This week’s home opens

Broome Advertiser - - PROPERTY - Hay­den Groves Hay­den Groves is the pres­i­dent of REIWA.

Al­most in­vari­ably, buy­ers of res­i­den­tial prop­erty seek to in­clude in their of­fer to pur­chase a prop­erty a clause that pro­tects them from un­known build­ing de­fects.

This is fair enough, how­ever, buy­ers need to be aware that the pre-pur­chase struc­tural in­spec­tion con­di­tion is lim­ited to that which is con­tained within the Aus­tralian Stan­dard AS 4349-2007.


The Aus­tralian Stan­dard AS 4349-2007 is de­signed to iden­tify struc­tural faults only, ex­pressly ex­clud­ing build­ing el­e­ments such as roof plumb­ing, wiring, win­dows, doors, ceil­ing lin­ings, tiling, plas­ter­ing and a host of other items.

It is de­signed to pro­tect the buyer from buy­ing a bad prop­erty, while safe­guard­ing the seller against a last-minute con­trac­tual fail­ure due to mi­nor is­sues such as a cracked roof tile.

While buy­ers and sell­ers re­main free to ne­go­ti­ate terms around the con­di­tion of the build­ing as they see fit, most mod­ern sales agree­ments will en­able a buyer to void the con­tract only in the event the home is struc­turally com­pro­mised, un­sound or has a sig­nif­i­cant struc­tural de­fect that the seller is un­pre­pared to re­pair.


Given al­most all res­i­den­tial build­ings, es­pe­cially older style homes, have some mi­nor fail­ings of a main­te­nance na­ture, the REIWA con­di­tion ef­fec­tively elim­i­nates “sub­ject to chang­ing your mind” pro­vi­sions for the buyer.

At the point of con­tract, will­ing buy­ers are usu­ally sat­is­fied with such clauses and view them as a rea­son­able pro­vi­sion that pro­tects both par­ties.

How­ever, build­ing in­spec­tions are of­ten very thor­ough and buy­ers can be sur­prised at the amount of iden­ti­fied mi­nor faults in these re­ports which are not cov­ered by the con­tract.

While the qual­ity, cost and style of build­ing in­spec­tion ser­vices varies widely, in al­most ev­ery case, the con­clu­sion is that aside from a col­lec­tion of mi­nor de­fects, the dwelling is struc­turally sound.

After re­ceiv­ing the builder's re­port, which may high­light some mi­nor (non-struc­tural) main­te­nance is­sues, buy­ers of­ten ap­proach the sell­ing agent with a list of re­quests for the seller to re­pair prior to set­tle­ment.

Sell­ers will of­ten take steps to rec­tify these is­sues; how­ever, buy­ers need to be aware that amend­ing non-struc­tural de­fects are not a re­quire­ment of the con­trac­tual agree­ment.

While it is nat­u­ral for the buyer to want to have mi­nor is­sues rec­ti­fied, it is im­por­tant they have a re­al­is­tic ex­pec­ta­tion of a build­ing's con­di­tion and un­der­stand the con­trac­tual re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of the seller when choos­ing to buy an estab­lished home us­ing stan­dard con­di­tions.

If you are un­clear about what does and doesn’t con­sti­tute a struc­tural de­fect, have a chat with the agent over­see­ing the sale of the prop­erty to help clar­ify this.

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