Building inspections.

Our house is being built in Australia and we are not there yet.  You’ve heard me fretting, rather pathetically, about not seeing our house grow up and desperately dropping hints for our local friends to send me progress photos.  You can imagine my delight to learn that our Site Supervisor is not only adept at typing an informative email but can also take a great photo!

This photo comes to you care of Brian, our Site Supervisor:

Since it is Tradies Health Month, I am

Since it is Tradies Health Month, I can only be pleased that such great access has been created for delivering bricks right to the work site for minimal handling.

Last week the area surrounding our retaining wall footings was cleared to allow access for bricks.  Bricks, sand and cement should now be on site and the bricklayer will take about a week to build up the retaining walls and planter boxes.  The walls will then be “cavity filled” with concrete.

In the mean time, I’ve been looking into building inspections.  I consider building inspections to be a layer of insurance – protecting against human error.  Even if we were around to regularly view the work of our builders, we’d be kidding ourselves if we thought we could judge the correctness of all the work.  Building is such a huge investment that getting an independent inspector in at key stages of the build seems like a “no brainer”.  So my research has been about the timing and number of inspections and the cost.

There are various opinions regarding when it’s best to inspect – some are based on payment instalments, others based on the building process.  Brian Ashworth from A New House suggests either a 3 or 5 inspection approach:

5 inspections:

  • Base – before slab pouring to check slab location, plumbing and site drainage.
  • Frame – to check frame and slab.
  • Lockup – to check the outer shell of the house for weather proofing and brickwork quality.  Plumbing, electrical work and insulation may also be checked now.
  • Fixing – to check waterproofing of wet areas and the location of all fixtures (sinks, cabinets, architraves, etc.)
  • Practical Completion – for the last chance to address any errors before handover.

3 inspections:

  • Base – as above.
  • Pre plaster – a combine frame/lockup inspection before plasterboards are installed.
  • Practical Completion – as above.

From a quick wiz around the web, I would say that an average price per inspection and report is about $500, with inspections at some stages costing more than others.  Some companies offer a package price for the series of inspections.

So far the quote I’ve received is more expensive than this, but the inspector has been recommended by one of my trusty readers. We are also building a large house (432 square metres including garage, alfresco and porch) and are probably located an hour away from the inspector’s office, so perhaps we can expect to pay a bit more.

We are planning to inspect at these stages:

  1. Base/Pre slab.  $595.
  2. Brickwork completed and roof frame erected to check brickwork, cavities, cavity trays, lintels, concrete slab, wall plate, roof frame etc.  $695.
  3. Practical completion.  $995.

Have you used an inspector?  What problems might you have had if you didn’t?  If I pay an inspector a couple of thousand dollars and he can honestly tell me that the builders have done a great job with high standards and in accordance with our plans, then I’ll be very happy.


11 thoughts on “Building inspections.

  1. Hmmmm….If they find a problem how do you know the builder is going to address it? If there is a problem do they come back (at your cost) to check if the problem is fixed? Certainly another set of professional eyes are a good thing. But do you trust them more than your builder? Just my thoughts. So hard for you being so far…..but nice to not have the daily stress maybe? Sorry not much help. Ultimately you need to do what makes you sleep easy 🙂

  2. trixee says:

    Sounds like you have a great SS! I think the inspections are great for peace of mind, and I have no doubt that they would find things that otherwise wouldn’t be picked up on. I would imagine that the issues would need to be rectified because if they weren’t, you could refuse the next progress payment due to unsatisfactory workmanship.

  3. Harry says:

    I am very happy to tell you that there are a lot of brick’s sitting on the front (water side) of your block waiting for some Brickies to build your retaining walls, i was over the otherside of the canal having a coffee with some friends yesterday (06/08/2014)

  4. We are definitely getting a private certifier to help us at frame and practical completion. I think for the amount of money we’re investing on the build, it’s a no-brainier to spend the extra $$ for peace of mind. I haven’t got around to getting quotes but initial web search tells me they cost from $595 in Sydney.

  5. lydia says:

    A building inspection is only worth the money if you trust the inspector. I know of people who have spent a lot of money on inspectors/quantity surveyors/those sort of people that have turned out to be a complete waste of money….however I know of some that had an independent project manager that was worth every penny!
    So, you really need to go with the inspector/level of inspection that will ease your mind!

  6. Miranda says:

    It’s fantastic that your SS is willing to take photos! That should be a big help. I recommend getting as many photos as you possibly can. Even if you don’t know what they show at this stage, you’ll be surprised how helpful it can be to refer back to them later when issues arise.(For example, we looked up our early photos
    to confirm that spacers had been used in our brickwork, when the builder wasn’t sure, after it was raised by our inspector.)
    I think it is a good idea to get an inspector, especially since you won’t be around. What we paid – just for the PC inspection – was just a bit less than you’ve been quoted for that stage. Ours is a single storey house, but I’d hope you’d get a bit of a discount if the same inspector had done the earlier stages already.
    Just so you don’t get your hopes up too much, there’s a couple of things that we found a bit disappointing about the process (other than the expense):
    (1) Mostly the inspector is checking the quality of the workmanship and compliance with building standards etc, rather than checking that what is built matches the contract (eg have they used the wrong taps, not built the cabinetry according to the plans etc). A lot of our problems were just failures to read the plans, rather than workmanship issues, and the inspector won’t really look for those.
    (2) Other than things that were very easily fixed, we failed pretty dismally at actually getting everything fixed by the builder after receiving our inspector’s report. But at least – with a lot of persistence – we got something in writing from them telling us why they didn’t think things needed to be fixed.
    Also, the commentary on the HomeOne forum about the stages for inspections seems to be mostly based on what they do in the eastern states. But I guess their framing stage would equate to our plate height stages. Just be aware that by then they’ll have covered over the gas, plumbing and electrical cut-outs, so if you can, try to get photos of them before they’re covered up.

    • As always, thanks for your advice. I will make sure I get as many photos as possible, one way or another. The quote I mentioned is from your inspector. I think we are going to stick with him.

  7. Bruna Evans says:

    Ha , ha, inspections!! While our home was having an extension put on (living away from site), we visited the next door neighbours only to be amazed at the height of our extension frame (not at all what had been planned). In our usual ‘relaxed’ manner, no problem, the extra height caused Simon to simply change roof from a being a pitched roof to a flat roof with a considerably sized parapet around the edge (the oversized frame)!!! Felt more sorry for the neighbours who had to look at it. Cheers, Bruna

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