Many people dread the formalities associated with buying something significant like a home. Deep down inside they may already have fallen in love with the property and while they understand the need for caution, they cannot wait to get this over so they can move in. Most building inspections only reveal minor faults or defects, but in some cases, they can be a real showstopper. What are the biggest risks that should cause you to stop in your tracks?
When a property is first built, a certain amount of settlement is to be expected. This generally occurs when the soil moves after some heavy rain or during drought but it may not represent a serious issue. However, sometimes this settlement is significant and can result in structural cracking, adversely affecting the slab or footings. An inspector will be on the lookout for any cracks larger than a certain size to indicate problems beneath.
The expert will then want to determine that the roof is in a good condition and is not prone to water leakage. Sometimes, they will find damage to ceilings or evidence of an ongoing problem and will look much more closely at the roof void and surface material. Roof replacement can be very costly, so a specialist may be called in for further consultation.
Water Is the Big Enemy
Any evidence of water within the home should give you some trepidation. If the building has suffered through poor maintenance then guttering and downpipes may have been affected, leading to infiltration.
Furthermore, plumbing issues may have arisen over time due to poor drainage or a shower leakage. When this type of water damage is not addressed right away it can lead to the development of fungus, mould and mildew which later will lead to rotten joists and other supporting structures. Before you know it, termites will have made a beeline for your prospective property and extensive damage can be expected.
While a termite inspection may be separate to a pre-purchase building inspection, each is equally as important. If any drainage or water issues are uncovered, this will call for an even closer inspection by the termite expert.
Remember, a building inspector is not meant to certify if a property is compliant, although they may well point out certain issues as they move through the building. Some properties may have been renovated by previous owners and they may have "omitted" to seek approval from regulators. You cannot be expected to assume those risks; you should instead look much more deeply into these areas.
Going through the Process
Due diligence is a process that you should never shortcut. Always ensure that you get a comprehensive building report as part of this work.