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.