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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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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 inspection reports

What to look for in building inspection reports

How to get peace of mind from your pre-purchase or pre-sale building inspection reports

Pre-purchase or pre-sale; there are a couple of different types of building inspection reports. While they both make up an important part of a negotiation around a purchase, they are sought by different parties in a negotiation, for different purposes. First let’s take a look at the key differences – before we delve into what you should be looking for, in either case.

If you’re wanting a pre-purchase building report

A pre-purchase inspection is perhaps the more common form of building report. Like you might subject a used car that you were looking to buy to a mechanical check, you want to be sure that the house you are buying contains no hidden surprises. Whether you’re buying an investment property or looking to purchase the home of your dreams, a professional inspection assesses the condition of a property, ensuring that you’re not signing on for unknown or unforeseen significant problems. Believe it or not, even new builds may have issues (I inspect new builds all the time), so just because it’s new and has a CCC (Certificate of Code of Compliance) doesn’t mean it’s free from issues. A building inspection report is designed to give you, and your bank, the confidence that you are making a sound purchase.

If you’re wanting a pre-sale property report

More and more homeowners are being advised to get a pre-sale inspection of their property in order to make this report available for potential buyers. Following New Zealand’s leaky home crisis, both property buyers and the banks are more wary, especially when it comes to particular types of homes. Not only highlighting problems, a building inspection report can also highlight areas where value can be added. A pre-sale building report shows transparency and can give the vendor an opportunity to repair things highlighted in the pre-sale report they were unaware of. It and can be used as a powerful negotiation tool when it does come time to get someone signing the dotted line.

So what are the most important things to look for in a pre-purchase or pre-sale building inspection report?

Trusted credentials

Not all building inspectors are created equally, so don’t be afraid to ask to see some credentials. Many building inspectors used to be builders, which gives them practical knowledge. Look for a combination of vast experience and special skills or lines of specialty that set your inspector apart, as well as what official training and certifications they have. The best inspectors should be continually increasing their knowledge base with updates in the industry – I’ve recently undergone Pool Fencing and BOINZ Accreditation Courses to ensure my skills and knowledge change and grow as the building industry and housing market does.

Thorough and detailed

Make sure that the building inspection report that you’re going to get following your building inspection is thorough and details, taking into account all aspects of the property of interest. Comprehensive building inspection reports covers more than just moisture-testing and external weather-tightness and should also provide detail right from the type and condition of the foundations through to each aspect of the home’s construction methods and materials, and the condition these are in. You can view one of our comprehensive sample building inspection reports here, to see the level of detail that you can expect from The Property Inspectors.

Great follow up

Reading the report is one thing, being able to talk through and interpret the results is another. A great building inspector will not only provide you with a thorough report, they’ll also be available to discuss any issues or concerns that you may have following their findings. Wherever possible, I’ll call the purchasers to discuss the inspection before I even send through the report, so you understand every part of it.

If you’re ready to get a building inspection report, get in touch today.