Constructing a building is no small feat, be it from scratch or a renovation. It takes months of planning, a lot of resources and professionals to construct a tangible building. In a process that has so many moving parts, there are bound to be some complications and hurdles to cross to get the desired result. To gauge such discrepancies early in the building levels and, as an owner, pay for exactly what you’d imagined, stage inspections are extremely important. One such essential inspection is the final handover inspection for new homes. Through this article, we aim to tell you all you need to know about final handover inspections in Australia. Additionally, we also highlight the most common defects found during such inspections and the corrective actions they call for. Let us first begin by understanding what a handover inspection is.
WHAT IS A HANDOVER INSPECTION? HOW IS IT BENEFICIAL FOR THE OWNER?
A handover inspection is conducted on a newly constructed building as soon as it is completely made. It is done just before the contractor hands over the possession of the property to the owner and claims full payment for the work done. A final handover inspection is done by a certified expert to get a holistic report of the building that highlights all defects, disputes and other discrepancies found, and to check whether the property meets the standards set by legislation like the Building Code of Australia, National Construction Code, etc. You will be able to derive a multitude of benefits from a handover inspection, such as:
- Identifying defects in the property on time and rectifying them at low costs;
- Getting a property constructed exactly the way you’d imagined and the contract was signed;
- Meeting all the legal building standards and requirements of Australia;
- Assessing performance of the contractor and quality of work;
- Having a certified professional to guide you through the tedious process of constructing or renovating a building.
If an inspection is not done during the construction phase, it could lead to a lot of expensive repairs, replacements and non-compliance fines in the future. Even if a small defect goes unnoticed (also known as a latent defect), it may prove to be disastrous over the years. It is always better to employ a professional to inspect your property before getting possession.
WHO CONDUCTS A HANDOVER INSPECTION?
You will be able to gain all of the aforementioned benefits and more by simply requesting a handover inspection by a certified professional. This may either look like a building surveyor or an independent building inspector. Any individual certified by the Australian Institute of Building Surveyors (AIBS) is a professional eligible to inspect your property.
In the simplest of words, a building surveyor will only assess if your building meets the basic Australian standards of workmanship. S/he is responsible for issuing you a certificate of compliance if the results of the construction satisfy the criteria prescribed in the legislation.
An independent building inspector, on the other hand, will examine the quality of work done by the contractor and help you take your dream building from better to best. S/he does not work for any particular company or builder, and so, is free of all biases. We would strongly recommend all our readers to employ an independent building inspector who is primarily concerned with objectively making your building an even more valuable property. A private inspector will become an integral part of your building plan since s/he will be able to provide expert guidance to streamline the construction process towards a more qualitative end.
WHAT IS COVERED IN A HANDOVER INSPECTION?
At the end of a handover inspection, a private building inspector will compile all relevant details found throughout the process into a very comprehensive report. This report covers all defects that are to be immediately rectified by the builder, non-compliance, deficits and other suggestions by examining all internal and external accessible parts of the building such as:
- The general quality of work in terms of tiling, plastering, painting, cleaning up, etc.
- Permanent fixtures
- Electrical circuits and electrical safety measures
- Roof cover, insulation and sarking
- Brickwork and concrete strength
- Plumbing (drainage, seepage, )
- Walls (internal and external)
- Doors and frames (internal and external)
- Windows and frames (internal and external)
- Patios, driveways and gardens (soil type, acidity and soil erosion)
- Balconies and stairs
- Preventive barriers for termites
- Cupboards, kitchen cabinets and wardrobes
At the very minimum, an inspection of all of these aspects will deem the building as a legitimate property in the state of Australia only when it meets the following three criteria:
- It has been built both to plan and to specifications laid down by the owner and signed as a contract between the owner and the builder;
- It meets Australian Standards and Tolerances as well as other regulations in the state; and,
The workmanship in the property satisfies the building inspector.
WHAT ARE BUILDING DEFECTS? WHAT ARE THE MOST COMMON DEFECTS FOUND DURING A HANDOVER INSPECTION?
One of the most important purposes of a final handover inspection is to detect all defects in any aspect of the construction of the building. According to the Australian Glossary of Building Terms, a building defect is defined as “a fault or deviation from the intended condition of a material, assembly or component”. Furthermore, a defect may be characterised into two types:
- Minor building defects: superficial faults that do not affect liveability
- Major building defects: faults that affect the structural integrity and habitability such as roof leaks, cracks in cement, electrical or plumbing fails, etc.
Here’s a handy list of the most common defects found at this stage of building inspections that you must keep an eye out for:
- Drainage: soil erosion, breeding of mosquitoes due to stagnant water, tap leaks, water damage to slabs, etc.
- Pests and Termites: termite damage to wooden apparatus in the property such as doors, window frames, ceilings, wooden flooring, gardens, etc.
- Structural Defects: wear and tear of foundation walls, loose bricks on the roof, floor joists, etc.
- Roof Troubles: harsh Australian climatic conditions cause expedited wear and tear in the form of leaks.
- Wooden Flooring Damage: dangerous gaps, an infestation of unwelcome creatures like rats and termites, peeling and uneven floors, warping, etc.
Air circulation: unhealthy moulds, wood rot, expensive aircon functioning, etc.
STEPS TO TAKE
You might be thinking after reading the previous section of the article: what to do when all of these defects are detected in my property? Worry not, all you have to do is contact the multiple certified building inspectors in your locality who will efficiently guide you towards the corrective measures you need to demand from your builder before paying for the property.
- Any non-structural deficits found in this stage need to be rectified by the contractor within 12 months.
- Minor defects may be reported in the ‘Building Defect Liability Period’ as per the contract.
- Major defects may be reported to the builder up to 7 years as per Home Building Warranty in Australia and up to 10 years under Victorian Consumer Affairs law.
If the inspection’s findings conflict with the builder, the owner is in his right to make an official complaint with the Victorian Building Authority or via VCAT. When all defects have been rectified, you will have a brand new property to make good use of!
Having your property inspected before paying the builder the full price is always a great idea. Moreover, identifying such defects at such an early phase is much better than having a liability in a matter of a few years. To schedule an inspection with an expert to construct a commendable building, contact us today!