Great, you’ve decided to buy a new home or your first home. You’ve worked out a realistic budget, the area that you want to buy in, and you have a ton of places to look at.
If you’re looking for something to make your own with renovations, the wrong home has potential to become a money pit if underneath, there are serious structural issues. It’s a no brainer to get a building inspection or to talk to a Sunshine Coast Builder, but you could save yourself some money, if you are savvy about what to look for. Everything might look pretty (as it always does for sale purposes), but what should you be looking for during a viewing, what are the warning signs before you invest in inspection report?
Here’s our advice from our Ward Builders perspective. We’ve broken it down to make it simple.
If the property has been extended or has a granny flat, does it have the required council approvals. If it doesn’t. This all becomes your problem and will undoubtedly make re-selling one day, costly if you need to remedy it.
Age & condition of the property & it’s facilities
Check to see how old the house is and its facilities, what condition is it all in and what will need replacing in the near future. Replacing the roof or hot water system early on could make significant difference to your pocket. A SUnshine Coast Builders can help you with an indicative cost for structural issues.
Water stains & mould
Paint will successfully mask water damaged areas and it can also trap moisture exacerbating the underlying issue. Recently cleaned house mould can look harmless on the walls and ceilings. It’s also bad for your health – by releasing allergens into the air, it can cause allergic reactions and aggravate respiratory health issues, such as asthma – and secondly, it could be the result of a larger issue.
Try to look at the walls for any signs of moisture penetration or water leaks, especially near showers and baths. This is not a structural defect but can be costly to repair.
Open the cabinets to see if there is a smell of damp, mould or mildew. Any damp smells can be an indication of water leaks or even rising damp.
The natural lighting (or lack thereof) can often be overlooked, and then noticed post-purchase / move in time, leads to disappointment. Your home will look dark and and feel gloomy for a large portion of the day wihout natural light.
Try to find homes that face north for the best natural lighting, and make sure that the house has plenty of windows. All the natural light in the world isn’t worth anything if it can’t get into the house!
Termite damage isn’t the end of the world, but it’s something that you definitely need to know about sooner rather than later; especially considering the financial headaches it can cause. Walk around the house and make sure the outside weep holes are uncovered for air to flow, and that earth or the garden bed isn’t built up around the structure creating a “ramp” up into the home.
Look up at the ceilings for sagging and cracks. You can do this by shining a torch across the ceilings, which will show up all deflections and defects in the ceiling sheets. It can be caused by excess moisture such as a leak in the roof, termites, undersized plasterboard or poor construction. The cost to fix this completely depends on the cause and it’s extent.
The internal and external walls should be checked for large cracks. Properties with multiple cracks larger than 2mm width are cause for concern and should be further inspected by the qualified Sunshine Coast building inspector.
The internal wall plastering can be easily checked for fine hairline cracks (map cracking, as they take on the appearance of a map). These cracks are caused by the incorrect application of the wall plastering.
Particularly in elevated homes, check how the floor feels. Does it have any rises and falls or is is even? How would a marble roll across it? Uneven floors are natural in older homes that have settled over time. It’s usually not an issue with the actual floor – more so the floor beams, joists or even foundations and will be costly to fix.
Roof & gutters
The roof gutters may look great from ground level but can still be corroded on the top surface and need replacement. Do a quick walk around the external perimeter & check downpipes are connected into stormwater soak wells and not just onto the ground. If directly on the ground they can attract termites. Look for signs of flooding or excess water at the downpipe bases, this might indicate that the soak wells are not suitably sized or require cleaning out, which can cost a fortune to remedy. Installing stormwater soak wells on an established property can be very expensive, as paving, concrete and garden beds may need to be excavated to install the drains.
So there it is. If you do these checks yourself, and everything looks ok, you’re ready for the next stage of a professional building inspection. If not, you’ll save yourself the expense and move on to the next home.