If the property you want to buy is sporting a shiny new bathroom or kitchen, don’t assume the plumbing is sound.
Some renovated homes hide nightmares underneath, but you can uncover these before you buy with clues and a few insider tips.
According to Archicentre, the building advisory service for the Australian Institute of Architects, 30% of all homes it inspects have a major fault.
Some renovated homes hide nightmares underneath.
How would you feel paying top dollar to purchase a newly renovated home only to face thousands of dollars in unexpected and additional repair costs?
This happens to so many unsuspecting buyers, who end up footing the bill to repair crucial kitchen and bathroom problems that rear their ugly head almost always in the most damaging and nasty way.
Be vigilant in your property search and doing your due diligence to find out if the renovation is a trick that hides plumbing problems.
Add the following tips to your checklist to help decide if the renovation was a quality one or if it’s only skin deep.
Read more: 5 must-dos for any renovation
Finding renovation cover-ups
1. Who did the work? It’s important to ask for details of any renovations of a listed property: who conducted them, when they were completed and if there were any issues found. Did a reputable licensed company, a cheap builder or an owner builder do the renovations?
Shortcuts and cost-cutting measures are less common if the work has been done by a well-regarded licensed contractor.
2. Look for quality fittings. The quality of the fittings can also indicate the approach and whether it’s been for cost-cutting or longevity.
Have a look at the quality of the fittings in your bathrooms, kitchen and laundry. The best way to spot quality fittings is to look for well-known brands: if you haven’t heard of the brand, investigate and make sure it adheres to Australian standards.
Cheap, low-quality fittings will break within a year or two and you may not be able to find replacement parts.
3. Make sure workmakship is good. Shoddy workmanship is also usually evident, even if you’re not a tradesperson. You can easily see poor finishes, messy grouting and crooked tiles in a renovation.
Shoddy workmanship is also usually evident, even if you’re not a tradesperson.
So if things don’t seem right, raise a red flag. Be aware that work conducted by a registered tradesman is covered by a five-year warranty and should be up to Building Code and/or Plumbing Code standard. By addressing any concerns, you have the chance to have them resolved before purchasing, or to reduce the sale price to factor in the cost of repair.
4. Check the paint. Another common cover up is paintwork. It’s common to spruce up a house before selling, but probably just as common is the trick of using paint as a cover up for stains on a wall where damp shows through.
Check the condition of walls and ceilings, even if the paint job makes it look fresh. In particular, check in rooms where rising damp could be an issue.
Read more: Laundry renovation: what to consider
Ask for a drainage diagram
A drainage diagram will show you where the pipes are in a house. You should ask for this, along with plans for the property; your solicitor should be able to track them down.
There are three scenarios to look out for when a home has had a bathroom or kitchen renovation:
- If a drainage diagram for a renovated bathroom/kitchen shows new fixtures have been put in the same place as the old ones, the worst-case scenario is that the renovation is sitting on old pipes. Ask what work was done to update the pipes at the time of renovation. If none, factor in the possible cost of replacing old pipes.
- If the fixtures in the renovated bathroom/kitchen do not match the drainage diagram, it means the drainage diagram was not updated at the time of renovation. It’s unlikely the pipes were updated and, possibly, the plumbing changes were never approved by your state’s water utility. This should raise alarm bells and could mean some major issues and costs lie ahead.
- If the drainage diagram was updated at the time of the renovation and the fixtures and fittings moved both in the room and the diagram match, it’s a good sign that everything has been updated and is above board.
For your peace of mind, always check that drainage diagrams are updated after any renovations or work done on a property, even if it is for things such as new extensions or decks.
Always check that drainage diagrams are updated after any renovations.
If you’re not happy with the renovation
Once you’ve seen a property and you’ve spotted some cover ups, you still have an option to negotiate hard to get the property at a reduced cost instead of just walking away.
A good option is to hire a professional plumber to take a look. If you find a fault at the inspection stage, ask for an estimation of repair costs on the spot and then factor this into your offer.
The property may still be worth buying if you include the likely repair costs.
It all comes down to your research of the property market in that area, doing your sums and working out if it’s worth spending the money to bring it up to scratch.
originally posted on realestate.com.au