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Tales from building inspector Vol. 1:
Posted on January 2, 2013


Tales from a professional, qualified and ethical building inspector

As a building inspector, I know better than everyone that not all inspectors are created equal. In this series of posts I share with you some real life scenarios where I have helped homeowners who have become victims from inadequate building inspections. In these instances the homeowners were often unaware of the state of their structure prior to purchase and this has ended up becoming not only costly but has devalued the property and made it difficult to onward selling of the home. The moral of the story: ask the right questions and check the reputation of the inspector prior to engagement. A qualified and ethical inspector will have nothing to hide and will be able to answer all your questions with ease. As you will see in the first story in the series, a lot of heartache could have been avoided by asking the right questions.

The case of the burnt out roofing

I was called in to conduct a pre-purchase building inspection on a high-set timber framed Queenslander, only to find burnt out rafters in the roof space above the ceiling access opening (man hole) in the kitchen. The owner was understandably shocked and upset as he had only purchased the house 12 months earlier and no mention was made of this damage in the pre-purchase building report he received from another inspector upon purchase. As a result of the findings, the new buyer did not go ahead with the sale of the property.

The owner contacted the original inspector who prepared the report and questioned him about the burnt-out damage. The inspector confessed he failed to look into the ceiling space, nor inspect any of the roof framing or anything else in the roof space because of the height of the ceiling and difficulty in accessing the ceiling opening. To get himself out of trouble, the inspector volunteered to repair the damage so next time he had a buyer the sale would go ahead. The owner agreed on the condition that I would re-inspect the work when completed to which the inspector agreed.

Upon re-inspection I found the damaged rafters had not been replaced but simply had a small cleat (piece of timber) nailed to their side in an attempt to stiffen the burn-out timber. I reported to the owner that the repair was not carried out in a professional manner, were inadequate and future pre-purchase inspections could also fail. Through the owner, the original inspector asked how best to repair the damage – even though the inspector has the same qualifications and license as myself!

I instructed the original inspector that new rafters will need to be installed along the full length of the damaged rafters bearing on the top plate of the wall up to the ridge line, as per normal construction methods. This was eventually completed, satisfying building elements basic requirements but not before an extensive run-around and inconvenience for the homeowner through no fault of their own.

The moral of the story? – Be careful when engaging a pre-purchase building inspector.

Always ask questions like:

  • Are you a qualified builder?
  • Do you have liability and professional indemnity insurance?
  • Do you get into the ceiling space?

    Check the history of the building inspector

    Check the inspector licence number on www.qbsa.qld.gov.au/searchforlicensee. See if there has been any action taken against the inspector before you engage him to work for you.

    Hopefully this has given some things to consider when engaging a building inspector for your home. Stay tuned for more true life tales from a professional, qualified and ethical building inspector coming soon. In the meantime, to find out more about our building inspections, or other services, please give me a call today on 0402 477 779 .


    Tales from a building inspector, Vol 2:
    Posted on January 2, 2013


    The case of exposed asbestos, wood borer and sunken support stumps

    I was asked by the owner of a lowset timber framed house with timber floors to inspect for defects. The owner recently purchased the house in Maryborough while still living in north Queensland and unfortunately when he moved into the house some of his furniture broke through the timber flooring.

    He explained that he did not get a pre-purchase pest inspection because the real estate agent assured him that a pest inspection had recently been carried and everything was fine. He did however engage a pre-purchase building inspection to give him a structural report.

    Unfortunately it appears the building inspector did not get under the house and inspect the flooring because if he did he would have seen extensive borer damage throughout approximately 80 per cent of the pine flooring. He would have also noticed that several timber stumps had sunk and needed to be replaced and there were temporary timber props under the floor supporting the house.

    The inspector also failed to disclose to the buyer that the roof had been cut off and re-nailed back together to allow for the house to be relocated to its current location and that there was damaged and hazardous asbestos in the house.

    As a result of these severe oversights and lack of transparency from the inspector, the new owner has spent approximately $30,000.00 rectifying this house with more work still to be done. To make matters worse his relationship with his partner has broken down and she is no longer living with him because of the extensive renovation being carried out on the house. A very upsetting and unfortunate scenario for those involved and something that could have been avoided through proper checks.

    The moral of the story? – Be careful when engaging a pre-purchase building inspector.

    Ask questions like:

    • Are you a qualified builder?
    • Do you have liability and professional indemnity insurance?
    • Do you get onto the house and inspect the roof?
    • Do you get under the house if it is a timber floor?
    • Do you inspect around the base of timber stumps?
    • Do you report on the presence of asbestos in the home?

      Check the history of the building inspector

      Check the inspector license number on www.qbsa.qld.gov.au/searchforlicensee See if there has been any action taken against the inspector before you engage him to work for you.

      To avoid making mistakes similar or worse than these, contact the help of a building inspector you can trust and who has the knowledge to give you an accurate condition report on your property. To find out more about our building inspection and other services contact me direct on 0402 477 779 .


      Tales from a building inspector, Vol 3:
      Posted on January 2, 2013


      The case of the non-compliant ceiling insulation

      I conducted a pre-purchase building inspection on a 6 year-old home and found that the fibre glass ceiling insulation that had been installed prior to the current owners purchase was completely covering 6 down lights throughout the home. When I pointed out this fire safety hazard to the owner, he found and re-read the pre-purchase building inspection report that he commissioned before purchasing the home. Much to his surprise there was no mention of any ceiling insulation, and no mention of the fire safety hazard.

      We can assume that the building inspector failed to inspect the inner roof space and failed with his duty of care to notify the homebuyer of the fire safety hazard. If the down lights were in a room (i.e. a kitchen) where they left on for extended periods, the house may have burnt down, and the consequences potentially fatal.

      Ceiling insulation that is touching or covering down lights has been identified as the cause of several house fires, which has prompted the state government to require licenses for ceiling insulation installers. In this case the ceiling insulation was not installed in a manner that complied with the Australian standards and most likely was not installed by a licensed person. If there is any type of ceiling insulation in a house that I am inspecting I turn on all down lights in the house and then proceed to inspect the inner roof space, to identify all down lights, and confirm that the ceiling insulation complies with Australian standards.

      In another case involving ceiling insulation, I inspected a 4 year old home and found ceiling insulation over the laundry area only which was the area immediately around the inner ceiling opening (the man hole). The owner, who had only owned the house for approximately 3 years, was told by the pre-purchase building inspector at the time that there was ceiling insulation throughout the home.

      Obviously the inspector did not get up into the inner ceiling space and did not carry out any type of structural inspection on the roof frame or ceiling frame and gave the buyer misleading and incorrect information about the house they were purchasing.

      The moral of the story? – Be careful when engaging a pre-purchase building inspector.

      Ask questions like:

      • Are you a qualified Builder?
      • Do you have liability and professional indemnity insurance?
      • Do you get into the ceiling space?
      • Do you check to see if the ceiling insulation complies with the Australian standards and is not touching down lights?
      • Do you check the showers for water leaks?

        Check the history of the building inspector

        Check the inspector license number on www.qbsa.qld.gov.au/searchforlicensee See if there has been any action taken against the inspector before you engage him to work for you.

        Since ceiling insulation can be costly, knowing what you are getting before purchase of a property is essential so you don’t have the ‘wool pulled over your eyes.’ To do this call upon an ethical building inspector you can trust and who inspects each property with thorough care and diligence.

        To find out more about our building inspection and other services contact me direct on 0402 477 779 .


        Tales from a building inspector, Vol 4:
        Posted on January 2, 2013


        The unexperienced inspection and inspector

        I was asked to re-inspect a high set older Queenslander in Maryborough, a home that approximately 90 days earlier had a combined pre-purchase building and pest inspection done for the purchaser.

        A combined pre-purchase building and pest inspection is carried out by one person, usually a building inspector that has undertaken some training and has completed a TAFE course that qualifies him to complete pre-purchase pest inspection.

        In this instance the husband got up and went to the toilet during the night and put his foot through the flooring in the toilet, it appears the inspector failed to properly inspect the sub-floor area and failed to identify active termite damage in the flooring or just didn’t know what he was looking for – a problem that often occurs when we have inspectors that have only completed a training course at TAFE to get a licence.

        This resulted in the new owners spending a considerable amount of money rectifying a damaged floor that should have been detected during the building and pest inspection prior to them purchasing the house.

        Don’t take unnecessary risks when buying a house, have the house inspected by local experienced professional tradespeople who know their trade and know what to look for when conducting a pre-purchase building inspection, inspectors who are no scared to get in and get dirty inspecting the home.

        The moral of the story? – Be careful when engaging a pre-purchase building inspector.

        Ask questions like:

        • Are you a qualified builder?
        • Do you check the showers for water leaks?
        • Do you get onto the house and inspect the roof?
        • Do you check the flooring area and sub floor areas of the home?
        • Do you inspect around the base of timber stumps?
        • Do you report on gardens and trees close to the house?
        • Do you report on the presence of Asbestos in the house?

          Check the history of the building inspector

          Check the inspector license number on www.qbsa.qld.gov.au/searchforlicensee

          See if there has been any action taken against the inspector before you engage him to work for you.

          Don’t take unnecessary risks before purchasing your next home. Call upon a building inspector you can trust from the professionals at Rodney Gatt Inspection Service on 0402 477 799 . Don’t let your new home purchase become another horror story – get an accurate pre purchase building inspection from a thorough and qualified builder who knows what to look for.

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