Identifying Major and Minor Defects

A building inspection helps to ensure your physical safety, peace of mind, and legal protection as the future owner of a building. Employing a building inspector is highly recommended for any building purchase to make sure you get value for money. If you are looking to make an investment in property then a building inspection can help assure you that you’re putting your money in the right place. The job of a building inspector is to check that the building you are about to purchase meets the requirements of the building code. You can rely on the professionalism of a certified and qualified building inspector to report on the ins and outs of a building; the good and the bad.

One of the primary goals of an inspection is to identify any major or minor defects in the building according to the Australian Standard for building inspections. A report will then be provided for you to use as a basis to assess the condition of the building. With the expert eye of a building inspector, you’ll find that a crack that what would have taken you hours to spot, they will be able to identify in no time.

The inspector will attempt to identify any major defects or safety hazards that will greatly impact the general assessment of the building. They will include in the report specific details such as the location of the defect and an explanation of why it is categorised as a major defect. The inspector will also identify any minor defects and assess if they can be listed as part of building maintenance.

Two-stage test to identify major defects

The term “structural defects” in the Home Building Act 1989 was changed to “major defects” in 2015. This was a change in terminology and meaning; the defect is now classified as ‘major’ if it threatens the safety of the occupants or if the building likely to collapse. To accurately determine if there is indeed a major defect, a building inspector must conduct the two-stage test.

· First Stage: Determine if the defect can be found in a major element of the building

First, the inspector must determine if the defect is located in one of the major elements of the building. This includes internal and external components that secures the stability of the structure as a whole; ie. the foundations, columns, beams, roofs, or floors.

The Home Building Act also includes fire safety systems and waterproofing as major building elements. And so, any defect that affects the waterproof nature of the building constitutes a major defect.

· Second Stage: Identify the specific cause of the defect

The next step involves identifying the particular cause of the defect. The Home Building Act of 1989 states that it is a major defect if it is attributed to “defective design, defective or faulty workmanship, defective materials, or a failure to comply with the structural performance requirements of the National Construction Code (or any combination of these).”

A defect that stems from the stated causes may result in serious problems for the occupants of the building. It can be a reason for them to be unable to live in the building or not to use a specific area that is affected by the damage. It could lead to the destruction or collapse of part or the entirety of the building.

· Identifying minor defects

Aside from the major defects, it is the responsibility of the building inspection process to identify minor defects also. A minor defect is any defect that doesn’t fall under the definition clause of a major defect. Sometimes they are called maintenance defects because they are repairable and can be improved upon with only small changes.

Here are some examples of minor defects:

  • Blemishes
  • Cracks
  • Wall dents
  • Corrosion
  • General Deterioration
  • Unevenness in the finishes and materials

A minor defect is not a serious issue but will be identified during the inspection so that you are aware of what maintenance you might want to do. The report will include details about the nature of any minor defects. These kinds of defects do not pose a safety risk and so will be listed to be part of the maintenance.

Why do you need to know about building defects?

There are several reasons why it’s important to know the major and minor defects of the building you are going to purchase. With the building inspection report you can be fully informed of any problems you might face in the future if you decide to go ahead with the purchase of the building. The inspection report will also provide you with useful information that can help you negotiate for a lower price; by calculating the cost of repairs you can ask to have the price adjusted.

A major defect is a serious problem that will likely affect you in the future. If the inspector discovers a major defect building we would recommend that you could seek specialist advice before proceeding further in the purchase process. The knowledge from an inspection report allows you to have a transparent and honest conversation with your real estate agent about the condition and value of the building. Safety is imperative and, as is often the case, when there are no major defects the inspector can provide you assurance and peace of mind.

Choosing a building inspector

Consider their certifications, and the company’s licence to practice and, if you can, choose based on the experience of the building inspector. This will help you to determine the quality of the work they are able to provide. With Exceptional Building Inspections you can be sure that if the building in question has defects, then they will be found, and that if your building is defect free you will be given peace of mind. A thorough inspection is guaranteed and a reasonable amount of time is spent to provide a reliable and complete report.

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