10 Common defects found during a Building and Pest Inspection

The Hunter Inspector

10 Common defects found during a Building and Pest Inspection

DefectsBuilding & Pest Inspections
Updated: December 3, 2019

Today I’m writing a post which gives some detail into the common defects we find in dwellings we inspect on a daily basis. These defects are in no particular order and are not necessarily ‘the worst’ defects. If you suspect your home may suffer any of the following feel free to reach out to us to determine the best course of action for your situation.

Defect 1: Pest stickers not located in the meter box

Through our inspections we find that most houses that were built over ten years ago, and some newer ones, don’t have pest service stickers in their meter boxes. Pest service stickers are small signs usually stuck to the inside of the meter box; and sometimes in the kitchen sink cupboard that are filled in with the type and date that any treatment or inspection has been carried out. The placement of these stickers has been a building requirement by law for houses built from 1990 onwards, however some pest service companies are still not law abiding. When pest service stickers are not located in the meter box in accordance with AS 3660, there is no way of knowing what type of treatments have been used or if there is any termite protection at all.

Defect 2: Moisture found under the dwelling

It’s quite common for houses with a subfloor (on piers) to have moisture under the floor. This can be caused by poor drainage around the house allowing water to enter into the under floor area through the external walls; or it may be caused by subsurface moisture rising to the surface in this area. Having moisture running or ponding under a house can affect the foundation material on which the footings of the house sits, possibly allowing movement of the footings causing cracking to the walls. This moisture can also be conducive to termite activity. Therefore we recommend preventing moisture entering under the house through external wall areas and checking to ensure all downpipes and other drainage systems are correctly connected to storm water drainage. The underfloor area may also need extra cross-flow ventilation to help drying out these areas.

Defect 3: Rusted, missing or inadequate ant caps

Ant caps are pieces of metal or fabric placed between foundation brickwork and timber frames. If placed correctly ant caps force termites to track around the ant caps making tracking clearly visible. In a lot of older dwellings and even some newer dwelling we find ant caps which are rusted, holed or sometimes they are missing entirely. While ant caps aren’t always 100% effective at keeping termites at bay, they force termites to mound around them, making tracking any breaches far easier.

Defect 4: Downpipes which are inadequately connected

A common issue among many houses are downpipes or gutters which are no longer draining adequately; this may be due to them being blocked, not connected adequately, or cracked and holed. These issues may allow water to overflow and pond around the dwelling which may erode soil around the foundations or attract termites.

Defect 5: Decay to timbers

Decaying timbers are commonplace in older dwellings; the seriousness can vary depending on the functionality of the timber, as well as the extent of the decay. For example, decaying step treads and handrail timbers are a big no-no as these could cause serious harm to occupants of the dwelling, whereas some slight decay to weatherboards may not be such a serious issue.

Defect 6: Hot Water System and A/C units draining around dwelling

Hot water system and air conditioner unit drain pipes are commonly left untouched and draining onto surrounding areas because some may consider a minimal amount of run-off; however an area only has to be damp in order to attract termites. It is for this reason that whenever we recommend these run-offs be directed into an appropriate storm water drainage pipe. For more information on the different types of hot water system, energy consumption and more, head on over to http://www.yourhome.gov.au/energy/hot-water-service.

Defect 7: Cracking to concrete slabs

Cracking to driveway, garage and verandah slabs is quite common amongst average dwellings. While small cracking to the surface may seem minimal and is not typically an urgent concern; these areas should be monitored as if cracks begin to open up, water may begin to corrode the steel reinforcing inside the slab causing the onset of concrete cancer. We recommend addressing these areas sooner rather than later as the longer these issues are left, the harder and more expensive they become to deal with.

Defect 8: Vanity tops which aren’t correctly sealed

We see it all too often; bathroom vanities which aren’t sealed back to the wall, some which aren’t even properly fixed into place! What could have been addressed with a small amount of silicon and a sprinkle of know-how, now leaves a big gap which allows water and who knows what to get down there which may cause decay and damage to the wall linings and the cabinet itself.

Defect 9: Toilet doors which don’t have lift-off hinges

Some toilet doors don’t have lift-off hinges. This may be a safety issue should a person become ill or a child can’t use the handle while using the convenience; then the door can be lifted off the hinges and removed to access the person inside. It is quite possible that this type of hinge was not available at the time of construction; however due to size of some toilets, we suggest fitting these types of hinges for safety reasons.

Defect 10: Leaking shower cubicles

Shower cubicles in ensuites and bathrooms can often be leaking without any obvious signs; however with a trained eye our inspector will be able to pick up clues which may suggest current or previous leakage. Looking at the timbers below the showers cubicles from in the subfloor and using an electronic moisture meter to the adjacent walls will usually confirm our suspicions. If we suspect an area in the bathroom is leaking, we would typically recommend further investigation of the area.

Once again, if you feel as though your home may be victim to any of these issues and you are concerned about possible deterioration, please don’t hesitate to reach out to The Hunter Inspector.