Aside from being a basis for growth cycle, a property’s location can also be an effective indicator of its structural quality, according to Andrew Mackie-Smith, the founder of the Australian professional building consultancy BuildingPro.
When looking at a potential property for purchase, whether it’s a house or a unit, one of the first things that a property investor must look at is the position of the property on the street — is it on the top or the bottom of the hill?
“If it’s on the top of a hill, that can be great because you get good drainage, you might get breezes and views and other desirable things from a real estate perspective, but from the point of view of an [inspector who checks] the structure, if the property is located at the bottom of a hill, then you’re going to get a lot of water run towards it,” Andrew explained.
Water causes a lot of problems, according to him, including subsidence, moulds and even termite infestation. “A house or property or [site] that is poorly drained will generally have a lot more issues,” he said.
The pest and building inspector also advises property investors to avoid properties with a part that is slightly below ground level because these are susceptible to water penetration as well. After looking at the possibility of water being an issue, Andrew then suggests checking for overhanging trees that may surround the property. Like water, large trees often cause issues for the owners or the tenants of the house or unit.
“Large trees on the property can cause a lot of problems – things like tree roots lifting up driveways and paths causing tripping hazards, tree roots causing structural cracking to buildings, just even attracting bats, and leaves dropping in, and rusting out gutters,” Andrew said.
Lastly, property investors must check whether or not there are retaining walls on the property. According to him, poorly constructed retaining walls could mean a huge cost for the investor.
“These housing estates where the retaining walls might be about 20, 30 years old, they might have timber… Copper’s logs, great in the day, but they have a lifespan of about 30 years, and a lot of these housing estates, they’re getting to the end of their time,” he said. “If you’ve got retaining walls all the way around a property, or [a] substantial matter of walls, you could be up for tens of thousands of dollars just to replace those. That can be a deal killer right there. The walls might be alright for a few more years but might need extensive repairs or even replacements, so that’s something you got to look out for.”
At the end of the day, he believes that getting a good building inspector is essential for the success of one’s property investment journey.
“I do think that people need a building inspection essentially to avoid future significant unexpected costs. Because that can really kill the investment. You buy property to make money out of it, not [to make it] a money pit… You need to know what you’re buying,” he concluded.
Tune in to Andrew Mackie-Smith’s episode on The Smart Property Investment Show to know more about the science behind pest and building inspections, as well as the top 10 things every investor should check to ensure their new property is the real deal.