This is some home buyer information we’ve put together to help you make sense out of what’s coming, especially as it relates to building and pest inspections.
Some Points to Consider when Looking at Properties
- Have a look at the lay of the land and where it slopes to. Where does the rain run off go? Is there any area were water may be trapped and pond? Are the roof water downpipes connected to stormwater drainage? Excessive water ponding close to a building can adversely affect the stability of foundation earth, particularly on reactive clay sites. Are sufficient surface drains in place and were do they discharge to?
- Are there any large trees close to the dwelling? Large trees close to the dwelling can adversely affect foundation earth and drainage and can be very costly to remove should it be required. The base of the large trees also make good nest sites for termites.
- Check sleeper retaining walls for termite activity, particularly if the walls are weathered or old. Hardwood is only surface treated and becomes very susceptible to termite attack as it ages and the treatment fades. Properties with a lot of hardwood retaining walls often have high levels of termite activity and can be expensive to maintain. Check fencing for decay and termite damage. Check stored timber, firewood and garden edging for signs of termite activity.
- With brick homes check the weep holes in the base of the brickwork (open drainage slots were the mortar has been left out) are clear of the ground and not covered by earth or paving as this is a common entry point for termites. It also allows rising damp to bypass the damp proof membrane at the base of the weep holes.
- Check the meter box for a safety switch and a termite protection notice. Write down any details ie, chemical used, date applied, and very importantly the life expectancy. Homes built after 1995 with a chemical treatment for termite protection need the chemical replenished periodically. (3 to 10 years depending on the concentration rate used). Homes with garden beds built up to the base of the walls are likely to need re-treatment anyway. A chemical termite treatment on an average home can cost around $3,500.
- Whilst it is common for gardens to be against buildings this is not good practice as it reduces the life of or destroys the termite chemical treatment. Moisture attracts termites and will also damage the concrete stumps or slab floor and brickwork in the longer term.
- Have a look at the fascia lines of the roof for obvious distortion or excessive outward bowing. On brick homes have a close look at the brickwork, all buildings move and some slight cracking is to be expected but check for excessive cracking indicating more than usual movement.
- Check the roof for excessive weathering of the roof tiles, see if any of the pointing (sand/cement render) on the capping tiles has dislodged and needs replacing. On metal roofs check for corrosion, many older homes have had the roofs patched numerous times and are due for a complete replacement.
- On stumped homes check for excessively cracked stumps, corroded steel columns or decayed timber stumps. Restumping can be a costly exercise. Excessively uneven floors in older stumped homes are often an indication that the timber stumps need replacing.
- When inside, check the shower, one of the most common faults found during house inspections are leaking showers which are costly to replace. Check for damp or staining of the carpet in the rooms adjacent to the shower.
- Run a couple of taps and check the water pressure. Check the water for rust colouration. Low water pressure and or rust coloured water can indicate that the old steel pipes are still in place and may be due for replacement. Check the date of manufacture on the hot water unit.
- When purchasing flats and units ask your solicitor to obtain a copy of the Body Corporate maintenance records as early as possible, these can tell a lot about a building and its history.
- This information is meant as a basic guide only to assist in selecting a property. A thorough detailed inspection should be carried out by a Licensed & Insured Building and Pest Inspector who should check all of the above mentioned and more.