Never sign a contract before showing it to a competent solicitor working on your behalf, not someone recommended by the real estate agent. There are many clauses used in the industry that may bind you to the contract regardless of faults found by building or pest control inspectors.
Do not accept reports arranged by the current owner or real estate agent they will more than likely be biased! You may not have any legal recourse against the inspector that has not been hired and paid by you if undisclosed problems are found later. Insurers of building and pest control firms usually demand a disclaimer be put in their report against third parties. Check with your legal advisor.
Make sure the inspector does not disclose any information regarding the outcome of the inspection with or in front of the agent or current owner, this can lead to arguments also biased opinions from unqualified people. Make sure your Inspector is aware of this, before employing them.
Do not use unqualified friends or relatives to carry out inspections on your behalf unless they have the appropriate inspection licences and indemnity insurance. You don’t want to have to take legal action against a relative or friend when something goes wrong.
Be aware your lender does not arrange or carry out inspections, they do valuation appraisals only. You must arrange building and pest inspections yourself.
Do not allow the real estate agent to dictate who you may or may not use to carry out Inspections on your behalf, this should ring alarm bells! Remember the agent has a vested interest in selling you the property regardless of problems.
Do not use building or pest control firms recommended by the real estate agent. Collect brochures and cards, ask the agent for a list of their “referrals” that do favorable reports for them to achieve a sale, so you know who not to use. Watch out for Inspectors or company’s that are eager to contact “their friend” the agent and arrange the inspection for you.
Do not allow the real estate agent or current owner to misinterpret the building or pest control report to suit themselves, they are not qualified and will be biased.
Before anyone is employed to do your inspection ask to see their Registered Building Licence and check the expiry date. Check if their professional indemnity insurance policy is current.
If the inspector claims they are licensed to do pest and building, ask how long they have run a pest or building business for, before doing inspections. Do they have the necessary experience?
Do not talk to the inspector until they have completed the inspection, so you do not break their concentration and you know exactly how long the inspection has taken. Remember it is an inspection not a social meeting. Ask questions on completion of the inspection.
Do not employ anyone that does generic tick box or check point reports which lack detailed information on specific problems
The report must comply with the Australian Standard AS 4349.1 property inspections Part 1 Residential buildings
Make sure the Inspector has the appropriate equipment to carry out an inspection. Ladders, torch, moisture meter and a camera. Thermal imaging devices are sometimes helpful to back up they should already know, but are not a necessity as they can mislead you into thinking there is nothing wrong, when there is a problem, this can be a costly mistake.
Watch out for inspection services that offer guarantees that limit their liability to a minimum they may not be covered by professional indemnity insurance
Ask the inspectors what areas they access and cover in their reports before employing them. Try to be there during the inspection to ensure the inspector accesses all areas they said they would. Especially the roof exterior and roof interior (past the access hole). If the inspector does not want you to be there during the inspection, you don’t want them!
Does the Inspector take photos of problems also for proof of areas accessed?
The comments above are a guide only. Seek legal advice from an independent competent legal advisor before doing anything!