BEFORE YOU CALL US - Frequently Asked Questions

The following are some of the most often asked questions. Please click on the question to view the corresponding answer.

The first question that most people want to know is:

How much is an inspection?

Inspections vary in cost depending on a number of factors. We need to know what it is that you are after so that we can give you an accurate price for the work you are expecting.

The first thing we need to know is the type of inspection you want:

1. Are you about to buy a house?

If you are, we call that a 'Pre-Purchase Inspection'.

2. Are you building a house?

If you are, we call those inspections 'Mid-construction Inspections'.

3. Are you completing a house?

We call that inspection a 'Final Inspection'.

4. Is there a single defect that is worrying you?

That type of inspection is a 'Single Issue Inspection'.

5. Are you an 'Owner Builder' who is selling your house?

If you are, the law requires you to have an inspection report attached to your 'Section 32' document and probably a warrantee. You will need an inspection report to obtain a warrantee. We call this an 'Owner Builder Report', or a 'Section 137B Report'.

6. Are you in dispute with a builder or trades person?

That inspection is called a dispute inspection and report. If you are likely to be making a claim from a warrantee company, the report must be structured in a particular way. We call this a 'Preliminary Defects Report'.

If the matter is likely to go into VCAT as a claim, the report is required to be in the form prescribed by VCAT. That report is called a 'Practice Note 2 Report'.

If you are unsure whether your claim against the builder or a warrantee company is going to proceed all the way to VCAT you can start with a 'Preliminary Defects Report' and then upgrade that report at a later date to a full 'Practice Note 2 Report' for an additional fee.

7. Are you in conflict with a neighbour?

We call this type of report a 'Dispute Report'. Like the dispute with a builder, preliminary reports can be prepared and then upgraded to practice note 2 standard if the matter is not resolved and has to go to VCAT for a resolution.

8. Is your building a commercial building?

We refer to a report on a commercial building as either 'Due Diligence' or 'Commercial Report'.

As you can see, there are a number of different types of reports and all have a specific methodology and reporting type. As they vary, so price also varies to meet the time and expertise required.

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What other things can affect the price of an inspection?

1. The location of the house.

We will need to know the suburb before we can give you a fixed price. View our service zones.

2. The size of the house.

Price will vary according to size. Tell us the number of square metres, square feet or squares of the house and all its out buildings. If you don't know the size, tell us the rooms and the number of floors.

3. The number of habitable units in the building.

Make sure that you tell us if there is more than one kitchen as this will usually mean that the house has two occupancies and that could mean extra time and therefore extra cost.

4. Are you buying an apartment?

Apartments and some town houses have a body corporate and the assessment will need to include 'Body corporate' property. There could be several floors in the building and the building may be two or twenty floors high. There may be basements with car spaces, shared spaces like a gym, swimming pool, sauna and so on. The cost will vary depending on the amount of the building you want us to examine and report on.

5. How quickly you need the inspection.

How much time do we have? Sometimes, because the decision to buy is made at the very last moment, or because an emergency has occurred, we need to get into the building outside of normal working hours. This will attract an additional fee.

Being specific about the type of inspection you want will assist us in giving you the exact price for that task.

A simple inspection, say a 'Pre-Purchase Inspection' of a two-bedroom, single story house in an inner suburb, would attract a fee of between $395.00 and $425.00 at the time of writing. (July 2004).

A full defects report prepared for a VCAT hearing could cost several thousands of dollars.All fees quoted are exclusive of GST.

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What will I get for my money?

Most homes on the market at the time of writing are selling from between $400 000-00 and $1 000 000-00. There are some homes and apartments that are selling for less and many more that sell for more. Once you have purchased the home you would expect that you can move in and that's the end of that. Now you just have to manage the income to make sure that you can keep the mortgage repayments up.

It comes as a rather nasty shock to many people when they move in to their new house they find problems that are going to be expensive to fix and wonder where the money is going to come from.

A Pre-Purchase Inspection will identify the areas where money will need to be spent, when you will need to spend it and how much you are going to have to find to fix the problems.

Armed with that knowledge you are going to be making some well informed decisions about whether this is the right house for you or not.

If it's good, that's peace of mind. If it's bad, that's going to help make a decision about whether you want this house or are going to look for something less troublesome.

The cost of an inspection is a few hundred dollars. The cost of a mistake could be another $100,000.00 on top of what you paid. That's cheap advice and the best advice you are likely to get throughout your entire investment life.

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Who will do this inspection?

In the house inspection industry there is no requirement for the inspector to hold any qualification at all. So we find that people doing this work range from highly qualified and skilled to those who offer little more that an interest in buildings as a means to supplement income.

Advertisements telling you that the inspector is a member of an association such as the Master Builders Association of Victoria, the Housing Industry Association and so on are no indication as to the competence or ability of the inspector.

Ex-builders who have had their licenses taken away are able to offer this kind of service and hundreds more with no qualifications at all are giving advise to prospective purchasers about the house whey they are going to buy with little or no expertise to support their opinions.

As a rule, you should ask about the qualifications of the inspector.

At the very least they should be an architect.
To be an architect requires many years of study and many architects have a good foundation knowledge in building principles. If you want to see if the inspector is an architect, ask for the name of the inspector and the ARBV number or look them up on the Architects Registration Board site. In Victoria that can be found at www.arbv.vic.gov.au. If they are not there, move on.

Next they should be a 'qualified' builder.

A 'qualified' builder has a degree in building and would be a member of the Australia Institute of Building. They will have a good knowledge of building. Not all builders have a qualification. Many have earned the title 'Builder' by registering at a time when knowledge and experience were not required. Ask them for their AIB registration number, if they don't know what you are talking about, move on.

Are they a registered builder?

All builders are required to be registered by the Building Control Commission. A builder's registration number will assure you that they are currently registered. The number will start with the letters 'DBU'. If they start with any other letters they are not a builder. When you have the number you can call the B.C.C. or visit their web site at  www.buildingcommission.com.au and check if that person is currently registered. Sometimes registrations lapse due to simple technical issues but this a good place to check if you are unsure about other things that you have been told.

Experience is very important.

Ask how long the inspector has been specializing in this work. They should have several years experience and obviously the longer the company has been specializing in this type of work the more likely it is that they will have quality experience.

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Do you have Professional Indemnity Insurance?

We can tell you this from the experience of purchasers who have contacted us asking what they can do.

I bought a house on the advice of an inspector. The house turned out to be a lemon, with many things wrong with it that are expensive to repair. The inspector has disappeared. What can we do? The answer, alas, is probably nothing.

Before you proceed with an inspection ask the inspector if they are covered by a 'Professional Indemnity Insurance' that covers you for errors that may be made through the negligence of the inspector.

Remember to ask specifically about the 'Professional Indemnity Insurance' policy as there are many other types of policy and none will cover you except that one.

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Is the inspector independent?

If you're phoning around, ask the inspector if they are able to do repairs, should they be required. If the answer is yes, watch out. This person is not independent and has a conflict of interest. The inspector could tell you that you need to spend a sum of money carrying out essential repairs but that he can arrange for those to be done for you if you buy the house. The problem is, do they really need to be done? Is the estimate of costs reasonable?

If the inspector offers services that are derived from the advise offered, there is a clear conflict of interest. Hang up & go somewhere else.

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Will I get a written report?

Yes. If you think that a verbal report will be cheaper, think again. The verbal report isn't worth the paper it isn't written on. If you buy a lemon and want to argue about the advise you were given it will be impossible when the advise was verbal. Any inspector offering this service is probably un-insured and probably not an inspector at all. Be warned & keep well clear.

The written report should have two parts to it. Firstly, the report should include a full on site check-list section with comments. That will ensure that the inspector has gone to every space in the building and checked each of the elements in the check-list. It's value is to ensure that the inspector has not omitted something, either by accident or distraction. The check-list should act as your assurance that the inspector has looked at every element in the check-list and noted whether that element is satisfactory, unsatisfactory or inaccessible.

The second part of the report should be a summary, preferably typed, clearly and concisely stating what needs to be done to the building, what is urgent, what is expensive, what is major and what is maintenance.

Once you have read the report you should discuss the issues raised with the inspector and you can talk about the implication of the report through so that you have a clear understanding of what these issues mean to you, your family and your pocket.

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What do you check?

We will check:

  • The entire structure of the building.
  • We check all the services, wiring, plumbing, heating, cooling, whatever is in the building.
  • The envelope of the building. That includes the roof, the roof space, the rooms in the house, the floors and sub floor space, wherever we have access.
  • We check the exterior of the building, walls, windows, doors roof drainage and porches, Lean-toos & patios, garage and store buildings.
  • We check the land around the building and we check adjoining properties to see if there may be some detriment from those buildings that could affect the subject structure.

We will comment on any evidence of vermin or borer that may be seen while conducting the structural inspection.

What about termites?

A termite inspection is a specialist inspection and is not included in the Pre-Purchase Inspection process. There is an entirely separate Australian Standard covering termite inspections and the inspection should be carried out by a qualified entomologist with all the necessary insurances.

Most purchasers are not aware that termites rarely show themselves external to the timbers they inhabit and a competent professional termite inspector will use some sophisticated equipment that can measure small heat changes and movement deep inside the timbers. A live infestation should be detectable but a structure that has been damaged by termites that subsequently left might not be able to be detected.

As inspectors are prevented from damaging or demolishing parts of someone else's building and as that damage would be a trespass, inspectors have to rely on visual evidence. All the more reason to have an expert who is used to sorting through the evidence and who can find the cause of a problem from that evidence.

Will you tell me how urgent or major the problems are?

As part of the reporting process we will tell you if something is urgent and when you should get the work done. Typically, if the house needs underpinning or re-stumping and you are planning to replace the gutters and down pipes we will tell you to deal with the foundation problems first, then the roof problems. If something is a maintenance item we will tell you that and we will distinguish between things that we think are the major issues and the less major defects.

What about the cost of getting things fixed?

When we go through the report with you we will give you a clear indication of how much the market is likely to charge you for repairing those defects. The market changes constantly but the report remains constant so while the report can be relied on over time, the costs are a snapshot of what repairs will cost at the time of writing only.

Can I get on-going advice?

Yes. Often, a purchaser will need some additional assistance after buying the house. Make sure that ongoing advise is available and that it is independent and without a conflict of interest.

What will be the qualifications of the inspector?

At the very least our inspector will be qualified as an architect and a master builder. They will have had many years of experience in conducting building inspections and will know all the issues that relate to 'forensic architecture'. They will be en expert building consultant and have a number of additional qualifications, such as an environmental science degree to ensure that they understand all the characteristics of materials and how they perform when brought together is differing ways. They will be fully insured under our professional indemnity policy, worded to specifically include building inspections as one of our covers. They will be registered with the associations listed above and will have a reputation in the industry that is at the very top of the profession. They have no relationship with any other party that could be perceived to be in a conflict of interest and are independent. In a nut shell, you will be at the very top end of the experience and qualification scale.

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How does ARCHImedia distinguish itself from others offering inspection services?

ARCHImedia distinguishes itself from others in a number of ways.

1. We are an in-house service.

Some organizations are agencies. They will take your booking and call someone in your area to see if they can do an inspection for you. The problem is that you have no idea who is going to do that inspection. They might be a recently qualified graduate' with little or no experience. They may be retired and looking to supplement their pension but unable to get into a roof space or sub floor due to lack of mobility. You just don't know. At ARCHImeida, the person who does the inspection is a highly qualified and experienced member of our in-house team. We know you are getting the very best.

2. We are the highest qualified.

The inspector will be qualified as an architect, a master builder and a specialist fault consultant. We believe that there is no room for mediocrity when you are managing hundreds of thousands of the client's dollars. One mistake and the additional cost can be significant.

3. We are the longest established.

ARCHImedia has been carrying out building inspections in Melbourne since 1976 and our history in this industry goes back well before that. We are not a fly-by-night organization that will disappear just when you need us most. This is our business, we know it well and we lead the industry in the building inspection field.

4. We wrote the book.

Quite literally that is. We are the authors of 'Buying & Fixing Your Home', the book that other inspection services use to model their service on. You will get a complimentary copy of that book when you have an inspection carried out by ARCHImedia. It is an invaluable tool in buying, owning and managing your property investment.

5. We work to the Australian Standards and exceed them.

Most of our competitors fall well short of meeting the requirements of the standard but we exceed the requirement. How? Well, for starters we examine the adjoining properties to see if there is likely to be any detriment to the subject building from those properties. It could be a drainage issue, a tree problem, a trespass or a nuisance. It's pointless finding out after you move in that you can't live with a problem coming from the property next door. If it's seeable, we'll report on it.

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How soon can an inspection be done?

We are mindful that most inspections are urgent. We can usually have an inspection booked with an agent or builder within an hour of the booking. Inspections can often be done the following working day, assuming that the agent can give us access. Properties that are tenanted can take longer due to the rights of tenants and the obligations of agents in arranging access.

When will I get my report?

'Pre-Purchase Reports' are usually prepared on the same day as the inspection is carried out and posted out to catch the last post of the day.

Other arrangements can be made with the individual client to meet their special needs.

Some reports, such as those prepared to 'Practice Note 2' standard, require many days of preparation.

Can I meet the inspector on site?

Yes. It is in the client's interest to allow the inspector to carry out the inspection without interruption. The more focused the inspector, the better the outcome for the client. If you intend to follow the inspector around the building you can expect that distractions will be many and the quality of the report diminished and little can be gained from the experience until all the evidence is collected and an opinion formed.

A good time to meet the inspector is towards the end of the evidence collecting stage. At this time the inspector can tell and sometimes show the client where the defective issues are. This would be a good time to ask the inspector about any concerns that you have about the building.s

Is it important to meet the inspector on site?

No. There is no need to be on site as the issues raised by the inspection are going to be fully documented in the report. Once you have read the report is would then be beneficial to discuss the report with the inspector.

How can I pay for the service?

When the booking is made we require credit card details. When the report is finalized we process the credit card details and send out an EFPOS receipt with the report. We accept VISA, MasterCard and BankCard.

Can I pay on site?

Some clients prefer to meet the inspector on site for a summary of the building after the inspection. Payment can be made on site but we do not accept cheques. You can by postal order or cash. If you have given credit card details at the booking stage you will be asked to sign off on site. The EFTPOS receipt will be sent out with the report or a receipt will be issued on site if paying by cash.

Can I pay by direct credit?

Yes. Clients wishing to credit ARCHImedia's account directly or via the internet will be given the account details. Payment must be received in the account prior to the inspection being carried out.

Should I sign a contract of sale before I have had the inspection?

You can buy a house without a 'Pre-Purchase Inspection'. If you do, you take the full responsibility for any defect present but unseen. You have no comeback on the agent or the vendor. This is known as 'caveat emptor', the buyer beware.

If you want an inspection to be carried out but you think waiting will reduce your chance of securing the property you can sign a sale note, 'subject to a satisfactory Pre-Purchase Inspection by ARCHImedia'.

The wording is very important as the agent will want you to either sign a contract note with no conditions or with the wording, 'Subject to there being no major structural defect'. This clause should be avoided if at all possible. The house may be fraught with problems that are not 'major structural'. The electrics and plumbing or the roof may require replacement. These works could set you back tens of thousands of dollars but none of them are 'major structural'.

The agent will want to put a time limit on the condition. If so, a good time limit would be seven working days. Why? Well if you contact us and book an inspection. We contact the agent & lets say they can get us in within 48 hours. We do the inspection and send out the report the same day. You get it in the post the following day, that's 3 days. You get home from work & read it and want to discuss the report so you call the next day. That's 4 days. After the discussion you want to make a few calls to get a few prices, the tradesmen get back to you the following day, the estimate the price and you get their estimate the following day. Add 2 more days, that's 6 days. You have one more day to make up your mind and that's 7 days.

At the very least allow 5 days if the agent is putting you under pressure.

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What if the report is unfavorable. What can I do?

Assuming that you have signed a contract with the correctly worded condition and that you are in compliance with the clause, you can withdraw from the contract and no costs will be payable. You get all your money back & you move on.

If there was no condition clause but you are able to withdraw because you are entitled to a three day cooling off period, you may be required to pay some fees associated with the sale. You should check these details out with your solicitor as there are rules and limits that apply to cooling off periods that could affect you. Remember, if you buy at auction you will not have the benefit of a cooling off period.

If you have additional costs that you will need to find for repairs that arise from the report you may find yourself in the position that you have exceeded your budget on this house. If that is the case, you have only two directions that are available to you, either withdraw from the sale and find another house with fewer or less expensive problems or discuss the costs with the agent and see if they are able to reduce the cost of the house so that you can afford to carry out the repairs and still keep within your budget.

A word or warning here. Even if the cost is adjusted and you can afford the repairs, think about what those repairs mean to you. You can't start the repairs until you own the house. The repairs may mean that the mess and inconvenience will make the house impossible to live in and that you have nowhere else that you can live while the repairs are being carried out. Do you really want to be living in the house under those conditions and what does that mean to your family and your sanity. Think carefully before you negotiate and make sure that the outcome of any negotiation is where you want to be. If it isn't, walk away. There will always be another house.

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What do I do to make a booking?

The best way to make a booking is to call us on (03) 9822 5142 and we will take down all your details, those of the property and the agent. Then we will set about making all the arrangements with the agent and get the inspection done. It's that easy. You don't need to worry about coordinating things, we do all that for you.

You can click here and send your details to us. We will get back to you with our price.

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