So, What’s a structural defect anyway?

If you’re about to buy a house in WA, it’s really important that you understand exactly what a standard building inspection clause means for you as the buyer. Read on for more…

When you make an offer on a house, it’s likely that you’ll be presented with a standard real estate contract that contains a clause where the sale is subject to a ‘Standard’ or ‘Structural’ Building Inspection, along with a Timber Pest Inspection. 

This clause covers “Structural Defects” which in the Australian Standards for the Inspection Of Buildings (4349.1-2007) are defined as:

Structural Defect: “a fault or deviation from the intended structural performance of a building element.” 


Major Structural Defect: “a defect of sufficient magnitude where rectification has to be carried out in order to avoid unsafe conditions, loss of utility or further deterioration of the property.”

Basically – the standard real estate contract wording means that the purchase of the property can only be negotiated on or cancelled if a defect meeting one of the definitions above is found during the pre-purchase building inspection. 

This means there are many issues that could be of concern to the buyer that, if found during the pre-purchase building inspection, will not have any impact on the purchase contract. The standard building inspection clause will not completely protect the buyer from potentially very costly maintenance and repairs on the property. 

These may include plastering and non-structural wall cracks, damage to flooring, faulty windows and doors, non-structural damp issues, bathroom and kitchen damage, electrical or gas issues, plumbing issues, and damaged gutters and roof tiles to name a few. 

There are also other aspects that both parties need to be aware of.  For example, a standard structural building inspection is not required to report on if a structure is council approved or is built to the current building codes.

Your building inspection report may be very thorough and include items such as these, but they are not always required to be fixed by the seller. This is because in most contracts the seller has no obligation to repair or make good any of the defects identified in the report unless the defect is a Structural Defect or a Major Structural Defect…

…unless you have requested a more comprehensive building inspection clause is included in your contract. We highly recommend all home buyers engage a solicitor, a settlement agent or a buyer’s agent, prior to making an offer on a property, to discuss if a more detailed clause should be included. However, be aware that the seller may be less inclined to accept your offer if you do this.

Alternatively, you may like to arrange a pre-offer building inspection – speak to the real estate agent and find out if the seller is open to this.

At Nightingale Property Inspections we compile our reports to highlight any Structural Defects at the very front of the report, so the buyer and their acting agent are clear on these findings. 

As well as our Standard Structural Inspection we offer a step up to a Comprehensive Property Inspection which will also identify non-structural maintenance issues found during the inspection and is perfect for the home-buyer making a pre-offer inspection or who has requested a more comprehensive building inspection clause in their offer.  

You can read about our different inspections HERE.

Get in touch if you’re looking at buying soon so we can assist. Hit the chat bubble below or:


Call / text:  0438 905 819

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