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.
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?”