Before buying a house, it’s vital to invest in an independent pre-purchase property inspection. For a small cost (usually around $600), a registered builder will carry out an inspection that will identify any problems with the property. And that could end up costing you tens of thousands of dollars down the road.
A building inspection will check for a variety of factors around the property, including water damage and drainage, plumbing and electrical, structural integrity, underfloor and roof areas and more.
Depending on what the inspector finds, a building inspection can strengthen your negotiating position, or even help you decide to walk away from the purchase altogether.
Let’s look at some of the most common defects found in building inspections, including some that should ring some serious alarm bells.
- Drainage and water problems
Drainage problems and water damage can be among the most common property defects. They can also be among the most significant. It only takes a small amount of water damage to create a major problem that can cost tens of thousands of dollars to fix.
Drainage issues can be minor, like a damaged drainpipe, or major, like faulty basement waterproofing.
Common water problems include poor (or absence of) waterproofing in wet areas, faulty guttering, leaking pipes, leaking roof and improper drainage around the house. Read Important Do’s and Don’ts for Homebuyers
Some common signs of water issues include damage to walls and ceilings (such as staining, bulging, peeling paint or musty smells), mould and mildew, condensation, damage to grout and tiles and pooling water around the house.
Untreated water damage can result in major structural issues like cracking foundations and rotting floor and roof structures. Your building inspector will identify any drainage or water issues and advise on the severity or damage or urgency of repairs.
- Insect infestation
Insect infestations can include cockroaches, wasps and wood borers like termites. Termites can cause major structural damage by attacking the support timbers throughout the house. They are difficult to remove and cause costly damage.
Cockroach infestations don’t cause as much damage and are easier to remove. However, a large number of cockroaches usually means there are sanitation problems around the property.
- Roof problems
A roof will take a serious beating from the elements and this can start to show in a number of ways. Poor roof drainage can lead to mould, mildew and general rot and water damage. A leaking roof can cause expensive water damage to the building’s structure and roof space. General wear and tear of the roofing material is also a sign that a roof may need some work, and this can be expensive.
If a roof has not been properly framed, it can start to sag under its own load. This is a major red flag as re-framing a roof is a big and expensive job.
A property inspection should spend a lot of looking at the roof and roof space to ensure there are no problems.
- Inadequate ventilation
Getting ventilation right is a fine balance. Too much ventilation will affect a property’s energy efficiency and reduce the effectiveness of the insulation. Not enough ventilation, and you can have problems with air flow, air quality and a build-up of moisture in the property. Building inspectors will always check for adequate ventilation, especially in closed areas like basements or cellars.
- Plumbing and electrical issues
Quality plumbing is essential in any property. Leaking pipes and fixtures are a major cause of water damage around the house. Water damage is not only expensive to fix, but it’s also dangerous as it can compromise structural integrity. Since nearly all plumbing is hidden within the structure of the house, it can be difficult to determine the quality of the pipes. A professional property inspection will assess the quality of the plumbing and even provide estimates for what any issues will cost to fix.
Electrical issues can also present major safety issues for a property and can even lead to building code violations. Electrical issues require a licensed electrical contractor to assess and repair. If the property has old or outdated wiring, the cost to update the system can be huge.
These are just the five most common issues that building inspectors come across. There are plenty more. If you’re looking to buy a property, it’s vital to remember that any issues with the property will become your responsibility at the moment of settlement. So, it’s essential to invest in an independent property inspection before buying any property.