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A Year in Review: 2016

 

2016 has been a great year for APM Solutions.  We’ve inspected and treated more houses than ever before and can’t wait to hit the ground running in 2017!  As this year comes to an end, here is a quick overview of the most common things our inspectors and technicians have seen throughout the year:

Termites

Live Termites

Although we get to enjoy a beautiful sub-tropical climate here in Queensland, the hot and humid weather also is also loved by termites.  During the warmer months, we frequently find active termite nests in unsuspecting homes.  If detected early on, termites can be managed effectively and affordably, however, if left too late the damage caused can be very expensive to repair and cause homeowners a lot of strife.  Our senior inspector has over 30 years experienced in the building industry and always gives clients an honest opinion on termite prevention techniques, management and treatment options so you aren’t left to stress unnecessarily.

Damaged Shields

Most homes old or new have some termite protection installed. Many homes have protection in the form of a physical barrier – usually a shield that protects the foundations of a home from termites.  We commonly find that during renovations, builders disturb or damage these barriers which can leave a home vulnerable to termite attacks without the homeowner realising.  It is important that these issues are found and fixed immediately to protect homes from potential infestations.

Direct ground contact

When any structural wooden components of the garden like pergolas or fences come into direct contact with the ground, there is an increased risk of attracting termites. Having metal fixtures that attach them to the ground can help reduce the risk of termites finding them.  Alternatively, ensuring that the bottom of a fence is a few millimetres off the ground can also help keep termites and pests at bay.

Removal of Smoke Alarms

In regards to smoke alarms, one of the most dangerous issues we find during inspections is when residents remove the smoke alarms. By removing them, you are tripling your risk of death in a house fire.  Staying informed about changes in legislation and having regular inspections can help ensure smoke alarm compliance and safety within the property.  For more detailed information on Queensland on smoke alarm legislation, click here.

Gas Tanks

We often find that outdoor gas tanks are not properly secured and tethered down. This is an especially hazardous problem as strong storms common throughout a Queensland summer can displace or damage the tanks which can lead to gas leaks, fires or explosions.

It is also illegal and dangerous to connect a barbeque gas tank to a home’s main gas supply.  These are among the issues we have come across during a routine inspection of a property.  The best way to make sure your property is safe is to act responsibly within the home and if you are unsure, get an inspection done by a professional.  Thankfully in this situation, due to APM’s inspection, the problem was found and resolved safely.

Insufficient Drainage

Another problem that becomes a big issue during the stormy summer months is homes without proper sub-floor drainage. These properties become more susceptible to flooding and termites.  When the drainage system has not been planned or installed correctly, water can accumulate under a house, remain stagnant or create moisture.  This environment then becomes the perfect breeding ground for termites.  If you think this is happening in your residence, it is important to inspect and manage the problem before any severe damage occurs.

Non-Compliant Balconies and Stair Treads

Many homes have outdoor balconies, however, as building standards have changed through the years, not all homeowners have updated everything to comply with current standards. We commonly find older homes with balcony railings and stair treads that are a safety hazard.  Current standards state that “when a deck or balcony is one metre or higher above the ground, balustrades need to be at least one metre high.”  You can find more detailed information on government standards via the following links:

http://www.hpw.qld.gov.au/SiteCollectionDocuments/DeckBalconyAndWindowSafetyGuideline.pdf

http://www.hpw.qld.gov.au/SiteCollectionDocuments/CheckYourDeckAndBalconyFactSheet.pdf

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Low-Maintenance Plants for a Subtropical Garden

  1.  Bougainvillea

This gorgeous and vibrantly coloured plant is great for both ground cover or as a climber.  They are a great option as they are beautiful and hardy, meaning they don’t require much maintenance.  However, to get the best flowers make sure to place your bougainvillea in a warm, sunny spot and only prune lightly at the end of the flowering season.

  1. Agapanthus

These blue or white long stemmed lilies can be commonly found around South East Queensland.  They are a great option for hedging – whether it be a pool, fence or driveway, they will be sure to make a statement.  Keep in mind that agapanthus need full blown sun to thrive, so if you use them in a shady area you may run the risk of them not flowering.  Make sure to water them regularly for the best results.

  1. Bird of Paradise

This exotic looking flower resembling a tropical bird is a great addition to any subtropical garden.  They will flower best when grown in rich soil, in direct sunlight and moisture.  While it needs a lot of water, the key to keeping a healthy bird of paradise is to have sufficient drainage for it.  This will ensure it is not left to sit in soggy soil which will eventually cause it to die.

  1. Frangipani Tree

This delightful & aromatic tropical tree is a staple in many gardens around Australia.  Not only are the flowers beautiful, but they are also deliciously fragrant so position your tree in a spot where you’ll be able to enjoy the visual and aromatic benefits.  Frangipanis usually grow between 6-9m tall and 5m wide providing great shade in the summer months.  They are hearty and used to a desert like terrain so never saturate the soil when watering.  Keep them healthy by watering them in summer but allow them to dry out in the winter.

  1. Ornamental Gingers

If you’re looking for something to provide a lush look in your garden, then ornamental ginger is the perfect option.  Coming in a variety of different shapes, sizes and colours you’re sure to find a fit no matter what style garden you have.  Unlike many other sub-tropical plants, ornamental gingers love both shade and sunlight.

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Questions to ask at an open home that can save you money!

An open home is the perfect opportunity to gather valuable information about a property you’re looking to purchase.  By asking the right questions, you’ll be able to determine exactly what you think the property is worth and place your offers accordingly to ensure you are getting your money’s worth.

Here are the 3 best questions you can ask the listing agent in order to get the most useful information and potentially save yourself thousands:

  1. How long has the property been on the market?

This is a very important question because it can let you whether you need to act fast or it can indicate whether you have more bargaining power.  If a home is recently listed and there is a lot of interest, you might want to act faster so you don’t miss out.  On the other hand, if a property has been on the market for a long time, you need to find out why.  Most commonly this is because of price, but there might be other underlying issues as well. For example, there could be major issues with the property that aren’t apparent to the naked eye like:

  • Is it located in a flood zone?
  • Is there structural damage?
  • Is it heritage listed making possible renovations difficult?

These issues can be expensive for the buyer to undertake so finding out before you make an offer can help you negotiate a fair price if you still want to purchase.

  1. Why are the owners selling?

The answer to this question can help in many different ways.  If the agent seems reluctant to say why, it may mean that the sellers want to leave because they feel the area is dangerous, inconvenient or perhaps there have been recent council changes in zoning that will change the neighbourhood etc.

Alternatively, if they are selling in due to an unforeseen circumstance and, you may be able to get a great price in return for a fast sale.

  1. Has there been a recent building and pest inspection done on the property?

If there is a building and pest inspection report provided, make sure to look at it carefully.  Issues such as structural damage or termites can cost thousands to fix so it’s crucial you know what you are getting into before purchasing.  The knowledge a good report can provide can give you great insight into what the property is worth.

If there is no report provided, make sure to get an inspection done before purchasing – especially if the house is going to auction.  Houses that are sold at auction are unconditional.  This means they are not subject to a cooling off period or building and pest clause so it’s important to go in prepared with the information.  The last thing you’d want is to purchase a home at auction for a premium price, only to find out later that there is $50,000 worth of termite damage to fix!

 

If you need an independent pre-purchase building and pest inspection done, contact APM Solutions directly on (07) 3828 2020 or via email at admin@apmsolutions.com.au for a FREE quote today.  Mention this post and receive 10% off your first inspection!

Everyday Maintenance: How to Remove Rust from Metal

Rust is a common problem found in most homes.  It commonly occurs on things like shower heads, pots, pans, serving utensils and furniture.  Rust is a very normal electrochemical process that occurs when iron, oxygen and water combine.  It appears visually as a reddish brownish flaky coating.

While it can be quite problematic in some circumstances, most rusting that occurs around the house can be easily combated with some elbow grease and non-toxic household products.

Here is a list of different ways you can tackle rust in your home:

  1. Baking Soda

Add water to dry baking soda powder till you have a thick paste.  Cover the area of metal that has rusted with the paste and leave it for 30-45mins.  Using a small brush like a toothbrush, scrub off rust.

  1. White Vinegar

Depending on the size of your object, there are a few ways you can use white vinegar to get rid of rust.  If small enough, soak the entire metal object in white vinegar for few hours.  Then remove and scrub off the rusty paste that forms.  If your object is larger, rather than soak the whole thing, soak a rag with vinegar and wipe it over your object.

  1. Lime & Salt

Coat the rusted area in salt and juice a lime over it.  Let this sit for a few hours and the scrub off.  You can substitute the lime for a lemon.

  1. Potato & Dish Soap

Slice a potato in half and dip the cut end in some dishwashing soap.  Rub this over the rusted area of the item until the rust is gone.  Rinse and dry the item when you’re done.

 

Make sure to follow APM Solutions on Facebook for more helpful tips and advice on all things property maintenance!