Under the Builders’ Registration Act a builder is legally responsible for all faulty and defective work for a period of six years after practical completion. Whether or not you engage a private building inspector will not affect the builder’s obligation for the integrity of the home.
However, many buyers do seek assistance from a private consultant if they do not feel qualified or confident in their ability to deal with the builder or his construction supervisor at handover.
If you decide to engage a private inspector, as a matter of courtesy you should advise the builder of your intentions. It is important also that you instruct the inspector appropriately. What you do not require is a list of minor defects e.g. chipped paint, cracked tiles etc. which are perfectly obvious for all to see. Builder and clients are often annoyed by voluminous inspection reports which identify imperfections like these which would be rectified in the normal course of events anyway.
Your instructions to an inspector should be to verify the integrity of major building elements. For example, the inspector should climb into the roof space to see if the roof structure is correctly installed. Checking that windows are correctly fitted and sealed is another important item.
Sometimes it is the things that are unseen that are most important. An experienced building inspector can usually by visual examination assess integrity of the footings and slab.
Before engaging a building consultant you should ask for a sample copy of a previous building report. Are the defects described specifically? Comments such as “non-compliant with building code” are vague and unsatisfactory as they give the builder no clue as to what specific section of the code has not been met and what needs to be remedied.
Private inspectors do not require registration in Western Australia, so it is important to check their experience and credentials before engaging them. The quality of some building consultants has been heavily criticised by the Building Disputes Tribunal so it is important to choose wisely. There are a number of precautionary steps that you can take to ensure that you are getting value for money.
Check with the Builders’ Registration Board to confirm their registration number;
Contact the Master Builders Association for members who are building inspectors. You can use Master Builders’ free Find a Member service to find an inspector;
Obtain a list of previous clients and obtain their feedback; and
Confirm an agreed price before agreeing to an inspection.