As per the Domestic Building Contract Act in Australia, the builder responsible for your building is supposed to ensure certain aspects of the property before asking for the full payment of the same. All construction work should be done according to the Australian laws, exact specifications and other relevant legal requirements. The construction must be completed according to the preferences laid out by the owner. The contractor is also responsible for providing the property owner with certificates of inspections and warranties, including the final certificate issued by the Building Certifier. But what happens if the construction does not go as planned? Is there a way to assess if the construction work is qualitative and satisfactory before it gets completed? Yes! This article will tell you all you need to know about stage inspections, especially in new buildings.
WHAT ARE STAGE CONSTRUCTION INSPECTIONS?
Stage construction is primarily done to ensure that the contractor is following proper building techniques as laid by the Building Code of Australia (BCA), specific requests from the owner, qualitative workmanship and adherence to all other relevant laws before claiming the final payment for the project. It has a series of stringent inspections to assess multiple aspects of the construction process as well as the final product. Building owners can keep their investments safe by conducting stage inspections at different levels of the construction process.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF STAGE INSPECTIONS?
Getting a stage inspection for your new building is a comprehensive process that covers all levels of the construction. Here are the various stages at which inspectors scrutinise the work of the contractor and make thorough reports highlighting any discrepancies:
A typical footing inspection requires the building inspector to assess footing preparation before pouring concrete. ‘Footings’ are the first structures of a building to be laid on the foundation material, and once fixed, are next to impossible to access. It thus becomes extremely important for footing inspections to be conducted to indicate any deficiencies, defects, and items of non-compliance, etc. at the very beginning.
A textbook floor slab Inspection requires the inspector to inspect floor slab preparation before pouring concrete. Floor slabs are part of the lower structure of the building and are usually supported by and subsequently integrated with the footings to form the floor base. If errors are not caught in this stage of the process, it may have disastrous ramifications in the years to come. Inspectors would check for moisture membranes, steel placement, termite protection barrier provisions, etc.
After the floor has been deemed satisfactory, a frame inspection is conducted to assess the quality and integrity of the structural framework of the building as well as compliance with Australian laws. Getting a frame inspection is highly recommended so that you get an idea of aspects like point loads, wind braces, stress grades, etc. before the concrete has been laid.
Lockup Stage Inspection
This is usually conducted if the construction process is not being done satisfactorily, and the standard of work being done by the contractor is substandard. If the project is well on its way according to all relevant requirements, this stage may be skipped entirely.
Currently, waterproofing inspections are mandatory only in New South Wales and Queensland. Inspectors would assess waterproofing mechanisms in areas like the kitchen, bathrooms, and laundry.
An extensive, top-to-bottom inspection of the house after the entire construction process is finished for compliance with regulatory issues and the contract.
Pre-Handover / Practical Completion Stage Inspection
Such an inspection is conducted when the property is just about ready to be handed over to the owner with fully fitted tiles, electrical equipment, plumbing, internal paint, flooring and carpets, and other fixtures. Any non-structural deficits found in this stage need to be rectified by the contractor within 12 months.
Fixing Stage Inspection
This inspection is also only conducted when the work done by the contractor is questionable and does not meet the standard as defined. A fixing state inspection is done right before the painting of the building is started.
WHO CARRIES OUT STAGE INSPECTIONS IN NEW BUILDINGS?
A typical stage inspection is either conducted by certified building surveyors, or building inspectors working in place of building surveyors. In NSW, for example, they are referred to as the Principal Certifying Authority (PCA). They are professionally trained and certified individuals who are experts on legislations like the Building Code of Australia, National Construction Code, Australian Guide to Standards and Tolerances, and other important regulations in your region. Depending on which state you’re in, building surveyors may be required to be certified with the Australian Institute of Building Surveyors (AIBS) and must also have a current state-issued license.
Difference between a building surveyor and a private building inspector
For a building surveyor, the customer is the priority. They do not work for a particular builder to keep their inspections devoid of all biases and conflicts of interest. However, a building surveyor would only concern his inspections with the regulations of the state, meaning, he would only see if the contractor’s work is per the various laws and minimum standard of building in Australia and not go above and beyond that.
A private building inspector, on the other hand, is hired on a contractual basis and is tasked with assessing the quality of workmanship. A stage inspection completed by a qualified, independent building inspector is recommended since he will be able to thoroughly assess the quality of work done by the contractor rather than just meeting the basic needs of the state.
BENEFITS OF STAGE CONSTRUCTION INSPECTION
Getting a building constructed is a Herculean task that has innumerable moving parts and simultaneous processes, all of which have high chances for things to go wrong. To ensure that each step of this tedious process is completed smoothly, stage inspections are extremely important. Here’s a list of other benefits you get by investing in a stage inspection for your new/renovated property:
Uncover Human Errors: Small mistakes that went unnoticed in the initial stages of construction may prove to be disastrous, even fatal, a few years down the line. A stage inspection would eliminate such situations by discovering and amending the discrepancy.
Expert on Your Building Plan: A stage inspection is always carried out by a certified professional. By having a qualified expert working with you throughout the construction process of your property, the project will also have their guidance, invaluable suggestions and skill.
Value for Money: You deserve to get what you paid for. Get a stage inspection done to ensure that the terms of the contract are being diligently fulfilled by the contractor, and all your requirements are being met.
Transparency: As the owner of the property, it is your right to know everything about it. A stage inspection will ensure that defects aren’t being concealed or manipulated in any way.
Preemptively Saves Costs: If a stage inspection is avoided, there are bound to be complications in the building’s health very soon. Such situations are very expensive to correct when the process has been completed. Additionally, you may also have to give fines for non-compliance. Through stage inspections, you save a lot of time and money for your future selves. Prevention is always better than cure!
Peace of mind: You can’t put a price tag on this. Having a building you’re not only satisfied but happy with is the end goal of stage inspections.
Our team of experts at Master Property Inspections are adept in conducting stage inspections in Australia. To reap all of these benefits and more, book a slot with us today, and construct a building without any hassles!