Before you buy and sell | Queensland Building and Construction Commission

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Buying a home can be exciting. It's likely to be one of the biggest investments you make in your life, so it's important to get it right.

Even if the house looks good, checking a few things so you know the house's history and any defects could save you money in the long term. Before you buy a house, make sure you:

  • organise inspections
  • check if your home is covered by home warranty insurance
  • get a safety certificate if the home has a pool
  • understand your rights if you're buying an owner-built home.
When buying a house, you will want to make sure the granny fl...

When buying a house, you will want to make sure the granny flat or pool out the back has council approval and that there are no problems with termites or damp. Before you finalise the purchase, get a:

  • pre-purchase building inspection
  • termite inspection.

These inspections are sometimes called building and pest inspections. Both can be done at the same time if your inspector has the appropriate licences.

Keep in mind that if you buy a house with defects or subsidence that you knew about before purchasing, you can't later claim insurance through the Queensland Home Warranty Scheme.

You should get a building and pest inspection before you buy and make it a condition of your contract that you must be happy with the results of these inspections before you finalise the sale.

Pre-purchase building inspection

In a pre-purchase building inspection, the inspector will look at your house to see if there are any obvious defects or areas of concern.

This could include things such as:

  • faulty roof
  • leaking ceiling
  • weak or cracked walls
  • damaged foundations
  • mould problems
  • lack of waterproofing
  • drainage issues.

A pre-purchase building inspection is not a warranty against future defects.

If you are worried about particular parts of the property (e.g. the roof), you should think about getting a more detailed report from the appropriate expert (e.g. plumber, engineer).

You should be at the house for the inspection. Make sure you:

  • understand the scope of the inspection (what the inspector will and won't look at)
  • ask the inspector anything you want to know about the house before you buy.

Check for asbestos

Your building inspector will point out possible asbestos in the house. Most homes built before 1990 contain some asbestos.

This insulation material is now banned from use because when it is disturbed, it releases tiny fibres that can cause fatal lung disease if you breathe them in.

Renovating houses that contain asbestos requires extra precautions and may cost more, so make sure you know what you're getting into.

Read about Asbestos safety for more information.

Termite inspection

In a termite inspection (commonly called a pest inspection), a pest controller will look at the property to check for:

  • termites
  • evidence of termite damage
  • an existing termite management system.

The inspector should also tell you:

  • how to maintain any termite management system already installed
  • if the property is in an area with a risk of termite attack.

Who can inspect

  • Only a licensed residential building inspector can complete pre-purchase building inspections.
  • Only a licensed pest controller can complete termite inspections.
Check inspector licences

Check your inspector has the correct licence before hiring them.

If you find a problem that was not picked up by your building and pest inspection, you must take your own action against them. To do this you must first lodge a complaint with us, and we will provide you with a letter to take the matter to QCAT.

If you're about to buy a new home, you can check if it has insura...

If you're about to buy a new home, you can check if it has insurance under the Queensland Home Warranty Scheme. This insurance is taken out by a builder when they do more than $3,300 of work on your home (including labour, materials and GST). It covers you against some building defects and subsidence within a certain time period.

While your solicitor will generally organise all the relevant searches on the property when you're buying a home, you can place a search request with us yourself.

The scheme covers:

  • houses
  • duplexes
  • townhouses
  • low-rise units (up to 3 storeys above a carpark).

Insurance searches

If you are buying a home, you or your legal agent can search to see if any home warranty insurance is attached to the property.

This cover lasts for 6 years and 6 months from when the contract is entered into or the premium is paid (whichever is the earlier), though it can be extended if the construction took more than six months to complete.

It may help you with any defects that develop after you move in.

Request an insurance search

Existing defects

The Home Warranty Scheme insurance will only cover defects in your newly purchased house if you didn't know about the problem before you purchased.

That means if you buy a house with building defects or subsidence and knew about these problems before you purchased, you won't be able to access insurance through the scheme.

We recommend you get a pre-purchase building inspection before buying a home to find out whether it has any defects. Make it a condition of your contract that you must be satisfied with the inspection before you will buy the house.

If the home warranty has expired

If the house was built or renovations were finished more than 6 years ago, there is a good chance the insurance through the Home Warranty Scheme will have expired, and your search results will not display any details.

If you want to identify the builder who built or renovated the house, you can lodge a right to information request with us.

If you're buying a property with a pool, it's essential to check ...

If you're buying a property with a pool, it's essential to check the pool complies with the pool safety standard. The seller should either give you a current pool safety certificate or a Form 36—notice of no pool safety certificate (PDF, 138KB) before you enter the contract of sale.

A Form 36 tells you:

  • that the pool may not comply with the law,

If you buy a pool without a current safety certificate, you must:

  • bring the pool up to standard
  • apply for a pool safety certificate within 90 days of settlement.

If you buy a property with a shared pool, e.g. an apartment or unit, the body corporate must get the safety certificate within 90 days of settlement.

Buying at an auction

If you are buying a property with a pool at auction and no pool safety certificate is in effect, the owner or their agent (e.g. auctioneer, real estate agent, etc.) must ensure that copies of Form 36—notice of no pool safety certificate (PDF, 138KB) are given to the prospective purchaser/s before entering into a contract of sale.

Learn about your responsibilities when buying or selling a home with a pool.

Selling an owner-builder property If you want to sell a proper...

Selling an owner-builder property

If you want to sell a property where you have finished an owner-builder project in the last 6 years, you must tell prospective buyers about the work.

Learn about your responsibilities when selling an owner-built home.

Buying an owner-built property

There are a few things you should know if you plan on buying an owner-built property.

  • The seller must tell you if an owner-builder project has been completed in the last 6 years
  • Before signing the contract, the seller must provide you with a notice which contains:
    • details of the building work performed 
    • the name of the person (Owner Builder Permit holder) who performed the work
    • a statement confirming the work was performed under an Owner Builder Permit
    • the words: "Warning—the building work to which this notice relates is not covered by insurance under the Queensland Building and Construction Commission Act 1991".
  • You must receive 2 copies of the notice. As the buyer, you must sign 1 copy and return it to the vendor on or before signing the contract of sale.

Last reviewed: 30 Aug 2021 Last published: 30 Aug 2021
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