When time is tight, or you've missed out on several homes, it can be tempting to skimp on getting a full builder's report. This is risky. Get an independent pre-purchase inspection to:
- Avoid expensive mistakes, eg discovering the house needs rewiring after you move in.
- Give you negotiating power, eg if work needs doing that isn't a deal breaker.
- Help you prioritise, eg knowing to budget for a new roof before spending on the kitchen.
A pre-purchase inspection— or building report — looks for signs of any problems. It's up to you to follow up on any issues the report raises — with questions to the seller or more expert advice.
A property's age, location and building materials affect where there's most likely to be problems. Use this tool to discover potential hot spots on the property you're thinking of buying.
Property tool checker(external link) — Settled
Building report from vendor
Some sellers include a building report with the documents about the home. It's best not to rely on this. You're unlikely to have any come back if the report misses anything. This is because the vendor is the client — not you. A buyer's pre-purchase inspection can flag issues not listed in the vendor's report.
The standard pre-purchase inspection is a Residential Property Inspection NZS 4306:2005. This is a visual inspection of the property. This means it won't identify any problems concealed behind finished surfaces, eg plumbing, framing, insulation or wiring.
During the inspection, the inspector looks for signs of any problems, eg:
- structural damage
- drainage issues
- dodgy wiring
- faulty pipes.
They will take photos of problem areas and comment on them in the report. This includes signs of gradual deterioration as well as things that may be an issue now.
Some inspectors are happy for you to go to the inspection. This is chance to take your own photos and see any issues firsthand. Going along may cost slightly more — the inspection is likely to take longer than if they were doing it alone.
A pre-purchase inspection may identify where work has been done on the original house, eg a dug out basement, a new room or deck. It will not tell you if the renovations have building consent. Find this out from council records and/or a LIM report.
LIM report — Prepare to make an offer
Work requiring consent(external link) — Building Performance
A pre-purchase inspection looks for clues. You may need to find out more based on what's found.