With house prices in Australia constantly rising, it can be tempting to jump at the chance to nab what appears to be a great buy, even if the property needs a few repairs. Depending on your budget, and how much needs to be done, it can be financially worthwhile to do so. However, purchasing a property that has not been inspected can mean huge costs for hidden repair issues you have not budgeted for. If you are serious about buying a property, a few simple checks can go a long way and be the difference between buying your dream home and a total nightmare.
Most commonly properties are inspected by a professional after the buyer has contracted to purchase the property. Depending on what type of inspection you are having done, however, it can be ideal to ask the seller for pre-inspection before submitting your offer. You can also do a rough inspection of the property yourself during the house-hunting process by looking out for the following:
- Water stains: Check for brown stains, bubbling paint, and dampness on walls, as this indicates water damage. Pay particular attention to the shower, sink and bath; and rooms next to and/or underneath the bathroom. Water damage on the ceiling below a bathroom can be indicative of water leakage under the shower or bath, or from the pipes in between the upstairs floor and downstairs ceiling, which is an even bigger job to repair.
- Sagging roof/ceiling: Buildings must conform to the Building Codes and Standards of Australia. If you purchase a home or commercial building that is not up to scratch with these standards, you will be responsible for doing so. For example, a sagging ceiling is a serious warning sign. The ceiling itself may collapse, causing extensive damage to the property and making it a safety hazard. Similarly, a sagging roof would require immediate repair to avoid damage to the property.
- Cracked walls and floors: Movement of the foundations is to be expected in most parts of Australia, so slight hairline cracks in the walls and floors are not uncommon. However, deeper and more noticeable cracks and gaps in the walls and floors indicate that there is more happening in the foundations than a small amount of movement. Depending on the severity of the issue this could be a sign that the home may be structurally unsound and therefore probably not worth the risk or the cost of repair.
- Mould: You might think that mould is as harmless as spot of dirt or dust and can just be washed away. This, however, this is not the case. Aside from the fact that mould is a health risk and needs to be addressed immediately by mould removal professionals, it often is a symptom of a more serious underlying problem such as dampness.
- Poor drainage: If you happen to be inspecting the property on a wet day, make sure that look at the drains around the house as well as the grassy areas in the garden. If the water is building up and causing large puddles it may be due to bad drainage, which can cause damage to the foundations of the home, which can in turn cause sinking and structural damage.
- Rotting wood on windows and/or door frames: An easy way to test for rotting wood is to firmly tug at the frames or try to stick your nail into the wood. If the wood gives way or crumbles it is a sign of several issues including dampness or termites. Rotting wood can have serious security, health, and structural implications for the property.
- Pests: There is only so far a can of bug killer will help you – pests can be very difficult to remove and require professional assistance. Keep a look out in kitchen crevices and cupboards in particular for signs of pests or pest excrement, or contact one of our fellow Telstra finalists, Forensic Pest Management about a termite or pest inspection and/or control options.
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