Building Inspectors Risk Litigation Due to Inadequate Training

Building Inspectors Risk Litigation Due to Inadequate Training

Housesafe Certified Inspectors

Housesafe OrangeThe “Housesafe Certified Inspectors Course” Application and Declaration form.

If you wish to become a Housesafe Certified Inspector and move to the next phase in your sales and marketing please complete this form and return to us for matriculation. This course will be released to begin in September 2015, all around Australia.

This has never been done before and based on the research we have conducted both in Australia and Internationally only good can come for its release.
A verification process happens behind the scenes in Housesafe so proof is assessed prior to matriculation into this Certified Course.


Mould: It’s a serious problem

MouldMould SporesMould is dangerous and in extreme cases it can call serious illness and death. Notably it is reported that Brittany Murphy and her husband both died of respiratory problems, which could have been related to mould in their home.

Three causes of mould are:

  • Rising damp in the home
  • poor drainage around the house
  • lack of ventilation due to no fresh air, even in winter it’s best to some windows open, especially in bathrooms

Any home with rising damp should be repaired as soon as possible.

Causes of dampness can be:

  • gardens with ponding waters
  • lack of drainage
  • lack of ventilation in the subfloor
  • damaged gutters and pipes

One very serious issue with mould is it can cause mycotoxins or ‘toxic mould’. Only a qualified expert should remove these types of moulds. When cleaning mould from the home, be cautious that you could be breathing in the spores and the bottom line is you need to get to the cause of the problem. This is why only a qualified inspector specialising in mould should assess the situation and recommend a solution.

Mould can cause breathing problems therefore any household members suffering from such ailments, mould should be investigated as the cause.  Temporary accommodation for the patient is recommended until the problem is resolved.


Asbestos Dangers

Housesafe Asbestos TrainingAsbestos is thought to have been only used in buildings, however it was also used in car clutches, paints, roofing, floor tiles and cement, to name a few.

Asbestos is a fibrous mineral with properties that make it heat and fire resistant and was used extensively prior to the discovery of the material being a high risk to human health. Unfortunately asbestos causes many health hazards and is notorious for causing lung problems such as Asbestosis (scarring of the tissue) Mesothelioma (a form a cancer of the mucous membranes of lungs and chest) and Lung Cancer. All dreadful and painful diseases.

The reason that Asbestos is so dangerous is because of the fibres which can become airborne and lodge into the lungs. Asbestos in home building materials does not become a health risk unless the material is deteriorating or disturbed producing dust that contains the asbestos fibres.

In the past, Asbestos was used as an insulator for buildings and many buyers are deterred if Asbestos is discovered in the home. A qualified building inspector should be able to find any signs of Asbestos during the inspection and give you a report and recommendation.

If your building inspector finds Asbestos it may not necessarily be dangerous, however make sure it is mentioned in the building report and negotiate with the vendor to reduce the price of the home and/or have an agreement that the vendor pays for an Asbestos removal specialist or to have the Asbestos encapsulated.

For building inspectors wishing to specialise in Asbestos and Mould please consider the Housesafe Mould and Asbestos Identification Course

Leaky Building Class Action in NZ: Cladding or installation the problem?

A recent article is in on a proposed class action civil lawsuit against cladding manufacturers regarding leaky-building caught my attention so I investigated further. Lawyers are urging property owners to register on in order to put together a class action with a ’no win no pay’. I researched this further and discovered that it’s not actually the cladding that is the problem but the installation. Again, I raise the question that trades people need the proper training.

With the NZ Government dropping the apprentice training system for builders and trades meant that some builders were careless in their work by making short cuts. Also with changes to the Building Act 1991 it meant that there were less regulations. To make matters even worse many construction companies failed to carry out inspection work and issue completion certificates. With less regulations and builders taking shortcuts in installing cladding and without building inspections many homes became damp. 

Bottom line: The breakdown of the apprenticeship system, unqualified builders and council staff carrying out building inspections without the training or any building knowledge to ensure that the cladding was weathertight.

Building inspector training

Extracts only from: Guide to Standards and Tolerances (NSW Office of Fair Trading)

Building inspector trainingExtracts only from: Guide to Standards and Tolerances (NSW Office of Fair Trading, these sections are excerpts only)

Masonry distress (Cracking)

Where distress and rated Category 3 or more (i.e. more than 5 mm; refer AS 2870 – 1996 Residential Slab & Footings Construction)

Masonry facing

Bricks shall generally be laid with true brick face outwards. When bricks in batches are supplied from manufacturers may vary in colour therefore they shall be mixed and or distributed in accordance with manufacturers recommendations.

Damproof courses

To be in accordance with the Part 3.3.4 of the BCA.

Brick sills – shrinking allowance for timber framing

Reference to brick sills includes for sill tiles.

Distortion of window frames and or dislodgment of sill bricks shall be a defect where such distortion and or dislodgement were caused by lack of initial sill brick clearance from the window sill refers to Part 3.3.1 of the BCA.

These clearances must be provided at the time of construction and must not be less than

(i) 5 mm at sills of lower and single storey windows; and

(ii) 8 mm at roof overhangs of single storey buildings; and

(iii) 10 mm at sills of second storey windows; and

(iv) 12 mm at roof overhangs to two storey buildings.

Concrete slab distress

If the distress is rated at less than Category 3, the defect is to be mentioned for a period of twelve months. If at the end of the monitoring period, the distress rating is assessed as greater than

Category 2, this will be considered a defect.

Where a residential slab designed in accordance with AS 2870-1996 or AS3600-2001concrete structures is to act as a termite barrier in accordance with AS3660-200 Termite management, shrinkage cracks through the slab are not to exceed 1.0 mm width.
Extract from AS2870-1996 – Residential slabs and footings – construction

Housesafe Training

Reference to the Australian Standards, Building Codes & Guides

Housesafe Training(Excerpts from some standards only, you should buy these Standards and read them thoroughly)

Reference to the Australian Standards, Building Codes & Guides

Teach yourself right from wrong and use these references from the Australian Standards, the BCA (Building Code of Australia) & the Office of Fair Trading Guide to Standards & Tolerances:

These standards are used in the residential construction industry.

Australian Standards and Building Codes are standards that builders and trades are to abide by when constructing a new home or renovating an existing property.


AS 1288 – Glass in Buildings.
AS 1684 – Residential Timber Framed Construction.
AS 1860 – Particleboard Flooring.
AS 1926 – Swimming Pool Safety.
AS 2047 – Windows in Buildings.
AS 2050 – Installation of Roof Tiles.
AS 2870 – Residential Slabs and Footings.
AS/NZS 2904 – Damp-Proof Courses and Flashings.
AS/NZS – 3500 Plumbing and Drainage.
AS 3600 – Concrete Structures.
AS 3660 – Termite Management.
AS 3700 & 4773.1 & .2 – Masonry Structures.
AS 3740 – Waterproofing of Wet Areas in Residential Buildings. AS 3786 – Smoke Alarms.
AS/NZS 4858 – Wet area Membranes.
AS 1562 – Installation of Sheet roofing and Wall cladding. AS/NZS 2589 – Gypsum linings in Residential Construction.
AS 3958 – Ceramic Tiles.
AS/NZS 2311 – Guide to the Painting of Buildings.

The Guide to Standards and Tolerances disclaims itself by stating “The information must not be relied on or regarded as legal advice. No warranty of accuracy or reliability as to the information is given and no responsibility for loss arising in any way from or in connection with errors or omissions in the information provided.”

The Guide to Standards and Tolerances 2007 was produced by the Victorian Building Commission in collaboration with NSW Fair Trading, the Tasmanian Government and the ACT Government.

The Guide is NOT a legal document and is not intended to replace the relevant provisions of the Building Code of Australia or Australian Standards.

The Guide is intended to provide the reader with an understanding of the tolerances that a building professional will consider in determining whether a building element has been installed/constructed to an acceptable standard.

The Guide should be regarded as an advisory resource rather than a series of prescriptive definitions.

The Guide helps home owners if building work is in dispute. It deals with such topics as shrinkage around timber window frames, door frames, nail popping in timber floors, paving through to footings and foundations.

The Guide to Standards and Tolerances 2007 came into effect on 1 January 2007 and replaces the previous version of the Guide issued in NSW on 1 July 2003.

This guide is available from the Office of Fair Trading website. READ IT for your benefit when building or renovating.
The HIA now have a similar guide available on their website.




Property InspectorA building inspector’s career can be very rewarding however it comes with a great deal of responsibility so adequate training is essential. In a nutshell it is your job to identify and report on defects, safety issues and any other item of significance within a new home or established residence in accordance with the Australian Standard.

At Housesafe we offer a number of different courses from Pre-Purchase Building Inspections, New Construction, Mould & Asbestos ID, Swimming Pool Safety Certification, Strata Inspections and more.

The first step in building your business is to get qualified and accredited, the more recognised the credentials the easier it will be for you to get new clients and gain trust within the inspection industry. The second most important step is to purchase public liability and professional indemnity insurance to protect yourself from litigation should you err in your reporting and the homeowner is advised into legal action.

It would also be wise to start a marketing plan as you are training to become a building inspector this should include website and social media aimed at networking with Real Estate agents, Banks, Conveyancers, Solicitors and one Mortgage Brokers. These are the people who you can develop a business relationship with and hopefully gain their trust for referring people to your business.

Speaking of Marketing, take into consideration the name of your business and try and reflect that in the website name too. It’s a competitive industry so you may have to give a lot of thought to this. Best to have a name that distinguishes you and your true purpose.

Why Building Inspectors Need Training

The standards for building inspectors have changed over the years and today it has become more important than ever for them to have the right training. In order to be a building inspector in today’s world, you will need the training and understanding of the laws and regulations to do your job properly.

Deregulation of Building Inspectors

The reason why building inspector training is important was because of the 2009 law that quietly deregulated the industry in NSW. The result became people who could call themselves building inspectors who had no training or experience. Property owners all over the country became subject to having inspectors that may not have known much, if anything about their craft.

For inspectors who want to be properly trained, there is now a means to do so that will help restore confidence in the field of inspection. Thanks to organisations like Housesafe, there is now ongoing training for building inspectors that helps them keep up their skills and informs them of new laws and regulations as well.

The Different Aspects of Building Inspector Training

It takes more than just to know what to look for as a building inspector you must be able to comply with the standards of the industry. This means that you will have to be very familiar with the following;

–        Australian Standards for Building Inspectors

–        Spotting Defects

–        Report Writing

–        Contracts & Fee Agreements

–        Working with Clients and More!

The AS 4349 Series is the workbook from which every building inspector should have on them at all times. In order to be a building inspector, you will have to understand the guidelines or face legal penalties for not following all the codes.

Spotting defects is really at the heart of building inspector training. You must be able to detect subtle defects that could mean a real depreciation in the value of the home. Plus, you must understand the difference between actual defects and incomplete work. They must be accurately written in your reports as well.

Proper report writing is another aspect of the ongoing training for building inspectors which helps you understand how to create your reports, file them according to the Australian Standards and put in all evidence, including photos and diagrams so that you can conduct the best possible pre-purchase or construction inspection. If you have staff, they will need to know how to effectively write your reports and proofread before releasing them to the clients.

Arranging fee agreements and contracts with clients is another skill that needs to be developed, especially in following all the procedures. Of course, understanding how to communicate with those who you work for is imperative if you want success as a building inspector. The combination of being professional and approachable can be achieved with the right training.

To be a building inspector is not easy, but it is highly rewarding work if you have the right training. Building inspector training will help you do the best job possible for your clients and grow your business.