Final inspections of new houses are also commonly referred to as Practical Completion Inspections (PCI) and pre handover inspections.
Final inspections are generally carried out on new houses when construction of the entire new house has been completed and all internal fittings, fixtures and finishes have been installed and applied inside the house compliant with the relevant building plans and specifications.
You often hear builders say ‘we have build your house to our display home standard’. But what does this really mean? The words ‘display home standard’ are vague. And what happens if a particular type of display home constructed by a builder in one suburb is different to the display home constructed by the same builder in another suburb?
While builders have a contractual obligation to build your new home, town house or apartment compliant with the relevant building plans and specifications they are also required to construct your new dwelling compliant with all relevant building legislation, building codes (e.g. the National Construction Code of Australia), and Australian Standards.
As there are many complex building guidelines, codes and standards within Australia, it is very important to arrange for your new house to be thoroughly inspected by an experienced professional building consultant (who is familiar with all relevant building guidelines and Australian Standards) before you handover the final payment to your builder.
Final inspections reports on your new house should provide you with the following:
- A clear description of each defect – what each defect is and where each defect is located.
- An explanation as to why specific building works or finishes are defective – The report should provide you with the relevant sections of the Building Code of Australia (BCA) and Australian Standards and Tolerances that the builder has not complied with.
- A concise recommendation – A plain English recommendation stating clearly what the Builder has to do to rectify each defect.
At the pre handover stage, Building Inspectors should check a wide range of items including but not limited to the following:
- All different types of roofing materials (e.g. Concrete and terracotta roof tiles, Colorbond steel sheets, slate etc.) have been correctly installed and fixed in position.
- The pointing of all ridge and hip roof tiles is consistent in terms of colour and texture and there are no cracks in the pointing.
- All fascia boards and bargeboards are correctly aligned and fully fixed in position.
- All gutters and downpipes and correctly installed and adequately fixed in position.
- There is adequate fall applied to the gutters around the house and the garage.
- Water does not pond in the gutters.
- There is no damage to specially coated surfaces (e.g. Colorbond roofs, gutters, fascia boards and downpipes). Note – if there are any deep scratches, dents or perforations in the surface of any of the above Colorbond building materials, the relevant manufacturer’s warranty is usually deemed void (i.e. not valid).
- All brickwork to ensure that it is level, plumb, straight, square and that all articulation joints, flashings and weepholes have been correctly placed and installed.
- That the color of the bricks and mortar have not changed due to excessive cleaning with acid and washing with water under very high pressure.
- That the high pressure cleaning process has not blown out sections of the mortar from between the bricks.
- That all surplus mortar and stains have been fully removed from the face of the brickwork.
- The mortar has the required strength (i.e. the mortar is not too soft, crumbling or sandy).
- All articulation joints in external brick walls have been fully sealed to prevent the ingress of moisture and rainwater in to the house.
- All brickwork is properly placed on the concrete slab and that it does not overhang the slab.
- There are no cracked, chipped or broken bricks.
- There are no cracks in, chips out of or scratches in rendered surfaces or wall cladding.
- There is adequate clearance between windows and abutting brick sills.
- All different types of external wall cladding and lining (e.g. Hebel panels, cement sheet panels and timber weatherboards etc.) have been correctly fitted and fixed in position.
- The gaps between all window and door frames and the abutting brickwork is not excessive.
- There is no damage to window frames, door frames, door handles or locks and the glass fitted to doors and windows has not been scratched, chipped or cracked.
- There are adequate draught and weather seals fitted around all external facing doors and windows.
- There are no obvious entry points for birds that can nest in roof spaces above warm and hot downlights and start fires.
Inside the house – the following items should be thoroughly checked:
- Ceilings have been correctly installed and that joints in the plasterboard are not highlighted and very obvious after they have been painted.
- All sections of cornice have been installed level and straight.
- All sections of the internal walls are plumb, straight and square.
- Skirting boards have been installed level and straight.
- All joins in architraves and skirting boards are cut straight and finished flush.
- All relevant surfaces have been adequately prepared (i.e. filled and sanded smooth) and all tool marks and ridges on the surface of plasterboard throughout the house have been removed prior to painting.
- The paint finish applied to all relevant surfaces is consistent in terms of both colour and texture. There are no paint run marks, paint splashed on to surfaces it should not be on and there are clean straight lines between two surfaces that are painted different colours (e.g. interface between walls and cornice / ceilings). Final inspections are the best time to inspect the paint finish because the likelihood of damage to painted surfaces is least likely to occur at the final inspections stage.
- The clearances around all doors and drawers are adequate.
- The operation of all door handles, door locks and window locks.
- There is no sticking or jamming of doors or windows.
- All cupboards, vanity units and bench tops are correctly installed.
- The interface between all basins, baths, kitchen sinks and laundry troughs and bench tops are fully and properly sealed.
- Tiling is properly installed – level, plumb, straight and square. Grout lines are the correct width and are consistently the same width. All tile junctions are fully sealed with flexible silicone sealant. Tiles have not been over-cut to accommodate tap fittings, water spouts and shower roses etc.
- Proper installation of baths and shower bases.
- Correct installation of carpets.
- Water pressure from all taps and shower roses.
- All plumbing to make sure that it does not leak.
- All power points are connected and correctly wired.
- The drainage flow rates out of shower bases, baths, basins, laundry troughs, kitchen sinks and toilet pans.
- The operation of all appliances if they are installed at the time of the inspection.
- There is no damage to plasterboard (i.e. ceilings, cornice and walls), tiles, architraves, skirting boards, window frames, door frames, doors, drawers, cupboards, vanity units, bench tops, basins, baths, kitchen sinks, laundry troughs, tap fittings, water spouts, wall mirrors, window winders and locks, door locks, carpets and other floor surfaces (e.g. polished concrete) and appliances.
Inside the roof space
- There is no damage to the roof line (e.g. cracked roof tiles or holes in corrugated Colorbond steel roofs).
- Insulation has been properly and fully installed throughout the roof space.
- Sarking has been correctly installed and is not torn.
- There are adequate clear spaces around warm / hot recessed light fittings in the roof space. There is a real risk of a fire starting in the roof space if insulation is placed over the top of warm / hot recessed light fittings.
- The platform for the heating unit has been properly installed and access to the heating unit is adequate and a light has been provided.
- The roof tiles have been adequately fixed to the roof battens.
Final inspections are essential before you hand over the final payment to your builder !
To arrange independent final inspections of your new home at the Practical Completion Inspection (PCI) or Pre Handover stage, please call us now on 0408 132 152