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Get a building inspection of your backyard and fencing

Quarter-acre caution: Why a building inspection goes beyond the building

Even with the movement towards building up instead of building out, the quarter-acre Kiwi dream is still alive in New Zealand. The many issues that can arise for large sections with big outdoor areas can quickly turn your dream into a nightmare, however, so there are some things that we always keep an eye out for when doing a building inspection.

 

Setting boundaries

Fences serve one main purpose: to keep things in and keep things out. It’s important to check any fencing to make sure that it actually will accomplish this purpose – is it sturdy? Is it tall enough? Are the materials suitable and asbestos free? Though maybe not the most expensive replacement job on a property, the costs of upgrading or completely removing fences can still be costly.

If you’re not bothered about having a quality fence, you’re not necessarily off the hook straight away. Fencing also serves to mark the boundaries of a property and sometimes fences that border two properties will need to be replaced at the cost of home owners on both sides of the fence – a cost you may not have accounted for. In practice, property borders can also accidentally shift over time – but legally speaking the boundary of a property shouldn’t change, so you have to be sure when building a fence (or buying a property with a fence) that your neighbour isn’t going to kick up a fuss when he realises it’s been built 20cm over his property.

 

Deck check

Though technically up to minimum Building Code requirements, we come across a number of decks that are of poor build quality when doing a building inspection. As with fencing, the costs of replacing a deck can add up pretty quickly and are always something to be weary of when purchasing a property.

If you’ve factored in costs and you’re hoping to one day add a deck to a home that you’re looking at then it’s worth noting that decks that are built 1.5m or higher require a building consent. Consents cost money and take time – and while they’re important to ensure that no dodgy work is taking place, they can be a real nuisance when you just want to get the work done quickly. Regardless of whether it needs a building consent, decks should still be built to the building standard.

A slew of other issues can arise where decks are concerned, including if the deck’s attachment to the home can cause weather-tight issues, whether the deck is the required distance from any property boundaries and how any decking may impact the title for a cross-lease property – all things that should be checked for.

 

Other things to consider

There are a number of other outdoor issues to look out for on a property. Paving may seem like such an easy thing to get right, but we’ve seen numerous issues occur when land slopes towards the house – specifically, what happens to any surface water that accumulates on the path? The last thing you want is for water to pool up against your home, so we always check for correct cess pit installation in our property inspections.

Pergola awnings are becoming more and more common in NZ properties – it’s worth noting that, while these pergolas may look great, they more than likely require a building consent (usually dependant on whether or not they have a roof over the top of them). Don’t be caught out purchasing a property that hasn’t acquired the necessary consents – and remember that some of the work that you’ll want to carry out will require approval from the council too. You can check with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) for an idea of what does and doesn’t require a building consent.

While most backyard work isn’t going to cause too many issues, there are always small problems that you may not consider – all of which can affect the sale of your house when you do decide it’s time to part ways. If in doubt, contact your local council to check on your compliance requirements or get in touch with us to have someone come check out your property through a building inspection.

Winter home inspection & maintenance – cleaning gutters and more

How to do your own winter home inspection & maintenance

Whether you’re getting ready to sell over winter, selling after the cold season’s over, or are just keen to have your home warm, comfy, and low-maintenance over winter, now is a great time to do your own winter home inspection and maintenance.

While the Auckland weather can’t seem to make up its mind about the season currently, we do still have the odd day of sunshine – so take advantage of it by getting out and giving the outside of your home a once-over, before heading inside and looking at what aspects of your home are most likely to be affected by the dampness and cold that winter brings.

 

Here’s a few things you should cover in your winter home inspection and maintenance:

  • Get your flue cleaned: Before you’re ready to use the fireplace, make sure it’s cleared of all the soot from last year. This will help keep it nice and warm – plus you may void your home insurance if your flue or fireplace isn’t swept every year.
  • Change your heat pump/air con filter: People tend to forget to clean the filters on their heat pump at the end of winter, so yours likely still has quite a bit left in it from last year – not to mention the pollen from over summer. Give it a clean to make sure that the air it’s pumping through your home is clean and healthy.
  • Clear the leaves out of your gutters: Whether you’re selling or not, leaves in the gutters aren’t a great look – and can cause a whole heap of problems in heavy rain, especially if you have internal type gutters. Prep ahead by clearing out your gutters and downpipes for anything that might obstruct water moving easily through them. You may want to consider installing a gutter guard product if there are large trees near your home.
  • Clean out your extractor fan ducts: How long has it been since you cleaned the extractor fan in your bathroom? Is it still effectively removing dampness? Make sure it will over winter by giving it a good clean. If your bathroom doesn’t have a fan, it may be a good time to install one.
  • Invest in insulation: There are few things more frustrating than being cold inside your own home. If you’re sick of that, then insulation is one of the best ways to help your home stay warm and comfortable. And as an added bonus, it can add real value when it comes time to sell.
  • Keep an eye on leaks and mould: If you’ve already got the odd leak, or can see mould growing on your ceiling, now’s the time to take action. Whether it’s repairs to your roof that are needed, better ventilation, or even bigger issues, why not find out now, before winter really hits or before you sell?

 

Whether you’re ready to sell or are looking at buying a home, getting a home inspection report can let you know what areas of a home most need maintenance before and during winter. Get in touch today for a free quote.

Tips for property season from a building inspections expert

Getting ready for property season – from an Auckland building inspections veteran

Regardless of whether the property market has slowed or not, summer is always a busier time of year. If you’re looking to buy, it’s vital that you’re prepped and ready to go before you make an offer or bid at an auction. From my construction and building inspections background, I’ve put together my five top tips for getting ready for property season:

Find out any issues in advance

One of my clients found a house they loved and that looked great on the surface so decided to forgo the property inspection beforehand. Unfortunately, once they’d made the agreement they realised that the property was not constructed out of timber framing, as they had thought, but instead from composite panels. While this changed their minds about wanting the property, it unfortunately was not the kind of thing that would void the purchase agreement, and so they had to complete the purchase. Had they had a building inspection report carried out, they likely would not have made an offer on that particular property.

Get someone who knows what to look for on board

It takes experience to notice the potential problems a house could have, and if you don’t know what you’re looking for, it’s easy to get caught out. A house that looks great on the surface may have bigger issues, so make sure you bring in someone with a background in building to identify small problems that could turn into bigger ones, such as faulty tiling, leaks, or risks due to cladding types. These are the issues that take an expert to spot, so it always pays to ask a professional building inspector for their opinion. With my construction and building inspections experience, I notice things that the average home buyer wouldn’t.

Watch out for the fine print

With many houses selling at auction, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of bidding wars. However, bidding = buying. Once you’ve made an offer for a property via a bid, you are now legally committed to the sale. Even if your sale and purchase agreement gives you options to cancel the deal, sometimes they’re not worded in your favour and they are legally binding. Get a property lawyer to look over any contracts before you sign and protect yourself from any issues later.

Weigh up the cost

If you’re attending an auction for a home, a pre-auction property inspection may seem like an unnecessary cost when there’s no guarantee that you’ll get the property. However, the same can be said if you have signed a Sale & Purchase Agreement and need to get out of the deal. You’ll need to engage the services of a lawyer, will be far higher than if you had obtained a pre-auction/pre-offer property inspection.

Likewise, the cost of a property could go up exponentially when you take into account any issues that may cost you far more down the line in repairs. When you’re looking at buying a property, factor the cost of building inspections (several, if needed) into your budget. While the cost may seem unnecessary, there’s nothing worse than finding out that you’ve spent a million bucks on a property which needs a large sum of money spent on it.

Put your emotions aside

I’ve seen many buyers become emotionally attached to a faulty property, particularly when it’s their first home. No matter how perfect a house may seem, there are some problems that can’t be fixed – such as borer in the walls. My job is to give you the facts about a property, even if they’re hard to hear. Try as hard as you can to avoid getting emotionally attached to a property before you know whether it’s actually fit for purpose.

 

If you’re browsing around the housing market at the moment, pre-purchase building inspections on any house you’re considering is just good sense – and will help save you a huge amount of money and stress further down the line. Get in touch today for a quality building inspection with results you can trust.

 

Building inspections for old homes

Don’t let an old home become a headache

Why a building inspection is vital – and what to look for to know if an older home is a good buy

There’s no doubt that there’s something charming about old homes – whether it’s a turn of the century villa, a California-inspired bungalow or a relic from the post-war building boom. However, there are certain things you need to consider when purchasing a piece of New Zealand’s building history, especially with any homes that were built pre 1978.

In seeking to avoid a headache later down the line, it pays to get a professional building inspection, however we’ve put together some pointers of some of the key things to be mindful of also.

 

Does it have its coat, hat, and shoes on?

It’s well worth looking at whether the home has the required insulation, or whether this will need to be retrofitted. Not only will you want it to be warm if you’re looking to move in, but if you’re buying the property as an investment and are renting it out, tenancy law changes require you to meet certain standards. In some cases, building consent is required to add insulation into walls, so it’s important to be informed and factor this work into the cost.

 

Is there any scrim in sight?

We’re not talking about a football scrimmage here either! Scrim is an open-weave, coarse fabric (it looks a bit like sacking!) that was popular in old villas and bungalows (before the days of plasterboard) and was often laid straight on top of wall framing. The problem lies in the fact that scrim is highly flammable and many insurance companies may not insure a house with scrim due to the fire risk.

 

Poke around in the plumbing

Too much intimate inspection of our plumbing is often a touchy subject, but when it comes to an old home, it’s more than worth a poke around. They say that prevention is the best medicine – and the thing to watch out for here is the use of dux quest plumbing. This early type of black plastic piping was largely used in houses in the late 70s and early 80s and, as a system, it tends to leak quite a lot and can cause a myriad of issues later on.

 

Don’t forget the foundations

People often think that as long as a house is still standing – and straight! – there’s no need to give much thought to the foundations. However the foundations are the basis on which the entire house is built, so it’s important they’re not overlooked. Lots of old builds were up on piles, as opposed to poured concrete slabs that are often underneath newer homes, so it pays to check what’s going on under there. Don’t just assume it’ll all be alright – one house I inspected had tree stumps as foundations… It’s safe to say this ‘treehouse’ was not overly solid.

 

Is there any asbestos?

Most of us know that this one is a red flag, but where does it really cause challenges? In some places and products, asbestos fibres won’t create problems, but if they are on loose things, like the backing of old vinyl, you’re up for some issues. Not only is asbestos insidious, it can cost a fortune to get rid of, as it requires specialists.

 

A qualified property inspector can help you spot all the issues above, as well as a number of other potential pitfalls that may be present in an old home. By all means, enjoy, invest in and restore these aged beauties but, as with any property purchase, remember it’s best to go in with your eyes open. Not only can this help you avoid later headaches, but it helps with your negotiating power also. Forewarned is fore-armed, after all. Get in touch now for a building inspection to make sure your old home is a good buy.