Property Buyers Don't Risk Thousands

Chris White Director at Prosper Group interviews John Maglisfrom Macquarie Building Consultantsand Engineersto help save property buyersthousands.

As professional property buyersyou may be aware of the potential hidden costs associated with buying property. John Maglis estimates that 20% of house buyers and more than 50% of unit buyers do not organise a pest and building inspection prior to their property purchase.

The experts at Prosper Grouprecently negotiated an extra $40,000 off the purchase price of a house due to issues raised in the building report.

“Fortunately, for our client, the cost to actually rectify the issues was a lot less than $40, 000, Mr White said.

“Organising pest and building inspections can potentially save you thousands of dollars in future repairs so it is definitely worth getting it orgainsed before you consider purchasing.”

Things to consider when purchasing a property:

Cracks in buildings: A small crack may not seem all that threatening however; it could be a precursor to a significant structural issue. John Maglis says that the location of cracks is important, for example, if the underside of load bearing beams or external or parameter walls have cracks, then the integrity of the structure could be at risk. A forensic approach is required when investigating cracks in building structures and as an engineer he has seen many cracks turn to out to be much bigger issues than there appearance would otherwise suggest.

Leaks in bathrooms: A moisture reader is used to detect leaks in bathrooms. John Maglis says 75% of properties he inspects have leaks around shower recesses. These sometimes need resealing, however if they are on a timber frame (e.g. 2nd story of many houses) they may require more work. The costs of this repair can vary from a few hundred to thousands of dollars depending on the extent of the leak and also depending on whether the water has penetrated the walls and structures. With units, the Body Corporate will not always fix these issues.

Rising Damp: Rising Damp can lead to serious health issues, it occurs when moisture creeps slowly from the soil under a structure and up into the base of the walls. A chemical injection barrier can be used to treat rising damp as this does not disturb the buildings structure.

Timber pest issues:Termites will generally attach themselves to any timber material in your home (e.g. door jams, beams and bearers) or around the home (e.g. fences and tree stumps). Termites are soft-bodied creatures and need a constant source of moisture in order to survive. They tend to nest in moist dark environments where they are less likely to be disturbed. The only way you can be certain you don’t have termites is to have a pre-purchase inspection and then annual inspections completed.

Concrete cancer: This is where a concrete structure becomes compromised after the steel reinforcing within the concrete corrodes, causing rust to form and weakening the steel. As the concrete begins to crack it breaks the bond between the steel and concrete and reduces the strength and structural integrity of the structure. John says that concrete cancer is quiet common especially in coastal areas. He says that he often sees concrete cancer in the balconies of apartment buildings and surprising, this seems go unnoticed or unattended by the body corporate.

Old wiring: The lifespan of wiring in a building often depends on the severity of the environment. For example, wiring in coastal areas may have a lifespan of 40 to 50 years whereas the wiring in a more moderate environment may last 60 to 80 years. An electrical fuse board normally needs replacing at between 40 to 50 years.

Asbestos: From the post-World War II years until the1980s, asbestos was lauded for its incredible properties; it was extremely heat- and fire-resistant, waterproof, very durable, and inexpensive to use. There is no signification risk if the material is left undisturbed and is sealed. Once asbestos is broken the particles become airborne and if inhaled can lead to serious health issues.

Safety issues to consider when purchasing a property:

Faulty smoke alarms: Smoke alarms are a simple and effective way to detect smoke and provide a warning when there is a fire. It has been reported that 144 people in NSW have died in house fires over the last five years, with the majority of fires occurring while the occupants have been asleep. In all new residential buildings, constructed on or after 1 August 1997, smoke alarms must be connected directly to the consumer power mains (hard wired) as well as having a battery back-up. Residential buildings constructed before 1 August 1997, can be fitted with a battery-powered smoke alarm.

No safety switch: A safety switch monitors the flow of electricity through a circuit and detects a problem as soon as a current leaves a circuit. If there is a problem with the current the safety switch will turn the power off within 0.03 of a second. That is quick enough to help save someone’s life. The most effective type of safety switch is one that is installed on the power and lighting circuit boards.

Fire safety upgrade: Many apartment buildings have not had a fire safety upgrade. Both new and existing buildings are expected to adhere to current, stringent fire safety regulations. As part of any routine assessment, local Councils can issue a Fire Safety Order if a building doesn’t comply with fire safety regulations. A Fire Safety Upgrade Order will detail a list of items that must be addressed, and will specify a timeframe in which this must be achieved by. These upgrades can costs in excess of $20,000.

Any sort of application submitted to Council for works to a building is likely to trigger a fire safety assessment, even if a single-unit owner in a block of flats for example puts in a request for a minor change.

Trip and fall hazards: Unfortunately, we are hearing too often about children falling from windows or balconies. Objects must be kept clear from railings, windows and balconies so children can’t use common household objects as climbing steps. The mandatory heights for balcony rails and windows ledges are at least 1m from the ground.

Your Loan Market mortgage broker will often have some great networks they can recommend for building and pest inspections or tofind out more about common building problems or need assistance with your pre-purchse pest and building inspections contact