New Homes – Lock Up Inspection - Staged Construction Inspections in WA

New Homes – Lock Up Inspection - Staged Construction Inspections in WA

1. What are we talking about?
Once the builder has reached the “lock up” stage – i.e. the building is capable of being physically locked up (i.e. all the doors and windows are installed and property can be secured) a variety of key construction items should be completed and the builder may be seeking a further progress payment.
There is a range of items at this stage of the construction which should be capable of being inspected. These can include:
· All doors and windows have been installed and can be physically locked
· Ceilings and cornices have all been installed correctly
· Ceilings have been back blocked where required.
· Internal walls have been rendered and white set plaster applied correctly
· Plaster reveals have been constructed correctly
· Power points, light switches and gas point locations can all be established
· Cabinetry has been installed
· Brickwork is clean
· Waterproofing to wet areas has been completed, tiling has not yet commenced
· Screed/floor falls to drains in showers, bathrooms, wet areas and balconies is correct and to Code

2 When do we do the Lock Up (and Waterproofing) Inspection?
The Lock Up inspection should be conducted when the waterproofing has been laid but no tiling has commenced and the majority of the above construction items have been completed.

3 What is inspected during the Lock Up
Like many of the previous construction stage inspections, your Houspect Building Inspectors have a detailed checklist of construction items that they need to review. Essentially, we want to review every key component that has been added to the construction since the previous inspection to determine if there are any construction defects or omissions when compared to the Construction Plans, Building Code of Australia or Australian Standards.

The outcome of a Lock Up is a detailed report with photos which articulate all of our findings. In short, the report aims to identify items that the builder should address prior to the next inspection. Our Lock Up inspection reports are provided to our clients to enable them to review and consider prior to passing on to their builder for remediation work to be undertaken.

4 Why is it important?
As with all stage construction inspections it is important to inspect the construction at all stages of the construction as the build progresses, especially as subsequent construction stages may in fact cover components of previous construction stages.
Further, if any notable items are identified, it is important that these are addressed as soon as possible so as not to delay the practical Completion Inspection (PCI) and the eventual handover of the property back to the homeowner.

5 So what is the issue?
Lock Up inspections require a significant volume of construction items to be reviewed in a relatively short time. Building inspectors with a minimum of 20 years’ experience bring considerable skills and expertise to a Lock up inspection and simply look at new constructions through a different lens.

Click hear to see recent examples of issues we found during Lock Up inspections in WA over the past few months in 2017.

6 What is the immediate solution for people building a new home
The simple solution is to conduct your Lock Up inspection with the support of a Houspect Building Inspector. Armed with the approved Construction Plans, Engineers Plans, a good knowledge of the Building Code of Australia, the Australian Standards and many years of experience, your Houspect Building Inspector can review the work undertaken on your new home so that you can be assured that the overall construction is progressing in accordance with the Builders obligations.

7 What happens if your Builder will not respond to construction Defects?
This should be a rare experience. Quality WA Builders are in business to deliver quality product to their clients, those that don’t, simply do not last in business. Our experience is that when a Builder is provided with a written report identifying construction items which are inconsistent with the Contract, Plans, Building Code or Australian Standards they will move to remediate as quickly as possible. There will on occasions be “grey” areas, but in the main these will represent a minority of construction items.
In the rare event that a Builder does not address construction defects in WA, there are a number of avenues that home owners can take to have the issues resolved. Houspect WA is able to support home owners by providing independent expert reports to support matters through Mediation, the WA Building Commission, State Administrative Tribunal and or WA Magistrate Court. While all of these options should be considered the absolute last resort, it is important that you know that your Building Inspector can support you through to the natural conclusion if required.

8 Summary
  1. The Lock Up inspection is an important inspection during the construction of your home. It should be completed once the waterproofing has been applied but before the tiles have been laid.
  2. The various construction items listed above should be capable of being inspected
  3. A very small window of opportunity exists for inspecting Waterproofing, prior to the tiles being laid and obscuring the waterproof layer.
  4. You should aim to undertake a thorough inspection of the entire property during a Lock Up inspection. Your Building Inspector can provide you with significant assistance during this process.
  5. It is not unusual to find a number of items during the Lock Up inspection. These items should be able to be resolved by the Builder prior to the next major construction stage inspection – the PCI inspection.
  6. Lock Up inspections are an important part of your construction journey. Houspect WA conducts a large number of construction inspections every week, including Lock Up inspections. Our Building Inspectors, all of whom are independently registered WA Builders with a minimum of 20 years’ experience, can provide you with significant support during the important Lock Up process and beyond.
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