The standard fall for a pathway away from a house is 1:60, or 10mm, for every 600mm wide the pathway is. This is to allow enough to fall away from the house slab or fall onto drainage to reduce the risk of slab edge absorbtion and the subsequent rising dampness or fretting that can occur. Rising moisture (capillary action) can draw up the water-soluble salts from the surrounding soil or base material under the paving. This effervescence can cause brick flaking or fretting of both the brickwork and mortar. As the damp proofing viscourse often protects the wall brickwork from this issue, the rising damp and salting will be drawn up through the side of the house slab surface as often the slab side of the house does not have adequate protection. The rising salts can lift the floor tiling near the internal walls, often causing cracking, and is noticeable by the salting appearing through the floor tiling grout. Often, the tile lifting is first noticed near sliding doors due to the ease of viewability in natural sunlight and the lack of furniture against the walls hiding the drumming tile areas.
Often, when looking at a house, the bathrooms, kitchen, and laundry areas have been recently renovated, either professionally or by the owner.
The reason for this is often to make the house more modern, but it can also be simply because these rooms, especially wet areas, require some attention.
Looking around the installed cabinetry in a laundry area can often expose how professional or otherwise DIY the updated area is.
Any areas behind cabinetry where the wall skirting tiling has been removed to enable the fitment of the cabinetry are signs of issues.
If these areas are to be adequately waterproofed, gaps in the tiling should be adequately sealed up at a minimum.
Often the bottom edges of the wall sheeting are exposed, and on occasion, timber wall framing is visible.
Any area, such as under sinks or next to a washing machine, is going to at some point have water leaking issues, and the adjacent room can be affected.
When tiles have been painted over in an effort to update the look without spending a lot of money, indications of shoddy workmanship are frequently visible.
There are businesses that can perform this service for a fair price, and their finished work is frequently excellent, but the process involves many stages.
Prior to applying a mold-killing solution to the grout, the tiles should be cleaned with sugar soap.
After that, the existing tile surface is sanded to make it easier for the new paint to adhere to it. A primer coat and two coats of the actual floor coatings are applied next.
The business doing this work will provide a warranty, and this is the difference between a DIY job and a renovation that will last.
Looking for obvious faults, such as paint runs, suggests it is DIY. I doubt that any of the required processes have been completed to ensure the longevity of the paint finish where it has been applied.
I have been to many open inspections, often as a favor to a family friend or relatives who are after a little help with one of life's big decisions.
There are some things you can look for yourself when looking around a house when you have short limited time at an open inspection without the expensive inspection equipment that we carry. You may need a decent pocket torch and a decent zoom camera, for looking at the gable lead flashings from the road kerb prior to the inspection.
Termites may be easy to locate in a ceiling cavity if you know where to look. But the real estate agent does not permit it because it would be improper to have access to the ceiling during a public inspection as it may be detrimental to the sale of the dwelling. This is his main concern and rightly so. This is why private inspections are undertaken out of open inspection times.
These photos were all taken from the roof of one house, which appeared to be well-maintained and had only a small amount of mudding to indicate termite activity around the laundry door frame, which the home owner had brushed away without realizing its importance. I noted the mud coloured staining on the architrave paintwork near the wall.
The termite damage went unnoticed even after recent renovations, such as a brand-new roof that was installed just a few years ago.
I can only suggest that anyone planning to bid or purchase at an auction, or purchasing by highest offer, should get an inspection done first, to save yourself having to spend many thousands of dollars.
Swimming pools require adequate engineering for concrete pools, taking into account soil types and location to other dwellings or boundaries, but what about fibreglass pools?
Fibreglass pools require a large hole to be dug and a sand or gravel base to be installed prior to the pool being craned into position. The sand base can settle or shift with time, but it is cheap for the pool installer, whereas gravel is more expensive but compacts to form a better base. Gravel is also less likely to compress over time than the sand will, resulting in fewer ripples or sags at the base of the pool.
The long-term risk with a fibreglass pool installation, however, may be the lack of required engineering in the hole you are digging out if it is installed on a difficult house block. The base material is generally just 50mm of gravel, and as the pool is filled, gravel is filled around the side gaps to the dug out area.
Engineering is still required when excavating on sloping sites so that adequate retaining walls can be designed and built to suit the requirements of the site. Retainment of any structure is important, and in addition to retention of the soil, drainage is also very important because water will naturally find the path of least resistance. You do not want water to wash out the areas around or under the swimming pool.
The photos above are from a house that I inspected last year; considering that the water is naturally level, you can clearly see that the pool is out of level by over 140mm lengthwise, as it is touching the pool coping edge on one side and not the other. The soil surrounding the pool is not stable, due to lack of adequate soil retention and drainage.
The pool regulations state that the pool should be installed a minimum of 1000mm off any boundary or structure. The council requirements for the application for a swimming pool clearly state that distances from boundaries, soil retention, and land contours must all be clearly shown and comply.
The pool, as shown, is next to a decked pool cabana area and very close to the rear fence. The other side of the fence is an unretained area with a large drop-off to another dwelling. The fence is not nonclimbable, and the gate opens into the pool area without a safety gate required by pool legislation. I have a duty of care to inspect pools for complience and state any issues that I find that are inadequate to the purchaser, but do not offer certification.
I do not offer pool compliance certification, as there is no legal requirement for the vendor to provide one; however, if you are purchasing a house with a pool, I would suggest that you request prior to settlement that one be supplied as part of your offer to purchase and have it reflected in the contract for the sale.
Further information can be found here regarding pool safety, council requirements, etc.
When looking at an older house consideration for additional allowances should be made and budgeted for when you are looking during the house open.
Simply looking at a fuse board like the one pictured below, old fuse carriers with wire fuses can be seen.
The cost to upgrade to a more modern and serviceable basic 9 pole enclosure within the old box, using circuit breakers, including labour is over $1,500.
The cost of fitting a new box with a basic 9 pole enclosure, including circuit breakers would be over $3,000.
Most houses will require double this allowance of circuit breakers for a family home.
This is before any additional wiring work is required, for the house to be able to supply all the modern requirements that you will need.
It's important to realise the risks associated with old wiring, old fuses and overloading issues due to modern living requirements can cause fires.
To rewire an old home, or even to relocate the power board may cost you between $3,000 to $7,000.
Another consideration is safety switches, often existing ones are not adequate for any additional wiring and further costs may be required, that an electrician will need to assess.
A simple call out fee for an electrician to inspect your issues or minor works ranges from $75 to $150, then they charge approximately $70 to $120 per hour for work performed.
A building and pest inspection will not advise you of the costs required to upgrade a fuse box and board, but having photos of the fuse board and advising of issues is often included.
Leaking is often observed from a hot water unit's PTR valve at the time of
a building inspection, note it is normal for PTR valves to leak during a heating cycle due to the increase in pressure during the heating cycle.
If the valve continues to run, there may simply be an issue with the seal.
Opening and closing the valve may re-seal
the washer by blowing out any small pieces of grit that may be causing the issue, or the valve washer may require replacement.
The other reason for a continuous leak is the hot water system thermostat is not operating correctly. I will test the water temperature during an inspection and if the thermostat temperature is lower than 60-65 degrees it would appear to be functioning .
If the thermostat is damaged then at 99 degrees the valve will open.
I would recommend that the buyer should firstly try resetting the PTR valve by opening and closing the valve, as this should be done manually every 6 months. If this is not successful then engage a licensed plumber to assess and rectify by replacing a washer or the entire valve.
I use a 4k drone for some roof inspections, where height or structural issues would have prevented some normal on roof inspections.
The 4k imagery is exceptional, allowing for close up details and it allows for whole roof inspections to be done, where areas were previously too dangerous to traverse.
Included below are a few examples of the image quality achievable with modern high quality drones.
I have RPA operator accreditation for remote aircraft with the Civil Aviation Safety Authority and my drone is registered to be used for building inspections.
It's just another service that I provide, to assist in advising you when buying a property
Rising damp can often be seen on solid plastered walls as peeling and flaking paint or exposed brick walls as flaking brickwork or by efflorescence or white salts on both.
Mostly caused by water being drawn up into the slab and lower brickwork by capillary action, into the porous masonry materials.
Often modern structures are built with adequate Damp Proof Courses (DPC membranes), however these membrane areas may be breached by poor path height or gardens located against the slab or walls.
The dampness can affect both underfloor structural timbers, floor boards and timber skirtings, causing rot and decay.
If left unrepaired it can also become a health issue affecting asthmatics, as it promotes mould issues to internal rooms. Often the air will smell musty in a room with damp issues.
I often see areas of lower wall patching to interior walls on older double brick houses, as the vendor is trying to sell the house without rectifying the issue due to the high costs involved.
This should be an area of great concern to any purchaser, who is looking at the house as repair work involves many stages and costs thousands of dollars for each room.
Even DIY kits that you can do yourself will cost around $50 per metre, just for the applicator and chemicals. You still need to drill holes, remove any damaged plasterwork, re plaster walls followed by cleaning up and re painting.