House Inspections Melbourne – Everything You Need to Know

For most Australians, the most significant expense in their lifetime is their home. The risk they can incur by not hiring an experienced inspector is something that’s better to avoid.

You shouldn’t brush it off too quickly as well by having a carpenter or builder acquaintance stick their head onto the property. After all, it isn’t an alternative to professionals who conduct inspections every day and know how severe defects can affect your home.

It’s important to note that no home comes without issues. House inspections allow you to make informed decisions about the property you’re considering buying. When an inspector arrives, they check it thoroughly for potential problems, giving you a better idea of what kind of maintenance it might require in the future.

If you’re buying a house, a house inspection might save you a significant amount of money in future repairs. It can also prevent you from purchasing a money sinker. However, that’s not the only type of building inspection you can find.

What to Expect at a Home Inspection in Melbourne

During a building inspection in Melbourne, the inspector visually assesses the property’s mechanical and structural systems. These include ceilings, roofs, floors, windows, doors, and more.

Most inspectors first check if the major appliances are in working order. They scrutinize heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, examine plumbing and electrical wiring, and poke around the roof space and subfloor.

Building inspectors are usually thorough in property inspections as the goal is to uncover any issues, even if they are minor. However, they don’t let you know whether you’re getting a good deal or offer opinions on the property’s sale price.

Overall, a thorough inspection of the property should take a couple of hours to finish. If you’re tagging along, the inspector may comment on what he sees during the process. They don’t necessarily determine whether a property is compliant with the Melbourne City Code or Australia’s Building Code and Standards. However, they do follow a standard when it comes to writing a detailed report.

Inspectors don’t comment on anything aesthetic unless it’s a sign of a problem. For instance, they might mention that a ceiling stain indicates water damage. Also, they don’t check parts of the property that aren’t readily accessible. These might require specialized evaluations.

Types of Building Inspections -Melbourne

Most property inspection agencies across Melbourne offer several comprehensive inspections for property buyers and investors. They can provide you with a detailed report that specifies the structural reliability of the house in question. Here are some of the common types of building inspections Melbourne companies tend to offer:

Pre-Purchase Building Inspections – Melbourne

A pre-purchase inspection is a comprehensive visual inspection carried out by a professional inspection at the request of someone looking to purchase a house. In most cases, it’s carried out once both parties sign the contract. It includes assessing the property’s exterior, interior, roof void, sub-floor area, roof, and immediate surroundings.

Hiring a legitimate third-party building inspection company and not one from a real-estate business can prove invaluable. While you may incur some expenses, it brings about peace of mind knowing that you can trust the report of the pre-purchase building agency. After all, they are working in your best interests.

With the information you gain from a pre-purchase building inspection, you can either proceed normally or renegotiate the purchase price depending on what faults the review found.

Timber Pest Building Inspections – Melbourne

A timber pest inspection tries to identify any signs of pest activity or any condition that may be favourable to pests, such as borers, termites, and timber fungal decay. Timber pests usually have detrimental impacts on a property, and most of these result in financial damages.

Experienced professionals carry out these inspections using the appropriate equipment, such as thermal imaging tools, which allow them to identify alarming issues related to pests. A timber pest inspection can let you prevent or identify your house’s damages, but you can also request one for a property you’re interested in.

Remember that not only wood-frame homes are breeding grounds for wood borers and termites. Brick houses with concrete foundations can also be prone to termite damage. This pest only requires a gap of two millimetres to lay and cause significant damage.

timber pest damage to flooring

Combined Building and Pest Inspections – Melbourne

As the name implies, a building and pest inspection is a combination of the previous two. It’s one of the most solicited inspections as it’s the one that covers most of the usual damages and structural defects a property may present.

You can receive a thorough building and pest inspection and evaluation that provides a detailed report on the property’s internal and external structure, roof exterior and its cavities, and sub-floor. The building inspector also looks for wood decay, which is evidence of termite and wood borers.

Pre-Sale Building and House Inspections – Melbourne

A pre-sale or pre-auction building inspection is one that’s undertaken before the property is put on sale. The vendor usually organizes this inspection, but in some cases, it’s the real-estate agency.

People undertake pre-sale building inspections for two different reasons. First, the property owner could organize one to be informed about the house’s condition before putting it on sale or auction.

A pre-sale building inspection can be helpful in these cases because it may stave off possible attempts to renegotiate the purchase price by not having any surprises pop up should the buyer organize an inspection of his own.

The vendor could rectify any problem detected during the building inspection before putting the property on the market. Nonetheless, that doesn’t usually happen. In most cases, people view a report that outlines many faults try to conceal them instead of fixing them.

The second reason a property owner would organize a pre-sale building inspection is to have the option of presenting the report to a prospective purchaser. This eliminates the buyer’s need to schedule an assessment of their own.

Regardless, from the buyer’s perspective, relying on an inspection report from the vendor isn’t the best idea. After all, they could hire a lenient building agency for a low price that only outlines the least amount of faults.

Additionally, as the report can be out-of-date, the house’s condition could be worse than it initially was. A buyer who relies on the vendor’s evaluation could get stuck with a property that requires thousands of dollars to rectify. Furthermore, it would be impossible to prove liability and obtain compensation because the inspection report was done in the vendor’s name, not the purchaser’s.

If the vendor presents you with a report, read it, but don’t rely on it. Also, it’s essential to note that you can’t organize a pre-auction inspection after it concludes. If you’re thinking of getting one, you have to arrange it before the auction.

Construction House Inspections – Melbourne

If you’re building a new home and you don’t know how to ensure the builder is carrying out the work ideally, you can hire an inspector to carry out construction inspections. These usually have four stages: pre-slab, frame, lock-up (pre-plaster,) and pre-completion.


This stage is an inspection of the footing and overall slab dimensions, waterproof membrane, steel reinforcement, waffle pods, and other materials that keep your house standing upright. During the house inspection, the inspector might also inquire about possible drainage issues.

However, you have to ask the builder to give you the structural engineering documentation. The contract documentation doesn’t require them to give it to you.


This stage involves an inspection of the steel and timber frames. Here, inspectors evaluate the engineer’s details, dimensions, structural connections, and other general construction issues relevant to Australian standards.

Other house inspection elements include room dimensions, frame alignment, correctly installed bracing, bargeboards, and more.


It’s an inspection of external wall claddings. These include roof claddings, fascia boards, brickwork or rendered weatherboards, gutters, doors and windows, articulation joints, and more.

Inspectors recommend requesting this inspection after builders lay three courses of brick, ensuring the removal of excess mortar from the damp-proof membrane. During these home inspection stages, they also check the perimeter, internal walls, electrical wiring, baths, shower bases, and other elements.

Inspectors can conduct these pre-plaster inspections at any stage before pre-completion. However, it may make it hard to examine a couple of things in these cases.


This inspection picks up plastering defects and checks whether all architraves, doors, internal cladding skirting, baths, troughs, basins, sinks, cabinets, and cupboards are fitted and ready to paint.

Finally, the inspector evaluates both previously inspected items and those that weren’t.

Special-Purpose Defect House Inspections – Melbourne

A special-purpose defect inspection is for home buyers who have a specific issue with one or two items in their house. Some examples are cracked walls, site drainage, rising damp, etc.

What’s in a Property Inspection Report?

The report’s format and detail depend on the property’s type, size, age, and condition. Additionally, the reporting process of the agency making it also influences it.

Some building inspectors adopt a standard format and use a comprehensive checklist, while others adapt it for each property. Most tend to include photographs. Regardless, all reports must comply with the Australian Building Standards (AS 4349.1.)

The report should contain enough information to specify the condition of the house in detail, including any major and minor defects. Most building inspection reports are visual assessments, so they don’t hidden problems.

If you have concerns about such issues, you can request an examination with an accredited professional or a special purpose inspection.

The general information you can find in building inspection reports are:

  • Interior of the property
  • Exterior of the property
  • Roof void
  • Roof exterior
  • Under-floor space
  • Surrounding site

Regarding the site, building inspection reports usually include the following details:

  • Garage, garden shed, and carport
  • Separate laundry or toilet
  • Non-structural retaining walls
  • Fencing
  • Surface water drainage
  • Paths and driveways

Remember that you can specify which items on the site you want the inspector to examine. You can also request them to evaluate a particular part of your property or certain items such as:

  • Signs of issues with asbestos
  • Existence of an electrical safety switch
  • Smoke alarms

Reports end with a summary of the principal structural defects found and the overall condition of the property, considering its type and age. They also don’t include parts of the house that the inspector can’t examine, things outside their area of expertise, repair cost estimates, and some minor defects.

A pest inspection report is mostly the same, with the addition of evidence indicating damage or activity from timber-destroying critters and organisms such as subterranean and dampwood termites, wood decay fungi, and borers. These reports follow the Australian Building Standards (AS 4349.3.)

What’s the Process of Hiring a Melbourne Building Inspections Agency?

Almost every building inspection agency in Melbourne involves the same processes, regardless of the type.

  1. Book the Building Inspection. Melbourne agencies usually require the details of the property to offer a quote. Usually, you can receive one for free without obligations.
  2. Confirm. Here, the building inspection agency contacts the real estate agent or builder on your behalf to confirm the appointment and arrange access to the property.
  3. Inspect. The professional team you hired conducts an inclusive house inspection and prepares their findings in a detailed yet easy-to-understand report.
  4. Report. On the same day, the hired building inspection agency should call you to inform the results or send them via e-mail. As mentioned, reports include photos of the internal areas, roof coverings, cavities, subfloor, and more areas of concern.
  5. Discuss. Should the inspection uncover any concerning defect, the report should highlight it and recommend necessary repairs. During this step, you can phone the building inspectors for further clarification and advice.

How Much Does it Cost for Building Inspections – Melbourne Prices

The cost of building inspections in Melbourne varies depending on the property’s size and the type of inspection. Here are some average starting prices on the ones listed previously:

  • Pre-purchase house inspections – Melbourne inspections usually start at around $350
  • Pest inspections might cost $250
  • Combined building and pest inspections start at around $450
  • Pre-sale building inspections start at around $350
  • Construction house inspections – Melbourne inspections cost around $400 per stage
  • Special purpose inspections start at around $250

These are prices for average-sized homes. Inspection services for larger properties and houses in metropolitan areas might cost between $800 and $1000.

Choosing Building Inspection Services in Melbourne

Although reports from building inspection services in Melbourne all follow the same general structure, the contents can drastically change depending on who makes it. It wouldn’t be ideal to go for the one with the lowest cost either.

When choosing a building inspection service, you have to ensure it complies with a few key aspects. For example, it’s essential to make sure they have Registered Building Practitioner qualifications. Furthermore, it would be best to look for one with professional indemnity insurance that covers their independent building inspections.

Look for one with extensive practical experience, and try to request a report sample. If the company wrote it in unambiguous language, filled it with photos, and is easy to understand, you should consider hiring them.