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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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Don’t Let Your Home Slip Through the Cracks

For most families, buying a house is one of the biggest financial investments and often takes many years to realise this dream. While it goes without saying that it is essential to choose the right property, often thorough building inspections are overlooked. In fact, issues like cracking in a home have the potential to cause disastrous outcomes for houses and their owners. It can be almost equally alarming to the seller as it is to a potential buyer. Not only can cracking be expensive to fix, but it can also be a big safety concern for anyone wishing to live in the residence.

Fortunately, it’s not all doom and gloom.
 The reality is that most houses, even new 
ones, will have some cracks or show signs of cracking. The benefit of early identification and management of these cracks is the increase in safety and value of the property! Below is a brief guide to identify the severity of visible cracking when looking at a property.

Types of Cracks

Hairline Cracks

Hairline cracks are generally less that 0.1mm wide and deemed negligible.

Fine Cracks

These are typically up to 1mm thick and generally have a very slight impact. While they can be noticeable, they usually do not require repair or can be easily treated for aesthetic purposes using normal decoration.

Distinct Cracks

Distinct cracks are between 2 and 5mm thick and may cause doors and windows to stick. Although these have a slight impact, they can be filled easily.

Wide Cracks

If the crack is between 5 and 15mm thick, it is classified as a wide crack and have a moderate level of impact. These can be fixed through brickwork and possibly replacing some parts of the wall. With wide cracks, doors and windows may experience sticking, service pipes may fracture and weather tightness is often impaired.

Extensive Cracks

Extensive cracks are between 15 and 25mm wide and have can have a severe level of impact. Fixing these cracks can require major repair work involving breaking out and/or replacing sections of walls. Door and window frames may appear distorted and floors may noticeably slope. Service pipes will be disrupted, walls may noticeably lean or bulge and there will be some loss of bearing in beams.

Structural Damage

Anything greater than 25mm in width generally means there is structural damage to the building. These may cause the building to be dangerously instable meaning repair work for structural damage can require partial or complete rebuilding. Signs of structural damage include broken windows with distortion, beams experiencing loss of bearing and walls leaning badly.

Using a reputed, proven and thorough building inspection service like APM Solutions will ensure your home conforms to the Building Standards & Tolerances of Queensland. This is beneficial for the following reasons:

  1. Early identification of potential structural issues
  2. Avoiding investing in an unsafe property or one that will require exhausting and expensive repairs
  3. Negotiate for a price that budgets for necessary repairs
  4. Foresee issues that may impact further in the future

Contact APM Solutions directly on (07) 3828 2020 or via email at admin@apmsolutions.com.au for a competitive quote!

Buying: Is your new home hazard free?

Buying your dream home often comes with an overwhelming feeling of excitement and while you focus on your natural lit hallway, an entertainment balcony or rainfall shower head, you can often turn a blind eye to the common hazards lurking within the property.

Although building inspections are not a safety audit, experienced inspectors can identify what needs to be done to make your dream home comfortable and safe.

Absent Smoke Alarms

By law, smoke alarms must be installed on or near the ceiling in a hallway or an area close to bedrooms. If you have just purchased a multi-storey home, a smoke alarm will need to be installed on each level. While you’re busy walking in and out of every bedroom, you may forget to look up and check out the ceiling. This is what your building inspector will do for you, ensuring it complies with the Australian Standard.

High Risk Structures

Your entertainment balcony is now large enough to host all your family and friends for a house-warming BBQ, so having your building inspector identify if it has been well maintained, free of termite damage, fungal decay and rot is necessary. Although it might look strong and appealing, you may need to get some structural work done so the balcony can safely hold a crowd of people.

Hot Water Tempering Devices

If you are the first buyer of your dream home since 2013, your hot water system will unlikely meet the current standards. Don’t fret, your building inspector will be able to identify whether your hot water system is delivering water which is heated to minimum of 60 degrees Celsius to prevent the growth of bacteria, and then distributed to taps of all sanitary fixtures (baths, shower, basin) at a maximum of 50 degrees Celsius to avoid scalding-related injuries. If not, your building inspector will be able to point you in the right direction of a licensed plumber so you can be under your rainfall shower head in no time at all.

Time and time again, we see dream homes look perfect but are later revealed to have defects – often fixable but it can be costly. Don’t be caught out, get a FREE Quote for your building inspection with APM Solutions today.

What makes a good building inspection report?

Whether you are buying your dream home or an investment property, a building inspection report will help determine the health and value of the house and ultimately assist you in your buying decision.

As an independent information tool, a building inspection report should include enough information for you to be aware of the property’s condition and know any complications that are present or could eventually occur. If the house has termite damage or structural decay, you are better of knowing before you buy as it may determine your overall buying decision, or allow you to address the damage before it gets too bad to repair.

A good building inspection report will clearly set out the areas within the property which were inspected, inaccessible or obstructed and therefore not inspected. Some building reports will include a visual inspection but this alone can be limiting and make it hard to identify any structural or hidden damage of the property.

Remember, the format and amount of details in the building inspection report will be dependent on the type of property which is being inspected; its size, age and condition. To give you an idea of what to expect, a building inspection report from APM Solutions is formatted into six sections;

  • Service Details
  • Inspection Summary
  • Building and Inspection Report
  • Building Maintenance Responsibilities
  • Property Reporting Terms and Definitions
  • Overall Report

A good building inspection report should be clear, concise, easy to read and always in compliance with the Australian Standard AS 4349.1. Building inspections aren’t just for home buyers. Thinking of selling or renovating? Get a FREE Building Inspection quote with APM Solutions today.

Is your property smoke alarm compliant?

Are you a first time investor and not sure if your smoke alarms are compliant in your rental property?

Not to worry, we’re here to help. Currently, property owners are required to install smoke alarms in all domestic dwellings.

They must also abide by the following:

  • The smoke alarms must comply with Australian Standard 3786-1993 and be installed outside sleeping areas with one on each level of the dwelling
  • The smoke alarms must be replaced before the end of their service life (smoke alarms are required to have a recommended service life of at least 10 years under normal conditions of use)
  • All smoke alarms must be tested and cleaned and any flat or nearly flat batteries replaced within 30 days before the start or renewal of a tenancy.

However, during February 2016, the Queensland Government moved to mandate the installation of photoelectric, hard wired smoke alarms in all bedrooms, living areas and escape paths in every Queensland dwelling. This was in response to the 150 deaths caused by house fires since 2004 and in particular, the 2011 Slacks Creek fire which claimed 11 lives including eight children.

Once the new legislation is passed, landlords will have five years to implement the below at their investment properties:

  • All dwellings will have to install additional smoke alarms in every bedroom, between areas containing bedrooms, in any hallway servicing bedrooms and in any other storey of a residential dwelling.
  • All the smoke alarms will need to be interconnected and either hard-wired or powered by a 10-year lithium battery
  • All installed smoke alarms will need to meet minimum performance standards with photoelectric type smoke alarms acting as the performance baseline. Photoelectric smoke alarms detect visible particles of combustion and therefore react faster to smoldering fires.  They are also considered to be more reliable and less likely to produce false alarms, such as food burning during the cooking process.
  • If replacing an existing smoke alarm, homeowners will be required to purchase and install a photoelectric smoke alarm.

Click here for more information on smoke alarms or visit the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services website.