We Kiwis love a bit of DIY. For a lot of things, there’s nothing that a bit of duct tape and number 8 wire can’t fix. But unfortunately, DIYs on a house are a different matter. Unapproved DIYs can severely impact how a house appears in a building inspection report – which might in turn impact the house’s value and its potential buyers.
It’s so important to be clued up about DIY jobs, the regulations and rules they require and how they might affect your home in the long run. Asking yourself a couple of questions before picking up the hammer can make all the difference.
Do I need building consent?
You might be surprised at the amount of DIY jobs that actually require building or resource consents – particularly if you’re changing the layout of your home or adding space through a garage or deck. Anything you do has to meet the Building Code requirements. So while you can do a project like a fence or retaining wall yourself, you may require a building consent from your local council, it might also be prudent to check boundary pegs to ensure you are building on your side of the boundary.
If you’ve got even the smallest bit of doubt, it’s best to contact the council and ask directly – they’ll be able to tell you what’s what so you can be sure you’re not doing any jobs that are going to get you into trouble later!
A common issue I see in properties is the improper installation of pergolas. A lot of people add them for shade, but they also often add to the site coverage (which normally requires council permission and isn’t always allowed). Most of the time, the council turns a blind eye. But sometimes you might be asked to take it down if it’s considered too close to a boundary or affects site coverage – like the whole ordeal one man went through last year on his property.
DIYs are fun, and if you’ve got the skills, permission and resources, they can save you a whole heap of money. But it’s always best to approach them with caution and make sure you’ve got all your ducks in a row before getting to work.
What are you/your lender/your lawyer comfy with?
It’s also important to consider what your lender and lawyer are comfortable and happy with – as well as yourself.
Some lenders have been known to refuse to lend if any non-compliant DIY jobs have been done on a house, even if the work is perfect. Each lender has their own criteria – so that’s why I’d always recommend checking with them as well as the council.
I know of a young couple in West Auckland who were super excited to be buying their first home. The only problem was that the home had a carport that had been converted into a garage. The lender made them take the door off before agreeing to lend – adding a whole lot of unnecessary fuss and stress to what could have been an easy process.
How does a building inspection report fit in?
During a building inspection, we’ll highlight anything that we think might cause an issue – and some shoddily done DIY could definitely feature in that. Likewise, if there’s anything we think wouldn’t be compliant, we’ll make a note about it. From a buyer’s perspective, this is great – as it highlights exactly what might cause you issues with your lawyer or lender. From a seller’s perspective, that’s why it’s so important to ensure any DIY is compliant.
One note about property inspections though – it’s not our job to compare what we see to the property file. If you’re getting an inspection done, it’s so important that you compare your building inspection report and what’s on the site with the original property file. This will ensure you pick up on any unapproved renovations or additions to the house. A house is a big investment – you want to be sure you know everything about it before signing the dotted line!