Back after a break to recover from an Achilles tendon tear.

Older houses come without warranty. Buyer beware.

Your home is the most important purchase of your life.

I carry out thorough building inspections
and write comprehensive, understandable professional reports.

I appraise your potential home objectively and, prior to contract settlement, find building issues, whether council, defects, or hazards, which may cause significant future expenses.

The Nelson/Tasman region has some common building issues that are worth knowing about prior to property purchase. They can be expensive to rectify:

  • The connection of sub-floor structure to piles, and sub-floor bracing. (Important for earthquake stability.)
  • Leaky plumbing pipes, ie, Dux Qest. (These faulty polybutylene pipes were used extensively in Nelson over a 12-year period in the 1980s.)
  • Incomplete or unauthorised renovations. (It can be expensive and time-consuming to regularise with the council, and affect insurance for the property.)
  • Council Resource Management Plan Overlays: Fault Hazard, Grampians Slope Risk, Tahuna Slump Slope Risk, Floodpath, Inundation, Airport Effects Control, Port Effects Control, Land Management, etc. (The consequences of these can be surprisingly restrictive.)
  • Not yet incorporated council issues: liquefaction, revised slope instability.

Nelson also has many common building issues found throughout New Zealand.

  • Moisture. The internal faces of external walls and around any shower are checked for excessive moisture levels.
  • Sub-standard or missing insulation.
  • Poor sub-floor ventilation and associated dampness.
  • Deferred maintenance.
  • Unsafe glazing. Other fall, slip or trip hazards.
  • Lack of electrical safety switches.

I am well trained in both the technical aspects of building inspections, and clear and understandable report writing.

I trained and worked as an architect in Auckland, then worked overseas on both large and domestic buildings for far too long. I ran my own architecture practice for 15 years, with many residential clients. I established Nelson Building Reports in 2015.

After professional training in building inspections with Australia's largest building inspection service, Archicentre, over the following 12 years, I undertook hundreds of inspections for a variety of purposes: pre-purchase, independent living appraisals, building handover and specific building advice.

Like any building inspector, I have extensive knowledge and experience with the building construction process, the New Zealand Building Code, current building Standards, and technical issues. All inspectors should be able to identify and note building defects in accordance with Residential Property Inspection Standard NZS4306:2005.

I also include additional explanations that go beyond the scope of the Standard:

  • Implications for any restrictive council Resource Management Plan overlay or area.
  • Safety hazards in the home.
  • Explanation of issues in the council property file. (Yes, you need to see and understand those.)

All in a clear, easy-to-understand report.

As you can see in my typical Nelson building issues, I spend the time to write extensive notes about the specific issues I identify. I do not just put a cross in a box and have a vague single-sentence observation. Your report will have an extensive explanation as to the cause and remedy of each issue identified.

Feel free to talk about anything that may be a concern.

Houses are big, complex, and never perfect, but my independent expertise gives an objective appraisal of the condition of the house, and helps you make an informed choice about your purchase.

Graeme Coop, B Arch (hons)


For home pre-purchase inspections, I provide a prompt and reliable service that visually identifies:

  • serious building faults
  • urgent safety hazards
  • minor defects
  • health and safety issues
  • maintenance items
  • general recommendations.

More than 200 items are visually assessed.

Pre-purchase | caveat emptor

Most products you buy are covered by warranty. Building owners, however, have no obligation to disclose details about their property, or the land where it is built. It's caveat emptor, or buyer beware.

The purchaser must make their own investigations of the property. There is little recourse to compensation for purchasing a property with defects. A building pre-purchase inspection is a prudent risk reduction strategy.

Pre-purchase | areas inspected

All reasonably, and safely, accessible areas of the property are inspected.

  • Roof exterior
  • Roof interior (above ceiling)
  • Under the floor (if applicable)
  • Interior of the house
  • Exterior of the house
  • Garages, car ports and sheds
  • The site itself, including drainage, retaining walls and fencing

Pre-purchase | inspection process

Once I receive a written go-ahead, an email with the address and real estate agent's contact details together with a confirmation to proceed is sufficient, I organise access with your agent for the inspection, usually the next day.

The inspection may take an hour and a half, or more, depending on the degree of accessibility, and the number and complexity of defects found.

A verbal report can be given shortly after the conclusion of the inspection to outline the major findings.

I then prepare a comprehensive and understandable written report which will usually be emailed the morning after the inspection.

Pre-purchase inspection | Typical Nelson building issues

I have collated information for typical building issues concerning defects or safety hazards commonly found in Nelson homes. Here are two issues to start:

Meth testing | a 2023 house buyers guide

Recommendation: still test the house if it has been tenanted for extended periods of time, but don’t be concerned unless the methamphetamine levels are slightly over the new 15 µg limit.

Dux Qest — leaky pipes?

When those pipes leak they can be like a tap, full blast, except inside your walls.


An independent living appraisal assists seniors and those with disabilities to remain living independently within their own homes for as long as practicable.

Your report will identify what work needs to be done to make your home a healthy and safe place to be, such as the identification of hazards, and the design of bathroom modifications or ramps in accordance with NZS 4121: 2001, Design for access and mobility - Buildings and Associated facilities.

Independent living appraisal | inspection checklist

The items that are checked include:

  • General access
  • Trip and slip hazards
  • Fire hazards
  • Security issues
  • Piles and sub-floor framing
  • Electrical hazards
  • Timber rot
  • Damp/mould and health hazards
  • Roof issues
  • Drainage issues

Independent living appraisal | bathroom modifications

Your bathroom is often the most dangerous room in your home due to slipping in the bath or shower.

Bathroom modifications can reduce the risk of falls and allow for continuing independence.

Modifications can be as simple as the provision of a bath seat and handheld shower outlet, or the removal of the bath and enclosed shower and the installation of a level entry shower to allow for the safe use of a shower seat.

I can provide drawings suitable for use by builders to modify a bathroom to your requirements.

Independent living appraisal | ramps and steps ramps

Your independence can be reduced if access to and from the house is difficult.

Provision of a ramp, or a step ramp, can assist in maintaining independence.

I design ramps to meet the provisions for the Access Code, NZS 4121: 2001, Design for access and mobility - Buildings and Associated facilities..

I can provide drawings suitable for use by builders to construct a ramp. The ramp can later be removed if no longer required.


A homeowner often has little building knowledge and relies on the builder and subcontractors to complete the building work to an acceptable standard.

A Building Handover Report is a checklist of all the items, large and small, that need to be completed satisfactorily to ensure the finalisation of your building contract.

This inspection is carried out immediately prior to building handover to have an independent opinion about the state of the building, and to itemise observed building defects, incomplete work, and areas, or items, of poor quality workmanship for the homeowner.

There are often more than 100 items in a handover inspection list: scratches, replacing chipped tiles, removing paint, completing caulking, or adjusting doors and latches, and itemising incomplete work.

There may also be more significant issues where you feel you need independent advice.


Homeowners may require independent building advice about a specific defect or problem with the building.

This service investigates and advises on the cause of the defect, provides advice on the particular repair or maintenance required, and recommends the appropriate trades, profession, or technical expertise to undertake further investigation and/or the repair or rectification.


1. Prepared generally in accordance with Residential Property Inspection NZS4306:2005.That is, the inspection is visual and non-invasive inspection of the readily accessible parts of the building.

2. The purpose of the pre-purchase building inspection is to provide advice to the client about the condition of the property at the time of the inspection.

3. The report is not a Certificate of Compliance with Council Bylaws, or New Zealand Government Regulations or Acts.

4. The report assumes the continuation of the existing use of the building. It is not an assessment of the building for a different intended purpose.

5. The written report takes precedence over oral advice.

6. The report is based on a visual, non-invasive inspection of reasonably accessible areas, ie, safely accessed from a 3.6m ladder, and with more than 600 mm unimpeded access without removal of furniture, appliances, fittings, cladding, lining materials, insulation, floor coverings, furniture, personal property, vehicles, plants, or soil.

7. The information contained in the inspection report is confidential and is for the exclusive private use of the client.

8. The client understands and agrees that any claim against the professional opinion expressed in the report, ie, errors or omissions, is limited to the failure to follow the New Zealand Standard Residential Property Inspection NZS4306:2005

9. Graeme Coop, trading as Nelson Building Reports, retains the copyright of the report, and may sell the report to another client for a sum not less than the cost of the original report.

10. Home Safety Reports are sent as a printed report by standard mail. All other reports are emailed in .pdf format.

11. Methamphetamine or P. This inspection does not test whether the house has been used as a methamphetamine kitchen. A specialist test from a company such as Meth Testing New Zealand is recommended, particularly for houses that have been tenanted.


    A thorough and professional inspection of readily and safely accessible areas of the building and the site itemising major defects, urgent safety hazards, minor defects, maintenance items.

    Major defects: an external or internal load-bearing building element that seriously affects the structural integrity of the property.

    Urgent safety hazards: a defect of sufficient degree where urgent repairs need to be carried out to avoid unsafe conditions, or further substantial structural deterioration of the property.

    Minor defects: any item requiring repair which is common to homes of a similar age or type.

    Health and safety check: any item that may have an impact on the health or safety of the occupants.

    Maintenance items: items that require ongoing maintenance to prevent building defects from developing.

    Recommendation: suggestion for home improvement.

    No visible fault: no visible fault was observed at the time of the inspection.

    "Reasonable access" means access that is safe, unobstructed, and which has the minimum dimensions:

    roof space, access panel 450 x 400mm, crawl space 600 x 600mm

    sub floor, access panel 500 x 400mm, crawl space 400mm from underside of bearers

    roof exterior, access from 3.6m ladder


    Areas more than 3m above ground level can only be visually assessed from the ground, or a safely erected 3.6m ladder. Any access restrictions will be noted in the report.

    While the inspection is thorough it does not cover every possible property defect such as:

    Non-visible items such as areas or components which were concealed or closed in behind finished services, such as: plumbing, drainage, heating, ventilation, insulation, or wiring, or footings below ground level, the condition or adequacy of damp-proof membranes, etc.

    Condition, adequacy or compliance of hot water systems, heat pumps, open fires, woodburners, smoke alarms, electrical or gas appliances or fittings, communications and security systems, ducted vacuum systems, electrically operated garage doors, and other items plant or equipment.

    Identification of unauthorised or non-compliant building work.

    Identification of asbestos-related products, lead contamination, methamphetamine, toxic mould, or the past use of insecticides, fungicides, herbicides, or pesticides.

    Condition or operation of swimming pools, spas, septic tanks, greywater or rainwater tanks, solar systems.

    This report does not cover buildings suffering from rotting homes, leaky homes, or toxic mould. Invasive testing, such as the removal of wall linings, is beyond the scope of this report.

    Structural aspects such as the adequacy of retaining walls, timber or steel-based framing sizes or adequacy.

    This is not a valuation, land survey, or geotechnical report.


Professional inspection training

I received professional inspection training through Archicentre, Australia's largest property inspection service, back in the 90s.

I have written hundreds of inspection reports of various types: pre-purchase, home safety, building advice, plus some other variations, dilapidation, owner-builders, commercial buildings. A number of reports were written as an expert witness for building disputes.

My own domestic architecture business

I became a registered architect in Victoria in 1994.

I ran my own domestic architecture business in Australia for 14 years, specialising in residential construction.

I took new home, and complex inner-city renovation projects from conception, through the design stages, regulatory approvals, tendering and usually administered the contract between the owner and the builder.

Extensive construction knowledge

I went through a rigorous practical training, and gained a thorough understanding of the building industry construction methods from the ground up.

I did some big building inspections in Australia

This one was an external inspection of an 18 storey building, looking for issues where a construction sealant used to waterproof the building exterior had failed. After discussions with the main construction sealant suppliers I wrote up a 54 page report with recommendations for remedial work.

Sometimes you can have just a little too much excitement in your job.

I spent a couple of years working in London

I travelled overseas to gain additional big building experience and worked as part of a 26 person team on the tender documentation for a new Current Affairs building for the BBC, leading the documentation for the exterior envelope.

I worked on the Aotea Centre in Auckland for three years

The Aotea Centre was a great place to learn about big building construction, we documented while it was being built. As New Zealand's largest performing arts centre, the building had plenty of complexity.

I joined the 25-person design team as the last of the concrete piles were being poured, and followed the construction through to the interior fit-out, working closely with the contractor management on site.

After three years of practical training I sat the exam and became a registered New Zealand architect in 1988. However, I am no longer registered with the New Zealand Registered Architects Board (NZRAB) as I only do building inspections and reports these days.

I graduated from architecture school in Auckland in, err, 1985

That's with a B Arch (hons) from the University of Auckland. After a few years of further practical experience I passed the examination to become a registered New Zealand architect in 1988.

I believe those glasses have almost come back into fashion, I should have kept them.

I've spent a lot of time in the hills

Nelson College has that fantastic resource, Mataki Lodge, which introduced me to tramping.

Tramping has been a major incentive to return to Nelson. I have continued with my appreciation of the tramping experience, and have created the website, an almost comprehensive guide to tramping on many of the most well-known tramping tracks in the South and Stewart Islands.

If I'm not available for work there's a fair chance I'm out in the hills doing further "research".

Yeah, I went to school in Nelson

Oh, mostly in the 1970s, back when I, like everyone else around, had hair, usually plenty of it. The mullet was standard for the blokes.

Yes, a long time ago.

I grew up in Nelson.