During a recent pre purchase building inspection in WA, a Houspect Building Inspector identified some bare wires immediately adjacent to the roof space manhole access point! Fortunately, Houspect WA operating requirements require that power to the property must be isolated at the metre box prior to the Building Inspector entering the roof space. These requirements are consistent with the requirements of WA Worksafe.
What was subsequently identified, post the roof space inspection, was that the bare wires were in fact live wires! Had the Building Inspector not turned the power off and touched these wires when climbing through the roof space he could have been electrocuted! Given that the Building Inspector would have been standing on top of a ladder, the subsequent fall from the ladder could have completed what the electrocution did not! These wires were a residential property death trap!
Some would argue that the Residual Current Devices (RCD’s) would have protected the Building Inspector. This would be wrong! Remember, not all houses in WA are currently fitted with RCD’s. Further, legislation was only recently changed which requires all circuits in the property to be protected by RCD’s and this requirement only applies to new homes! Even if there are RCD’s on site, there is no guarantee that the RCD’s are effective or compliant. Leaving bare wires live in the roof space is non-complaint so it is quite possible that the RCD’s are non-compliant. So while RCD’s may be a great second line of defence, the primary line of protection is to ensure that there is no power in the roof space before you enter!
The above is an excellent example why Houspect Building Inspectors will not enter a roof space unless the power to the property can be turned off at the meter box. Our requirements in this regard are communicated to our Clients, Agents and those providing access to properties that we inspect prior to our Building Inspectors arriving on site.
Importantly, there are many properties in WA where the external meter box can be locked. It is critical that the keys to the meter box are available when the Building Inspector is on site, otherwise the inspection of the roof space MUSTbe excluded from the scope of the inspection in accordance with AS 4349. If we are required to return to the property again, additional reinspection fees will apply.
The critical lesson of turning off power to the property prior to the building inspection is also extremely valuable to home owners and property occupants. Essentially the same rules apply. Turn off the power to the property prior to entering the roof space to protect you!
Back to the property in question where the above issue was identified. As the property was vacant at the time of the inspection, the Building Inspector immediately notified the property Agent that the property was fundamentally unsafe. The Agent organised a Licenced Electrical Contractor to attend the property to remediate the issues.
Ongoing inspection of roof spaces and the associated infrastructure is important for Building Inspectors, property owners, occupants and a myriad of trades. Turn the power off to the property before you enter the roof space, your life may depend on it!
Houspect has conducted a variety of inspection types on more than 60,000 residential, commercial and industrial properties across WA over the past 30 years. Ensuring these inspections are undertaken safely is critical not only for Houspect Building Inspectors but also our clients.
Build, Buy, Invest in property with confidence (and safety!)