Read five of the most common problems we have found while conducting building inspections in Perth’s Northern suburbs.
1. Downlights with not enough clearance around them
There was an era when the halogen downlight reigned supreme in Australian homes. This has been and will continue to be, the cause of many fires. Halogen recessed downlights require 200mm clearance from both structural timbers and thermal insulation and all other recessed downlights should have at least 100mmm clearance.
We see instances where lights have actually been installed incorrectly by placing them too close to roof or ceiling timbers. Time can also play a role by gradually allowing unsecured insulation to cover the light fittings.
Our inspectors will enter the roof void and check both placement and safety of the downlights.
This is an important safety issue that could potentially be a time bomb.
2. The shower leaks moisture into surrounding walls
One of the key indicators is if the plasterwork and/or paintwork on the opposite side of the walls of the shower cubicle are bubbling or losing adhesion to the wall substrate. The area will not appear smooth and may have been patched and painted in the past. It may just be a questionable paint job or it could be the result of one or more defects within the shower cubicle that are allowing moisture to penetrate into surrounding walls. Your inspector can identify if this occurring and advise on the appropriate trade from whom to seek help.
3. Minor cracking to the ceiling cornices and wall junctions.
This is generally easy to identify by looking up at the area where the ceiling meets the walls and observing whether the line just below the cornice is cracking and pulling the wall plaster away. In most cases it is not a structural issue, however it can be unsightly and can give the impression that there is an underlying problem. Your building inspector will evaluate all elements in and around the cracking and give you an accurate determination of whether it is a structural defect or simply an item that requires maintenance.
4. Downpipes from roof gutters dispersing close to or onto the building footings and foundations.
Moisture depositing close to the home has a couple of downsides. Firstly, it encourages termites, bugs, mould and fungal decay and secondly, it affects the footing system which supports the loads of a home. A result of inconsistent wetting and drying of the soil surrounding the house footings is movement. Movement leads to cracking.
5. Cracked roof tiles are nearly always found during an inspection.
If you have a tiled roof, most building inspections will identify cracked tiles. This applies to brand new homes as well as more established homes – there are not many exceptions.
A well maintained roof is critical to ensure the weather integrity of a home and can be easily missed because many home owners simply do not visit their roof area often enough. Sometimes cracked tiles have been previously identified and repaired with a squeeze of sealant over the crack. This sealant must be maintained over the years and not forgotten about. Your inspector will evaluate the state of the roof, identify any cracked tiles, advise on sealant maintenance, check condition of gutters and make you aware of any other issues.
Brett Williams, Building Inspector