Your property inspection checklist: must-take items

Augmented-reality technology and pandemic restrictions are quickly changing the way we buy, sell and rent property. 

But for an initial property inspection, wherever and whenever possible, it pays to adopt a hands-on approach. 

In addition to the areas that should be covered in every home inspection, we also recommend a grab bag of useful tools to help you gain the full measure of your summation. 

Access all areas

Whether you start from the ground up or descend from the roof level, it is essential to check carefully and seek qualified assistance before doing so. 

The spaces and places that should be scrutinised in any property inspection include: the foundation; roofline; basements, garages and attic spaces; gutters, eaves and downspouts; exterior rendering and paintwork; doors, window frames and seals.

In terms of all-important internal connections and utilities, you should also conduct a qualified inspection of all electrical panels; light switches and power outlets. This includes thermostats, heating/cooling and ventilation systems. 

The plumbing fixtures should also be checked by an expert to ensure reliability and working order. This includes tap fittings and water heaters. 

If viewing an established residence, request service records and also seek to receive warranty contracts and other documentation to safeguard and save time, money and stress in the long term.  

Logistically speaking, and before any home inspections take place, it is important to assess a property’s rates and fees to evaluate affordability prior to your purchase decisions. 

The representative real estate agent and financial advisors can assist in this area. 

Questions to engage your agent

You should also arm yourself with knowledge before deciding if your chosen property is a prudent investment. 

The types of questions you should be asking your agent include:

Why is the property on the market?; How long has it been for sale?; Have there been prior offers?; Is the vendor open to negotiation prior to auction dates?; Has the property been affected by flooding or other damage; Are recent building inspection reports available? 

Requesting information about comparable recent sales in the area will also provide a marketable estimate in terms of budget, affordability and capital gains. 

Tools of the trade

The Australian Apartment Advocacy recently launched its Apartment Buyer and Owner Education Kit, which outlined several commonplace items you should take with you when inspecting potential properties of interest.  

Although geared towards the Australian apartment sector, the education kit is also useful for most types of homes in any country.

For example, a mirror should be used to check the tops and bases of doors to ensure they are sealed and won’t expand, a hairdryer can check that all your power outlets are working, while batteries will confirm remote controls are also functional – and holding a tissue up can help identify any draughts.

It is also important to ask for a flood test on your balcony at the final inspection, to ensure water is draining to where it is supposed to go. Better yet, test it yourself: a marble should roll towards drainage points.

A professional building inspection might set you back between $700 and $800, but in the long term, this is a small price to pay for buyer peace of mind.

  AUS Eastern Standard Time (Washington)

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