07 July 2016 Common building defects What to look out for before you buy Home buyers certainly have a lot to consider when purchasing a new property, no matter how experienced you are. If you listen to real estate agents, they will tell you that it’s all about location, location, location but there is much more to your new home than just its postcode. Before you decide to purchase a property it is important to investigate and understand the real condition of the dwelling and remember, even modern or recently constructed properties can have defects which may present costly repair bills. To help identify potential structural problems before making an offer, a building inspection report conducted by a registered architect or qualified building inspector is worth considering, and could prove to be money well spent. The benefit of using an architect or building inspector rather than carrying out your own maintenance checks is that these professionals are independent, qualified and provide a thorough condition report on all aspects of the property. A building inspection report will provide a complete assessment on the condition of the property and clearly identify any immediate or short term risks, as well as providing an estimation of the likely cost of repairs. It is good to have this information ahead of time so you can consider the costs of any necessary repairs in light of the purchase price, and potentially use the report as the basis to negotiate a lower purchase price. Here are my top six common building defects to look out for: 1. Damaged roofing and blocked guttering Cracked roof tiles or damaged ‘pointing’ (the cement sealant along the roof joins) can leave your roof and ceilings exposed to water damage and flooding. Gutters that are blocked which do not allow water to be diverted from the roof can also cause flooding, especially in periods of heavy downpour, as well as create moisture problems. 2. Timber Rot To prevent rotting, timber needs constant maintenance to protect it from the elements. Any exposed timber – such as decks, verandas, trims, barge boards and fascias require protection such as painting or staining. 3. Cracking Cracking can be common particularly in brick homes where the house has moved due to movement in the earth. Cracks can vary in size and should be assessed by a professional as can sometimes require ‘underpinning’ to stabilise any further movement. 4. Electrical Fortunately, electrical safety standards in Australia have improved over the years, however, many older properties still have wiring and switchboards that do not comply with current regulations. As our modern lifestyles rely on electrical power for heating, cooling, lighting, cooking, entertainment and computers it is essential that the wiring is fit to meet these demands. 5. Stumps / subfloor framing Commonly, timber stumps in older properties can deteriorate with time, which can lead to uneven floors and create further problems and expense. Termites may also have attacked timber sub-floors (stumps/bearers/joists). Having adequate ventilation under the sub-floor is also essential. 6. Rising Damp This is a common problem in older brick or stone dwellings where there hasn’t been suitable damp proofing to stop moisture creeping up the walls. Visible signs of rising damp are paint peeling, damp smells and staining on walls.