What reports do I need before purchasing a house? 

Narelle Davis

December 13, 2023


Whether you’re buying a home to live in or building your investment portfolio, it’s important that you understand the condition of the property you’re purchasing before signing on the dotted line. In addition to walking through the home yourself, you need a qualified inspector to identify issues that can’t be found in a regular inspection — that’s where pre-purchase reports come in.

Conducting these reports as soon as possible will help you and your conveyancer become aware of any issues with the property that inform the contract of sale. For example, if a report finds minor damage you may want to include a condition that requires the issue is repaired or replaced. If major repairs are needed, you can leverage the report to negotiate a lower price before you sign your contract of sale.

Your report may reveal that the property isn’t right for you after all and give you cause to terminate your contract. While this can feel disappointing, it gives you the confidence you’re not investing your time, money and energy in the wrong home.

What are pre-purchase reports?

Pre-purchase reports are documents that provide you with the information you need to make informed decisions as a home buyer. They can uncover any current or potential problems that affect the home’s livable condition and value. 

Who can do pre-purchase reports?

You’ll require a licensed professional to inspect the home for you and deliver a report based on their findings. Some professionals are qualified to conduct multiple types of inspections, such as a building inspector who offers both building and pest inspections.

Sometimes a seller recommends an inspector to you. However, many buyers prefer to select their own inspector so they can trust they’re receiving unbiased advice. You can organise these inspections yourself. If you’re working with a conveyancer, they will be able to recommend inspectors and/or reports that you may require.

What reports do I need before purchasing a house?

Knowing the difference between each report will help you spend your money on the ones you need and save on those you don’t. Whether you’re an eager first home buyer or need a refresh after stepping out of the property market for a while, keep reading for a complete list of the reports you’ll need to complete before you buy a house.

The different pre-purchase reports you’ll need as a house buyer

There are a range of different pre-purchase reports that cover different aspects of a home’s condition. The exact reports you’ll need will depend on the home you’re purchasing and its location. Typically, buyers begin with the most common types of reports — building and pest.

Building report

The building report is essential for every type of house. It requires a building inspection, which is a visual assessment of the interior and exterior condition. The findings of a building report can range from minor damage to major problems.

 A licensed building inspector will check the home’s structure complies with the building code of its area. They will also examine the walls, windows and doors for any surface-level repairs that are hiding more complicated problems.

The exact areas of the home inspected may vary depending on the building inspector you hire, so ensure you have a prior discussion with them about the details of their service. A standard building report may include:

  • Moisture penetration
  • Drainage
  • Plumbing
  • Home accessories
  • Structural issues
  • Evidence of pests (this is surface-level and not equivalent to a pest inspection)
  • Garage
  • Garden sheds

When do you need a building report?

The building report should be completed after your offer has been accepted. If it’s not able to be completed before signing a contract, you must ensure that you engage a conveyancer to ensure you will be protected and the correct conditions included in the contract.

Pest report

Your pest report will be completed following a pest inspection. A professional pest inspector will thoroughly search the interior and exterior of a home for signs of past or current pest activity. For example, they’ll examine any timber in a home for damage caused by termites.

If your pest report finds that action needs to be taken to remedy damage or active infestation, your conveyancer will discuss your options with you and communicate with the seller’s solicitors on your behalf. Depending on the significance of the pest problem, you may choose to terminate the contract, negotiate a lower price or explore if the seller is willing to fix the problem to your satisfaction. Your conveyancer will be able to guide you to ensure you are protected if issues arise.

When do you need a pest report?

Just like the building report, a pest report should be completed as soon as possible after your offer has been accepted. It should also be included as a condition in the contract of sale, if the report is not completed prior to you signing the contract.

Specialist reports

In addition to the common reports like building and pest, there are a number of specialist reports that you may need based on the unique features of the home you’re buying. If you’re working with a conveyancer, they will advise you on the exact pre-purchase reports you need and organise the relevant inspections. These specialist reports could include:

Strata report

A strata report will examine the documents held by the strata manager, and inform you of any recent or discussed repairs or issues, provide you with a review of the financial statements, and other specialised information.

Surveyors report

A surveyors report will confirm the boundaries of the property and land you would be responsible for if you purchase the property.

Septic inspection

This is specific to rural properties. Septic systems can be expensive to repair and these reports can save you a significant amount of money in the long run.

Why pre-purchase reports are important

While pre-purchase reports do take time to organise, they’re an effective way to ensure you’re making informed decisions in the property market. They provide you with peace of mind, leverage in negotiations and protection from paying for problems left by the previous owner.

Buy a home with property transaction experts on your side

Our team of licensed conveyancers are fully equipped to recommend all pre-purchase reports you need to complete, and to make sure they are completed in the timeframes required to protect your deposit. Whether you’ve just started to explore the market or have already made an offer, get in touch with us to learn how we can help streamline the paperwork involved in the home buying process.

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