Should you obtain a Building Records Search when buying a house?

If you are looking at buying a house, you should strongly consider arranging for a Building Records Search to be ordered from Council, as soon as possible after you enter into the Contract ( it can take up to 10 business days to receive the results of this search from Council ).  This search will advise you of the Council Approvals and Final Inspection Certificates issued for the Property.  If you are buying a new house, or an old house (whether or not renovations have been made), it is important to know if all approvals and final inspection have been completed and satisfied.

We recently acted in a matter for a Buyer and ordered this search from Council.  The house was under 10 years old with no renovations made.  However, when we received the search result, the Final Inspection Certificate had not been conducted for the dwelling and was showing as “lapsed”.  When we contacted the Private Certifier, we were advised that a Notice was issued in 2004 to the original owner for rectification works to be attended to, and they had not responded or requested a further inspection to be conducted.  The Private Certifier closed their file as time had passed with no request for re-inspection.  After notifying the Seller of this notice, they quickly contacted the Private Certifier and obtained the Final Inspection Certificate.

Under the standard terms of contract, there is no obligation on a Seller to have approvals or final inspections in place.  So to have this information to hand, before declaring your Contract unconditional, could save you problems down the track when you go to sell the property, as this would then become your problem.

However, if there is no “notice” issued, as in the above example, but just that there is no approval in place for any works, you cannot require the Seller to obtain this under the Building and Pest Inspection condition, so it is also recommended that a Due Diligence or Council Approval special condition be inserted in your Contract, to protect your rights in the event that an approval is not in place.

Other Articles