Building Basics – Roofing

When it comes to buying a home, making sure the roof over your head is sound is a very important – but often overlooked – consideration.

The integrity of your home, and the quality of life you have in it, relies on a roof that’s going to keep out the elements. And because replacing or repairing your roof could be one of the biggest costs you face as a homeowner, it’s necessary to give the roof of a new or potential home as much consideration as you would the kitchen, the subfloor and the walls.

(When you book a property inspection with us, if your building is over two-storeys high, we’ll use a drone to get a really clear picture of what is going on up there – so you know we take this seriously!)

In New Zealand, the commonly used roofing materials we see are clay and concrete tiles, metal tiles, metal (corrugated) long-run roofing, shingles in wood, bitumen or slate, and membrane roofs. Roofing can be broken down into ‘heavy gauge’ such as clay or concrete tiles and ‘light gauge’ like steel roofing. Let’s take a look at what that means.

Tile roofing

●       Clay/concrete tiles

Given the different ages of New Zealand’s housing stock, this is one of the most prevalent roofing materials we see. Commonly used in the 50s, 60s and 70s, the concrete tile (which came later than the clay tile) is heavy, durable and fire resistant. Little wonder it was used during our mid-century housing boom! However, it can also break if walked on, and if individual tiles need to be replaced, they can be hard to colour-match.

On this type of roof, we are looking for any sort of visible damage, or signs of leakage. Obvious signs of repair might be painting over a taped area, silicone or sealant use.

Your property inspector will take a close look at the ridges and barges for signs of breakage and wear of the tile, grout or mortar.

–         The ridge is where the roof planes meet or intersect and where a ridge tile would be used to keep out the rain.

–         The barge is at the edges where the outer tiles finish in a gutter.

Other things to look for on tiled roofs are tiles that have slipped, or moved out of place, creating gaps and opportunities for water ingress.

Lichen and moss growth leading to protective coating fading

●       Metal tiles

Metal tiles are a more lightweight option and come in different profiles and patterns. Older style metal roof tiles may be steel coated with a bitumen overlay, known as ‘Decramastic’. The protected steel means it should last well, however metal tiles are also likely to lose coating over time which can lead to rust and poor performance. Lighter gauge metal can also dent when walked on.

Other things to be aware of with older metal tiles is the ‘chip’ coating. Some types, usually pre-80s, may contain asbestos in the glue, which will add significant cost to removal and disposal.

Decramastic tile has lost its protective coating and is rusting, some tiles replaced, tarpaulin used to stop moisture ingress in lieu of correct flashings, trough section roofing with low fall
Roofing poorly flashed, decramastic tiles have lost protective coating, dented and rusting

Corrugated iron/ metal long-run roofing

A corrugated iron or ‘long-run’ roof is a common sight in New Zealand and may be atop a century-old villa or a modern new build. Depending on age, we’re looking for signs of rust, rusted fixings, corrosion, flaking off, lifting and flapping.

Fixing missing fixing, hole left exposed
Brand new property, construction debris left on roof which could damage roofing or block spouting/downpipes
Silicone repairs to leaking joins and fixings

Shingle roofing

The most commonly used shingle roofing in New Zealand is asphalt shingle, which is a base layer (usually wood or fibreglass) impregnated with asphalt. Over time, the tiles may shed their coating and water ingress could become a problem. Slate tiles are expensive but may offer greater longevity.

Membrane roofing

While membrane roofs are meant to create a watertight covering over a building, this is not always the case as demonstrated by the ‘leaky building’ crisis in NZ. Many membrane roofs were constructed on a flat surface, which meant little or no ‘fall’ for water to move off. Newer membrane roofs are more highly regulated – however issues with this type of roof can be expensive and difficult to remediate as the whole surface (not just a few tiles, or a sheet of metal) will need to be replaced.

Don’t forget the underside!

Of course, every roof has an underside, and where accessible, we’ll check inside the roof cavity for water leakage, condensation on the bottom side – especially on tiles – and if building paper is present (and what condition it’s in). We’ll also let you know if a bird, possum or other creature has made your roof cavity home, which might indicate gaps or openings from the roof.

We’ve got you covered

General roof issues might include bodge jobs, repairs and fix-ups. And because this part of a building can be hard to access, they can go unnoticed. We have seen ‘new’ roofs laid over the top of old, rusted corrugated iron, because the original surface has failed – something you’d want to be aware of before you buy. Other things we look for are ‘penetrations’ – wherever the roof surface has been punctured or penetrated (like where the satellite dish, or solar panels are), to make sure it’s been well sealed and weathertight.

Incorrect fixings used and are corroding

Lastly, if our report highlights any roof issues, we recommend getting a roofer to check off if you need any imminent or future repairs.  When you invest in a comprehensive property inspection from our friendly, professional team, you can be sure – and not just when it comes to roofs – ‘We’ve got you covered’.


Building Basics – Insulation

When we conduct a thorough property inspection, one of the building basics we are looking for is insulation. We’re looking for whether your potential new home has it, and if so, what type it is – and how it’s likely to be performing.

Good insulation acts like a blanket to keep your home warm in winter and cooler in summer. But if it’s not up to scratch, or non-existent, you’ll soon find out with chilly floors, cold rooms and often, condensation, mould, and damp issues. An uninsulated or barely insulated house will also suffer from poor thermal performance, with heating costs and power bills soaring as a result. So, it’s important for any property inspection to include this in the report.

Age of the home and types of insulation

The main types of insulation on the market today are polystyrene, glass wool and polyester. Each has a different R value, which is a measure of the insulation’s effectiveness. The higher the R value, the better the insulation will perform.

The age of the property will often determine what sort of insulation – if any – we find. Houses built before 1978 are unlikely to have any insulation, unless it has been added later, and houses built before 2007 have lower than the currently-required levels of insulation, and often only single glazing as well. The upshot is that, unfortunately, many Kiwis are occupying homes that don’t meet current insulation standards.

Where do we look and what are we looking for?

Where there is access, we will be looking in the roof cavity and subfloor.

Roof cavity

In the ceiling, or roof cavity, we’ll be checking out what’s up there and if it’s in good condition. Ceiling insulation can be in blankets that cover joists, in segments (like Pink Batts) fitted between them, or it can be blown in as loose fill. The type of insulation used will give us an indicator of when it’s been installed: newer fibreglass or earth wools are thicker and have higher R values. Sometimes we come across older type blown type insulation, this type can contain asbestos, so that’s certainly something to flag in the report.

We’ll be looking at how well the insulation is laid, and if there are any gaps. For example, insulation can drift over time, particularly if you’ve had workers or tradies up there moving it aside to access wires or joists.

Another thing to check is whether any downlights in the ceiling are rated for insulation, as safety requirements call for a gap between older-style downlights and insulation. Loose fill insulation, i.e., not in ‘sheets’, can spill onto the top of the downlight and cause a serious fire hazard that we reckon you’d also want to avoid.

Property built approx. early 1970s, no ceiling insulation

Older type blown insulation – may contain asbestos

            

Insulation on a new build property moved by trades and not correctly reinstated

Subfloor

In the sub floor, we’ll be looking to see that any insulation has been installed correctly. It’s usually in the form of polyester, polystyrene blocks, or glass wool, which is fitted between the joists, stapled, or strapped in place. We might occasionally come across foil underfloor insulation, which was banned in 2016 after workers were electrocuted while installing it. A recent house we inspected had sarking type insulation which was foil that went over the bottom of the joists. When it was pushed up from underneath, you could feel the water (from an internal wet area leak) sitting in the insulation like a hammock. This is worse for any surrounding timber as the water will soak in and cause more damage in a shorter period of time.

Leaking water

Uninsulated subfloor – underside of flooring visible

Walls

It’s harder to work out what kind of insulation is in the walls, but it all comes back to the age of the house and the Building Code. Existing walls can be retrofitted with a type of foam or polystyrene bead insulation that’s blown into the top of the wall cavity, or through an external wall. A tell-tale sign is the holes made in the external cladding.

It’s important to note that retrofitting wall insulation to external walls may require a building consent. Your property inspector will not be able to check if a building consent has been granted, but we can advise you if this insulation appears to have been done.

When it comes to insulation, it’s important to know what you do or don’t have. With the diversity of NZ’s housing stock, it can be a real lottery. High quality insulation that’s installed well makes a huge difference to the wellbeing of any home’s occupants. And in the long run it saves money on heating and cooling bills.

Make sure you get expert information and advice right from the start with a comprehensive report from your friendly Property Inspector.

 

 

 

Building Basics – Conventional vs raft foundations

Every building needs a stable foundation and it’s important to know what you’re getting before you buy. This is why your property inspector will be closely checking your foundations. Your house might be constructed with a conventional or a raft foundation – but what’s the difference, and why does it matter?

What’s a conventional foundation?

A conventional foundation is the ‘old way’ they used to do concrete floors – and one most builders are familiar with, as it’s been around for years. A conventional foundation is essentially concrete poured straight onto the ground at a shallow depth, into a (generally) 100-mm thick slab, reinforced with steel. Around the edges and where any load-bearing internal walls would go, the ground would be dug out with excavated footings. Here, the concrete pour would be thicker to allow the load of the structure to transfer properly. The house is then built on top of the slab.


Image
: Seismic resilience

A concrete-poured conventional foundation is far less likely to be used these days, with raft foundations – which we’ll look next – taking over as the preferred method. A conventional foundation has its limitations and can be prone to cracking (especially in earthquake prone areas). Older, unreinforced slab-on-ground foundations performed poorly on marginal and poor ground in the Christchurch earthquakes[1].

What’s a raft foundation?

A raft foundation, or mat foundation, is a type of slab-on-ground foundation used in both residential and commercial construction. Raft foundations generally don’t require excavated footings and are formed ‘on the ground’ rather than being dug in. The raft ‘floats’ over the ground, the way a raft floats on water. This type of foundation spreads the load of the building over a larger area than other foundations.

Image: Seismic resilience

Most commonly seen in new construction is a polystyrene ‘pod’ with hardfill, laid over an under-slab polythene ground sheet. This type of foundation is quicker and easier to construct, with less excavation and earthworks, while the polystyrene offers superior insulation. Raft slabs were proven in the Christchurch earthquakes[2] to be seismically stronger than conventional slabs due to being on top of the ground as opposed to being in the ground.

Raft foundation vs conventional foundation
Image:
Qpod

What is your property inspector looking for?

 Your property inspector will ascertain how much movement or cracking there has been in your foundation if it is visible. A good place to look at the concrete foundation is in the garage. Gaps of 2-3mm may mean there is ground movement under the slab, and it’s worth getting an engineer’s report.

Another place to check is the ground levels around the slab and how much these come up to your cladding. Ground levels close to concrete mean moisture is more likely to damage the cladding or the framing.

Everything worth doing well starts with a good foundation! Ensuring you know what you’re buying with a house inspection report means that you can sleep easy knowing you are on steady ground.

 

[1] http://www.seismicresilience.org.nz/topics/foundations/residential-foundations/shallow-foundations-residential/#slab

[2] https://www.qpod.nz/2019/12/10/qpod-raft-slab-or-conventional/

subfloors

Building Basics – Understanding Subfloors

When you’re buying a house, pretty much everything (the entire structure!) rests on making sure the foundations are up to scratch. That’s why your house inspection checklist really needs to start at the ground floor – or in this case, the subfloor.

The subfloor is the bottom most structure of a floor which is made up of piles, bearers and joists, all designed to lift your timber off the ground. (These are not to be confused with concrete or raft foundations – which we’ll cover in a separate article.)

Piles are the stilts, legs, or supports that come out of the ground and hold the bearers up. These are usually made from timber, concrete or a mixture of both (usually in this case called jack studs). The subfloor bearers are the main beams that run along the structure, while the joists are what the flooring materials are fixed to. In these sorts of floors you’ll generally have a subfloor space that you can get underneath.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pile                   Jack Stud                      Bearer                  Joist

 

Plenty of New Zealand homes have these suspended timber floors – and many suffer from some common issues that aren’t visible from the street or the garden. So, let’s crawl under and check off what these issues might be, and what you should be on the lookout for.

First – is the subfloor space accessible?

Being able to access the space under the subfloor is key to finding out what’s really going on. Many are ‘walk in’, and big enough for people to store household goods, suitcases and outdoor sports gear under. Others are tight and claustrophobic. You ideally need at least 400mm clearance – or you’ll be crawling on your belly.

It’s very important to keep the access way clear, so you, a property inspector, or tradie can easily get in and under, to check out any issues. Sometimes hatches and doors get built over, as in the case of one property we looked at where the deck had been constructed over it. The owner had to spend the day taking his deck apart so we could access the subfloor – not advisable if you have an urgent issue such as a plumbing leak.

 

Once we are in, there are plenty of things to look for:

Dampness

Dampness, leaks and soggy subfloors are one of the most common problems in suspended timber floors and can lead to poorer health for residents. Dampness issues can also have a ‘flow-on’ effect and lead to other problems like rot and corrosion, vermin and/or borer infestation, poor insulation performance and even instability if piles (holding the floor up) become unstable. During our inspection we also look for ground built up around the cladding and the subfloor which can lead to moisture, rotting timber and mould.

 

Ventilation and moisture barrier

Ventilation plays a big role in allowing airflow through the subfloor area and assists in keeping timbers dry. It’s important that vents built into the subfloor are not blocked off and that the ground level around them doesn’t allow moisture into the subfloor. Also that they are not damaged as that will make a path for pests. It’s now part of the Healthy Homes rules that you need to have a moisture barrier on the ground if subfloor areas are accessible. Things like a polythene sheet will help stop any damp rising and make life a lot easier and stop you getting wet or dirty.

vent

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vent blocked off by planter

Insulation

Insulation plays a crucial part in keeping the interior of a home warm and dry. There are so many different types of insulation and they have changed over the years. The older foil insulation we commonly see is not rated anymore and can be extremely dangerous if it meets live electricity. Other insulation types might be polystyrene blocks, or a fiberglass or polyester. If insulation is poor, or non-existent, it can add significant cost to your house expenditure, and buyers need to be aware of it.

 

Subfloor Connections

Bearers sit on piles or jack studs and can move over time – some older homes may even be resting on tree stumps! And in plenty of older houses the bearers were never attached to the piles – resting not fastened – not ideal in an earthquake. It is important to check for any gaps between the piles and bearers to ensure the piles are doing the work they should. Also check to ensure no piles appear to be missing as sometimes they can be removed for various reasons and either not replaced correctly or at all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gaps under piles

 

Age of the building

If a subfloor is built from original native timber or untreated timber it can show signs of cracking due to age, or it could be a sign of dry rot inside the joists and bearers, Conversely in wet areas, such as under bathrooms, showers and laundries, leaks from above can cause issues to flooring materials and joists.

 

Newer builds

These days, to be up to current code, you need the correct fixings, bracings and connections, called ‘subfloor bracing’. Simple bracing has to be bolted to the timbers using square washers. In the past, a lot of it was just nailed rather than bolted, or no bracing was installed at all. If a property is re-piled it will need to be brought up to these current codes.

subfloor bracing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New compliant bracing on left, older uncompliant bracing on right

While most foundations constructed now are concrete (more on this next time), you do still see the odd timber one in something like a replica villa, or perhaps an area that is susceptible to flooding, such as a floodplain where you need to lift it off the ground.

 

Quick checklist for older timber subfloors:

  • Access/clearance – identify the access point and the size of the crawl space
  • If there is moisture, know where it’s coming from.
  • Check whether timbers are sound or if are they showing signs of rot.
  • Quality of the insulation, if any.
  • Loose piles – where there is a gap between the piles and the bearers.
  • Missing piles – does there seem like an odd gap or is there a pile not included in a row?
  • The cladding around your foundation – it could be asbestos if it is a fibre cement board. Is the ground level built up around it and is this causing any visible moisture damage?
  • Where the wires and pipes are, and if they are sagging, and/or need replacement or clipping up.
  • If there are signs of borer. These are generally small holes in the timber and/or piles of dust. This is common especially in old native timber and untreated timber – and we see a lot of it in Auckland.

wood and wire

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Borer dust and borer holes present

 

  • Evidence of vermin such as mice, rats, possums, or other pests.

Bottom line – there a lot to look for!

As we said earlier, literally everything rests on getting the foundations right, so don’t put off an inspection because you can’t ‘see’ any issues and you think ‘she’ll be right’. Get the subfloor sorted and have peace of mind.

While there are risks with any type of property you’re buying, it’s important to understand the building basics to ensure you’re able to make an informed choice about one of the biggest purchases of your life. Book a Property Inspector to do your home inspection report before making any commitments.

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Drained cavity system - showing the joint

Building Basics – Understanding Drained Cavity Systems

When you’re buying a house, it’s helpful to know some basic things to look for around the type of construction, to discover if there might be any issues. One of these building basics you might have heard of is the ‘drained cavity’ system. Whether a property has a drained cavity system or not can impact its weathertightness – which can have flow-on effects to the durability and longevity of the building structure itself. So what is a drained cavity, and how and why does it need to work?

Drained cavity basics

Since 2004, changes to the Building Act have meant an increase in the use of drained cavities behind exterior cladding – that’s the material on the outside of your dwelling. Your cladding might be brick, weatherboard, cedar, or plaster, for example.

Firstly, what are drained cavity systems? What we now know as ‘drained cavities’ allow drainage paths to take any water that penetrates the building envelope (exterior cladding) back to the outside face. Combined with openings in the building envelope that allow air into the cavity space, they assist in drying out moisture.

Prior to the new regulations, which were upgraded to provide an escape route for any water or moisture that penetrated the exterior cladding, a drained cavity as we know it today, was less standard. It was more likely for cladding to be fixed directly to the timber framing, with only a thin sheet of building paper providing any sort of barrier. Older brick houses were generally built with a type of cavity – but even those rules are different for brick construction today.

But don’t panic if you have a property built prior to the change in the building code. Drained cavities are also designed to work in conjunction with other features to aid in repelling water, such as flashing and roof eaves.  So, not everything constructed without a drain cavity is designed to fail.

Because different eras of homes were built under different building code regulations and rules, when we inspect properties, we consider the four Ds – deflection, drainage, drying and durability.

 

What to look for

Check under the cladding using a small mirror or your phone camera and see if the cladding has a vented strip underneath to allow air movement and moisture egress. For brick veneers check that there are weep and vent holes (gaps in the mortar between the bricks) every 3-4 bricks.

Drained cavity system - showing the joint

Showing the edge of a drained cavity system

Diagram of drained cavity system

Picture credit: BRANZ, 2010

 

Follow the 4 Ds

Deflection – the more a surface or wall is exposed to water, the higher the risk of water getting inside the building. Deflection elements such as cladding, flashings, roof eaves and verandas can all aid in deflecting rain away from walls.

Drainage – walls should be built to allow water that may have penetrated the exterior cladding to drain down the back of the cladding and back to the outside. This might be through specially designed drainage gaps at a window head or sill, or at the bottom of the cladding.

Drying – the amount of drying that occurs in a wall cavity can depend on the cladding type, and how the cladding is installed. E.g., if it is ‘direct fixed’ to the framing, there is less chance for ventilation and therefore, drying.

Durability – some claddings, such as brick, simply last longer and are less water permeable.

 

The properties that people worry about most are plaster homes, as even with drain cavity systems in place post 2004, a cavity system is not a guarantee that moisture will not cause damage to framing and wall linings. At the same time as this new plaster cladding surged in popularity, the building architecture also changed. ‘Mediterranean style’ designs introducing different and more complicated junctions, flat roofs, parapets and a lack of eaves all contributed to weathertightness issues.

 

What questions should people ask when looking at a plaster home?

 

What year was it built?
This will determine if there is likely to be a drainage cavity in place. Between the late 80s and 2004, plaster homes were more likely to be ‘direct-fixed’ and more susceptible to weathertightness issues. So, a big part of what we do is to ascertain exactly what is behind the plaster.

What state is the cladding in?

Has it been well maintained without cracks? Does it have an exterior paint surface designed to stop moisture penetrating it? Maintenance plays an important role in keeping any home, especially a plaster one, weathertight.

Does it allow for drainage and drying?
Does it have the added assurance of a drain cavity? Not everything may be as it seems even in a more modern ‘monolithic’ clad home.

Is the cladding original or is it hiding something?

There might be a second cladding on top of an original cladding that is not correctly installed. Note: we come across recladding on properties of many eras, not just ‘newer’ plaster homes. There are plenty of old bungalows that have been recovered in a lower maintenance cladding, as people who owned them realised how much effort and time it took them to maintain timber weatherboards. Sometimes this took the form of faux brick or a fake brick-like plaster coating. This is not classed as a drained cavity. It’s what is called a rain screen system – which isn’t allowed nowadays. So definitely something to have on your watchlist.

While there are risks with any type of property you’re buying, it’s important to understand the building basics to ensure you’re able to make an informed choice about one of the biggest purchases of your life. Book a property inspector to do your home inspection report before making any commitments.

 

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home inspection report

Common problems that pop up in a home inspection report

Every home is different. But when a property inspector puts together a home inspection report, there are a few common problems that pop up more often than others. Being aware of them might help you notice things while you are doing your own viewing, or prepare you for your own home inspection report.

Not to mention that, as a seller, it can be good to know what problems might pop up so you can have a look at your own home and make remedies before putting it on the market!

Pipes and plumbing

When it comes to plumbing, you can’t afford to keep things out of sight and out of mind. Particularly in older homes, materials used for pipes like lead and steel can corrode and be expensive to replace. Even copper pipes in newer homes don’t last forever. If pipes are leaking or looking like they’ll need repairs soon, it will be an important cost to factor into your purchase. 

Insulation and ventilation

Summer is normally a popular time to buy homes, because homes tend to look a bit nicer in the sunshine! But if you don’t get a property inspection, it might be winter time before you realise that the home isn’t well insulated enough to hold in the warmth. Knowing how well your home is insulated will mean you can prepare for the sort of electricity bills you’ll be getting in winter!

Summer can also make it difficult to check whether a home has adequate ventilation and airflow other than doors and windows, which is a common problem that comes up in reports. If you spot mould in the home while walking through, particularly in the bathroom and laundry, it means there’s no adequate ventilation and that it’s not a very healthy place to live. 

Old home appliances

If the home you are looking at comes with appliances, remember to double check that they are actually working! It’s a nasty surprise to move in only to discover that the washing machine or dishwasher isn’t working properly, which will become another cost you’ll have to add on.

Handrails

Handrails seem pretty minor, but you don’t want weak ones to fail when someone is leaning on them. While an inspector will give them a look, you too can get a sense of how secure they are when walking around the home. 

The roof

Because the roof is difficult to check yourself, your property inspector will be sure to check it when they do an inspection. The roof can sometimes cause problems if it’s damaged or leaking, especially if the home is an environment that’s exposed to the elements. Replacing a roof is a big commitment, so you’ll want to make sure the roof has plenty of life left in it before signing on the dotted line. 

Spotting common problems in a home inspection report

While these are some of the more common problems that pop up in an inspection to be aware of, there are a whole range of things a property inspector will look out for. To guarantee that your potential home won’t have any unpleasant surprises, book a property inspector and a home inspection report before making any commitments. You can inquire about a quote for a potential property via the form below!

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pre purchase property inspection

Looking after gutters with the help of a pre purchase house inspection

Gutters. They seem simple enough, but when something goes wrong they can cause big problems. Blocked gutters and downpipes can be a serious defect if they lead to water or structural damage! 

When a qualified property inspector does a pre purchase house inspection, they’ll keep an eye out for any problems with the guttering of a home or any structural damage. That way, you can be fully aware of the condition of the home you are purchasing. But once you are in your dream home, there are some things you can also do yourself to stop any damage happening. Taking care of your gutters is an important task to do at least twice a year – and luckily it’s pretty easy. 

Looking after your gutters

Gutters will likely always have some debris in them – especially if you have trees around. Every now and again, you’ll want to clean out the debris and muck into a bucket to get rid of. Once that’s done, be sure to flush out the gutters and downpipes thoroughly with water from the hose (depending on water restrictions, of course). Flushing the pipes not only helps you make sure that they are properly clean but will also show if the downpipe is blocked. If that’s the case, you might need to call in a professional!

A clean gutter not only looks great when it comes time to sell your home, but also means that no water will get backed up and debris won’t wear away at your roof and guttering system. Spending the time and money on keeping them tidy and functional means you’ll have a trouble-free gutter for a long time!

Gutters and a pre purchase house inspection

If you’re looking at purchasing a house, be sure to get a pre purchase house inspection for a full rundown of the house’s interior and exterior – including the gutters and draining. While gutter problems can be fixed, it’s good to be aware of the potential repair costs you might need to factor in if you are wanting to go ahead with your purchase!

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How a property inspection report can detect water damage

It’s common knowledge that water and moisture damage is one of the biggest property inspection red flags. But what is water damage, and what should you be keeping an eye out for in a potential home before getting your property inspection report?

What causes water damage?

Water damage can be caused by a few different factors – including pipe leaks or bursts, flooding, a leaky roof, or joinery problems. It becomes detrimental to the structure of a home when water sits for long periods of time and causes dampness. Not only is damage caused by excessive water or moisture extremely expensive to fix, it can also be pretty bad for your lungs and health. 

Before purchasing any property, you’ll want to make sure there’s no water damage – as well as make sure it’s watertight so there’s no chance of any damage in the future. A property inspection report will give you the most comprehensive overview of the home’s condition, but before booking an inspection there are a few things you can look out for yourself. 

What sort of things should you be looking out for?

The good news is that with a careful eye, water damage can be spotted. When water sits for some time, it will leave stains, so keep an eye out for discolouration on the floors, walls, or the baseboards running along the base of interior walls. A helpful tip is to check out the basement or the foundations of a home, which will be stained if there’s been any flooding. While some sellers try to clear the house of any water damage signs, many forget about the basement!

Crumbling wood – particularly around windows – is also a tell-tale sign of water damage. If you see any crumbling or mould on window frames, it’s probably signs of efflorescence, meaning that water is seeping through to the area. 

The ground outside the property can also indicate any water damage. If the ground is uneven and drops away from the level of the foundation, it can be a sign of flooding. 

What difference can a property inspection report make?

While you can keep an eye out for some of these signs while looking through a home, a trained and qualified eye will be able to spot things more easily. A property inspector will give the home a full inspection from top to bottom and provide you with a comprehensive property inspection report outlining everything you should be aware of. They’ll assess the home’s interiors, including the kitchen, bathroom and laundry; as well as its exterior, like the roof and foundation. That way, you’ve got all the unbiased facts so you can make the most informed decision. 

Purchasing a property is a big deal – and a water damaged home can cause a lot of grief and expense in the future if you aren’t aware of it. To avoid any nasty surprises, always get the help of a property inspector before purchasing your new home.

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pre purchase property inspection

Keeping your home well ventilated: how a pre purchase property inspection can help

A home with sufficient ventilation is absolutely crucial – both for the health of the home and for the health of your family. But when finding a home, what sort of ventilation features should you be looking out for? And how can a pre purchase property inspection help? 

Why is ventilation so important?

On the simplest level, ventilation is about the flow of air from outdoors to indoors (and vice versa). And while it’s all air, the control of flow is super important to ensure that there’s not too much stale or damp air in the home and that everyone is breathing clean air. 

Ventilation is perhaps the most important way to control moisture and dampness inside a house – and it’s no surprise why that is so crucial. Dampness and moisture inside can lead to all sorts of structural problems for a home and cause mould in places you don’t want. Proper ventilation also means that things like dust, pollen, smoke and bacteria can’t get trapped indoors, meaning everyone is healthier and happier. 

What can you do yourself to improve your home ventilation?

The first thing you can do to keep your home well ventilated is to open doors and windows whenever you can. I know in winter that can be difficult, but keeping the windows open when it is nice and sunny means that as much natural airflow can get in as possible. Keeping interior doors throughout the house open also helps in circulating fresh air.

It’s also important to make sure you’ve got extractor fans in your bathroom, laundry and kitchen so steam and condensation don’t hang around – even if you’ve got an external window. Sometimes in particularly damp areas a home will still need some help to stay clean and dry. In these cases, many people use the help of a home ventilation system. 

A healthy home with ventilation

If you own a rental property or are building a new home, then there are ventilation guidelines you’ll need to abide by as part of the Healthy Homes initiative. These guidelines dictate all sort of things – the exhaust capacity needed for extractor fans in the kitchens and bathrooms, the ratio of doors and windows needed in each room, and the types of ventilation needed in every single room. It’ll depend on your home and the size of each room. Read more about the guidelines here

Ventilation and a pre purchase property inspection

Before purchasing any property, you’ll want to make sure it’s sufficiently ventilated to save you any health problems or structural challenges in the future. While I’m not a specific Healthy Homes inspector, ventilation is one of the big things I check for when conducting a pre purchase property inspection. A badly ventilated home is immediately a red flag. 

So do what you can in your current home to keep the air nice and clean. And when it comes to looking for your next property, keep ventilation at the top of your mind and get the help of a property inspector to check it before signing on the dotted line. 

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house inspection

How a house inspection can spot what’s happening underneath a home

When a property inspector does a house inspection, they’ll be paying attention to a whole list of things throughout the house. While there are some obvious things that will always be included in a house inspection report (like the roofing or insulation), there are other aspects some might forget to consider without the help of a property inspector. All too often people forget to check what keeps the house standing – the piles and foundations under your property. 

Why is it so important to ensure your property inspector checks underneath your house? And what should they be looking out for?

What are piles?

Piles are the things that keep your house standing, providing the foundations that everything else is built upon. They are there to make sure that the weight of the house is evenly distributed across the land and soil it rests on. They also play a key part in ensuring the house is balanced and stands straight – because you don’t want an off-balance home!

Have a look under any house built in New Zealand and you’ll find that most foundations are generally formed by wooden poles or posts, or concrete piles with wooden jack studs.

What will a property inspector look for under a house?

No part of a home lasts forever, and over time piles might begin to rot; the weight of a home might become unevenly balanced. Older homes in particular are prone to pile damage, as some were built on tree stump piles which pose problems as time goes on. Piles can become cause for concern when they start moving, which may cause the house above to twist or crack. 

A good property inspector will look for whether the piles of a home have ever been replaced, or whether they might need replacing soon. They’ll also check that any new homes have foundations that meet Building Code requirements and are earthquake-proof. 

No matter what, they’ll look out for whether the piles are in a good, healthy condition and are properly braced. There’s a lot riding on these hidden features so you’ll want to make sure they are in tip-top condition!

Why a house inspection is so important

The foundations of a home are crucial – so why would you leave them to chance? While the untrained eye might be able to look at foundations and piles, only a trained property inspector can give you the entire picture about the state of what’s happening underneath your potential home. 

Re-piling a home and repairing foundations is a lengthy and expensive task, so you’ll want to know exactly what condition the piles are in before you commit to a new property. Ensuring the safety of your home’s foundations with a house inspection report means that you can sleep easy knowing you are on steady ground!

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