At the completion of the construction of a new residential house in Queensland, there is a highly marketed service available to the public often referred to as a Hand Over or Pre Settlement Inspection.
The purpose of such a report is to give new home owners peace of mind that ensures the builder has correctly finished their project, prior to making a final payment to the builder.
Unlike most other building work performed in Queensland where a licensee is required to prove suitable qualification, this particular service is not governed under building regulations or standards.
As such the licensing authority, Queensland Building Services Authority (QBCC) has no license class for operators undertaking handover reports for the public.
Furthermore, there are no reporting standards or items that must be checked, as is the case for other types of report writing, such as pre purchase building and pest reports.
So this leaves the question, who should be engaged and what should be expected from a handover inspector?
It stands to reason that the best person to perform inspection work is a person specifically trained, licensed and experienced in building inspection work and report writing to legislative standards.
Many handover inspectors out there do not hold a building inspection license and take no accountability for the information they provide, relying on the builder’s warranty to avoid responsibility for advice given or not given.
The inspector should be independent of the building firm, essentially working for the new home owner, not the builder.
The firm undertaking the work should hold both public and professional indemnity insurance for the consumer’s protection, as advice is being given.
This advice is going to assist the home owner to make a very important decision to settling with the builder. Failure to advise correctly could result in significant inconvenience and cost if issues are missed or there is a breach of contract.
Many handover inspectors out there do not hold a these insurances and therefore have no protection to offer the public for mistakes or oversights.
The inspector should be cross checking and identifying in-congruencies between the drawings, contract, specifications (list of inclusions), variation documentation and the final product produced onsite.
Many handover inspectors out there do not cross reference any documentation with the final product produced onsite and would have no idea as to what the final product should be.
It is advised that thorough reporting documentation be provided by the handover inspector, showing that all relevant building elements and items have been assessed including the declaration of inaccessible areas.
Such a report should also include but is not necessarily limited to, an assessment of the grounds / property, including landscaping and drainage. Assessing all external building elements, including roof and sub-floor components, if accessible is recommended.
Finally, an internal assessment of the condition and standard of finish as generally expected by the industry, including the roof cavity if accessible, is also very relevant.
The handover inspection service is not a quality assurance tool, or about telling a builder how to complete their project, all good building firms have their own systems in place for this.
This service is about identifying to the home owner why the builder should or should not receive final payment and ensuring that all contractual agreements have been for filled.
Relying on minor defects to delay settlement / handover may not be enough to avoid breach of contract issues; however, with all items being well considered and correctly documented, the weight of responsibility generally shifts to the builder.
Communicating outstanding issues to the builder can often be difficult, so having a professional that can accurately present industry perspectives on behalf of the home owner can be essential to achieving the best final result and avoid expensive legal dispute action.
An experience industry professional such as a licensed and insured building and pest inspection company like Twenty20 Building Consultancy considers all of the above and your future.