Buying a home is a huge investment and the last thing you want is to get stuck with a home full of costly defects.
Angus Kell, ACT & NSW state manager of Archicentre, the advisory arm of the Australian Institute of Architects said pre-purchase inspection report statistics show that more than 35 percent of homes inspected over the past decade have defects, many of which are expensive to fix.
And alarmingly, only one in 10 people get a pre-purchase inspection according to Archicentre.
“In reality, people spend more time and money checking out a $10,000 car to be roadworthy than an average home costing around $400,000 to $500,000,” Kell said.
According to Archicentre, which collects statistics on house defects in every state and suburb, the most common and expensive faults home buyers face include:
- Cracking in walls
- Timber rot
- Rising damp
- Illegal building
Rising damp and roofing were the biggest overall reported faults.
The inspection — what to look for
At the very least, homebuyers should undertake their own inspection but nothing beats an expertly conducted assessment. Each inspection will cost anywhere from $200 to $600 but could save you thousands of dollars in the long run.
Professional reports will detail any existing structural problems or defaults and the estimated costs to repair them. Ensure a pest inspection is conducted at the same time. Any inspection should always cover:
- The garden
- Walls (inside and out)
- Roof and roof spaces
In addition, it’s a great idea to get your solicitor (or you can do it yourself) to contact the local council and ensure that the property is not likely to be affected by future road widening, re-zoning or other planning proposals.
One of the areas to look out for when purchasing a home is cover-ups by the current owners. Archicentre say the most common cover-ups by home sellers include:
- Props or bricks holding up the floor instead of stumps or piers;
- Painted roofing hiding rusted corrugated iron sheets;
- Props in the roof space holding up broken or termite damaged framing;
- Freshly painted, wallpapered, or panelled walls hiding rising damp or structural cracking; and
- Painted tin concealing rotten weatherboards and windows.
Costs to repair
If you find yourself with a fault on your hands, this is what you can expect to pay:
- Cracking: $350-$65,000
- Re-roofing: $500-$48,000
- Timber rot: $200-$15,000
- Rising damp: $1500-$30,000
- Electrics: $250-$9000
- Plumbing: $7650-$12,140 (complete house re-plumbing)
- Restumping: $5200-$9000 (average house)
(Figures supplied by Archicentre and are based on an average-sized home.)
And lastly, check that any renovations or extensions were carried out with local council approval. Illegal alterations could become your responsibility as the new home owner.
At the end of the day, purchasing a home is a big decision and one which shouldn’t be taken without the right advice and information.