For many people a house is the single largest purchase they’ll make. But because most consumers know little about building they risk making a major mistake. Purchasing a building inspection before buying can help, though be careful who you call. The quality of inspections is highly variable and relying on a misleading inspection could see you out of pocket for tens, and even hundreds, of thousands of dollars.

Building inspections which fail to pick up serious problems can be catastrophic for home buyers. In 2013 the Wellington High Court awarded damages of more than $200,000 to homeowners who unknowingly bought a leaky home based on a poor-quality inspection report. The judge ruled the inspector had failed to exercise reasonable care and skill and had breached the Fair Trading Act by providing a misleading report. A similar case is making its way through the Auckland High Court. The buyers of a leaky home in St Heliers are suing the sellers of the property and the building inspector who provided a report on behalf of the sellers.

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