Property inspections

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Before buying a house, it's wise to invest in a property inspection. Archicentre, the building advisory service of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects, offers a pre-purchase inspection service, conducted by qualified architects who are RAIA members.

Archicentre's Robert Caulfield says an inspection can save buyers money in the long run.

"Probably one in six of those who contact Archicentre has already bought, has found problems and is now looking for a miracle cure," he says. "Problems which aren't immediately evident can cost up to $100,000 to fix.

"Defects are often due to subsidence, where the vendors have filled cracks and painted over them. A pre-purchase inspection protects buyers against that."

Archicentre clients receive a report detailing problems, causes and estimated costs of repairs. Mr Caulfield says this can be a useful bargaining tool for the buyer.

"Negotiate after you've had the inspection report," he says. "You'll have a list of defects to give the vendor and can strike a deal for a reduction. The architect can also advise on the renovation potential, what it might cost and what the living quality of the house will be."

Mr Caulfield says some buyers have saved up to $20,000 on the strength of an inspection. "Also, if you're going to auction before the finance is in place, and you've had an inspection, you can go to the bank with the whole story and get cheap money for any future work such as re-wiring or plumbing, and it's all covered before you move in."

An Archicentre pre-purchase inspection costs from $495 and comes with a 12-month, $15,000 guarantee.

"It's aimed primarily at first home buyers," Mr Caulfield says, "to stop them buying a lemon."