Who do I choose?

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Sarah Symon Realsure Director

Anybody can set up as a house inspector and claim Standard compliance.

Choose a reliable Company that comes well recommended; be clear about what is covered and the type of written report you’ll receive. Ensure they work to recognised standards. Inspections should be all they specialise in, and they should have the proper Insurance covers, including Professional Indemnity.  Be aware of a house inspector who is part of a building company or associated with a Real estate firm.

The only way to know you a getting a competent and compliant Standard compliant property inspection and report is to use an industry assessed Building Officials Institute of NZ Accredited Building Surveyor.  All Realsure inspectors are Accredited Building Surveyors so you know you are getting an inspector and report you can trust

Property inspection, building report, or building survey?

Property inspection, building inspection, building report, builders report all reference a property inspection to be undertaken on a property most commonly during a sale transaction of a property.  A building survey also references a property inspection and report; however a building survey is the title when undertaken by an Accredited or Registered Building Surveyor.
As all our inspectors are Accredited Building Surveyors, we refer to inspections as building surveys

Building inspector, house inspector, Building Surveyor – what’s the difference?

Potentially several hundred thousand dollars!  A general 101 is:

A building inspector would be considered the Council building inspector who oversees building work under consent.
A house inspector is an individual who undertakes property inspections; however is not industry assessed to determine their level of competency or compliance with inspection standards.

An Accredited Building Surveyor is an individual who undertakes property inspections; however they have been industry assessed through the Building Officials Institute of NZ, accreditation program to ensure they are competent, knowledgeable and Standard compliant.

A Registered Building Surveyor is a member of the New Zealand Institute of Building Surveyors who generally specialise in invasive weathertightness building surveying.  Very few of their members undertake property inspections.

A RICS Building Surveyor is an individual with a qualification in building surveying and is a member of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors.  Most are from the UK and generally not doing pre-purchase.  However, one of our current Surveyors is a RICS Fellow {Member}

What is a building inspection?

A building inspection is a visual, non–invasive inspection of a property. Where there is reasonable access, as determined by the standards, the inspector will go through any accessible foundations, through the home, into the roof cavity, onto the roof and around the exterior looking for signs or clues of significant issues – things that could cost you tens of thousands to repair, or require urgent repair. This will also cover a general overview of the grounds, garaging and other out buildings, along with a basic testing and overview of the electrics and plumbing.

A thorough and systematic inspection system, a moisture meter, and a properly qualified and trained Inspector, should provide you with as many facts as possible about that current condition of the property in an easy to understand report.

It is important to realize a building inspector can only tell you about what they can see.  Although, a good inspection by a well trained inspector should pick up evident clues that can identify significant defects, as well as deferred maintenance and gradual deterioration. Learn more about our building inspection service.

Why do I need a pre-purchase inspection?

A building report can help to identify additional costs you may be up for straight away to bring the home up to a good standard, address one or two issues, or even just do the current maintenance due.

For example, you are buying the home with 15% deposit and borrowing 75% – this leaves minimal room for margin. The home you choose is overall in good condition in the opinion of the inspector; however there is some rot damage to some of the weather board cladding that needs to be replaced, and there are some rust holes in some of the roofing iron that will require replacing. This is relatively minor general maintenance due, however the cost to repair and paint may be up to $5000 – $8000. Can you afford this?

A building report might uncover a home that has a $100 – $200,000 repair bill. Finding out about a home like this may not just be about protecting your investment or asset, with a home like this it might also be about protecting you and your family’s health.

Do I need an inspection on a new house?

Yes.  The time to make sure there’s no outstanding work or defects is before you buy it. A code of compliance certificate does not consider workmanship, nor is it always meaning that the work is as it should be.  There are great builders out there and some not so great. Make sure you have a home built by a great one!

What should I be paying?

How much of a gamble are you willing to take.  Price should not be the issue.  In an unregulated industry, seeking a suitably qualified, competent and knowledgeable surveyor who will provide the report you can actually rely on should be your consideration.  Saving a few hundred dollars for a cheap inspection could cost your thousands.

Justice Williams in Hepburn v Cunningham CIV-2011-485-1308[2013 best sums it up
[119] I acknowledge that, at $320 including GST, this was a cheap report. In contrast, the  Vaughan{Realsure} report was more expensive at $575 including GST, but these issues , to coin a phrase, were not rocket science,  All were set out in the Standard as being potential risk features.  They were well known to the industry and would be well known to any competent pre-purchase inspector – not least one who certified that he had undertaken the inspection and written the report in compliance with the Standard.

What’s in a Realsure Report?

There is the Summary that outlines the overall condition of the property, in the opinion of the Inspection, taking into consideration the age of the property and in comparison with other property’s of similar age, type and construction. It also identifies any significant or urgent matters the inspector believes should be addressed in the first instance. If the property falls within the “weather tightness” category, we also include a weather tightness identification of risk summary as well.

The Photo gallery is used to identify issues or general maintenance for your ease of understanding. One photo might show you rust holes in the roof, another might show you where to fit the missing rustic plugs, so that you have a better understanding that a rustic plug is a wee plug that fits into the scallop between weather boards around joinery and timber facings.

The Report itself has a room by room breakdown of materials, along with any issues or maintenance identified. A Realsure report is also colour coded for ease of understanding so that you can at a glance determine the key issues to be addressed, the urgent maintenance to do now, such as replacing a washer on a dripping tap, or the general maintenance that you can put into your 12 to 24 month maintenance program.

Do you pass or fail a home?

No.  We find that home buyers want to know exactly what they are buying and are looking for an independent appraisal so they are fully informed and they can make an informed decision, whatever that may be.  It is important that inspections are done to an industry standard.  While some agents are resistant to our inspections, good quality agents know the importance and value of the buyer (or for that matter seller) being informed.

How can you tell if it’s a leaky building?

“Weathertightness” generally relates to properties built from the early 1990’s. While often associated with “monolithic” cladding, any home built from this era could be subject to weathertightness risk and failure.  We will tell you about any known risk details including other significant contributory factors such as the design, location, workmanship and detailing, regardless of the cladding type.

How do you detect moisture?

Moisture detection equipment is a valuable tool to help determine whether there may be any moisture ingress detectable at the time of the inspection. However, it is important that you understand they are a tool to assist only, and are only as good as the operator.

In the first instance our Surveyors will use their nose and eyes to look for risk details or clues of moisture issues.  They will then use the moisture meters to look for indicators of ingress.
Nil indication of moisture ingress does not mean there is no moisture ingress, this is particularly so with known weather tightness risk details.

A Realsure Accredited Building Surveyor is trained to know the clues and risk details to look for, how to correctly use a moisture meter, and what to tell you.

What is thermal imaging – can it tell me if it’s a leaky home?

Thermal imaging is a tool that can in simple terms, read the surface wall temperature. It can not see through walls and it cannot tell you about risk details. It works on the theory that wet timber will have a lower temperature than its surrounding and show as an anomaly. Once detected, a moisture meter can then be used to assess if it is indicating the presence of moisture. It does rely on specific conditions to be useful and like any piece of equipment is limited in scope and by the knowledge of its operator.

It may be used as an additional tool to assist a Building Surveyor, however should not be used as a singular means to determine whether a building is leaky or not.

Whats in a LIM report?

In simple terms, a Land Information Memorandum (LIM) allows the Council to advise matters they deem relevant to the property, even if the information might be deemed private. However, what is deemed relevant can vary between Councils. There is obviously information that they must provide such as Rates, Council Building records, Plumbing and Drainage etc.

A LIM report may alert you of a weathertightness claim or a clandestine drug lab requisition.

A LIM might alert you to really important information about the history or future plans for the area, or possibly advise of on-going issues or notices to the current Owner, and only you can decide what is important to you.

A LIM will provide a list of Permits, Consents, and Code of Compliance Certificates Council has issued for a property and can alert you to any incomplete works.
There is one limitation to a LIM that many people do not realise. A LIM may not tell you about unauthorised work, unless the Council knows about it and puts the information in your report. Council does not check the property when producing a LIM report.

Why check the Council property file?

If Council is not aware of unauthorised building work, the only way to identify unauthorised work may be to review all plans to ensure they flow and match the actual property.

You also need to ensure that any Consent generally issued mid 1991 onwards has been “completed” and has a CCC – Code of Compliance Certificate.
Unauthorised work can affect you in three key ways:

1.    Council will have rights as to what you may have to do $$$$$
2.    Unauthorised work can affect your insurance, and you need to discuss it with your insurer – Insurers will now often check plans with claims – unauthorised work could negate a claim. $$$$$
3.    When you do come to sell, some buyers will not consider a property with unauthorised work, and those that do may discount the price to off-set the risk. $$$$$