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What to do if the property you're buying has known issues

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Buying a home can be one of the most rewarding and exciting experiences. After months of searching and identifying your dream home, you want nothing more than to move and settle in, but there are always a few things you should double check first.

If you notice any issues while on house inspections, it’s important to bring them up with the seller because they are responsible for the maintenance and repairs of anything that might arise. If you skim past any problems, you may find yourself set back a few thousand dollars after you’ve already purchased the property. Here are 9 things for you to look out for when house hunting.

1. Cracked or damp walls

The most obvious issue to notice at first glance is any worn out paint. If the exterior or the interior of the house shows signs of dampness, tearing or fading, it’s important to bring this up with the seller if you intend to purchase the property.

Check to see if there are sufficient paint coatings and whether any paint has been used to cover mould or signs of decay. Paint jobs don’t come cheap and you’ll want to move into a home that is properly and freshly painted and dampness can be a sign of a major leak.

Another thing to check for are cracks in the walls. Cracks can mean that the foundations of the house aren’t stable and this can lead to greater structural damage and problems in the future that can cost thousands to fix and repair.

Cracks and other defects should be fixed immediately by the seller. Having a professional evaluate the problem can help to determine whether or not the property is fit to be sold.

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2. Dodgy floorboards


Keep an eye out for floorboards and make sure to lift up rugs or carpets to check for rotting floorboards. Damp or rotted floorboards can lead to greater structural issues in the future and may also be a sign of pest infestation. This can cause serious damage to the floor as well as anyone involved in their removal..

If you hear any unusual sounds or squeaks under your feet, be sure to check the floorboards in the area, as they can also mean that there is damage in stability. Generally speaking, a problem with your floorboards will mean that there are also problems elsewhere, and this might be due to a rise in humidity and moisture which can weaken wood.

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3. Electrical issues

Electrical hazards can be one of the most dangerous issues with any household. Any failure in electricity runs the risk of physical danger to anyone who may potentially move into a home.

If during a home inspection you find that certain lights don’t work, something short circuits, or you see electrical wiring in places they shouldn’t be, it’s important to bring this up with the seller immediately. As the property’s current owners, it is their job to maintain and repair all electrical wiring.

A dangerous electrical fault can not only injure someone, but can also lead to a fire. Poor and defective wiring can increase the chances of a power surge and arc faults. Be sure to check whether all power outlets are situated at safe distances - away from any water sources including sinks and baths.

4. Bad plumbing


A rusted or burst pipe can lead to severe problems in the future. When conducting a personal inspection of a house, it’s advised to give all plumbing a gentle shake to ensure it is sturdy. A failure in water supply can increase the chances of dampness and moisture in structural foundations and can most obviously lead to a substantial waste of water that can cost you a fair amount in the future. Test all taps to see how long it takes for hot water to come through. Flush the toilet and check to see whether it fills and runs properly.

Make sure all the plumbing and pipes in the house run effectively to reduce the chances of having to incur expensive maintenance costs in the future. If you see any rotted pipes or any leakagesing, the property’s seller is required to call in a professional to fix the issue.

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5. Mould and dampness

Surface mould, usually green in colour, can be expected in a poorly ventilated bathrooms where humidity rises. A seller is required to clean any surface mould and take care of any issues related to dampness before selling.

However, as with most other structural issues, if you see black mould in a ceiling corner or on the floor skirting, this almost certainly indicates that there’s a larger issue present. Black mould can mean that water and moisture has seeped through to the house’s foundation, rendering it unfit in many situations.

Mould spores can also trigger asthma attacks and allergies, making such houses extremely unsafe for asthma patients and people with severe allergies. The key to eliminating any mould is by creating more well-ventilated spaces. Check to see whether all the ventilation in the house is clean and well placed. You should make sure your seller gets rid of any mould and ensures repair of severely affected surfaces, before selling.

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6. Structural damage

structural-damage Any qualified engineer or architect will tell you that the integrity of the foundation and structure of a house determines its strength and safety. This is why ensuring the foundations and structures are up to standards and in proper conditions is the most important part of a home inspection.

Foundation and structural damage can have many causes and one issue usually leads to another. A property inspection conducted by a professional should involve checking the following interior and external features for structural damage:

  • Staircases bowing away from the porch
  • Termites
  • Bowed walls
  • Gaps between walls and floors
  • Dampness
  • Cracked walls
  • Uneven floors
  • Gaps in windows and door frames

Any faults in these can lead to larger issues in the future so it’s best to let the seller know and ask for a repair before moving forward with the purchase process.

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7. Roof repairs

roof-damage Roof cladding is designed to last up to 30 years before needing to be replaced. If during a home inspection you find that the roof is leaking or damaged, this might indicate the presence of and may lead to other issues like mould, termites or structural damage in the house. .

Dislodged tiles not only mean that the roofing has come to the end of its cycle, but can be dangerous for anyone on the property. Weather-induced damage is heightened if the roofing is sagging or uneven.

Make sure to check the state of the guttering and drain pipes as clogged gutters and damaged pipes can escalate and worsen the situation rapidly. Any rotted pipes and gutters must be replaced by the seller. Get a professional to inspect the roofing itself and a faulty roof must be included in the property report as they are a safety hazard.

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8. Heating and air conditioning systems

It’s important to test the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system (HVAC) in any house. Any failures in heating or air conditioning will usually be the result of improper maintenance and can cost a lot to repair.

In order to make sure that this system runs efficiently, it has to be repaired and replaced regularly. It is the seller’s responsibility to ensure that any heating and cooling system in a property runs smoothly and must repair any damages before selling

Checking the filter system and testing the thermostat can help determining whether the system is faulty or not. If you feel that something may be wrong, it’s recommended to get a professional to inspect the fault. They can identify any leakages, loose areas or any other issues with the HVAC and suggest solutions..

9. Mice, rats, birds and bees...

Pest infestation can bring about many issues in a property. A mice or rat infestation not only damages the property but can transmit diseases and is a risk to the health of those who live there.

Wasp and bee nests are a danger to the residents and can also be fatal for people who have related allergic reactions or phobias. Large nests and hives can also cause damage to the property. Termites can eat away wooden structures and create massive foundational damage.

There are 5 things to look out for when inspecting for pest infestations:

  • Pest droppings
  • Nestings
  • Physical damage such as chewing
  • Damaged plants
  • Grease marks

If you spot any of these signs, it’s best to bring them up with a property inspector and the seller, in order for the issue to be identified and for the seller to organise for pest control and the repairs of any damage already caused.

Negotiate the purchase price

While all these issues could be fixed by the seller prior to you purchasing and moving in, it is possible to negotiate the price point of a property if any of these problems lower its market value.

You could take it upon yourself to repair any damage if you think that by doing so you can save money in the long run. Otherwise, be sure to notify the seller of any structural issues that you may find during a home inspection as they are required to sell a home in a condition that is considered safe.

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The information in this post is general in nature and should not be considered personal or financial advice. You should always seek professional advice or assistance before making any financial decisions.

Tags: new purchase, stamp duty, borrowing costs, lmi (lenders mortgage insurance), renovate, selling property, property prices

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