You’ve just walked out of the perfect home. It has a gorgeous shade of paint, the scent of jasmine and even a nook to read in the sun. You’re already planning BBQs with your new neighbours.

Slow down! There’s more to a great property than elegant light fittings. When you’re in the market for your first home, remember the property has been deliberately made to look its best. Sellers are showing their homes in the best possible light. They have washed, polished and smartened up. Fresh paint and new floors can hide many issues: illegal building work, bad wiring and damp are just some of the problems you may find underneath.

Buying a lemon can take a huge financial and emotional toll. Major repairs can leave you in a mess financially, while the strain of not knowing what else might go wrong is hard to bear.

Getting a property inspection before you buy could save years of heartache. Here’s what the inspector will be looking for.

Danger could be lurking under the surface.

The fact that a power point technically works doesn’t mean it’s been done properly. Plenty of DIYers do their own handiwork. Sometimes that means staining a deck or hooking up a new doorbell, but it can mean electrical, plumbing or other work that’s been done outside the law.

A pre-purchase inspection should find the substandard work before it puts you at risk.

You might have unexpected housemates.

Thought you’d left housemates in the past? They might be back if you decide to forgo the pre-purchase inspection.

It’s estimated that around one-in-four homes in Australia can be impacted by destructive pests, such as termites, at some stage. Along with the damage they cause, many pests like mice and rats also carry disease, so you could end up with serious health risks.

Your new home could be showing its age.

If you fall for an ageing beauty, a building structure inspection could help to find any internal wear and tear. That might be things like wood rot, old wiring, mould, rusty pipes or general decay.

These sorts of issues are more than superficial. A decrepit building could leave you exposed to fire, collapse or worse.

It’s easy to miss the rest of the property.

You might feel like you have the house under control without an inspection. After all, you’ve done that thing where you tap your finger along the wall, and the carpets look like they’re in good condition.

But there’s more to a property inspection than the main building. You’re buying everything on the title – for better or worse. Your inspector’s pre-purchase building inspection checklist will include everything external, too: sheds and studios, gates and fences, driveways and grounds.

A “bad” report doesn’t mean it’s a no-go zone.

Don’t expect a blemish-free scorecard – the perfect property doesn’t exist. But it doesn’t have to mean saying goodbye.

The building inspection cost will be worth every cent when you buy with your eyes open. You could even have extra bargaining power when it comes to negotiating on price.

A pre-purchase pest/building report will identify all the problems affecting a property and the necessary work needed to bring the place up to scratch. At around $500, it’s a sound investment in the future of your most valuable asset. Get a building and pest inspection before you commit and you can rest easy knowing you’re getting exactly what you paid for.