Building Inspection in Lockleys, Adelaide discovers a home that is old but gold
This weeks example of a building inspection in Adelaide was conducted in the established western suburb of Lockleys. Lockleys is a great suburb to buy real estate being conveniently located between the city, and close to two of Adelaides most popular beaches, Henley Beach and West Beach. Added to that, the land is flat making the construction of new dwellings easier and cheaper with the installation of retaining walls generally not needed. A lot of the original homes in this area were built in the 1950’s, but steadily these are being knocked over and replaced with quality residential constructions, with some being quite stunning in their appearance and modern design. All this is adding to, and increasing the average value of property within the area which has been a magnet for investors over the last 5 to 10 years.
Classic aged home in better condition than the newer addition…
Amongst this new construction remains the original ‘old brigade’ stock of double brick dwellings built on concrete strip footings with suspended timber flooring. The inspected home we are discussing today is no exception. It is a classic old home, and apart from an extension that was added 10 years after the construction of the original dwelling, the property is pretty much ‘as is’. Steel windows are a feature of this type of building, and apart from some minor surface rust, and replacement of deteriorating putty and two cracked panes of glass, the frames operated surprisingly well. As a building inspector, and this may sound strange, but I consider this a key indicator and says a lot about the overall structure of a house. Structural movement in a building will always be reflected around window openings and how they function.
One of the ironies of this inspection is that we found the original dwelling was in better condition than the more recent extension that was added circa 1966. This was particularly highlighted with the roof coverings. The older pitched section had concrete roof tiles that had recently been re-pointed at the hip and ridge capping, and re-spray painted. Some re-spray jobs from my experience can be of pretty ordinary quality, but the standard of workmanship with this one was actually very good. However, in comparison, the corrugated steel sheet covering of the skillion roof over the extension was generally in poor condition, particularly the flashings, which were either currently defective or had been in the past. This was clearly reflected in the plaster tile ceiling linings which were badly water stained and needed re-fixing or total replacement in areas.
Construction doosy from an older era building code…
Probably the main defect that was encountered with this pre purchase building inspection was again associated with the extension. What we noted was severely deteriorating mortar joints to the right elevation wall to such an extent that the gapping that was forming was extending right through to the wall cavity in places. This damage in our estimation was possibly allowing the ingress of moisture from external weather conditions into the wall cavity and its surrounding structures. What was also significant was that this damage was observed half way up the wall height, and so the possibility of this being caused by rising damp had to be ruled out.
Clearly moisture was the reason for the deteriorating mortar joints, so where was this dampness coming from? A further investigation led us to believe that the reason was related to how these walls were constructed in the first place. Vents and weep holes were missing to this cavity build, and those that understand building construction will know that they are installed for a good reason, to ventilate the wall cavity and allow any moisture to escape. This was not happening in this particular case, and moisture was being trapped in the cavity and overtime was affecting the integrity of the mortar between the brickwork. Fortunately the answer was quite simple and really not that expensive. Engage a licensed builder to install vents to this area, and a good bricklayer to re-point the eroded mortar joints. With air circulating within the wall cavity via the new vents, everything should dry out sufficiently and not pose any more problems in the future to this section of external walling.