A reliable building inspector is one of the keys to buying a good investment property, but according to BuildingPro founder Andrew Mackie-Smith, many investors fail to realise that they have to engage with inspectors to ensure a proper purchase and understand data from their point of view.
For decades, Andrew has spent his days inspecting properties for structural faults or cosmetic issues, and too often, property investors just opt to leave everything in his hands.
He shared: “The client meets me there and [says], ‘How long will this take?’ And I would say, ‘Judging by this house, maybe an hour and a half, two hours.’ And they say, ‘Oh, great, we'll grab a coffee and come back.’ And I'll say to them, ‘Whoa, hold on. There's certain things I do, but there's certain things I don't cover.’”
According to him, no inspector is required to cover the checking of appliances and it is, therefore, the responsibility of the buyer to test the air conditioning unit, the oven, and all [of the] electric appliances.
Moreover, staying through the inspection also gives the buyer time to chat with neighbours and get more information about the history and the current state of the property, as well as the necessary reminders about its location and several other factors.
“They can speak to the neighbours if they're around… Ask them about drainage and so forth. You can get a lot of that sort of information. I think it's very important if people can attend the inspection and find out what the inspector's not covering and then go around and check those things for yourself,” according to Andrew.
Having the buyer around also makes it easier for the inspector to discuss the issues with them right then and there, saving both parties’ time and effort.
The licensed builder explained: “It's easier than trying to describe it over the phone or even with photographs in a written report... I would definitely encourage people to attend. If they can't attend, perhaps get a trusted family member or friend to attend on their behalf. It's always, always worthwhile.”
At the end of the day, the property investor has as much responsibility as the building inspector to ensure that the property for purchase is of the best quality.
While the most reliable inspectors are expected to produce detailed reports on the property’s condition, investors must communicate with them to understand the implications of the issues that were found, as well as the cost of repairs and maintenance deemed necessary.
“I think it's critical for the person not to read the report and just assume that they've absorbed everything from the report… There's a lot of information in those reports, and there's a lot of disclaimers often, too. They can be confusing,” Andrew said.
“Speak to the inspector—[say], ‘Please explain to me overall the property, the condition, how does it compare to other properties, what are the main points, what are the major expenses I could expect going forward here...?’ Getting the inspection done is only half the service. Make sure you a. read it. Actually read the report, and b. speak to the inspector to clarify any points from that. I think that's really key.”
Tune in to Andrew Mackie-Smith’s episode on The Smart Property Investment Show to know more about the science behind pest and building inspections, as well as the top 10 things every investor should check to ensure their new property is the real deal.