Aside from location, drainage, electricity, and the presence of pests, property investors must also be critical about different structural factors that could make or break a property, including its history of renovations and the positioning of its walls.
BuildingPro founder Andrew Mackie-Smith encourages all potential buyers to build a relationship with reliable property investors who can help them ensure the good quality of the property they are looking to purchase.
While there are issues that investors can tell for themselves, having a property professional inspect the property can help them identify more serious structural faults.
According to the builder, one of his most important reminders for buyers is to be wary of recently rendered houses because it could mean that the previous owners are covering cracks which were brought about by regular movements that affect the property. While not every render job is a cover up, it will always do an investor well to double-check the structure of the property to ensure its quality.
“If a house has been recently rendered, be on the lookout for signs of movement. Often there will be new hairline cracks just appearing, or there'll be those gaps around the window frames that are a bit of a tell-tale sign,” he said.
Andrew also advises his clients to be careful about purchasing properties that were renovated by owner builders—a fact that may not be indicated on the contract.
Many property owners tend to overestimate their skills when renovating a property to sell and this could lead to both structural faults and cosmetic issues in the future for the buyer.
“If those tiles are all lippy and not correctly glued down, there's no expansion joints, [or] if the painting's a poor paint job, you have to do it all again and it can be very costly,” Andrew said.
“Owner-builder work is something you got to watch out for and the worst culprits are tradespeople [who do] their own painting, tiling, and carpentry. That's very common.
“I think they think... ‘I'm a plasterer, therefore, I'm a carpenter and a painter,’ [or they] think, ‘I'm an electrician so I'm also a tiler and a painter’ and they just get carried away with their own ability.”
Lastly, it will do an investor well to avoid properties with walls below ground level. Most house builders prefer to set the retaining wall of the soil about a meter off the wall to lessen the risk of leaking. Water causes a lot of problems, according to the builder, including subsidence, moulds, and even termite infestation.
“If you've got any house or building with walls below ground level, the propensity or risk of leaking is very high,” he explained.
“When you have what we call a wet wall, where there's soil or dirt on one side and a bedroom or living room on the other side, have a look closely for things like blistering paint, tea-coloured water stains, musty damp smell. Those are the signs that you've got to watch out for.”
His advice to property investors: Build and maintain good relationships with property inspectors to be able to make the best decisions when purchasing properties.
“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 as 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.