Dream or Nightmare - Choose by Checking First

Posted on 09 February 2012

Do you have the time, expertise and equipment to do all of the checking for a property you are about to purchase?

Here are a few reasons for getting in the experts for a very small price, considering what you are about to pay for your property.

This is what the experts check for in the property

Inside the dwelling

Water pressure: Checking the pressure and colour of the water and how well it drains.
Damp: Checking for stains, water marks and paint damage.
Cracks in the walls, or doors that stick: These can be signs of subsidence or movement.
Sticking windows: If windows don't open and close properly, the frames may have warped (if they're wood) or rusted (if they're metal).
Mould: If there's mould in the bathroom, it's usually a sign that there's a ventilation problem that needs to be fixed.
New paint: Paint is often used to hide faults.
Bathroom: Checking for damaged enamel and broken surfaces, loose grout and cracked or lifting of loose tile.
Hot-water service: Check the age of the unit and how well it performs. Check for leaks and rust and obtaining confirmation of the last service.
Insulation and roof: Inspecting the roof cavity to check the age and condition of the insulation and whether the walls are insulated.
Pests: Check for signs of pest trouble, such as rats and mice. Check if floors and steps are sagging or springy or beams sound hollow. All can be signs of termite damage.
Electrical wiring: Check if property has old-fashioned switches and sockets as they can be signs of old wiring which could need replacing.
Heating and cooling systems: Ascertain the age of the units, their service records and whether they are running well.
Floor coverings: Check carpets for wear and tear and assess if they need replacing. Ensure rugs not covering any damage.
Fly screens: Ensuring fly screens are fitted where necessary and aren't damaged.
Kitchen and laundry: Check the age and quality of the benchtops and cupboards ensuring no water damage.

Outside the dwelling

Plumbing: Check the external pipes for leaks and rust.
Fuse box: Make sure it's modern and meets safety requirements.
Guttering: Look for leaks, rust, warps, holes and signs that the gutters overflow. Are the leaves from nearby trees causing a problem? Check whether the downpipes and drainage are in order and fixed well to the stormwater drain.
Asbestos: Checking whether and where asbestos has been used. Most often, it's found in walls, roofing and fencing. Asbestos needs to be removed professionally as asbestos dust can cause serious health problems.
Roof: Checking for missing, cracked or sliding tiles to ensure the roof is not sagging or undulating as that can be a sign of underlying structural issues.
General appearance: Checking the overall state of the building and look for damaged windows, cracks in the brickwork or cement work and whether it needs a new coat of paint.
Extensions: Checking the quality of the workmanship of extensions and ensuring they have correct council approval.
Termites: Checking if the area is prone to termites or other insects and checking the building for termite damage wherever any wood touches the ground, such as along side walls, pergolas and decking.
Garden and surrounds
Trees: Checking aging trees which can pose a danger and be quite expensive to remove. Clarify the condition and type of trees in the garden and check whether any trees in or near your property could potentially cause damage to your property or to a neighbour due to falling branches or in a storm.
Garden: What level of maintenance is required in the garden. Check the number of taps and their location to ensure watering can be carried out over the entire garden.
Privacy: Checking if the property is overlooked by neighbouring houses.
Fencing: Checking the state of fencing and gates.
External structures: Checking of carports, sheds, pergolas and decking to ensure they are stable and in good condition. You may wish to obtain more information as to whether these structures have Council approval.
Pools and spas: Checking for cracks or bulges in pools including evidence of leaks or repairs. Check lighting, filtration and heating systems. Checking of the any paving surrounding the pool. Ensuring that the pool has appropriate fencing which complies with the current regulations.
Drainage: Checking of wet patches in the garden which would indicate poor drainage and consider the influence of possible run-off from adjacent properties.

If you do not have the time and expertise to handle the exhaustive list above contact Dooley and Associates when purchasing a property. Our property team have a network of contacts with qualified inspectors who can assist you with ensuring your dream house does not become your nightmare. Additionally our qualified, friendly and helpful staff will work with you and assist you with your conveyance to ensure that the whole transaction progresses smoothly.

An edited extract from The Great Australian Dream: A Guide to Buying Your First Home, by Peter Boehm (The Slattery Media Group, $25).