Deck Drop Disaster

An article in The Herald on Monday April 29th, 2013 highlighted how it is possible to get a building inspection but still end up buying a sub-standard house.

The new owner of a Glen Eden house had only recently moved in, after getting a pre-purchase inspection prior to buying the house. A few weeks later, the deck collapsed with 20 people on it, resulting in numerous injuries, with everyone very lucky to still be alive.

If the building inspection had been comprehensive and carried out by a suitably experienced builder, it would have been identified that the deck was shoddily built and had simply been nailed onto the side of the house, rather than fixed to a supporting structure to reinforce it. Unfortunately for this owner and his guests, the building inspector did not do a very good job of inspecting this house.

It is definitely a case of ‘buyer beware’ when obtaining a pre-purchase building inspection. Although there are building inspection standards in New Zealand, there are no effective regulations around who is permitted to carry out inspections. Therefore, anyone with a building qualification can set themselves up as a building inspector, whether or not they have the critical experience or understanding that is necessary to carry out a good inspection.

Some building inspectors carry out their inspections in an hour. This is nowhere near enough time to have a thorough look at all the elements in a building. At Professional House Inspections, our inspections take at least 3-4 hours and follow a systematic and comprehensive check list to ensure all relevant factors are inspected. In some ways, it is like putting together the pieces of a puzzle – looking for all the signs around the house that when taken together, indicate a key issue.

As with all things, the cheapest quote for an inspection is almost certainly guaranteed not to be the best. Always do your homework on the inspection company and the experience of their inspectors to ensure that any house you buy is in the best possible condition.

(See NZ Herald article: Deck drop: ‘It’s lucky no one died’) Monday Apr 29, 2013

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