There’s something irresistible about the charm and character of an older building. But alongside the distinctive period architecture and original features, there could be a host of hidden issues. Before 1935, New Zealand had no formal set of building standards, and even homes built in the 70s and 80s used materials and products that we would not consider today. While these aren’t necessarily things that should deter you from purchasing an older property, you should be aware of the implications.
Here are some of the main things you should get checked when buying an older home.
Over time, the land upon which a house was built may move and settle, causing damage to the foundations. Timber piles can rot or fall victim to borer beetles, and tree roots can undermine them. Telltale signs include cracks inside and out, uneven floors, doors that won’t close, and sticking windows.
If your property was built before the 1940s and still has the original electrical wiring, you will find it hard to get comprehensive insurance. Because early-1900s wiring deteriorated easily and caused house fires, many companies will insist it is completely replaced before they will insure the home.
Old pipes can become blocked due to mineral buildup or develop leaks and corrosion. During the 1970s and 1980s, a black plastic piping product called Dux Quest was installed in many new homes and renovations. It has a history of bursting and flooding properties. Many insurers will not cover homes that contain Dux Quest plumbing.
As the number one defence against moisture getting into your home, you’ll want to ensure the roofing material has not cracked, warped, or corroded over time. If the roof is made of iron, many insurers will want it to have been replaced within the last 30 years and repainted within the last 10-15 years, or if not, be proven to still be in good condition.
Many homes built in the late 19th century and early 20th century were lined with scrim and sarking. This process involved nailing boards to the beams and covering the boards with a hessian-type fabric so that wallpaper could be applied without the need to plaster. Unfortunately, this combination was highly flammable, and insurers will often refuse to cover the house until it has been relined.
As a property ages and the roofing, joinery, and cladding begins to deteriorate, moisture can start to seep in through the resulting cracks and holes. Not only can moisture cause your wooden framing to rot, but it can promote the growth of mould that leads to a host of health problems.
Asbestos was used in residential construction right up until the 1990s. While its presence isn’t always a major problem, it becomes one if the building material containing the asbestos is deteriorating or you plan to do renovations that will disturb the asbestos. In both cases, you’ll want to get the asbestos professionally removed, as inhaling the fibres can lead to serious health issues. You can find out more about asbestos in our article.
If you’re thinking of buying an older property and would like to get all of the above checked by an experienced and qualified professional, get in touch with us today to book a comprehensive building inspection.