Get ex­pert eyes on faults

Herald Sun - Property - - NEWS -

HELP, my house isn’t very well! How many times have you had an an­noy­ing random de­fect with your home? Usu­ally it is a leak some­where ob­scure, a damp patch on a ceil­ing or wall or a crack, mould or de­cay­ing tim­ber. Or, even worse, it could be signs that those dreaded, tiny, wood-eat­ing crea­tures are treat­ing your home like the menu of the finest restau­rant.

Per­haps you live in a unit or town­house and you are pos­i­tive the home of a neigh­bour is the cause of the wet patch that ap­pears ev­ery time it rains from the east, but you can­not prove it.

This is not un­com­mon. Houses, like hu­mans, can suf­fer ail­ments. But they are of­ten not as easy to di­ag­nose. They are more akin to the sore back, or aches and pains that have no real ob­vi­ous cause yet cause so much dis­com­fort — and so it is with a sick house.

The un­well house looks fine, un­til you look closely in cer­tain places. The moment the rain starts, your anx­i­ety in­creases as much as the patch of damp grows in size.

Re­cently I was speak­ing to a build­ing in­spec­tor who had been asked to in­ves­ti­gate the source of water ingress that could not be traced. Even­tu­ally it was found that the gut­ter­ing at one point had a tiny hole where a rivet should have been. Con­se­quently, in heavy rain this al­lowed water to soak into the top of a wall through a minute hair­line sur­face crack.

In lengthy rain pe­ri­ods, water would build up and dis­perse into the cav­ity — stay­ing there for months and, courtesy of grav­ity, trav­el­ling as far as it could to to­tally con­fuse any in­ves­ti­ga­tion. The ev­i­dence of mois­ture dam­age in the home was ap­prox­i­mately 18m from the source — two lev­els up and nearly the length of the whole house across.

As we all know, th­ese tiny is­sues can grow into very costly re­pairs. This hap­pens in new homes, old homes, ren­o­va­tors and the show home. In most cases we ei­ther ig­nore it or we start the tire­some, con­fus­ing and an­noy­ing process of in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

But there is help at hand, cer­tainly for any water or damp re­lated is­sue, or even sourc­ing the en­try point of those lit­tle in­sects.

The tech­nol­ogy has been around for quite a few years, but the qual­ity and avail­abil­ity of this spe­cial­ist equip­ment is con­stantly im­prov­ing and th­ese gad­gets and their op­er­a­tors can be in­valu­able in sourc­ing any is­sues, as the equip­ment un­der­takes the search­ing with­out strip­ping all the walls back to the frame. Re­mem­ber, if you could peel any wall or floor back you could eas­ily see what was hap­pen­ing, but that is im­prac­ti­cal and you may as well knock down and start again.

In­frared cam­eras — or ther­mal imag­ing equip­ment — can find mois­ture, in­sect in­fes­ta­tion, elec­tri­cal cir­cuit per­for­mance or even holes or where air is get­ting into a cav­ity. This tech­nol­ogy can give you im­ages, print outs, ev­ery­thing you need to source a prob­lem and give you a se­ri­ous hint on how to solve the is­sue.

But as amaz­ing as the tech­nol­ogy is, the op­er­a­tors need to know what they are do­ing.

The read­ings can be heav­ily in­flu­enced by am­bi­ent tem­per­a­tures and the sur­face ma­te­rial, so it is vi­tal that the op­er­a­tor has both the skills and the train­ing to in­ter­pret cor­rectly what is found be­hind the sheet­ing.

The good news is there is help out there. But, as with all con­trac­tors, please check out the back­ground of op­er­a­tors, check ref­er­ences and get proper quotes and com­par­isons. An­drew Win­ter is the host of Sell­ing Houses Aus­tralia

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