The Building Stage Inspections / Practical Completion Inspection (PCI) Inspection Process
Including New House & Land Packages and Stage Inspection
We strongly recommended that independent building inspections are carried out at certain construction stages, to ensure the quality of construction work undertaken is not being compromised or defective.
The following building stage inspections are recommended:
Stage 1: Building Stage Inspection of the footings
Check that the footings of the building are constructed as per the requirements of the footing engineered plans, the National Construction Code and Australian Standard 2870.
A typical Footing Inspection requires the inspector to inspect footing preparation prior to pouring of concrete. Footings are the lower structural building element which rest directly on the foundation material and once poured are basically inaccessible. It is imperative that footing preparations are carried are diligently and fully compliant with engineers plans and specification. Serious errors in footings can cause a disastrous outcome, which sometimes may not come to light until years later.
For peace of mind, a Footing Inspection prior to pouring concrete is strongly recommended. A typical Footing Inspection will tell you about deficiencies, defects, and items of non-compliance, including issues relating to: excavation, footing dimensions, steel reinforcement dimension and placement, reinforcement supports, clearances at footing penetrations by service pipes. All reinforcement, when necessary, should also be secured and tied at lap and/or splice joints.
Note: Concreting contractors should place concrete carefully as not to displace reinforcement or cause concrete segregation. All concrete should be of specified mix, consistency, and compacted when poured, in accordance with engineer’s recommendations.
Stage 2: Inspection of the completed wall and roof frames
An inspection to determine if the wall and roof frames are structurally sound and in accordance with the National Construction Code, the framing Australian Standard 1684, engineering plans and framing plans.
A typical Frame Inspection requires the inspector to inspect the structural frame work of the building for standard of workmanship, and compliance.
For peace of mind, a Frame Inspection is imperative for ensuring that the building frame structure is sound and meets design requirements.
An inspection will tell you about deficiencies, defects, and issues relating to non-conformances. Inspections focus on structural material compliance, stress grades, wind braces, lintel and lintel supports, point loads, horizontal wind beams, load transfer connections to roof and/or floor diaphragm, tie-down, ceiling height, framing secure and straight.
Stage 3: Inspection of completed external roof and wall cladding
This inspection will ensure that the internal linings are installed as per the National Construction Code, the applicable Australian Standard 3740 and manufacturers guidelines and check thoroughly over the waterproofing of the wet areas. A waterproofing check is critical as that can result in future bathroom water leaks.
Stage 4: Inspection of internal linings and completed waterproofing
This inspection will ensure that the internal linings are installed as per the National Construction Code, the applicable Australian Standard 3740 and manufacturers guidelines to check thoroughly over the waterproofing of the wet areas.
A waterproofing check is critical to prevent future bathroom leaks and water damage.
Final handover: Practical completion inspection
The final quality assurance inspection is undertaken before handover and is the ‘Practical Completion Inspection.’ This inspection overall ensures the building is completed in accordance with the National Construction Code, relevant Australian Standards and the applicable guides to standards and tolerances.
Under the Domestic Building Contract Act, before the builder can demand or receive the practical completion payment under the contract, they must ensure that: all of the contracted work has been completed in accordance with all relevant laws, legal requirements, plans and associated specifications. All minor defects and minor omissions identified or otherwise should be recorded on an appropriate, signed defects document. The dwelling should be reasonably suitable for habitation. The contractor must provide the owner with certificates of inspections and warranties, including the final certificate issued by the Building Certifier.
At the time of practical completion a defects document would have been completed as follows:
- List the minor defects and minor omissions that both the contractor and home owner agree to;
- State when the contractor will attend to those matters;
- List minor defects or minor omissions that only the home owner believes exist; and
- Be signed by the home owner and the contractor (or only signed by the contractor where the contractor has made all reasonable efforts to have owner sign).
The contractor is required to correct non-structural defects within 12 months after completion of the dwelling. Non-structural defects or omissions discovered within the 12 month period can be referred to the contractor in writing for attention within a reasonable time frame. It is imperative that all communication is in writing as far as practicable, is signed and dated, and copies of all correspondence retained for record. When contractors fail to address and rectify defects to a satisfactory outcome you may be able to access your local state building commission complaints process for further assistance.
Note: Structural defects should not even get to handover/practical completion stage as these should be addressed before that time.
Practical Completion / Handover stage is reached when the building under construction is basically ready for handover, including: Full electrical fit-out, full plumbing fit-out, all tiling fully completed, shower screen fitted, final fitting and fixtures installed (towel rails, TP holders, doors stoppers, catches, etc), ceiling insulation, internal paint work, appliances and white goods, pergola’s, fences, external concrete or pavements, rain water tank, finishing of retaining wall/s, landscaping, site drainage, letter box, external paintwork, carpets, blinds, all items connected and operational, all within the confines of the contract agreement. Only after these stages have been reached is the building ready for a handover inspection or practical completion inspection.
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