, or a brand new home in Applecross or Maylands, make sure you call a company that employs registered building inspectors WITH a minimum of ten years experience or structural or civil engineers. Call a company that doesn’t offer kick backs for being referred and are being referred because they offer a professional service at a competitive price. Call an inspector that you can talk to directly about your property. Call a company that understands the industry and the climate in Perth.

Certain types of reports are more suitable to certain qualifications. See below a list of building inspection types and the best building inspectors to conduct them.

Pre-purchase building inspection – Registered builder or engineer

Retrospective building approval – Building surveyor

Practical Completion Inspection – Registered builder or engineer

Progress report on new build – Registered builder or engineer

Strata Inspection – Registered builder or engineer or architect

Strata maintenance schedule – Registered builder or engineer or architect

Timber and pest inspection – Licensed timber and pest inspection

Dilapidation report – Registered builder, engineer, architect or suitably qualified person

Defects report – Registered builder or engineer

Owner builder indemnity insurance – Registered builder or engineer or architect

Builders Warranty inspection – Registered builder or engineer or architect

Final inspection or pre handover inspection – Suitably qualified person such as experienced real estate agent

Specialist inspections such as pool, plumbing and electrical inspections – Licensed plumber or electrician or experienced pool inspector

‘Don’t take the risk and engage an unqualified person regardless of what they might call themselves. Always check their credentials before engaging them’. Michael McLean, Master Builders Executive Director.

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Below is copy of the article in the Saturday West, 10 November 2018 and,

Photo of the Australian Standards 4349.1 (Pre-purchase Inspections – Residential buildings)

building inspectors Perth