25 March 2022

Buying a Home: 10 Things To Inspect Before Making An Offer

Emma McLaren
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Purchasing property is an exciting yet turbulent time

Open houses are often your first and last opportunity to screen and scrutinise bricks and mortar before the purchasing process gets underway.

Turning up mentally equipped with criteria and make sure you comb the place, looking for common red flags to present themselves.

But how can you be sure you've checked for all those extra, potentially bank-busting basics before committing?

Here are ten fundamental but critical property attributes to scope out for a more accurate cost calculation and avoid becoming another horror-story bargain hunter!

Look for surface water damage

Water staining can be a costly nightmare.

Assessing each wall as you walk around the home is vital for conducting an ultra-thorough internal surface analysis.

Discolouration or blackened spots on walls or persistent mould stains indicate that water is likely sitting behind it due to one or more severe leakages.

Mould damage attended to early can usually be corrected. Severe mould is often a dead giveaway that current owners aren't particularly fond of routine maintenance, making you wonder whether other hidden nasties are waiting for you.

Check for bowed or drooping ceilings

Discovering even the slightest bulge hanging from ceilings indicates water is present in the roof. You can use a torch to find minor damage; however, major issues will often stand out and be highly fragile to touch.

Water pooling in ceilings generally indicates a cracked roof tile, a ducted air-con-related issue, or another leak from an above neighbouring apartment's bathroom.

Finding a tonne of rust is also a no-go. Minor corrosion may not be the end of the world; however, it will likely be a big restore job.

Examine cupboards surrounding bathrooms

Open up all the cabinets, cupboards and other storage spaces and check for stale odours and visible mould. This is especially important for concealed cabinet areas backing directly onto walls shared with showers on the opposite side.

Look for spotted or tarnished shower and floor tiles, then inspect inside the cupboards adjoining the bathroom walls. Discolouration and a noticeable softness or dampness in cabinets indicate major waterproofing issues that have likely been ignored for years.

'Squishy' or creaking floor tiles are also problematic and, depending on the severity of the damage, could call for an entire shower or bathroom rebuild!

You don't want to see external cracks

Conduct a perimeter assessment, walk around the property's external walls, and check for large surface cracks regardless of its construction style or what it's been built with.

A property presenting excessive numbers of visible cracks wider than 2.0mm could indicate structural issues and a requirement for big dollars down the track.

Uneven or protruding brickwork could also mean movement in the soil or foundations has occurred over time, which is another potentially severe future issue worth consulting experts on.

Always organise a building inspection by a licensed professional before purchasing any home.

Scan for mould where you'll be sleeping

Breathing in toxins while you sleep is something you definitely didn't sign up for.

Mould found anywhere in the home is concerning, but even the most minuscule bits damage your health over the long term. Allergic reactions and exacerbating respiratory conditions may not even be the worst of it.

Mould must be cleaned immediately upon the decision to purchase, and most of the time isn't a cheap task to have actioned.

Check out the roof

Stand back at the curb if you have to, but ensure you get a detailed view of the roof structure and its overall condition. Look for things like deflected lines and cracked or missing tiles.

Older homes may require significant roof repairs, and the pros willing to refurbish it will likely come with a hefty price tag attached.

Deteriorated or missing tiles are commonly caused by wild weather or hailstones and aren't so expensive to replace; however, the house will likely have experienced seepage issues due to rain penetration.

Are the gutters corroded?

Gutters are a big deal.

You won't be able to tell their actual age or extent of possible damage from the ground level. It's recommended to either check them out from the topside yourself or hire someone to take a gander.

Rusty gutters require replacing immediately, just as clogged gutters need cleaning every year. If you're seriously considering the purchase, it might be worth factoring in costs associated with installing gutter guards to save you money on excessive debris extraction services later on.

Study the internal wall plastering

Sometimes wall plastering on the inside will show cracks throughout the home. These tiny hairline cracks shouldn't be taken lightly, as they could be signs of improper installation from the beginning stages of the home's construction.

Those seemingly insignificant cracks can split further and create a spectrum of plaster wall dramas when adding wall fixtures after moving in and deciding on decorations.

Check out all downpipes

Do the downpipes properly align with stormwater drains?

Familiarise yourself with all the downpipe locations, ensuring water isn't just spilling out onto the ground around the property. Rainwater flooding the home's perimeter and pooling around the foundations is not something you want or want to have to fix.

Besides foundational damage, water will stain cement areas over time too.

All water from the roof must be discharged into an accompanying drain hole. The soak wells may not be large enough for the downpipes, or they might even need a clean-out.

How efficient is the drainage?

Adequate drainage is a must-have for any property, but it's especially crucial for multi-story homes.

You should see small drain holes around windows and doors and on each building level. There should be several drain holes designed over a metre apart to effectively drain water from the cavity walls.

The last thing you'll want is water leaking into your new home due to blocked or non-existent drainage systems, so be sure to investigate how water escapes the property during a downpour.

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