Five build­ing checks to make

Beware be­fore you buy

Whitsunday Times - - REAL ESTATE -

THERE’S noth­ing quite as ex­hil­a­rat­ing as find­ing the house of your dreams within your bud­get.

But be warned, even pic­tureper­fect prop­er­ties can hide faults which prove ex­pen­sive to fix.

Colin Legg, founder of SPI Prop­erty In­spec­tions, has been check­ing houses for faults for 15 years and says a build­ing in­spec­tion is a must for any buyer.

“Peo­ple know how to live in a house but few un­der­stand how they are con­structed or ap­pre­ci­ate how a seem­ingly small is­sue can re­sult in ex­pen­sive prob­lems later on,” he said.

Mr Legg, who runs a team of 10, says buy­ers should en­gage an in­spec­tor who is a reg­is­tered builder with plenty of ex­pe­ri­ence.

“We look at the qual­ity of work­man­ship and for struc­tural prob­lems or on­go­ing main­te­nance is­sues likely to cost money down the track, so a buyer can fac­tor this in to their de­ci­sion mak­ing,” he said.

So what should you look for be­fore buy­ing a house?

1. Signs of set­tle­ment

It is not un­usual for the earth to set­tle un­der­neath newly built prop­er­ties, es­tates on re­ac­tive soils or ar­eas ex­pe­ri­enc­ing an ex­tended dry pe­riod.

While some set­tle­ment over time is to be ex­pected, more se­vere move­ments can re­sult in faults to a house’s slab or stumps, frame or other parts of its struc­ture.

Look for crack­ing around doors and win­dows, in the out­side brick­work or for doors not open­ing or clos­ing prop­erly.

Gen­er­ally speak­ing, fine cracks are eas­ily fixed, but per­sis­tent crack­ing or larger cracks (5mm plus) in­di­cate an ex­pen­sive fix.

2. Ceil­ing stains

Wa­ter mov­ing from the roof down into the struc­ture or liv­ing ar­eas is al­ways a prob­lem and needs to be fixed im­me­di­ately.

Mr Legg says buy­ers should look for stains on the ceil­ing – or ev­i­dence that stains have been painted over.

Buy­ers should also check out­side, en­sur­ing the roof gut­ters are clear, free of rust or any grass grow­ing in them.

3. Ter­mites

Ev­ery year, th­ese wood-gnaw­ing in­sects are re­spon­si­ble for mil­lions of dol­lars of dam­age to tim­ber frames, floors and stumps across Aus­tralia.

Mr Legg sug­gests the first place to look is un­der the house to en­sure con­di­tions are dry and there is no tim­ber or other de­tri­tus ly­ing around to at­tract ter­mites who like to fes­ter in damp con­di­tions.

If a prop­erty has ter­mites, they may leave thin muddy trails as they crawl up con­crete stumps or across plas­ter, skirt­ing boards and ar­chi­traves.

4. As­bestos

Many houses built up to the 1980s used as­bestos in the eaves of the roof or as un­der­lin­ing for floors and tiling in kitchen and bath­rooms.

The best way to tell is by tap­ping the sur­face – if it makes a sound like hard glass it is prob­a­bly as­bestos.

As­bestos which re­mains sealed shouldn’t prove a prob­lem but if you plan to ren­o­vate or an as­bestos lin­ing has be­come ex­posed, have it checked by an ex­pert.

Never un­der any cir­cum­stances re­move as­bestos your­self.

It is a haz­ardous ma­te­rial and must be re­moved by a spe­cial­ist.

5. Elec­tri­cal

Mr Legg says buy­ers can check the fuse box to see if it has re­cently been up­graded with a safety switch and cir­cuit breaker to guard against dan­ger­ous short cir­cuits.

He says buy­ers should also keep an eye open for any spot burn marks around power points.

Th­ese are a sure sign that the wiring needs to be checked by a li­censed elec­tri­cian.

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