What to expect from a building inspection?

The depth and quality of a pre-purchase building report varies greatly, so it’s important you first start by selecting a qualified and reputable inspector. A lot of inspectors will claim to follow the New Zealand standard for residential building inspections but fail to have the insurance to comply with this, so it pays to do your research. The following list forms a basic guide as to what should be expected from a building inspection and what will be contained in your building report.

The inspection process:

Site – Most inspectors will begin with the site, looking at the condition and functionality of items such as retaining walls, fencing, gates, driveways, paths, and clotheslines. The site inspection should also pick up whether items such as pools, fences, and retaining wall heights would have required resource or building consents. Site inspection - pre purchase inspections 

Exterior – Your inspector should try to inspect the outside before moving inside the dwelling. Where possible, moisture readings should be taken on the exterior of the home to identify weather-tightness issues, and high-risk junctions & materials should be noted. The exterior inspection should include checks of the overall condition of the cladding, soffits, fascia, doors, and external windows.

exterior inspection

Roof – The roof inspection is where some inspectors fall short. Due to health & safety requirements most inspectors will only conduct a visual inspection from the ground or ladder, but as we send a team to every pre-purchase inspection, NZ House Surveys can climb up onto the roof and carry out a thorough inspection. When we are on the roof we note the type of materials used, check the condition of the roof looking for any signs of repair attempts (which are often temporary measures) or points of failure. This inspection should also check the condition of any chimneys, flues, and the spouting.

Roof inspection - pre-purchase building reports

Out buildings – All the out-buildings immediately around the dwelling should be checked and their current condition reported on. The inspector should also be able to identify where outbuildings would have required a building or resource consent.

Inspection of out buildings

Interior – all rooms within the dwelling should be inspected and their condition assessed. Moisture readings should be taken in all wet areas and in areas identified as high risk during the exterior inspection. Where accessible, windows, doors, lights, electrical points, and some appliances will be tested.

Interior moisture readings moisture readings

Roof space – The key purpose of checking the roof space is to determine the condition of the roof framing, looking for any signs of rot, sagging, or compromised timbers. Additional checks include the ceiling insulation and looking for signs of pests.

Roof space inspection

Services – The inspection of services will cover a large range of items including: the type of wiring, electrical checks of lights, power points and meter board, checks of the plumbing, hot water system, and the testing of heating appliances, ventilation systems, and smoke alarms. It will also identify the type and condition of water tanks, septic tanks, header tanks, gully traps, storm water sumps and more.

Electrical testing - pre-purchase building inspection reports

Subfloor – the subfloor is a crucial area to have inspected particularly in older dwellings. Provided there is access your inspector will need to crawl under the house to inspect the condition of the bearers, joists, piles, and ring foundation. They should also be checking for adequate ventilation and ground condition, insulation, and the presence of pile to bearer connections.

Subfloor inspection - building reports

Other risks – Lastly your inspector should be noting any general risks associated with the dwelling – these include asbestos, lead paint, and problematic materials.

testing for lead

Council records – Some companies offer a check of the council records for the dwelling. This can be a valuable service as it may identify illegal or non-compliant building work, and this is work the council will hold the current owner of the property liable for regardless of when it was carried out. At NZ House Surveys we offer council records checked and compared with what’s onsite, with our Silver and Gold reports. Common unauthorised building works can include wall removals, extensions, additional out-buildings, veranda’s & carports, additional plumbing fixtures, wet floor showers, changes to external walls, wood burners, and much more!Council records compared to onsite building inspection


Our inspections include the above checks and more. If you are looking for a thorough and professional building report, then give our team a call today on 0800 487 884. 

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