rainy day in the garden

House Inspection and the 4 Ds: How can you assess the risks of a new property?

Whether your taste in homes is big and beautiful or small and humble, considering the risk of a particular design of a house should have a huge impact on whether or not to purchase a property – especially in a country with a reputation for damp homes! If you were to conduct a house inspection before buying, would you know what low-risk design looks like if you saw it?


Conducting a house inspection

The first thing you should be thinking when doing a home inspection is KISS. Not that kind of kiss (despite how attractive your property inspector is). We’re actually talking about the classic golden rule for us Kiwis: Keep It Simple Stupid.

If you’re looking around a home that you’re interested in buying, and the design seems too complicated or intricate there’s a high likelihood that the design will increase the risk for water ingress. The simpler the design of the house, the fewer opportunities there are for issues to rear their ugly heads later down the track.


Avoiding damp housing

In New Zealand, with our unpredictable variety of weathers and temperatures, we’ve established a reputation for having damp homes. You see it in the news all the time. That’s why when you’re out there house hunting, I recommend thinking about the four Ds of building: deflection, drainage, drying, and durability. Better yet, consider getting a pre-purchase house inspection conducted to check for the four Ds before you sign anything. But what are the four Ds?


  1. Deflection

Deflection encompasses what a home has in place to intercept water at its exterior and deflect it away to decrease the risk of water ingress. Consider the type of cladding, roof and eave width. These all impact the house’s ability to deflect water from getting in and rotting the framework from the inside out.


  1. Drainage

Drainage is obviously crucial to any home but is often something that gets overlooked by house hunters. Generally cladding of houses built before the 2004 Building Act was not on a drained cavity system. Drained cavity systems are designed to discharge water that may penetrate the building envelope through cladding, weather tightness risk junctions, and possibly from leaking joinery.


  1. Drying

The cavity allows water to discharge from behind the cladding and also allows air to dry the cavity to prevent moisture damage. Cladding fixed directly to the wall framing is most cases does not allow water to exit the building envelope and can lead to moisture damage of wall framing.


  1. Durability

The durability of the home’s structure is so important, especially with the variety of weather we are exposed to here in New Zealand. The Building Act only requires cladding to perform for a minimum of 15 years. Most cladding systems have a longer warranty than this and, with maintenance, can last for many years longer than what the manufacturer warrants. Obviously that type of cladding is something that should be seriously considered when purchasing a property. I see many 30+ year old houses with cladding that needs replacing. Small amounts of cladding can be replaced under Schedule 1 of the Building Act, but if a substantial amount of cladding requires to be replaced, then a Building Consent is required. This could have a big financial cost to keep the property water tight.

While it’s a great idea to consider whether a potential purchase has a low-risk design, sometimes the specifics need to be overseen by a professional. Having a qualified pre-purchase building inspector conduct a house inspection to look over complications of the design and cladding type is your best chance of making sure your potential home is built to last, and won’t cost you a fortune in the long run.

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Handing over the keys

How to get your ducks in a row: Careful planning and a pre-purchase building inspection

After hunting high and low, finding that perfect home or property is an exciting and satisfying discovery but actually signing the deed and making the purchase can be a pretty stressful process. Once you’ve signed your name you’ll likely have the thought racing through your mind, “What if there’s something wrong with the place that I didn’t notice before?” Having a pre-purchase building inspection is an important step in relieving that anxiety but there are a whole lot of things you can do to protect yourself when buying a home.

Being organised and doing the groundwork is the easiest way can feel confident in your investment and ensure the buying process is as smooth as possible. Here are a few things to consider when it’s time to go unconditional:

Pre-approval first!

When you know that it’s the right time to dive into house hunting, you might want to consider seeking pre-approval from your bank or lender. That way, when you do find that perfect property, you are ready to go and won’t miss an opportunity. Unfortunately, getting that approval can sometimes be pretty tedious and time consuming. Lenders need to do a whole lot of background research into your finances, such as your income, credit history, and expenses.

With a pre-approval in place you’ll have a better idea of homes that are within your budget, saving you time and avoid disappointment later. Giving them the time they need to approve your loan request is a great first step when you embark on your hunt for your dream home.

Extend time for due diligence

Due diligence is your way of eliminating any doubts you may have and allowing the time to back out of the deal if you notice something’s not quite right. That’s why getting a comprehensive appraisal of the physical and financial risks of your potential new home is a really important step in the home buying process. While it’s ideal to get a pre-purchase building inspection before you make an offer, sometimes you just don’t have time when you are trying to swoop in on a great deal.

Extending the time for due diligence is your way as the buyer to safeguard your investment by giving you the time to get a building inspection company to review any potential risks and make sure that all your ducks are in a row. If they offer 5 days, request 10 (or even 30) to give yourself the time you need to get the most thorough review of the property that you can, as well as plenty of time to sort finances. There are so many variables that add or take away value from a house to consider. Having enough time will alleviate the stress.

Get a pre-purchase building inspection

You wouldn’t buy a car without popping the hood and making sure the engine isn’t about to fall apart, and buying a house shouldn’t be any different. But unless you know what to look for, getting a professional to check out the bones of a house and any structural concerns is your best bet at making sure you are aware of all factors impacting the value of your investment.

Having a pre-purchase building inspection will also make getting that final approval on your home loan a whole lot simpler and can help you negotiate on the price of the property if you do discover any significant issues.

Go out on a LIM

Local councils compile what is called a Land Information Memorandum (LIM) for your property – which is basically a record of information about a property including rates, building consents, developments of the property, and any potential risks such as flooding or erosion.

While you are likely to get a copy of the LIM from the real estate company, remember that they are representing the seller and their best interests. Make sure it’s a recent version and consider requesting one from the council yourself.

Get the Council Property File

Alongside your LIM, be sure to get the Council Property Files – the easiest way to compare what is on file at the Council to what you are looking at to buy. Property Files include construction plans if they’re available, although unfortunately due to the age of some properties and amalgamation of Councils, plans and documents can get lost.

Take the stress out of the home buying process and do some homework before you sign. Being organised and covering all bases is essential to safeguard your investment. Having a professional building inspector weigh in on the value of the property will rid you of any doubts and make buying your perfect home is exciting – not a pain in the neck.

Get a quote for your pre-purchase building inspection now.

Calling all landlords – get clued up on the new insulation laws with a professional house inspection

The incoming law changes for rental properties and insulation might have left you feeling a bit uneasy. What’s changed? What’s now expected of you? And most importantly, what’s it going to cost you? Or are you just scratching your head asking what law changes? And do I need a house inspection?

If you’re a landlord in NZ (or are keen to become one), there are a few changes you need to know about so you don’t get any nasty surprises come July 2019. We’re here to help you get clued up on the new incoming regulations so you can make the best decisions about your rental property.


The low down on insulation law changes

As of the 1st July 2019 all rental properties will be required to have ceiling and underfloor insulation. So, what do you need to do to make sure your property is compliant?

Well, if you’ve got a bit of a ‘she’ll be right’ approach to these new law changes, chances are your bank account ‘won’t be right’. Any landlord who doesn’t comply with these new regulations could end up paying a penalty up to $4,000. Ouch.

So what do you need to do to avoid that fine?

To meet the new regulations, insulation must meet the minimum R-Value – the measure of the insulation’s resistant to heat. The R-Value your property must have will depend on whether it’s made from timber or another material and where it is in the country (colder parts of the country have higher values – makes sense right?). For more in-depth information take a look here.

If your rental property already has existing ceiling and underfloor insulation that isn’t very old, you might not have to do a thing. However, we’d still suggest getting a house inspection to check it meets the required R-Values. You don’t want to be surprised with a painful fine that could’ve been avoided.


The exceptions to the rule

Of course there’s always an exception, and in this case there are a few that might mean you don’t have to install the insulation in your rental property by July 2019.

If, due to design or construction constraints, it’s either not physically possible to insulate or would require major renovations, then the exception may apply to you. Installing the insulation must be ‘reasonably practicable’ for an experienced and professional insulation installer to do. If your property is a little trickier, you might have more time up your sleeve to get your property insulated.

If you think this exception may apply to your rental property, check out any exceptions and your responsibilities as a landlord in more detail here.


Planning to buy a rental property? It’s time for a house inspection

Besides all the other reasons for a professional house inspection before purchase, getting a property inspection done before buying a rental property will also help you identify the insulation status of the house.

Is there any insulation at all? What condition is it in? What work will be necessary so that it’ll meet the requirements of the new insulation regulations? If a house I’m checking is quite old, I’ll often recommend upgrading the insulation. Or if it looks like insulation has been laid over older light fittings, I may recommend either cutting around the light or taking the opportunity to upgrade to LED lights (which allow insulation to be laid directly over the top of them, preventing any leakages).

Getting a house inspection before you buy will help you weigh up the true cost of your new rental property and whether it is a financially viable option. A house that looks great on the outside might have some costly work needed on the inside.


Have a rental property or in the market for one? Get in touch today for a free quote or to book a property inspection.


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