All posts by Brett White

Our Four W Method Of Reporting Defects

So, what is required to meet the 2007 Standard?

The 2007 Standard limits the extent of reporting to major defects, providing a general impression regarding the extent of minor defects and any major defect that is an urgent and serious safety hazard.  The standard then advises that the major defect should be;

1. Clearly described (as per Table 3.3 of the Standard)
2. Have a general statement as to any minor defect/s arising from the major defect
3. Have an explanation as to why it is a major defect i.e. what are the consequences of NOT attending to the major defect?
4. Have a referral to a qualified person that can provide a scope and cost of the repairs.

However, quite often the simple identification of a defect alone is not enough. Their correct format of reporting is called the four W’s. By following the four W method, we articulate each and every building defect to our client by not only identifying the defect, but also explaining why it is a defect and the consequences of the defect if it is not attended to. We outline what the defect is, where the defect is located in the house, why it is considered a defect in the first place and exactly what should be done to rectify the defect.

Our Four W Method:

1. What is the defect?
2. Where is the defect located?
3. Why it is a defect?
4. What should you do about it?

Thorough reporting of each and every defect is vital after a building inspection. If you have been presented with the four W’s on a house you are considering you will be best equipped to make an informed decision.

Inspect East Building Inspections produce reports that better satisfy our clients need to find the major defects more easily and therefore better informed to make important decisions.

Melbourne the Most Desirable and Expensive

Melbourne has been voted the world’s most liveable city six years in a row as of 2016. It’s not surprising then that most of the worlds famous locality is seeing property prices now grow faster that its main national competitor, Sydney.

Homes sold in Melbourne went up by an average 6.9 per cent in the year to September, compared with just 3.2 per cent in Sydney, according to the latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

What’s causing this? The simple answer is supply and demand. The affordability of Melbourne housing combined with the city’s reputation for culture and sport is extremely appealing for national and international homebuyers alike.

Melbourne is now expanding by about 100,000 people every year. A lot of these people have the money to purchase homes, and are doing so.

The median dwelling price in Melbourne is a little over $700,000, compared to Sydney where it is around $1 million.

Forecasts predict Melbourne to become Australia’s biggest city by 2050, with figures showing the city’s population growth outpacing Sydney for several years in a row. Sydney’s population hit 5 million in 2016, whilst Melbourne is around 4.7 million.

This large and fast past demographic growth is accompanied by growing house prices

Currently, the lower house prices in Melbourne are also a drawcard for potential homebuyers. This is particularly appealing when combined with accompanying lures like education, café’s and community culture.

It’s very possible then, that if this trend continues, Melbourne may surpass Sydney when it comes to price points in the near future.

Why It Pays to Get An Expert

Already using Social Media? Follow Amalain.com.au for the latest about tips and tricks when it comes to buying or selling a home and dealing with real estate agents. It pays to have an expert in your corner
These days, businesses need to find a mentor who can help them grow their business and achieve their goals. Having an expert to assist and guide you and provide professional advice in whatever niche you belong to can indeed make things easier.

When it comes to real estate, the same rules apply. Hiring an expert advisor can be a huge help when trying to find and purchase your dream home, in your ideal location and at the right price. Yes, there may be a wealth of property-related information on the internet but getting professional advice tailored to your unique situation is always a better option.

Be sure, however, that you don’t just choose a professional based on who charges the lowest price. Do your research and pick the one who can best represent you and help you to secure the property you so desire.

According to James Tuckerman, founder of Anthill Online, clients get what they pay for. A client needs to be willing to employ the very best professional for the role they are trying to fill. The person offering the best service will have the experience to back it up and clients need to understand that expertise, experience and skill may come at a price.

Here are reasons why it pays to get an expert.

Insight on Current Market Conditions

Buyers advocates work in the real estate market daily. We have comprehensive information on the present condition of the housing market. We can provide you with the specifics depending on what type of residential property you want, its location and home size.

We can help you compare prices and give you information on the type of homes that recently sold in your area.

In terms of prices, as market experts, we can also give you the accurate pricing for properties that fall within your budget.

Access to Off Market Properties

If you’re purchasing a property, a buyer’s advocate is the right professional to hire.

We have a wide market knowledge and many sources within the real estate industry. Our established relationships with real estate agents mean we save you time, as we work with local real estate agents to find the right home for you. We are able to make appointments to view each property at times that work for you.

Depending on your requirements, a buyer’s advocate can help you find homes that are not advertised to the general public. Known as “off market”, we are able to source properties that suit your specifications before other buyers get a look in.

There are many off market properties are available in the market, but they are not listed publicly. This is where our experience and expertise proves invaluable.

Help in Negotiating

Negotiating is a vital part of a real estate transaction. Very few home owners looking to sell or those looking to buy a new property are skilled or confident when it comes to negotiating. As such, as your vendor advocate we protect your interests during the entire sales process.

On the buying side, we are trained negotiators. We will ensure that you as the buyer are our top priority.  We are adept at securing properties prior to auction and bring the expertise you are after on auction day.

Guidance in Paperwork and Contract Signing

It’s a reality that any real estate transaction often involves understanding and signing a lot of paperwork. Whether you are buying or selling a home, the paperwork that forms part of the transaction can be quite complicated.

Keep in mind that each state has its own laws on selling and purchasing property and they have to be followed diligently. This is where an expert can guide you throughout the process.

Looking to buy in Melbourne and sick of missing out at auction? Thinking of selling and wanting trusted, impartial advice and hand holding to protect your interests throughout the entire selling process? Talk to us about how WE MAKE IT EASY to buy or sell your home.

Call us now on 03 8609 1234 for a confidential free consultation.

2016 TRENDS IN RENOVATIONS

KITCHENS

Tactile surfaces are a design trend that is more popular with wood grain look bench tops back in fashion. Silent range hoods with motors installed outside the building are being utilised so the kitchen can be enjoyed in peace and quiet.

Ceiling down lights seem to be a thing of the past. The strategic use of pendant lighting where interesting materials are highlighted, such as, metallic, coloured glass or matte ceramic is hitting the scene. Lighting underneath overhead cabinetry, inside the pantry or any other task lighting is gaining popularity.

Pull out cabinetry for pantry items, dinner sets and pots and pans. Plate warmers and espresso machines are often installed. Dishwashers, fridges and microwaves can be discretely disguised with cabinet facades.

Butlers pantries, two ovens, wine cellars or dedicated wine fridge, built in steamers and ice-makers.

Bigger bench tops that double up as island bench tops for serving food or can replace a dining table

Concealed docking stations for smartphones, iPads and iPods and in-bench power points make life easy.

Snazzy splashbacks are now an essential design element of home renovations. Glass splashbacks can now display all of your home security, a TV screen and the internet. Subway tiles are still on trend as are natural stone splashbacks.

BATHROOMS

Timber has emerged as the new trend in vanities and cupboards. Stone and rock on bathtubs and sinks.
Standalone bath tubs are a hot trend and built in bathtubs have fallen down the ranking in popularity.
Large tiles instead of smaller mosaics
Smart storage with all drawers vanity unit as opposed to having doors under the basin. Mirrored or wall cabinets above the vanity allow for easy access to items stoes and required on a regular bais.

ADDING PET AMENITIES

Dog showers, storage space and feeding stations.

WINDOWS

Double glazing is a very popular option helping to reduce heating and cooling problems. Look also to draught proof your home as well.

WARDROBES

Utilising storage capacity within a wardrobe is to build the wardrobe to the ceiling thus providing you wish a shelf above the hanging rail for the storage of large items such as suitcases. Incorporate both single and double hanging rails allows more efficient use of the storage of dresses, pants, shirts and shirts.

INDOOR-OUTDOOR LIVING

Indoor to outdoor architecture is also becoming increasingly popular. Living areas now open up to an enclosed patio or decking, making a seamless connection between the outside and the in. Big floor to ceiling windows instead of walls can provide unobstructed views to the outside while still separating the living spaces from the garden areas.

Not all building reports are equal. What separates a good report from a mediocre one?

To begin with always use a suitably qualified person (such as a licensed builder, a surveyor or an architect) to provide a professional building inspection. These professions should see through any cosmetic improvements that might otherwise be missed by an untrained eye.

A professional inspector will ensure that the format and content of the report complies with the relevant Australian Standards.
It is crucial to ascertain if the building inspector intends, subject to accessibility, examine the roof cavity and underfloor areas. Timber pest activity and damage, structural damage and rot and decay can be detected by a thorough examination of these areas.

Ensure that the person you choose has adequate insurance cover, particularly for professional indemnity and public liability.

What is a good building inspection report?

Ask about the layout and content of the report. A good report should be set out in an orderly, easy to read fashion, with supporting photographs and lots of assisting information. We use 3D software and it produces a report that has labelled colour photos. It is easy to read and can be emailed to you on the day of the inspection. Hand written and box ticked reports are not adequate. Ask for a hard copy of the report for your files if you want to keep for future reference.

The report should give you:

– A summary of the overall condition of the property (considering its age and type)

– A list of any areas or item that wasn’t inspected

– If necessary, a recommendation that a further inspection or assessment be carried out by a suitably accredited specialist (e.g. pest inspector, electricity supply authority, water supply authority, structural engineer, geotechnical engineer, surveyor or solicitor).

Inspection glassBecause Building and Pest Inspections are visual only, they are not intrusive. The Inspector can only inspect areas that they can visually see and access. Making sure areas are not locked on the day of the inspection -areas such as manholes, garages and subfloor doors. If there are areas that you are particularly concerned with make sure debris or furnishes are moved for the inspection.

A dedicated inspector should go through the report with you to make sure you understand the key elements. Time spent going over the report with the inspector is an important part of the inspection process.

Areas you can follow up with after the report may include – discussions with your Solicitor or Conveyensor on areas that have been noted in the report -additions, extensions and improvements that have been undertaken. Searches may need to but undertaken.

Choosing an independent inspector is an important step. Your report is for your eyes only. Reports should only be passed onto Agents or Solicitors with your approval. Choose your own Inspector that you feel comfortable with not one that is recommended by the real estate agent

Google reviews are a good was of finding out how others have found their inspection reports.

The Legal Tips You Need To Know About Buying Property

Buying a property is one of the most important financial decisions you will ever make. It’s easy to get swept up in emotions when you think you’ve found “the one”, especially when you’re a first home buyer or you’ve been searching for ages. But it’s very important to carefully consider the legal and financial implications before you sign a contract. Thorough research could save you a fortune and ensure you avoid a serious mistake.

From the hundreds of real estate contracts she’s read during her career, guest blogger and Melbourne property lawyer Kate Ashmor from Ashmor Legal shares three legal tips to keep in mind when you’re considering a purchase:

1. Carefully inspect the property and check the condition of EVERYTHING before you sign the contract.

A standard clause in the contract makes the vendor (or seller) only responsible for delivering the property to you at settlement in the condition it was on the day of sale, fair wear and tear excepted. So if the central heating wasn’t working on the day you signed the contract or there was a leak in the bathroom, bad luck. Turning on all appliances and checking all light fittings beforehand will give you an accurate picture of the state of the property; you may be able to negotiate on price if something like an oven or garage door isn’t working.

2. Consider obtaining building and pest inspections.

Older period homes may have hidden issues with foundations and roofing, as well as termite infestation. Newer homes can have waterproofing and drainage issues. Investing in a building and pest inspection report could save you a fortune if you avoid buying an issue-plagued home. If relevant, read the Owners Corporations Annual General Meeting minutes carefully – will you be required to contribute to major capital works in the future? Look out for the condition of driveway concrete, fences and stairwell carpets too.

3. If you buy “subject to building and pest inspection” ensure the special condition is broadly worded.

You can insist on your wording of the special condition in the contract, so there’s enough wriggle room to terminate the contract if the inspection picks up any issues, regardless of their seriousness. Avoid the word “major” before ‘defect” and “live” before “pest infestation”. It’s your offer and you’re entitled to insist on your wording, regardless of what the selling agent says. But remember: when you purchase at auction, the contract is not subject to anything (it’s unconditional), so you’ll need to arrange your building and pest inspection to occur before auction day.

Note: the above is general information and should not be considered as legal advice.

© Ashmor Legal Pty Ltd 2016, all rights reserved.

Here’s how to contact Kate for assistance with conveyancing:
www.ashmorlegal.com.au
Facebook: AshmorLegal
Twitter: @KateAshmor
Instagram: Kate.Ashmor

Home Inspection Mistakes – Facts and Fiction

With the busy spring selling season nearly upon us, plenty of would-be buyers are preparing to hit the real estate websites to see what new stock is about. Potential buyers may engage a building inspector because they have done so in the past or have had a great recommendation from family or friends. Others are only motivated to do an inspection if they think they can use the report to negotiate a better price. But what are some of the biggest mistakes they make when it comes to a home inspection?

FICTION – Not every purchase needs an inspection

FACT – A home inspection is one of the most important steps you can take to make sure your new home is a sound investment and a safe place to live. It is vital to do your homework before making the biggest purchase of your life. Most people would never dream of buying a car without getting a mechanic or a RACV check. Having a building inspection done by an experienced building inspector, even on a new-build home, should be one of the highest priorities for a buyer because it will assist in making an informed purchase decision.

To the untrained eye a building might appear to be in good order, but it is a far safer option to draw on the experience of a reputable building inspector who can look for problems lurking below the surface. We find newly renovated constructions which usually look fantastic but are often not built according to Australian Standards can be a disaster waiting to happen.

FICTION – I have a builder friend who can look over the building and he will do a similar job to a building inspector

FACT – I have seen the ”family builder friend” at many inspections. They rarely inspect the roof or get down to inspect under floor. They do not have to equipment to determine moisture or wood decay. You are also not covered by appropriate insurances.

FICTION – A bad report kills a purchase

FACT – A report that flags one or several issues doesn’t necessarily signal the end of a potential sale. Instead, it offers the buyer a clear understanding about what may need urgent attention and what longer term maintenance should be considered. Not only does it offer a negotiation aspect, it also provides opportunity to source estimates on the cost of any repairs before the cooling off period expires or before signing a contract.

Facts when hiring a building inspector

FICTION – A DIY inspection is just as good

FACT – An inspection done by an experienced building inspector can potentially save a would-be buyer thousands of dollars. You wouldn’t trust your own health to a dodgy doctor, and a home should be no different. In choosing a building inspect, remember that you are selecting a professional who will give one of your biggest investments a complete physical check-up.

Do your homework and choose an inspector who is competent, experienced, thorough and trustworthy, rather than just going with the cheapest option or one suggested by the real estate agent.

FICTION – the real estate agent or vendor must disclose any major defects in the property I wish to purchase.

FACT – Having an inspection prior to a home purchase in Victoria is vital as laws governing house sales in Victoria stipulate that it is “Buyers Beware”. It is up to the purchaser to conduct relevant checks to establish the condition of the property. Potential areas that may push your budget over the edge or make you so uncomfortable that you may not wish to go ahead are the presence of asbestos, structural issues, mold and termite damage. Many times the vendor is not even aware that the shower is leaking causing major structural damage or that previous termites have caused the deterioration of the structure of the dwelling.

FICTION – A home being built doesn’t need to be inspected

FACT – Even experienced homebuyers can believe that a home under construction doesn’t need an independent review of work being done. It can be a rookie mistake that can result in major faults that are not being picked up until well down the track – often years later, or when it comes to sale time. Don’t assume a builder or contractor is doing everything to the highest standard, and remember that an inspection might be a last line of defense against major defects.

it's important to have a building inspector inspection a property prior to purchase

FICTION – A would-be buyer can’t go to the inspection

FACT – A growing number of buyers are opting to go to an inspection so that any matters raised can be discussed with the building consultant and considered in greater context. This avoids a novice buyer placing an over-emphasis on a minor problem, or even worse, not realizing the seriousness of a defect. The inspector must inform the real estate agent that the potential buyer will be present so make sure you inform the inspector at the time of booking.

FICTION – Recommendations made by an inspector can be delayed

FACT – There are times when a pre-purchase inspection flags an issue that might need greater examination, and a Building Inspector may recommend that the buyer refers it to a specialist expert before the sale concludes. Ignoring that advice runs the risk of an issue turning out to be a far more expensive to rectify or a much bigger deal than originally anticipated.

FICTION – A buyer needs to sign the contract before they arrange an inspection

FACT – Anyone seriously thinking of buying a home can exercise the right to have a property inspection done at any stage during the sales process, and they do not have to wait until a contract has been signed or a cooling off period has started. Don’t forget that an offer on a property can also be made subject to the outcome of a building inspection report. However many contracts stipulate that the defects need to be major before you can get out of the contract. Be aware of any agent who won’t give the inspector access until after the cooling off period. In every case this has happened to me there was something big the vendor was hiding.

FICTION – A real estate agent is there for all parties

FACT – An agent is primarily acting in the best interests of the seller. In comparison, a building consultant is engaged to give a would-be buyer an honest, straight opinion about the current condition of the house and flag any potential issues to be considered during the sales process. Do your own research and engage an inspector you feel comfortable with.

Pre Auction Inspections Don’t Be Surprised, Be Well Prepare Before You Bid

Pre auction inspections are really no different to the standard pre purchase building and timber pest inspection. If you are thinking of purchasing a property at auction it’s important for you to be prepared and still take the necessary steps to have the property thoroughly checked out before you place your bid.

Be prepared with pre auction purchases, make sure you have done a thorough inspection before bidding.
Auction conditions are not normally conditional upon the purchaser obtaining a satisfactory building and pest inspections. It’s too late one the hammer has come down!

Many times I am asked to conduct the inspection on the day of the auction. The purpose of this report is not to negotiate a reduction in price for the property. The report has many other advantages. It can highlight hidden defects and conditions that may be conducive to wood and timber pest decay. Rectification may add significant costs to an already stretched budget. If the property is an investment being able to determine how long you many need to service the mortage before tenants can safely move in can be an important factor.  All this information needs to be considered before you bid and may be helpful in determining what your maximum bid should be. It may even be a game changer and the outcome may be that you won’t be bidding at all.

A pre-purchase building inspection can also provide you with evidence to prove the condition of the property at the time of purchase. This can be invaluable if you need to make an insurance claim in the future. Some insurance companies will not pay out on a claim if they believe damage was pre-existing. The report has many labelled photos and highlights defects and maintenance items that need attention.

The video below was conducted hours before an auction. I only just had time to conduct the inspection, send it out to the potential purchaser (within ½ hour) and go through a verbal overview before the auction commenced. I believe that this was the only building inspection completed on the property so my clients were the only ones that knew of the concealed termite damage that lay under the floor in the flooring and skirting boards.

The hidden costs for this couple were too much to bear and because it was an investment they may have been without rental income for months whilst rectification took place.

A Week Around The Blocks With Inspect East

A skeptical potential buyer asked me as I was doing a Building and Timber Pest Inspection for him.

What would you really expect to find in a building less than 5 years old?

I highlighted a few examples of recent issues I have found in near new buildings. All were properties that presented rather well and advertised in the real estate websites as “impeccably presented, Immaculately maintained”

Two cold water taps in the ensuite – the potential buyer replied oh that would easily be fixed it probably wasn’t connected to the hot water system. I replied actually the hot water line had not been plumbed in and potentially could have caused huge expense and inconvenience to the new owners.

Leaking showers are often found in brand new or renovated bathrooms often resulting in tiles, plaster and waterproofing having to be redone. Don’t judge a book by its cover. I discovered this shower had a substantial leak.

leaking shower

Many new bathrooms now have the modern look tiled shower bases and once I have run the shower for a few minutes I have discovered that not enough fall has been allowed for consequently the water pools or floods out of the shower and into the bathroom.

shower leak

Sometimes the termite barrier has been compromised either by the builder or the owners by putting garden beds up against the building resulting in the termite barrier being compromised.

termite barrier

No insulation installed either in the walls or the ceiling. This is sometimes expected that it is picked up with the certificate of occupancy but is often overlooked.

Leaking roofs or downpipes not connected– hard imagine this being a problem in a new property however often with a multitude of trades climbing over roof to install flashings etc. tiles can get cracked.

downpipe

Rubble and rubbish stored under the subfloor – rubbish can be expensive to dispose of and can sometimes hide defects and is conducive to timber pest or termite attack. Rubbish can also be a harborage for rodents and other pests.

Rubbish

Many times the builder or owner agrees to rectify these issues before settlement, which makes the cost of a building inspections well worth the money. My potential purchaser agreed that he wouldn’t be bidding for any property unless
he had a building and pest inspection done regardless of the age.

Having an inspection prior to a home purchase in Victoria is vital as laws governing house sales in Victoria stipulate that it is “Buyers Beware”. It is up to the purchaser to conduct relevant check to establish the condition of the property.

BUILDING INSPECTION EQUIPMENT

We use the most up to date equipment when inspecting a premises. Inspectors use many types of equipment because their use allows us to identify unacceptable conditions that cannot be identified visually. Some types of equipment are used because they make the inspections easier or faster for the inspector. Here are some examples of the equipment we commonly use at Inspect East.

TERMATRAC – Radar Detection

TERMATRAC

– Accurate Detection and Confirmation of Termites
– Radar signals specially calibrated to identify termites.
– Detect termites through timber, brick, masonry, concrete, plasterboard or drywall, plastic, plus many other common building materials (limitations do apply).
– Easily determine between the presence of termites or ants without the need to access building cavities and voids.

Termatrac requires no physical penetration of walls and no need for tapping or prodding. Termites are not disturbed, do not retreat, and remain active for easy and accurate detection by the Termatrac Termite Detection Radar.
Eliminate the guess-work in Termite Detection and Treatment
– Identify the exact locations of termites
– Easily and accurately locate termite nests and entry points.
– Because the termites have been located without disturbance, treatment can be applied while the termites are working normally.

TRAMEX MOISTURE METRES

Excess moisture and humidity left within a building environment or its structural elements is the cause of damage to structural materials such as rot, mold growth, reduced insulation values, failure of flooring, roofing and wall support. To avoid such issues the building inspector needs the right diagnostic to carry out their work professionally and efficiently. The moisture of the building structure needs to be measured.

When we use a moisture metre we can detect elevated moisture levels hidden behind a variety of materials, such as tile and vinyl. This feature helps locate plumbing leaks hidden beneath shower and bathroom floors. The moisture metre provides a measurement of those levels.

To carry out the building investigation efficiently and effectively it is also important to have knowledge of the building construction components and materials, as well as the internationally recognized standards and reference guides for water damage restoration.
Initially, using infrared cameras and moisture meters, it is necessary to establish which building materials are ‘wet’, which are ‘not wet’, and to trace the leak back to its source. Determining the cause of loss or point of entry.

FLASHLIGHT

Flashlight

Home Inspectors are always searching for the perfect flashlight. Powerful flashlights are good for seeing in dark areas where access is difficult or impossible but the strong reflection can make taking photos difficult. Most inspectors own several types.

We always carry extra batteries and flashlights as a back up. Losing the main light unexpectedly can leave an inspector in a dangerous situation if they have no back up light.

TELESCOPING LADDERS

Easy to carry through homes without bumping into walls and can be carried in the boot of a car.

Telescoping Ladder

Collapsed telescoping Ladder

Collapsed telescoping Ladder

RULE

Rule

A rule is a handy tool when checking handrail or step dimensions for safety purposes.

SPIRIT LEVEL

Spirit Level

The spirit level is a device for determining true horizontal or vertical directions by centrering a bubble in a glass tube of alcohol or ether.
We commonly use a level when building elements or components are out level or alignment example may be flooring, walls or windows.

TERMITE INSPECTION TOOL

The termite donger/inspection tool is a thin fiber glass rod with a plastic ball at the end of it. These are tapped onto skiring boards and timber frames to try and detect hollowness, which is an indication of termites.

Termite Inspection Tool