When you see an awesome property, it can be so easy to get stuck behind those rose coloured glasses and not notice problems until you’ve signed on the dotted line. At this point, any hidden issues are your expense and problem. While most sellers do the right thing, it’s important to carefully examine a property before you buy it. When you’re proactive at the inspection stage, you can use any problems identified to help negotiate price, or if you’re a good negotiator – have any required maintenance and repairs written into the contract. Below are some of our tips on how to find problems in a property before you buy it.
This can be expensive to fix and, It can be easy to conceal water damage with a fresh coat of paint, strategically placed furniture, or a candle to cover the smell of mould. A building inspector knows the areas of a property to check to identify water damage. They’ll check underneath and outside the home and look at the foundations too. They also use a device that can detect moisture in walls which is where the expensive problems can hide!
Inspect the roof
You don’t know the true condition of the roof in a property unless someone gets access to the roof cavity for a proper inspection – you need to see the roof inside and out! Homeowners often carry out do-it-yourself or temporary repairs that cover up a problem. It’s important to have a building inspector take a thorough look at the roof for potential issues when they go through the property as well as on top of the roof to ensure that everything is in order.
Structural cracks and flooring problems
Keep your eyes out for anything freshly painted / patched. Structural cracks are common- but we’re not talking about a hairline crack in some plaster here – real structural cracks can be costly. As these are also another problem that’s easy to hide with some paint and filler, a building inspector can help you identify any foundation movement. If there are already structural cracks, the inspector can determine the cost of repairs to help you with price negotiations.
Flooring problems can be the cause of structural issues – for example, if someone has concreted above the weep holes in a brick building, the moisture build up and movement can end up cracking the slab and the movement can severely damage the house! For wooden floors / a house on stumps – cracks or creaky and uneven floors can be a sign of structural movement, pests such as termites, or a renovation that hasn’t been completed properly. This is another item that can be added to a building inspection.
Always have a building and pest inspection
We have mentioned having a number of items above inspected which you can do yourself, but unless you have the right tools and a background in building, we strongly recommend you employ a professional – a building and pest inspection is essential for every property purchase. You’ll want the inspector to check the property for termites, examine the home for any structural integrity issues, and identify any other potential problems. An experienced inspector will work through the list above (and then some) to help you make sure things don’t go unnoticed.
Be wary of inspection times
This one can often catch people off guard – the timing of property inspections is often no accident. Make note if the property is always open when traffic is light or when the property gets morning sun or only on the weekend. You’ll also want to see the property in peak hour to check if traffic is noisy and in the afternoon hours just in case the home receives an unbearable amount of afternoon sun – don’t forget to check it out during the day on a week day as well – imagine finding out after you’ve bought a house that a near by factory emits a certain smell only Monday-Friday! If you’ve signed the contract of sale by then it’s too late!
Buying a property with serious defects can be costly and has seen some investors go bust. Being proactive and carefully inspecting potential properties can help you identify problems early and save you money on the purchase or help you decide to move onto another property.
Remember, this article does not constitute financial or legal advice. Please consult your professional financial and legal advisors before making any decisions for yourself.