Problems to Avoid When Renovating A Property

Whilst we as renovators make our money from buying other people’s problems and coming up with solutions, there are certain problems that we definitely don’t want to take on.

Below are some defects and problems to look out for that can be particularly troublesome and should probably be avoided (or at least investigated with the help of a reliable professional and costed out with the utmost care!).

Avoid properties with problems with:

  • Large cracks in walls and foundations.  This can indicate that the house has moved, is moving or may move in the future and that foundations or the land under them may be unstable.
  • Rotten, warped or badly cracked weatherboards and wooden windows.  Replacing weatherboards and windows can be very costly indeed.
  • Damaged roofs.  Not only can it be costly to repair or replace a roof, if the weather has been allowed to come into the house there could also be water damage inside the home.
  • Drainage problems.  Damaged downpipes and guttering, faulty septic systems and blocked water pipes can also be costly, messy problems to deal with for which you get little return for your outlay.
  • Problems with foundations.  Issues of rising damp, moving stumps, uneven slabs and so on can be extremely costly indeed as there are many follow-on costs associated with their repair such as cracks in plaster, replacing windows and so on.  Make sure you look for any cracks in plaster and brickwork and also look for any signs of mould inside the house.
  • Electrical problems.  Fixing problems associated with old, faulty or illegal wiring can also cost you a fortune whilst adding very little perceived value.   Obviously, the older the house, the more likely it is that there will be a problem.
  • Pest damage.  Look for signs of any kind of pest or termite damage such as rotten, damaged or soft boards and timber.  If you have any doubts at all about this, get a pest inspection.
  • Illegal building.  Keep an eye out for any parts of the house that appear to have been added or altered illegally i.e. without a building permit.  Tell-tale signs will be poor workmanship or if the structure doesn’t seem to fit in with the rest of the house.  You can ask to see a building permit for works done recently or check with council to see if any permits have been issued.
  • Plumbing problems.  Check the water pressure of taps and showers, flush the toilets, note the age of the hot water system and see how hot the hot water is in the property.  If you have any suspicions about the plumbing it’s best to get a qualified plumber to check it out.
  • Access problems.  If access to the property is awkward or troublesome, it won’t only make it hard for you to renovate, it’s going to be hard to sell.
  • Asbestos problems. Most residential houses contain “non-friable” asbestos fibres, and experts agree these are not a health risk if they remain sealed and in good condition but if you have any doubts about asbestos in a property get an expert opinion to be sure.
  • Heritage-listed properties.  Renovations of these properties are usually governed by many rules and restrictions and often require “restoration” rather than “renovation” – that’s something we don’t do if we want to make a profit!
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