We all know purchasing a property is an expensive endeavour, but there is a lot you can do to ensure that these costs do not get out of hand. Doing a building inspection is essential but few people think about getting a plumbing inspection…
Blogger: Bernadette Janson, The School of Renovating
Plumbing repairs are notoriously expensive and the last thing you want when you have stretched yourself financially to get into a home. When purchasing a property include a due diligence clause in the contract so that you are able to re-negotiate if you discover any serious issues.
I would strongly recommend having a plumbing inspection done as part of your due diligence on an older home, it will cost a few hundred dollars but has the potential to save you thousands.
Here are the three main items to get checked before your contract becomes unconditional.
Get A Sewer Plan
The first thing to do is to obtain a copy of the sewer plan (SSD) and check that it is an accurate representation of the property’s drainage. I have been caught out when the plan appeared to be ok but I hadn’t noticed the illegible small print that, when investigated, read that an area of new work had not been submitted. When changes are made to the sewer the plumber must submit the plan to the water authority. Submitting after the fact can be difficult.
Earthenware Drainage Pipes
Since Roman times, sewer drainage has been laid in earthenware pipes that are joined with a rubber ring (another Roman idea) and mortar joints, which tend to be the weakest points in this system. While the pipes themselves will last undisturbed for thousands of years, the mortar lacks flexibility, moisture escapes and thirsty tree roots make a beeline for the leaking joint, invade the pipe and cause havoc.
These days’ drainage pipes are laid in PVC but digging up the old pipes to replace can be a horrendously expensive exercise that a new homeowner may not have the funds for.
Fortunately plumbing has become very high tech and plumbers come armed with a fibre optic camera, which is sent down the drain to view the condition of the pipe and detect any problems. If the home has trees and earthenware pipes you can almost put money on the fact that there will be a problem.
Storm Water Drainage
Ask the plumber to check the storm water system. It should be either piped to the street or a retention tank onsite but as it does not appear on the sewer plan is often difficult to work out where it is draining. It is illegal to connect it to the sewer and if it is piped through a neighbour’s property, they need to give permission for an easement to be created before council will approve.
Most other big –ticket plumbing problems should be covered in a general building inspection but it is a good idea to ensure that the roof, gutters, downpipes and the hot water system are checked for corrosion and leaks. You only need to save yourself one visit from the plumber to justify the cost of a pre sale inspection in in my experience the plumbing just waits for the old owner to leave before it turns on a tantrum.
For the renovator checking things like plumbing is essential as it could make the difference between making a profit on the job or blowing the budget in time and money. What to know the 7 steps to making serious money from renovating? Then check out my free report.