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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!

5 questions to ask yourself before buying

When buying, there are many things you may need to think about.

When you’re buying a home, you (or your building inspector) will most likely identify something that you wish wasn’t there; damp wood, termites, leakage, or a frame with damaged structure. The simple fact is no home has a clean bill of health, especially if you’re looking to buy an 80-year-old Queensland home.

All properties have their own issues and a building and pest inspection will be able to measure the severity of them. A building and pest report will specifically outline any ongoing maintenance needed and a checklist of what to tackle in priority, should you go ahead and purchase the property.

Ideally, what you as a buyer wants from a building and pest report is for it to identify whether the property you wish to buy is better than/on par/worse than other properties in the area. For example, if you are buying an 80-year-old Queenslander, it will more than likely show signs of termite, borer and fungal decay damage and water ingress from aging roofs and bathrooms – where as a newly built home won’t.

Your building inspector will be able to identify whether there is any structural damage to be concerned about. They can also tell whether past damage has been rectified in an appropriate way; and how well the property has been maintained by its previous owners. Good building inspectors will meetnyou at the property so they can talk you through the inspection as they go. They will be able to identify the condition of the house on the spot; tell you how it stacks up for a property of its age and give you an honest opinion on the condition of the property.

Make sure you ensure the report you receive from your building and pest inspector is put into context. Don’t be scared of what is in the report but also don’t ignore it and go on to buy another property without engaging in a building and pest inspection. These reports are here to help you understand the condition of the property you are buying.

Still concerned? Ask yourself these 5 questions to help make your buying decision:

1.      How does this property compare to others of a similar age and style, in a similar location?
2.      What issues need to be dealt with before moving into the property?
3.      What is the likely cost of each issue identified in the building and pest report?
4.      Do you see any ongoing, costly maintenance issues?
5.      Would you let your son/daughter buy this house?

When do you book a Building Inspection?

So you’re looking to sell your house – you have engaged an agent, booked the professional photos and approved a marketing plan. You’re good to go right? Wrong.

Did you know that vendors who conduct a building and pest inspection prior to listing have a 55 per cent less chance of their contract falling over at the final hurdle?

Building inspections can prove valuable for two reasons. One – they bring any problems to light prior to the home being listed so that they can rectified and two – eliminates buyers asking for price reductions to conduct any repair work.

Some of the most prevalent issues found on building inspection reports include:

Plumbing Issues

The plumbing system in any home is intricate, but it can also be the source of problematic results on a professional building inspection report. Outdated, deteriorating or incompatible piping aren’t unusual, as are waste line issues and faulty fixtures. Plumbing defects are among the most common problems discovered by professional building inspectors, and can affect the sale of a property if they’re not properly addressed.

Structural Defects

Either as a result of building defects, general wear and tear or plumbing issues, structural defects can and do happen. Lack of maintenance, undetected leaks due to poor roofing or plumbing and degradation as a result of poor ventilation are just a few of the factors which can contribute to structural defects. Environmental factors and initial building practices can also contribute to cumulative damage sustained to rafters, floor joists, foundation walls and other structural components – which is especially common in older homes.

Insufficient Ventilation

One of the most popular trends in modern home design, renovations and upgrades is energy efficiency. Saving money and reducing energy usage are admirable ideas, but as with anything in life, you can have too much of a good thing. Homes which have been aggressively sealed against heat loss can, in fact, be sealed tightly enough to inhibit air flow and ventilation. The result is a high level of moisture within the home, which can lead to mould growth, water damage and rot.

Drainage

The primary issue disclosed on many building inspection reports is related to the drainage. A thorough, professional building inspection covers more than just the primary structure. A building inspector will also evaluate crucial aspects of the surrounding property to determine the potential for water damage and cracked slabs due to grading and drainage deficiencies. While this is a relatively common problem reported during building inspections, it can also be one which is remedied with ease. In many cases, the repair or installation of new gutters, downpipes and re-grading around the structure can lessen the threat of water damage significantly.

Roof Damage

While a well-built roof does have a surprisingly long life expectancy, even the best roof will eventually begin to degrade. Professional building inspections can often highlight issues with roofing which may have gone previously undetected, as most homeowners will not discover roof damage until it’s severe enough to cause leaks or be immediately visible.

Therefore, it is highly recommended to hire a reputable and experienced professional building inspections company prior to listing your home to identify any common problems or issues that could be remedied prior to it affecting the sale or final asking price.

Book your pre-sale Building and Pest Inspection today.