I was called in to conduct a pre-purchase building inspection on a high-set timber framed Queenslander, only to find burnt out rafters in the roof space above the ceiling access opening (man hole) in the kitchen. The owner was understandably shocked and upset as he had only purchased the house 12 months earlier and no mention was made of this damage in the pre-purchase building report he received from another inspector upon purchase. As a result of the findings, the new buyer did not go ahead with the sale of the property.

The owner contacted the original inspector who prepared the report and questioned him about the burnt-out damage. The inspector confessed he failed to look into the ceiling space, nor inspect any of the roof framing or anything else in the roof space because of the height of the ceiling and difficulty in accessing the ceiling opening. To get himself out of trouble, the inspector volunteered to repair the damage so next time he had a buyer the sale would go ahead. The owner agreed on the condition that I would re-inspect the work when completed to which the inspector agreed.

Upon re-inspection I found the damaged rafters had not been replaced but simply had a small cleat (piece of timber) nailed to their side in an attempt to stiffen the burn-out timber. I reported to the owner that the repair was not carried out in a professional manner, were inadequate and future pre-purchase inspections could also fail. Through the owner, the original inspector asked how best to repair the damage – even though the inspector has the same qualifications and license as myself!

I instructed the original inspector that new rafters will need to be installed along the full length of the damaged rafters bearing on the top plate of the wall up to the ridge line, as per normal construction methods. This was eventually completed, satisfying building elements basic requirements but not before an extensive run-around and inconvenience for the homeowner through no fault of their own.

The moral of the story? – Be careful when engaging a pre-purchase building inspector.

Always ask questions like:

  • Are you a qualified builder?
  • Do you have liability and professional indemnity insurance?
  • Do you get into the ceiling space?

Check the history of the building inspector

Check the inspector licence number on www.qbsa.qld.gov.au/searchforlicensee. See if there has been any action taken against the inspector before you engage him to work for you.

Hopefully this has given some things to consider when engaging a building inspector for your home. Stay tuned for more true life tales from a professional, qualified and ethical building inspector coming soon.

In the meantime, to find out more about our building inspections, or other services, please give me a call today on 1800 466 456 .