Buying a property is the biggest investment or financial outlay that most of us will make in a lifetime. It is therefore essential that you make well-informed decisions when you purchase a property, whether it be for your own home or an investment.
The Contract for Sale of Land follows the common law of “caveat emptor”– let the buyer beware. This means that the purchaser must make and rely on their own enquiries and investigate the quality of the improvements on the property before they enter into a contract.
Failure to do this may result in the buyer losing their deposit and being sued by the seller for breach of contract, or the buyer can end up with a property that needs expensive repairs.
There are various inspections that a purchaser should obtain prior to entering into a contract to buy a property. The number of inspections and searches depend on the location and type of property you are purchasing, the inspections may be different for a residential house in town, a strata unit, vacant land, rural property or industrial property.
- Pest Inspection
A qualified and insured pest inspector will conduct a visual inspection of the property to see if there is any termite or other pest activity at present, or if there has been in the past. They will also examine the property for any wood decay, borers or rot that will affect the structure of the home.
- Building Inspections
A qualified and insured building inspector will carry out a visual inspection of the property including the house, any garage or other buildings or structures located on the property. The Inspector will investigate the interior and exterior of the buildings including the roof, kitchen and bathroom/s, looking for any defects that are not usual “wear and tear”.
If the inspection reports show issues of concern, other specialist tradesmen may be required to check specific areas or issues.
- Strata Report
If you are purchasing a unit, townhouse or duplex that is on a strata title, then a full examination of the strata management records should be carried out. The strata records will show:
- the financial details of the administrative and capital works funds;
- any plumbing, drainage, fencing, driveway and other problems that may exist or which have been repaired in the past;
- whether there have been any complaints by other owners including noise or parking on common property;
- minutes of the owners corporations meetings and the Annual General Meetings; and
- any proposal for additional works or levies yet to be carried out.
- Plumbing and Electrical
A licensed plumber may be required to inspect drainage issues.
If there is any indication that electrical wiring may be faulty or the house is very old, an electrician should be consulted to inspect the property.
- Pools and spas
If the property includes a pool or a spa then the pump and any ancillary equipment as well as the pool or spa itself should be investigated to ensure good working order. A copy of a compliance or non-compliance certificate is required to be annexed to the contract.
- Council records
It may be necessary to make application to the local Council for a copy of the building records for the property which will include any development applications (DA), building site records, and floor plans etc. The DA for the original dwelling house and other buildings should be carefully matched to the existing structure to make sure that the plans approved by council have been complied with.
If an owner builds structures on a property that require council approval and the owner builds without an approved DA, the council can lodge a demolition order against the property or require it to be approved as “continuing use” after payment of fees to council. Structures such as decks, large sheds, pools and pergolas often fall into this category.
- Building Certificate
If there are unapproved structures on the property you should request that the vendor obtains a building certificate to ensure that council will not look to you after the sale to demolish, rectify or obtain approvals.
A survey shows the dimensions and boundaries of the property. It will also identify any encroachments by structures erected on the land. In some instances, the fences are often not right on the boundary or there may actually be part of a building encroaching on your land.
If you or someone you know wants more information or needs help or advice, please contact us on (02) 8014 5885 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.