In the market for a home and about to snap up the bargain of the century? Hit pause right now! If the price seems too good to be true, warning bells should be ringing. The previous owners of the property could be trying to cut their losses and move on. Here’s the top 5 ‘invisible problems’ that will rain on your parade if you sign on that dotted line without a building inspector. Best of all, here’s how to avoid them.
Your new home could be completely infested with termites and you’ll never even know until the damage is beyond the point of no return. Termite damage can be invisible, even if extensive. It’s also incredibly costly to rectify and not covered by most home insurance policies.
2. Leaks and drainage problems
No matter how much your heart is set on it, if you’re looking to buy a home with a leak or drainage problem, prepare for stormy seas ahead. Water damage caused by drainage problems or leaks can be catastrophic. Water leaks don’t just push up your water bill. They also attract termites who thrive in a moist and humid environment. A water leak’s bad news if your home’s sitting on reactive soil. It’ll set off a destructive cycle of expansion and contraction of the soil leading to subsidence and destabilisation of the structural integrity if your home. It’s also the leading cause of damp, mould and mildew in Brisbane homes. Unless you’re an expert, you won’t see past a fresh lick of paint and careful property styling to detect a water leak or drainage problem.
Your cheap little fixer-upper could be hiding a deadly secret: Asbestos. Asbestos was still extensively used in domestic building and construction right up until the mid 1980’s. It wasn’t banned completely until 31 December 2003. You can’t even let your guard down if your property was built after then. That’s because you can’t eliminate the possibility of asbestos in old or second-hand building materials or fill used in construction. Snapping up a bargain basement property ripe for a renovation? Don’t become another casualty! Many emerging cases of asbestosis, mesothelioma and asbestos-related lung cancer are being attributed to DIY home renovations.
4. Timber delignification
Chances are you’ve never even heard of timber delignification. It’s another invisible problem that could plague your property. Lignin is the substance that bonds the fibres in timber and enables it to bear extraordinary loads in . Also known as timber fibrosis and hairy timber, delignification’s the process whereby pollution from vehicles and industrial plants eats away at the lignin in structural, weight-bearing timbers in your roof space. Left to its own devices, it can cause your roof to collapse eventually. That’ll really put a dent in your bank balance.
A certain degree of settling’s to be expected with any property over time, especially with soil compaction. However, subsidence’s a much bigger problem. It’s a dramatic and devastating undermining of your property’s foundations which can cause cracking at best and catastrophic collapse at worst. Subsidence can be caused by drainage leaks, tree roots in close proximity to your home, reactive soils and earthworks nearby. Signs of subsidence can be easily and cheaply camouflaged with render, paint and temporary cosmetic repairs. Unfortunately, it can cost a bomb to fix properly.
It’s just another hidden problem that means your cheap-as-chips property could leave you not-so-chipper when you have to fork out tens of thousands of dollars to fix it.
The good news for you is that all of these problems can be easily detected with a thorough building inspection by a qualified and experienced building inspector. Best of all, a comprehensive building inspection can give you a realistic idea as to the likely costs of rectification. That way, you’ll really be able to make an informed decision about going ahead before you commit to the biggest purchase of your life.
Author: Action Property Inspections is a property inspection company based in Brisbane, Queensland, that helps home buyers avoid the pitfalls of buying a property with invisible problems.