In construction it’s better to identify problems early on than have to deal with them later. This is especially true when the building is being constructed from the bottom up. Regular inspections can help identify and resolve problems early on, making the construction process much cheaper and practical than having an inspection done on a completed building and only discovering faults then.
Inspections for new buildings
To ensure quality and precision, there are five stages at which you should have inspections performed when constructing a new building:
1. Foundation stage
Before the slab is poured you should have the foundations and footings checked, as ground with certain soils and clays will be more reactive and therefore demand more extensive engineering to ensure the integrity of the building.
At this stage, the inspector will be looking for appropriate safety signage around the building site. They will also be looking at the orientation of the building in relation to the access road, the position of the external wall location in relation to the footings, and the inclusion of reinforcement starter bars tied to the slab mesh. They will also check for termite control and the location of the electrical metre box.
2. Frame stage
Once the frame is complete, it’s time for another inspection. Once the gyprock has been added to the walls, you won’t be able to see if the right bolts or connections have been used, so having a close inspection at this stage is essential in ensuring the integrity of the foundation of the building.
At this stage, the inspector will be looking for things such as straight framing and plumb connections. They’ll also check that structural steel members such as columns, beams, and lintels are properly supporting the structure. The check will also include ensuring that window and door openings are in place as the plans require, and a visual check for the installation of a perimeter termite barrier.
3. Waterproofing stage
If the building isn’t properly waterproofed, the consequences to the building could be dire. Water can damage a building’s contents, and over the long term, the foundations of the building itself.
At this stage, the inspector will be checking that roofing is installed and complete to standards and manufacturer specifications, that roof plumbing is appropriate, and that damp proofing is in place. The check will also ensure that there are appropriate weep holes to the perimeter and window openings, and that brickwork is straight and plumb with sound mortar.
4. Pre-painting stage inspection
Once construction has been completed, including carpentry, it’s time for another inspection before painting happens, to ensure that the workmanship is acceptable before issues are covered over with paint.
During this inspection the inspector will check that window openings to shower areas are appropriately sealed, that doors are fitted properly and function correctly, and that skirting is fitted to the appropriate standards of operation. This inspection will also check for structural adequacy in outdoor areas including any pergolas, decks, or patios, and ensure that the carport or garage is able to operate to function.
5. Handover inspection
Finally, a really detailed inspection needs to be completed when the ground levels have been completed in order to ensure you are happy with the finalised version of the building. This is important because you can catch issues early and have them remedied at a relatively low cost than dealing with them when the issue has become more pronounced.
Preparing the existing building for an inspection
In terms of buying or selling an existing building, it benefits both the seller and the buyer to have a full inspection undertaken before the purchase so that there are no unexpected surprises that might affect the price or value of the property. It goes without saying that you should find a properly qualified organisation to carry out the inspection. Not only would they know what to look for, but they’ll also ensure that the subsequent report produced from the inspection complies with the Australian Standard (AS 4349.1) This is important for both peace of mind of the individuals, as well as to serve as a reference document should any issues arise.
The consultant will look at the interior and exterior of the building, as well as the roof space, the under-floor space, and the roof exterior. As such, it is important that the building be properly prepared for the arrival of the consultant.
There needs to be easy access to the sub-floor areas of a building. This means that they should be unlocked, clear of obstacles, and the space should be uncluttered so as to allow ease of movement for the consultant.
Furniture throughout the building
Generally speaking, a consultant cannot physically move furniture around. This means that each space within a building should display minimal furniture, allowing the consultant to have an unobstructed view of everything they may want to see. Remember that the consultant will need to check the floors as well, so ensure that the furniture on the floor facilitates that purpose.
Internal roof space
It is important that the consultant is able to access any internal roof spaces. If you use that space for storage, as many do, then clear it out as much as possible so as to not obstruct the consultant’s movements around the space.
Ensure that the consultant has access to the external roof. There will be numerous reasons that that the roof will need checking, and the quality of the report will be adversely affected if the roof is unsafe for access.