Category : Blog

Urgent building inspection in Adelaide’s biggest suburb of Morphett Vale

It was an urgent request for a Combined Building and Pest Inspection to be carried out in Morphett Vale, the biggest suburb south of Adelaide, but then again they all are…urgent that is. Once contracts are served the clock starts ticking and 48 hours can slip by very quickly. That’s fine though, as experienced building inspectors operating in Adelaide for some years now, we are used to working within this tight two day cooling off period that applies in South Australia. Once the client has engaged us and access to the property has been organised with the real estate agent, we go into action to provide the very best building report for the purchaser.

Buyers put great faith in their Building Inspector

It’s no secret that purchasing a new house is a huge and important decision that can affect someone in many ways for years to come, particularly financially. It’s no wonder then that with that comes a certain amount of pressure to get it right. Purchasers will often look for help in this decision making process, and one direction that assistance can come from is by having a comprehensive building inspection conducted. This means that another independent person is intimately involved in the property, namely the inspector, who rightly or wrongly is perceived as an expert, and the wise old head of whom the question can be asked…do you think I should buy this house?

Indeed, when my client called me in a hurry to book our service, he actually said, if you say I should buy it, I will. Of course I had to clarify that expectation. We cannot, and do not, make the ultimate decision whether to buy or walk away from a property. But what we do, and do very well, is to arm you with a report that contains enough information highlighting the true condition of the property, so that at the very least, from a structural point of view you could make an informed decision one way or another, with confidence! That is very powerful and valuable for any prospective purchaser.

So on with the inspection…

Looks can be deceiving, and someone could be forgiven for thinking this cute little renovated cottage style dwelling, was timber framed with weatherboard exterior walls. However, on closer inspection it was plain to see that the weatherboard cladding was actually a PVC imitation material. That is fine, but this type of material is generally only used to cover up, and to change the aesthetic appearance of exterior walls that aren’t necessarily attractive or desirable to homeowners or buyers alike. So what was it covering? Guess what? Asbestos! The original dwelling prior to its renovation, was an aged timber framed dwelling clad with fibro sheeting containing asbestos.

This isn’t always a bad thing, or even a deal breaker when purchasing property. However, it is certainly something a new owner would want to know about. In fact, most houses across Adelaide metropolitan suburbs built before 1990 potentially contain asbestos materials. Just to clarify, asbestos in an inherently dangerous substance. Absorbed into the human body the wrong way (via the lungs) can be lethal in the long term. Alternatively, if asbestos containing materials are not damaged to the extent where fibres can be released into the atmosphere, are well sealed by painting, and unlearned do-it-yourselfers are not playing want-to-be tradies, then asbestos materials don’t generally pose a threat in their inert state. The important disclaimer with this, is that any removal or modification of these materials should only be carried out by fully qualified and licensed asbestos contractors. A good rule of thumb is, if you are not sure it isn’t asbestos, treat it as if it ‘IS’ until you know for sure. Test, test, test and leave it to the experts.

Moving on…

With this type of construction having suspended timber flooring, an inspection of the sub-floor becomes very important. Access to these areas of a house are not always possible, but with this particular dwelling, crawling the sub-floor was not a problem. Supported on timber stumps to the most part, we were are able to get a good visual underneath the most important areas of a sub-floor, under the wet areas, particularly the bathroom shower recess. And it was a good job that we did…classical water penetration and wet rot decay was most definitely occurring for some time. Nobody wants to buy an aged timber property with a leaking shower. A major defect like this can be a sapping financial burden on the unsuspecting buyer. This building inspection has already well and truly paid for itself.

When we looked at the shower recess itself, the reason for the leakage was very evident. Apart from the fact that when this bathroom was initially installed, effective waterproofing practices would not have been utilised, the taps were leaking, the grouting was loose and missing throughout, and the flexible sealant within the floor and wall tile junctions was mouldy and shrinking. All of these factors add up to the perfect recipe for decay to sub-floor components like bearers and joists. These conditions are like candy for termites, and poor drainage creating damp soil around the timber support stumps accentuates the conducive environment for concealed termite attack. A licensed builder will be required in these circumstances to carry out repairs and rectification as necessary to make good on any damage found. The shower recess also needs a complete re-seal to prevent leakage occurring again, and a termite management plan put in place to discourage potential termite infestation.

To our clients delight, these repairs will all be at the exiting vendors cost, representing another great win for building inspections conducted prior to committing to any real estate purchase. Learn more about how property inspection services are worth their weight in gold by reading our post “How many major defects can a pre purchase building inspection find?”

How many major defects can a pre purchase building inspection find?

All pre purchase building inspection reports contain a summary of the inspected property. Unfortunately, with this particular dwelling in Mitchell Park, it didn’t make great reading at all. Major defects were high, minor defects were high, and the overall condition was below average. It doesn’t get any worse than that as far as a final assessment is concerned.

Building inspectors must call it as they see it… and it is not always pretty.

There is no doubt an independent and unbiased building inspector will always call a spade a spade, and this will be reflected in the written report. His job is to evaluate the property and alert the client of any deformations that have occurred to the various building components since their original construction. This will give the prospective purchaser the best opportunity to comprehend the extent of, and the potential cost needed to restore any issues to an acceptable standard. This standard is always established by comparing the inspected property to a property of similar age and construction, and that has been reasonably well maintained over time.

However, it is up to the buyer to balance this information up with their particular goals and ambitions for the property, and this can certainly vary from client to client. Some purchasers want to buy, renovate, and live in that dwelling forever and a day. Others want to buy and hold a dwelling for the short term with a view to knock it over and either rebuilding, or sub dividing and re-developing the land. Regardless of the future outcome, the building inspection report will be the same.

Poor site drainage causes foundation movement.

In this example, foundation movement was responsible for severe structural cracking to the external leaf wall of this double brick dwelling. Cracking was also present to the internal masonry walls within most rooms, but this appeared to be of a lesser extent than the exterior. As was typical of residential constructions in the 1950s, stormwater was not installed, and as a consequence, the buildings downpipes have been dropping water near the footings and onto the property site in general for the past 60 odd years. This will always result in foundation movement, and subsequent movement to the concrete strip footings is inevitable resulting in differential cracking.

What made this cracking more significant structurally was the accompanied vertical displacement. This means that not only were the cracks relatively wide, but sideways movement was also identified. This makes restoring the walls to their original condition very difficult, even if the expensive option of underpinning was conducted. As such, repairs to some cracking has been carried out in areas, mainly to the front elevation, but the abnormal settlement of the building has remained the same. This is not ideal, but is obviously the cheaper and simpler option. Further potential cracking, or opening up of the previously repaired cracking is very possible in the future. Addressing the stormwater issue will go a long way to slowing down the occurrence of building movement going forward.

Internally, undulation to the suspended timber flooring was very obvious, and this was also no doubt the result of structural movement to the concrete strip footings. Floor coverings and no under floor access prevented a complete evaluation of this defect. Re-packing of the flooring by a licensed builder when the floor coverings are next changed or removed will solve this issue, but the expense of such a repair should be a consideration that needs to be taken into account.

The list goes on and on…

Safety is a massive consideration for a building inspector and whenever sagging ceilings are observed, as was the case within the master bedroom of this property, alarm bells tend to go off. Potentially gravity can bring down the rest of the linings in a big hurry, and immediate repair or replacement of the linings was recommended without delay before this house provides accommodation again to anyone else.

Rising damp, a leaking shower recess, split rafters and a sagging hip ridge are just some of the long list of defects associated with this property. Obviously this dwelling performed poorly, however, everything is fixable, it just depends on how deep the buyer’s pockets are after he or she has outlaid for the major purchase.

To ensure your next property does not have a list of unexpected structural defects, why not book a comprehensive building inspection today.


It pays to have the roof frame checked by a building inspection expert when purchasing Adelaide residential properties

In today’s article, we have a close look at some defects to roof frames that we found conducting building inspections in Adelaide suburbs recently. Roof frames, be they timber or steel are a major structural component of any building. They provide the support to the “lid” (roof covering) on a dwelling that protects the rest of the structure from the damage that rainfall and falling damp can cause. If you want to do your home a favour, make sure you maintain the general condition of the roof frame and its covering.

Inspectors should always crawl the roof space during their inspections where possible

Whenever safe and reasonable access is possible, a good building inspector should endeavour to crawl the roof void to inspect the roof frame and the underside of the tiled or metal roof covering details. It just isn’t good enough to simply poke a head through a manhole and call that an inspection. However, it is expected, and accepted, that roof voids have many visual inspection limitations and access issues. Components such as insulation, air conditioning ducting, sarking and the general low method of construction over eave areas can prevent a complete examination of all roof framing elements. Some second level roof cavities often do not even have a manhole fitted to allow access. All these potential limitation issues should be pointed out to the client in an agreement prior to the inspection, and within the report itself if they actually occur.

Roof construction types are many and varied…

Out of all the different roof construction methods available to builders, two seem to be predominately used in residential homes throughout Adelaide, these being the pitched roof, and the skillion or flat roof. Due to a lack of height, access and inspection within a skillion roof is not possible, but most pitched roofs have enough height to enable bodily access to take place. Pitched roofs are given their structure with either conventional raftered or pitched roof framing, or, as is commonly used today, roof trusses.

Our first property located in Aberfoyle Park had two noticeable issues to its pitch gabled timber roof truss system. Firstly, the top cord of the far right hand truss had been modified with over notching to accommodate some nogging members between trusses. As a result, the top cord had split and visible sagging could be seen at the eaves to the rear right corner, and visible undulation to the tiled roofline surface.

Secondly, some of the nail plates to the majority of the roof frame trusses were beginning to separate from the timbers joints, on average by at least 1-2mm. This is known as delamination and was mainly noted to the top apex joints, and to a lesser extent to some web member joints. This can be caused by the truss timbers absorbing atmospheric humidity lifting the moisture content of the timber. Expansion of the timber results, taking the plates with it, and when the timbers dry out they shrink, but the plates stay where they were pushed to.

Fortunately, no significant visible deflection was noted on the day to the roofline surface. However, roof trusses are an engineered product and they rely on the nail plates to connect the members to each other to meet their design requirements. When these nail plates start to separate, failure can occur to the truss components at the joints and potential roof frame collapse is always a possibility in the future. Delamination is a condition that doesn’t improve by itself, so a further assessment by a structural engineer was recommended to ascertain the extent of its seriousness as remedial work may be required as a prevention against more serious and expensive roof failure repairs at a later date.

Another inspection and more defects…

Our next example is a Bellevue Heights home with a similar pitched gabled roof structure, again with timber roof trusses, but with much larger spans. The external roof surface inspection revealed some undulation, albeit minor, to the front left area of the external roofline. When an inspector observes this, a mental note is made to particularly check the internal roof frame within this area, as undulation can in most cases be symptomatic of framing issues. True to this theory, sideways buckling could be seen to the top cords of a number of trusses in this area which seemed to be the result of poor diagonal steel bracing that was not under tension. Steel brace only works in tension and must be fixed to every truss member it crosses to help keep them upright. The timber tile battens also assist with this, but inspection of these members was not possible due to the installation of sarking.

Also, settlement of the bottom cord of one truss to the left of the dwelling over the living room may have been existing as evidenced by visible cornice distress within the living room cornice in one area. When situations like this are occurring with roof frame trusses, it is prudent to err on the side of caution. A good inspector with will always recommend a further investigation by a competent professional such as a structural engineer to prevent against any deterioration, or potential roof frame collapse in the worst case scenario.

To find out whether the roof frame over your head is going to be structurally sound, why not contact us today to check it out before buying that new property.

Shower leakage damage found by a pre purchase building inspection in Adelaide’s northern Salisbury

The damage caused by moisture from leaking water can be just as extensive as fire damage when it comes to residential property. That is why any pre purchase building inspection in Adelaide should always include a comprehensive examination of the all the wet areas within a dwelling, and, just as importantly, the wall and floor components within the adjacent rooms. These areas are a constant source of decay and structural defects for building inspectors and the following example is no exception.

Ensure proactive strata management maintenance is being carried out

Our inspected dwelling example today is a second storey, two bedroom unit located in a secluded part of the northern suburb of Salisbury, just a stone throw from the Parabanks Shopping Centre. On the surface of things, this property performed quite well considering it was nearly 40 years old. Blocks of units generally are maintained by a strata management corporation where owners contribute to a sinking fund used to pay for property upkeep and trade services. It was quite obvious that this group had been reasonably proactive with their care as the grounds and common areas were tidy and well maintained.

However, strata management is also responsible for the roof surface of our second storey unit and it was obvious that the gutters were full of leaves and debris. Cleaning was required to prevent the downpipes from blocking up, and water during periods of high rainfall backfilling into the eaves and roof space. A simple job, but one that should be done without delay, especially with winter approaching. Being a top level roof makes the process a little tricky and more expensive, but to prolong the life of the guttering material, it is an investment well worth prioritising.

Just as importantly, water stains indicating some past or present roof leaks were seen to the ceiling linings within the unit’s kitchen. On further investigation within the roof space, unusually we found buckets containing sand in various areas, including over the kitchen where the stains existed. These were obviously placed there to capture roof leakage, and it goes without saying that this type of maintenance is purely a band aid and not a permanent fix. We naturally directed our client to ensure strata management carries out a careful inspection of the roof tile covering and flashings, to ascertain if defective conditions exist to allow any leakage to occur. Again, this should be done without delay to prevent ongoing damage to roof frame and ceiling components. This can be costly to repair, not something that new owners would want to inherit amongst the excitement of purchasing their new property.

Where is the insulation and party wall?

There is a reason for everything, and although an experienced building inspector may not always be able to fully determine it on the day, many times he can. Sagging was noted to the ceiling linings within the lounge and this was causing some extensive splitting at the joins and cracking in areas. Usually this is the result of the adhesive and fixings between the linings and the ceiling joists failing, and the weight of the materials combined with gravity will only result in guaranteed continuing deterioration.

This is unsightly to say the least, and does nothing but rapidly devalue a home, because as we know, first impressions mean everything to potential buyers. What was not installed within the roof space was insulation. Being a second level property this is significant, as they are typically hotter in the summer months than lower level properties, and insulation can assist in regulating temperatures. It is these higher temperatures season after season that can contribute to the ceiling lining fixing issues.

Also, party walls were not constructed within the roof space to separate adjoining properties and this can present as a security and fire risk. Prospective purchasers have the right to know about these issues, and only a thorough building inspection will reveal them. This is because nobody but a diligent inspector is likely to crawl the roof space to discover them, another valuable reason why many people opt for our services.

The money areas of a property…

The wet areas of a dwelling consisting of the kitchen, bathroom and laundry are often referred to as the money areas. They can add, or subtract value from a home very quickly, depending on their condition. This Salisbury unit had a lot going for it, but it was certainly let down by these crucially important rooms. No renovations or improvements had been carried out since its original construction, and as such, the plumbing and tiling components were aged and in disrepair.

It was very clear that the shower membrane had either not been installed initially, or broken down due to the natural seasonal expansion and contraction of the dwellings timber frame structural components. Also, as a result of this movement, some tiles were found to be loose and cracked within the shower recess and wall areas, and the joint seal sealant was mouldy and shrinking causing gaps to appear. High moistures readings were detected throughout, including below the shower taps indicating plumbing leakage was more than likely occurring. This was also the case with the kitchen taps, where leakage at the tap breaches was resulting in water affecting the unit below.

This whole situation was quite advanced as all the adjacent walls to the shower recess were visibly moisture damaged, and decay to the skirting boards was already taking place. We could only imagine what the state of the timber wall studs and bottom plates were in. Even though it was on the second level, believe it or not, this sought of situation with moisture and decay can still be conducive to the attraction of hungry timber pests like termites.

Wow… what a mess ongoing moisture leakage can make!

It really was a disaster! However, all things are fixable and any money spent on repairing, improving or renovating wet areas is a good investment, and money well spent. The building inspection report was able to highlight these faults and give our client the option of pushing back on the vendor to fix the issues before purchase, or take it on themselves. The important thing is… they were made fully aware.

If you want to know the real condition of all the wet areas in your next property, call Buy Spect Adelaide House Inspections on 0451 070 398.



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.





Adelaide building inspections should be made compulsory for new home purchasers

In today’s example, we can clearly demonstrate why Adelaide building inspections are not only recommended, but indeed should be made by law a compulsory inclusion to every property buyers must do list. Okay, so we are qualified building inspectors, and we may have a very biased point of view when it comes to our product. And sure, we might stand to benefit if every home buyer was forced to utilise our services, but the facts speak for themselves. It would not be an exaggeration to say, that more money gets saved by the results of a building inspection, than the money that gets spent purchasing this valuable service!

Consider this simple thought that makes sense…

Is it not the purpose of Adelaide building inspections to provide the client with a report informing them of the actual, and true condition of their potential new property? Even on the surface of it, most people would admit that this knowledge alone ranks as highly as anything a purchaser is supposed to know and understand throughout the buying process. Our clients are happy to pay for this knowledge because it equates to some peace of mind, and potentially, money that they could save by not paying for unexpected repair costs after committing to the property.

Let’s have a look at how much a recent client could have saved armed with our report.

Built in 1983, and nestled within the tidy southern suburb of Woodcroft, if every house we inspected was like this one, our job would be so much easier, as this property, compared to others of similar age was actually in very good condition. Despite this, we were still kept busy with a number of issues. One of the most important components of any building is its roof covering, and the concrete tiles presented in fair, to almost good condition. However, every roof frame is subject to some kind of settlement. Add to that the occasional earth tremor which Adelaide is susceptible to from time to time, and this can cause the mortar beds to the ridge and hip capping tiles to crack and become loose in areas, particularly the lower parts of the hip sections.

What does this mean for our client? It means paying out the potential cost of hiring a professional roof tiler in the future to re-bed and point the capping tiles in question, as ignoring this defect could result in water penetration from rainfall that could cause decay to internal roof framing members. Does this mean our client has saved some money, not exactly, but at least they are aware of this issue, and can factor it into their budget to maintain their new home and ensure it maintains its value going forward? Or… a price re-negotiation is also a possibility to compensate for the repairs, and this is where our client can literally save money. Either way, this issue will not be a surprise at a later date, and the best case scenario is that our client has kept money in his pocket after a re-negotiation of price, may be to the tune of $300 to $400.

Moving inside, splitting to the ceiling lining joins and loose cornice within a number of rooms can also lead to an invoice from a qualified plasterer who is able to do the quality job required to prevent further deterioration. This can easily again total $300 to $400. Binding doors within the bathroom and the laundry means a visit from a carpenter to provide the expertise to ensure they are adjusted for smooth operation. You won’t get much change out of $200 for this pleasure.

Continuing on into the wet areas, we uncovered leaking taps within the laundry and shower, some cracked floor tiles, and high moisture readings within the shower recess indicating the need to remove the grout from the wall joints, and replace it with flexible sealant. The total cost for engaging a licensed plumber and professional tiler to remedy these minor, but important defects, could have you coughing up conservatively well over $1000.

As you can see, the dollars can add up quite quickly, and this house has generally been well looked after and maintained over the years. Without a comprehensive pre purchase building inspection our Adelaide client would not have the opportunity to obtain a discount through re-negotiation of the sale price. What will you do when you next buy that home you have always dreamed of?




Clients cool off after a Pre purchase Building Inspection in Ascot Park

Within the Pre purchase Building Inspection industry there is the thinking that if you are upsetting the occasional real estate agent, you must be doing a good job! People go to work, or are in business for many reasons, the least of which is they want to get paid for what they do. Real estate agents are no exception to this, and fair enough too. Therefore, nothing will upset an agent more than losing their commission on a sale that they thought was in the bank, and the only thing that prevented that from happening was… wait for it… the outcome of the building inspection report!

Not all agents are like this, but it is not unusual as a building inspector to receive a phone call of complaint from the odd irate agent. They are more than happy to give you advice about where you are going wrong with your inspection process, or how a builder friend of theirs would not find anything wrong with the property. They may even challenge you about your credentials and ability to carry out such a service. Unfortunately for this agent, what it is… is what it is! We don’t produce, make up or invent the defects that we find. We simply use our skills to identify and report them to the best of our ability with no hidden agenda.

Only ever engage a building inspector who is truly independent from any real estate agent.

Clearly this is an example of two parties having different goals. The agent wants to sell the house for the vendor and get his commission, and we as building inspectors want to inform our clients of the true condition of the property they are buying, and protect them from any unexpected and expensive repair costs at a later date after they have moved in. We are for the buyer all the way, agents are for the sellers, all the way to their bank balance… no offence.

Therefore, it is imperative that you only ever employ a building inspector to report on your potential new home who is without doubt fully independent from any real estate agent, particularly the one selling your property. It doesn’t hurt, and you are certainly entitled to ask your inspector the question as to whether he, or she, is associated with any agency. Only then will you know for sure that you will get a totally unbiased report, one that is not trying to satisfy any other outside influences.

So what was the controversial issue that caused all the fuss?

You be the judge on this one. To the front right corner of this 1970’s brick veneer home was a section of non-loadbearing wall about five foot wide that was keyed into the main building. It wasn’t serving any real structural purpose, but what had happened is that the footing on which it was built had dropped, or failed, causing severe stepped cracking in excess of 20mm to its rear side. That wasn’t so bad, but the real problem was that as this section of walling dropped, it took with it part of the main dwelling causing cracking and extensive gapping between the window reveal and the aluminium window frame. When I say extensive, I mean you could literally put your hand into the wall cavity through the gap that had been created.

It wouldn’t take much of a rainfall event for water penetration to cause all sorts of wet decay damage to wall frame components. Underpinning at a potential cost of $3,000 and upwards was going to be the likely remedy to this situation. It was certainly fixable and not the end of the world, but it was going to come at a cost that our client may not have been able to afford.

The second aspect, apart from all the plumbing issues that I don’t have time to go into in this article, is the 25m of asbestos fencing running down the left and right boundaries of the property. With it breaking up and leaning over in places, what has to be considered here, is that not only is it expensive to remove, but you also have to replace it with new fencing. If you can’t get your two sets of new neighbours onside to go halves, the whole exercise could cost our unsuspecting clients somewhere between $20,000 to $30,000. Ouch! If it wasn’t for the inspector, not the agent, our client would have been none the wiser about these potentially costly problems. As diligent building inspectors we stand by our reports 100%, and believe that in this instance alone, we literally saved our clients thousands of dollars.

Let me leave you with this thought… if you were buying this property, would you want to know about the issues we have just discussed? I believe you would, and as such, reporting on them is only fair and the right thing to do, despite the phone calls we get from disappointed real estate agents that it might provoke.

To assist you in understanding how quality inspection services can protect you from costly mistakes, have a read of my article, What does a good Building Inspector in Adelaide actually do – Part 1?



How we rate a property after conducting a Pre Purchase Building Inspection in Happy Valley, Adelaide.

One of the important, if not the most valuable pieces of information that a Pre purchase Building Inspection report can provide, is the summary of the overall condition of the property. This is what buyers really want to know, the true condition, in as little words as possible, of the dwelling they are wanting to call home. Shall we buy it… or not? A million dollar question, but one purchasers want answered. However, although a pre purchase building inspection report supplies a lot of clues that can assist in a buyer’s determination of this, ultimately only the buyer can make that final decision.

Truth be known, most purchasers, including our Adelaide client buying a new home in the quiet southern suburb of Happy Valley, gloss over most of the information contained in a report and go straight to the summary section for the inspectors professional opinion. We of course don’t recommend that, we want you to read all the report, so that you are made fully aware any structural defects, and the appropriate recommendations are actioned. This can be for your potential safety, and also for maintaining the ongoing value of your new real estate investment.

A building inspection that reveals the worst house in the best street.

You have probably heard it said that if you want to make money in real estate, buy the worst house in the best street. For our client engaging us to conduct this Happy Valley building inspection, making a profit was not the motivation to purchase this property. Everyone has their individual goals and ambitions when buying a property, and our client loved the area and street where this particular house was located. He and his wife had made provision within their budget to carry out the necessary renovations to bring a property up to the standard that they would like, and be comfortable to dwell in, more than likely for the duration of their retirement.

Buying a property that had some maintenance issues was not a real problem to them, providing they were fixable. After all, everything can be repaired given you have enough financial resources. What they wanted to know, and what mattered most to them, was that the overall structural integrity, or the bones of the building was solid and generally sound. The roof was not going to cave in on them the moment they moved in!

In this instance, we could certainly allay and reassure our clients of any fears they may have had of this happening. All the primary load bearing elements of the property appeared to be in good condition. It should be noted that building and pest inspections do not guarantee or warranty a buildings structural future, however, it does give an excellent professional judgement of the inspected structures current condition on the day. For most people this is better than just taking a risk and foregoing any sort of inspection.

This typical 1980’s construction was found in sound condition.

The brick veneer exterior walls built upon a concrete raft slab were articulated (control joints installed) and as a result, cracking movement was not a feature of this home. The roof frame was a conventional cut and pitch type construction, and all the major components including the rafters, underperlins, struts, strutting and hanging beams were sound. As with any roof frame, some minor settlement of the roof frame caused by the natural expansion and contraction of seasonal temperature change, was evidenced by minor gapping between the eave storm mouldings and the wall, mainly to the front elevation. This is quite typical of this sort of construction and repair work would not be necessary, however monitoring is always advisable to ensure the gapping does not increase to unacceptable widths.

The concrete tile roof covering was well supported, and apart from a cracked tile to the rear section, it was in fair condition for its age. Sure, the gutters were badly rusted and leaking around the building perimeter, this occurs when a property is rented out and gutter cleaning maintenance is not a priority to its occupants, or its property manager, in one of the most treed suburbs in Adelaide like Happy Valley.

Rental property managers are only interested in collecting rents, not the buildings future soundness.

As a side note, and I won’t labour the issue, this property was supposedly being looked after by a property management company on behalf of the owner landlord. That being the case, how on earth do the gutters get completely rusted out? The answer is simple, they are only interested in collecting the rent to pocket their commission percentage. They are not experienced building inspectors whose role it is to climb a ladder and walk over the roof covering to check the state of its plumbing. Leaves and debris along with ponding rainfall water combined overtime to ruin the guttering materials. Gutters can be replaced however, the kitchen and bathroom can be gutted and renovated, which is exactly what our client planned on doing.

So how did we rate this property in the end? The incidence of major defects was judged to be average, consistent with the sound state of all the load bearing structures, and the incidence of minor defects was also considered as average. Finally, the overall condition of this home having areas or elements that required repairs and maintenance, when compared with dwellings of similar age, construction and maintenance levels was rated as, wait for it… average! In pre purchase building inspection speak, this is considered as right on the money, and therefore a buy in anyone’s book.

Buy Spect Adelaide House Inspections can rate your future dream property prior to purchase today by calling us anytime on 0451 070 398.




Defects found this week in a Pre Purchase Building Inspection in Aberfoyle Park, Adelaide

As a busy and growing local business we do many Pre Purchase Building Inspections in Adelaide on a weekly basis. We love what we do because of the variety that being a residential building inspector affords. Every house and its location is different, and although defects can be similar from property to property, there is always a uniqueness about each issue that is peculiar to every home we inspect. ‘They are all hard’… one of our building inspectors is quoted as saying, but that is the challenge that makes our job so interesting and keeps us on our toes.

Minor defects are to be expected with this aged Aberfoyle Park residential property

Our first example is a 40 year property deep in the heart of the original, established area of Aberfoyle Park. Double brick and constructed on a concrete slab, the interior and exterior walls revealed no movement cracking which is a good start to determining the structural integrity of the main building. The renovated kitchen was the highlight of this home, and compared with properties of similar age and construction, this dwelling could be considered as average, or right on the money. The usual suspects of minor loose cornice and splitting at the ceiling lining joins, as well as damaged or missing hardware to the windows and doors was observed to some rooms. It’s not often we come across a property that has no skirting boards, and it was suggested that installation may be desired in the future to create a quality finish.

One of the most important aspects to any internal building and pest inspection is the examination of the wet areas, particularly the shower recess and its adjacent walls. What we found was not unusual for a house that is this old with double brick walls. The lower wall areas within the hallway and rear bedroom directly on the other side of the shower were displaying evidence of moisture damage in the form of blistering plaster. This usually indicates that the shower is leaking due to a breakdown of the membrane. However, what is crucial in this instance is that moisture readings taken on the day were normal. Added to this, the joint sealant and grouting within the recess appeared to be recently repaired.

When you put all this together the moisture damage that was found was more than likely the result of past, rather than recent leakage. We duly advised our client to monitor these wall areas and look out for any further deterioration caused by ongoing moisture leakage. We also recommended that the flexible sealant within the shower recess wall joints be replaced every three to five years, as this material is prone to shrinkage in time which makes the shower susceptible to leakage.

Don’t take chances with damaged roof frame trusses

Next we found the manhole and duly entered the roof void to conduct the all important inspection of the roof frame. It consisted of a series of roof trusses spaced at 600mm apart which fulfilled the BCA code requirement for a concrete tiled roof covering. At first glance everything appeared to be in order, and generally the framing components were adequate enough to support the weight of the roof covering.

However, as we continued our crawl through the roof space we discovered a potentially serious structural defect. In order to facilitate the installation of a hot water service storage tank, some webbing members of a truss situated over the laundry have been removed. This has caused severe damage to the associated nail plates, particularly at the apex where the top cords meet, and as such these members were beginning to separate.

What needs to be understood about roof trusses is that they are a specifically engineered product, and they rely on all the components, and the nail plates that connect them, to be in good order to enable the truss to meet its design requirements. If these are tampered with, there is a potential that the truss in question may fail and localised, or more serious general collapse can result. We are not saying that this will be the case at some stage in the future, however, as a good building inspector, it is our duty to appropriately alert and warn our clients of any serious defects and the potential consequences of that problem. Particularly if it may present as a safety issue to the occupants of the dwelling.

We recommended that the unused hot water storage tank be removed by a suitable tradesman, and a licensed builder conduct appropriate repairs to reinstate the truss, and then have it certified by a structural engineer to ensure that it is able to meet its originally designed capabilities.

It is best to be safe than sorry and to ere on the side of caution when it comes to roof trusses. To ensure you are buying a roof frame that is in good condition when purchasing your next property, call Buy Spect Adelaide House Inspections today on 0451 070 398. 







An Adelaide Building Inspection in Andrews Farm detects slab edge dampness

It’s a long drive to conduct a building inspection in Andrews Farm, a small suburb north of Adelaide, but for our client, who was purchasing the first house he didn’t have built, it was certainly well worth the trip. This two storey townhouse property was less than 10 years old, but a number of defects that needed immediate repairs to prevent further ongoing extensive damage occurring were identified. Although a pre purchase building inspection is not about providing clients quotes for building repairs, the potential cost for rectifying these issues would probably have been in the ball park of $3000 and upwards for the appropriate solutions to be carried out.

Building Inspections pay for themselves…

This is exactly why property buyers have an inspection service conducted, because as human beings we have this suspicious and inquiring nature, particularly when, and rightly so, it comes to purchasing something as expensive as a new house. We all have this healthy interest in protecting our hip pocket… the one where the wallet carrying our hard earned money sits!

In this example, our client, now armed with this new found knowledge of the defects provided within the pre purchase building inspection report, was able to re-negotiate the selling price with the agent and vendor from a position of power. You have probably heard the saying, knowledge is power, and as a result thousands of dollars were saved in this instance. This was far more than the cost of the report which obviously paid for itself many times over. As building inspectors who are client focused, we love satisfying and protecting our customers in this way.

The suburb of Andrews Farm as the name suggests was built upon previous farming land. With its proximity being well north of the Adelaide city, it means land is very affordable. As a result, many new housing developments have sprung up with the median price being a very comfortable $261,000.

Life is easier for a building inspector when furniture is not present…

The property was vacant on the day and no furniture was present, only some floor coverings in all the rooms including over the timber stairs. With these visual limitations reduced, this always makes conducting an inspection so much easier and a more complete report can be provided.

The interior appeared to be generally in good condition, with all the doors and windows operating as intended, and no significant issues were evident to the floors, walls and ceilings. Because it was a two storey dwelling, special attention is always given to the lower level ceilings, particularly below the wet areas of bathrooms. More often than not, if there are serious issues with plumbing or shower recesses, this will be reflected with leakage stains being evident to these areas.

No such evidence was present, and that’s why it came as a complete surprise when inspection of the upper level main bathroom revealed a major defect. The tiles to the shower recess floor were seen to be bulging upwards due to water penetrating beneath them via excessive cracking to the grouting. The bulging was severe enough to cause water to pool on the recess floor, rather than allow it to run freely with the gradient towards the waste drain.

Why you may ask? It is a relatively new bathroom…

Again, this is why it is prudent to obtain a building inspection before buying, the reasons may not always be obvious, but what is important is that the defects are found and rectified, before further damage occurs, and before the client commits to the property. However, in this case, what can happen is that the second level of a townhouse can be subject to the expansion and contraction of the structural components due to seasonal temperature changes. This can cause initial minor cracking to inflexible joints like grout between tiles. Moisture from the constant running showers begins to ingress, and the whole situation exacerbates over time with the cracking increasing, and the tile bulging becoming more pronounced. Fortunately, the shower membrane was probably still intact, and this is why no leakage or decay was visible to the downstairs ceilings. The advice to the client was that this shower should not be used until full repairs were conducted by a suitably qualified professional tiler.

Next came the garage inspection…

Inspection to the rear garage uncovered a particular defect that occurs occasionally, even with fairly recent constructions, called slab edge dampness. Efflorescence and minor surface spalling was present to the edge area of the concrete slab floor to the rear of the garage. This was also causing swelling and minor decay to the timber skirting board that was in contact with this floor area. Moisture ingress was obviously taking place from the edge of the concrete slab as it soaked up excess water from adjacent exterior garden areas.

There are many reasons for this issue which we will go into in more depth in later articles. What was causing the dampness in this instance was quite simply poor drainage where surface water was not effectively flowing away from the building, but rather was pooling. It was then soaking via capillary action into the slab edge and up into the edge area of the rear interior floor of the garage. The remedy for this was paving and additional drains, but obviously this was going to come at a cost to engage the relevant tradesman to conduct this work. This was going to be one less financial burden to surprise our client when she eventually moves into this property.

This was another good example why it’s imperative to have your potential new home inspected by a professional and experienced building inspector. To learn some more about how to avoid costly building defects read the article, Can property buyers afford a pre purchase building inspection in Adelaide.