Thursday, April 01, 2010

APOPA - Australian Property Owners Protection Association

A New Beginning

We currently have a large number of organisations encompassing the property industry however they are mostly concentrating on their specific areas. For example the MBA (Master Builders Association) & HIA (Housing Industry Association) concentrate on the building industry. PPI (Pre-Purchase Inspectors Registry) concentrate on the Pre-Purchase Inspection industry. REIA (Real Estate Institute of Australia) concentrates on the Real Estate Industry. The Law Society is for solicitors and barristers. This is a small number of the industry associations that exist in Australia with many more listed in specific states. So why do we need another organisation you might ask?

You may not realise it but there is no organisation that encompasses the whole property industry from builders through to lawyers and real estate agents. APOPA aim to be a resource for all property owners and Here at Precision Inspections we like to keep ahead of the mark so when we became aware of this new association in formation we investigated; attended meetings and discussed it at length with our piers. In short we were impressed with the intentions of the organisation and from the outset decided that we want to be part of this organisation from the outset, help in its formation and watch it grow to its full potential.

I have no doubt everyone will be hearing about APOPA in the near future.

APOPA’s PURPOSE - Protects property owners against bad practice. This encompasses my own industry as well as the real estate, construction, pest management and legal industries.

WHO IS BEHIND IT ALL - APOPA is a board of senior industry professionals, dedicated to protecting the future of consumer’s investments. There are representatives from the Legal Professions including solicitors and barristers, the building industry, the pest control industry the property inspection industry, the strata industry and the real estate industry.

APOPA PROMISE - We will train, assess and accredit trade and legal services to a National standard of excellence. There is a large void in the industry and last September the NSW Government in their infinite wisdom decided to reduce red tape by removing licensing in the Pre-Purchase Inspection industry. Now the requirement to carry professional Indemnity Insurance for Timber Pest Inspectors appears to be missing from the new draft standard DR AS 4349.3.

AREAS APOPA COVER - Property/ Pest Management/ ADR – Alternative Dispute Resolution / Pre Purchase Inspections/ Environmental.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

First Home Owners Grant (FHOG)

I have been a building consultant for 16 years advising people before they buy a home, townhouse, unit etc. My business covers the entire greater Sydney area and well business at the moment has never been better. Enquiry is through the roof and we can't keep up with the demand. Normally a time to think about expanding right!. Well I'd love to think its all going to keep going on, but just as easily as it arrived in a the form of FHOG (first home buyers grant) it will go. Prime Minister Rudd is in control and what he says for the moment goes and what he says is that the FHOG extension will be lifted because all good things come to an end. As much as I like the current boom I have been in business long enough to know I have to brace myself for the next couple of years.

Lets have a little look at this latest boom. According to the banks First Home Buyers account for 25% of the loan market. My own business stats show similar. My big conveyancing clients are flat out, valuers I know are flat out, real estate agents in those sub $500k areas are flat out. Agents are telling me about record numbers of people at open for inspections. One house I recently inspected in Sydney's south was listed in that magic price range. The house was according to the agent a perfect start for first home buyers (according to my inspection a basket case) but still managed to exceed the agent's and owner's expectations by over $30,000. More like a first home buyers frenzy!

What will happen when FHOG ends? Not much I suspect. I should plan a break but no, I better hold on to all my money!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Building Disputes in Strata and Community Schemes

Before now, trying to lodge a complaint regarding common areas would require the majority of the owners to agree that an action proceed. Where the developer has majority ownership or voting rights, it can be difficult for the owners to agree. This sometimes occurs because the developer is also the builder, or is financially connected with the builder, and is seeking to avoid their responsibilities. 

The Home Building Act provides for complaints about defective building work on the common property of a scheme to be made to the Office of Fair Trading by an owners corporation, or by a community association in relation to association property in a community scheme. 

As of 1 August 2008, individual strata and community lot owners will be able to lodge complaints with Fair Trading and to invite a Fair Trading building inspector onto the common property of a strata scheme or association property in a community scheme. As a further safeguard, caretakers and other persons who control access to areas of the common property will be obligated to cooperate with officers from Fair Trading and provide assistance to enable the inspection to be carried out, for example by providing access to locked areas of the common property.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Old Termite Damage - Not a problem? Is it?

A typical scenario I have come across in many of my inspections is like this;

A home has suffered a Termite Infestation some time in the past which was successfully treated.

The owners have followed up with annual inspections as advised by the Pest Control firm.

Termite damaged timbers were not removed and were not ever assessed by a building consultant

This is a common scenario and on the surface it appears as though all that could be done has been done. The agent may even provide you with all the available documentation to prove the termite infestation was successfully treated and maintained free of termites to date.

That's all good.....BUT!

What about the timber structure? 

Has the structure been assessed by a building inspector? 

I know from my many years of experience the answer to this question when asked is a whole lot of mumbling. were told...

Well I can tell you that when a termite infestation has occurred the damage caused by the infestation is far more extensive than the initial workings found. Unfortunately this is not normally discovered until the new home buyer decides to renovate. 

Wall linings may be removed to reveal massive amounts of timber damage and mud packing.

The signs that this damage existed may have been present before this is discovered however the signs are usually too subtle to be detected by the untrained eye. Compression of the wall frames, floor frames, jambing doors, uneven floors or ceilings may all be signs of termite damage. you will need help from a professional building consultant to properly diagnose, as long as you don't ignore the signs.

How to select a Building & Pest Inspector


We've all heard it before. Haven't we?

As a home buyer you already have plenty of i's to dot and t's to cross. But whatever you do, don't forget to make sure you select a reputable Building & Pest Inspector. With the number of negligence claims against Building & Pest Inspectors on the rise it more important then ever to do your homework on this one.

The majority of claims brought against Building & Pest Inspectors in Australia are unsuccessful. Of the claims that are paid the amount awarded rarely satisfies or adequately compensates the home buyer for the loss not to mention the anguish caused by the drawn out process. The only real winners (and I know you've heard this before) are the lawyers who get paid regardless of the outcome.

How do I know if the inspector is reputable? They sound good. Their charges are competitive. How do I know if they are good inspectors? 

There is hope. 

A new registry of Pre-Purchase Building Inspectors has been created called the Pre-Purchase Inspectors Registry or PPI Registry for short. At PPI all the homework you need is carried out for you.

PPI Registry verifies applicant's qualifications & licenses & obtains copies of their most recent reports to ensure each inspector is eligible to become a member of the PPI Registry. PPI ensures to you that all of our members are fully qualified and insured.

What a relief. We finally have an independent body that not just licences but actually verifies the inspectors credentials on an annual basis. 

Friday, March 02, 2007

Choosing a Home Inspection Company

Whenever a house is bought or sold a home inspection is a common practice that alerts both homeowners and buyers to the condition of the property in question.

When you are in need of a home inspection in New South Wales, you should choose only Licensed inspectors that hold current Professional Indemnity Insurance. A simple check can be made through the Office of Fair Trading website to see if the inspector you choose is licensed or not.

Home inspectors will enter a home and analyse all of the major components that make up a house purchase. This is a valuable tool for both buyers and homeowners. Buyers will be able to make informed decisions on making an offer on a piece of property. Homeowners will know the sort of repairs or enhancements that their home needs in order to secure a sale. Home inspection companies will assess the overall condition of a home. Visual tools are used to make the assessments.

Home inspection visits usually take between 1 and 3 hours in order to arrive at a proper assessment. Depending on how old or large a house is, it may take longer or less time to complete. Homebuyers will truly benefit from attending the inspection. Although a written report is furnished upon completion, it doesn't compare to the hands-on, up-front experience of going through the house with the home inspection representative.

Requirements of a Home Inspection Representative

Your home inspector should have a working, extensive knowledge of all the important structural element of a home. They should also have a general knowledge of the electrical and plumbing systems. The roof and attic area will be inspected, as well as all of the interior and exterior structures, including the condition of the walls.

A home inspection representative will have taken courses to provide you with a proper analysis, as well as possess the necessary tools to complete inspections. These home inspection assessments can be used to gauge the amount of money it will take to conduct repairs on a new home purchase. All of the gathered information is taken into account when placing a real estate offer. Qualified home inspectors are able to detect the flaws of a home that are not easily recognizable to the untrained eye. Below, you will find what to expect when an home inspector conducts a review of the inner and outer areas of a house:

Plumbing: While conducting a home inspection, old piping materials, faulty fixtures, water pumps and water heaters are some of the concerns that an inspector will focus on. Plumbing defects can be costly issues a homeowner and/or buyers will face in terms of repairs.

Roofs: A home inspection company will check a roof to see if there are any any leaks tile issues or potential leaks. Homeowners can gauge whether or not a roof should be replaced.

Structural Damage: The overall condition of main structures in the house is also analyzed during a home inspection. Foundation walls are looked at. Floor joists and rafters are of importance, as are window and door headers. Older houses are checked for sagging and settlement issues.

Electrical Wiring: During a home inspection, the condition of the electrical wiring throughout the house is a concern. Wire connections and power overload prevention are some of the aspects an inspector will take note of.

Water in the Basement: When water has entered the basement or crawl space of a home, a host of property problems are soon to follow. This includes fungal decay or termite attack. Home inspectors are especially keen on detecting these problems, which are quite visible through discoloration, musty smells, mildew and water leak stains.

Choosing an Home Inspection company

The average fee for a Pre-Purchase Building Inspection is between $300 to $800 and and an additional $200 to $300 for a Timber Pest Inspection, but the information received from an inspector is priceless. It could be the turning point between a sale and a buyer going back to searching for the perfect home. The number of home inspection representatives is vast. Some inspectors are qualified to do both Building and Pest Inspections which should save you some money. There are home inspectors that offer significantly lower prices, but you must beware that a number of unlicensed inspectors are operating all over the state. The licensing requirement has been in operation for over three years now however there has not been a concerted effort by the Office of Fair Trading to inform the public of the fact.

The best way to determine their competence is to request references or sample reports. Sometimes contacting past clients will give you insight as to how capable a potential home inspector is. When you are ready to begin your search, keep the following questions on hand:

1) How long have you been in the home inspection business?

2) How many home inspections have you completed?

3) What qualifications do you possess?

4) How long does it take for you to inspect a home?

5) How much do your services cost?

6) Can I come along with you on the inspection?

7) Can you approximate costs for potential repairs if requested?

8) What are the hours and days of your availability?

9) Can you provide references of inspections you have done in the past?

10) What is your Building Consultancy License number?

Sunday, November 05, 2006

"the subfloor" - venture beneath your home

If you see something like this when you venture beneath your home, rest assured there is something wrong.

The floor structure is not very healthy and some rebuilding will be required. This loosely laid stack of brick and timber is suppose to be a pier.

You'll need to rebuild the pier or replace it with a stump or post. This may sound like a daunting task but it needn't be. There are a number of ready made height adjustable galvanized iron posts you can find in hardware stores and besides, if your worried about your workmanship just remember that when dealing with hidden structure it doesn't have to look pretty.

The Process:
  1. Locate the approximate position for the post and then dig a hole wide enough to allow for adjustment and deep enough for a firm anchor and bearing. Approx. 300mm wide by 600mm deep (1 ' x 2' ).
  2. The base is then set in position and concrete is poured into the hole securing the post with a brace, bricks or anything that works and allowed to set overnight.
  3. The next day the top half is adjusted in height to reach the underside of the floor bearer then bolted in position.
A few pointers that you should follow. They may seem like common sense however....
  1. Check if there is any heavy furniture on the floor before removing the shoddy pier. If there is relocate these items until the job is finished.
  2. When the initial shoddy pier is removed ensure that nobody walks on the floor. Lock the door if you can or buy some danger tape and cordon off the area. You've always wanted an excuse to use it.
  3. Remove all rubbish from the subfloor area once completed. Leaving rubble and timber will only attract termites.
This is what the galvanized post looks like. Notice the fixed termite shield.