How to inspect real estate yourself

For many, purchasing a new property is a daunting and sometimes overwhelming task.  By following a systematic approach and paying attention to detail, you can identify potential issues that may impact the property’s value or lead to costly repairs down the line. Below we will outline the key aspects to consider during a DIY real estate inspection in NSW and the importance of being well-prepared to ensure a thorough evaluation of the property. First and foremost, before undertaking a DIY inspection, it is essential to familiarise yourself with the relevant laws and regulations in NSW. This includes understanding the requirements for disclosure of property defects and being aware of any local building codes or zoning regulations that may apply to the property.

It is also important to develop a systematic inspection checklist covering all aspects of the property, both interior and exterior. A comprehensive checklist should include items such as the foundation, roof, walls, windows, doors, electrical systems, plumbing, heating and cooling systems, and outdoor spaces such as gardens, driveways, and fences. Additionally, it is crucial to assess the property’s general condition and look for any signs of pest infestations, water damage, or mould growth, as these issues can lead to significant health hazards and expensive repairs if left untreated. Furthermore, having a basic understanding of the local property market and recent sales in the area can be helpful when determining if any identified issues are likely to negatively impact the property’s value or potential for future resale.

When conducting a DIY inspection, it is also advisable to bring along necessary tools and equipment, such as a flashlight, ladder, measuring tape, and a moisture meter. These tools can assist you in examining hard-to-reach areas, taking accurate measurements of rooms and spaces, and identifying any potential moisture issues that may indicate underlying problems such as leaks or poor ventilation.

Basic Guide Of What To Look For

  • Check windows and doors open and close easily
  • Check for mould or damp areas along skirting boards, walls and ceilings
  • Check for sagging ceilings or buckling walls
  • Lift the carpet and check for any rotting floorboards or any dampness
  • Try taps to ensure there are no problems with running water, hot water or drainage
  • Flush toilets to check for a running cistern
  • Look under sinks for any leaks or rust 
  • Review the hot water system for size and age, and check for any damp areas
  • Try light switches
  • Look at the general state of the roof, guttering and drain pipes
  • Inspect exterior walls for cracks and other defects
  • While you are at the property, listen out for the noise levels coming from outside

These are the main things to look for but for obvious reasons, if you do decide to make an offer on the property and all goes well, the next step would be a professional building inspection and timber pest inspection to be organised, and this will need to be organised during your cooling off period.

Advanced DIY Property Inspection

Research and Preparation

Before embarking on a DIY inspection, thorough research and preparation are essential. This includes learning about the property’s location, the type of property, and any potential issues that may be common in that area. This involves reviewing the relevant laws and regulations in NSW, understanding the requirements for disclosure of property defects, being aware of any local building codes or zoning restrictions, and familiarizing oneself with common building materials and construction techniques in the area.

By doing this research, you will be better equipped to identify any non-compliant or substandard workmanship during your inspection and can make informed decisions regarding the property’s potential purchase or required repairs. Additionally, researching local property values and sales trends can help you make informed decisions about the potential investment return or resale value of the property in question. It is also important to gather the necessary tools and equipment for the inspection, such as a flashlight, tape measure, and notepad.

Exterior Inspection

The exterior of a property should be inspected for any visible damage or issues. This includes examining the roof, gutters, and downspouts for damage or signs of wear and tear. The foundation should also be inspected for any cracks or signs of settling. Additionally, the exterior walls should be checked for any damage or signs of water damage, such as discolouration or mould. The exterior inspection is a crucial aspect of the DIY home evaluation process, as it allows you to assess the overall structural integrity and condition of the property from the foundation to the roof. Begin by examining the foundation for any visible cracks, signs of subsidence or shifting, and evidence of water damage.

Move on to inspecting the walls, windows, and doors for signs of damage or wear and tear. Pay close attention to any cracks, gaps, or signs of water intrusion, as these could indicate serious structural issues or a potential for future problems. Next, evaluate the roof for any missing or damaged shingles, signs of water damage, sagging areas, or inadequate ventilation. Make sure to inspect the gutters, downspouts, and drainage systems for any signs of damage or blockages. Finally, assess the landscaping and outdoor areas surrounding the property. Check for any potential safety hazards, such as overhanging tree branches, uneven walkways or steps, and unstable retaining walls. Additionally, take note of the property’s overall curb appeal and consider whether any improvements or landscaping changes may be necessary to enhance its attractiveness and potentially increase its market value.

Interior Inspection

The interior of a property should also be inspected thoroughly. This includes checking the plumbing and electrical systems for any issues or damage. The walls, floors, and ceilings should be checked for any cracks or signs of water damage. It is also important to examine the windows and doors for any damage or issues with the seals. Begin by examining each room, including the kitchen, bathrooms, bedrooms, and living spaces. Check for any signs of damage or wear and tear, such as cracked tiles, peeling paint, or damaged flooring.

Additionally, inspect the walls and ceilings for any signs of water damage, mould growth, or structural issues that may require further investigation. Furthermore, assess the functionality and condition of all plumbing fixtures, electrical outlets, switches, and appliances to ensure they are in proper working order. Furthermore, assess the functionality and condition of all plumbing fixtures, electrical outlets, switches, and appliances to ensure they are in proper working order. If any issues are identified during the inspection, it is important to document them thoroughly and consider enlisting the help of a professional inspector or contractor to provide a more detailed evaluation and estimate for necessary repairs or improvements.

Mechanical Systems Inspection

A thorough inspection of a property’s mechanical systems is crucial for ensuring their reliability and efficiency. The mechanical systems of a property should also be inspected, including the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system. The HVAC system should be checked for any signs of wear and tear, and the filters should be replaced if necessary. Additionally, the hot water heater and appliances, such as the stove and dishwasher, should be inspected for any issues.

Additionally, inspect the electrical and plumbing systems for any signs of damage, outdated components, or potential safety hazards. Check the age and condition of water heaters, boilers, furnaces or air conditioning units to determine whether they need to be repaired or replaced. Regular maintenance of these systems is essential to prolong their lifespan and avoid unexpected breakdowns or costly repairs. Overall, a thorough property inspection is essential for identifying potential issues and evaluating the condition of various components that may impact their value or require repairs.

Safety Inspection

Ensuring the safety of a property is a critical aspect of the inspection process. Inspect all areas of the property for potential safety hazards, such as loose or damaged handrails, faulty electrical wiring, or insufficient lighting. Additionally, it is crucial to examine the presence and functionality of smoke detectors, carbon monoxide alarms, and fire extinguishers in compliance with local building codes and regulations. Moreover, inspecting for any signs of pests or structural damage caused by insects or rodents is also essential in maintaining a safe and healthy living environment.

How Much Does It Cost?

Pricing for building and termite timber inspections will vary depending on many factors.

  • Size of the property
  • Location
  • Type of inspection needed
  • Time spent on inspection
  • Qualifications of the inspector are just to name a few.

Remember, 99% of the time the buyer will recover the building inspection fee and estimated repair costs with the seller!!!

What Does It Include?

All companies will give you various answers to this question, but here is a guide to what you should expect. When a building inspector enters any property, due to many years of experience, they will know exactly what to look for and where. A thorough inspection will be done in all rooms of the property, including all bedrooms, kitchens, bathrooms and laundry. The inspector will look for any major and minor defects. A minor defect will not worsen over time, so it’s not a big issue to the prospective buyer and they can choose to change or fix the defect on their own accord. A major defect will need attention and work to correct the problem and cannot be left in the condition that was reported because it may cause more damage to the property. The building inspector will also look into the roof void and subfloor if it is accessible. A building inspection also consists of the external areas of the property, such as the roof, gutters, downpipes, and the external perimeter of the home. If the property is a two-story home a drone may be used to help conduct the roof inspection. Not a lot of companies offer a drone, but Clear View Property Inspections are lucky enough to have this technology so we can cover all heights and levels. Not all problem areas will be visible to the naked eye and this is when we will also use a moisture meter to identify high moisture areas. Another option is a thermal camera and the inspector will use this if they feel needed. A thermal camera is normally used in a timber pest inspection but may be used in a building inspection if the inspector feels it’s needed (this is not the case with all companies).  At the conclusion of the building inspection, you will receive a report with all the findings and in our case also a phone call from the inspector himself.

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building inspection property inspection

What Should I Be Aware Of?

Many companies out there are rushing their inspections and are not doing a thorough job. It is more about rushing to get the inspection done than spending the time they need on location to find any hidden problems. Most companies only give their inspectors a one-hour limit to inspect a property and the size of the property will not change the time limit.

The other important thing to know is that most companies do not have inspectors that are fully qualified builders and fully licenced pest technicians doing their inspections. They are usually qualified in only one field but will inspect both.

building inspection

building inspection property inspection

It is important to note that while a DIY inspection can be valuable in identifying potential issues, it should not replace a professional building and pest inspection conducted by a licensed inspector. Hiring a professional inspector ensures that you receive a comprehensive and unbiased assessment of the property, as they possess the expertise and experience to identify issues that may not be easily detectable by an untrained eye.