wet rot fascia

Diagnosing dry and wet timber rot

One of the biggest issues to structural timber in Australian houses is fungal decay. Both wet rot and dry rot can cause serious structural damage to your home and can lead to collapse of your floor, balcony or other structural members. It is therefore yet another reason to have a pre-purchase building inspection completed to identify any fungal decay and determine whether a potential purchase could be affected by this potentially devastating problem.

Wet Rot

wet rot fasciaFor moisture content to be suitable for wet rot growth there has to be a source of constant moisture (eg for wet rot to grow on timber it would require a high moisture content of around 50%) – this could be as a result of defective plumbing or damaged guttering.  Damage is normally limited to the timber itself, although the original structural problem may also cause other areas to be affected by damp (such as surrounding plasterboard etc).

Check vulnerable areas of timber, such as window and door frames, or joints of beams or timber fascias, where water can collect. If the paint finish is damaged, this can increase the risk of wet rot. However, although the paint may look acceptable, the timber underneath may be rotting from behind. Timber suffering from wet rot will feel spongy and may look darker than the surrounding timber. When dry, the timber will easily crack and crumble into fine particles. Timber in the roof can also be at risk especially where there is roof damage allowing rainwater to run onto the roofing timbers.

 

Prevention of wet rot in a house is the first step – Ensure that all external timber frames are adequately painted to protect the timber from ingress of water.

Locate any damp walls and address the problem, it could be a missing or damaged damp proof course or a bridged cavity, a leaking roof flashing or a leaking pipe . If necessary seek expert advice as the moisture in one area may be just a sign of a bigger problem.

Make sure that any soil and other debris is cleared away from around the bottom of timber frames.

Check the roof space for the penetration of water, the water could be running down the sisalation layer behind the tiles onto timber some distance away from the hole. When it is raining, go into the roof with a torch (the shining of water on a timber normally stand out very easily).

Other common places for wet rot are under the kitchen sink, bath, shower, basins, toilet and behind the washing machine.  Any areas where a small leak from either a supply pipe or drain could go unnoticed for a long time but where timber could become saturated with water.

In order to treat wet rot, first of all the leak needs to be repaired.

If wet rot occurs in structural timbers (such as roof trusses, floor joists), expert advice should be sought as the implication for structural integrity must be established.  In other areas, the rotten timbers should be removed and replaced; if the damaged area is fairly small, it can be cut away and a new piece of timber joined to that remaining. If there is any doubt that the structural problem has been eliminated, the new and adjoining timber should be treated with a proprietary wet rot treatment before repainting.

Dry Rot

Dry-rot fungus, although is not as common as wet rot, is a lot more destructive, and thrives in moist unventilated conditions (requiring a moisture content of around 20%). It can cause widespread destruction of structural timbers, skirting boards and door frames, and wood flooring, and often occurs in the areas of a property that are not often seen, such as floor voids, or behind timber panelling, so damage may be extensive before the attack is discovered.

Initially the fungus appears as off-white felt-like or cotton-wool like sheets on brickwork and timber, and, in later stages, can develop fungal strands as thick as your finger. Where the fungus is exposed to light, it often has a lemon-yellowish tinge. Often, large flat mushroom-like fruiting bodies can easily grow through finishes such as plaster or paint. These fruiting bodies are sometimes the first visible sign of a problem, and the structural decay is well progressed.  Dry-rot decayed timber can be crumbled between your fingers

Treating dry-rot can involve removal of the affected timber (including all timber for a metre beyond the visible signs of the fungus), however the modern approach is to use environmental controls, such as isolation and ventilation, which ensure that the damp, unventilated conditions required by dry-rot do not occur. The techniques are simple ways to ensure that the timber in a property does not become damp enough for dry-rot to attack, for instance replacing dry-rot decayed joists with new timber using joist hangers, instead of building them back into the brickwork, or by using ventilated skirting board details to encourage ventilation of a floor void.

If you suspect that you may have a problem with wet rot or dry rot in your property contact Melbourne House Check for advice on 1300 729 352. The longer a rot problem is left untreated the more it will cost to treat and the greater safety risk to your family.  Melbourne House check has been diagnosing properties for dry rot and wet rot for over 4 years and have in this time built up a wealth of experience. Alternatively, complete our on-line survey request form and we will contact you to arrange an inspection.

Common Issues in Subfloors

A building inspection examines all elements of a building to ensure that the structure is without defects. An inspection also examines exterior elements including drainage, slope of the site, any outbuildings and any conditions around the site that are conducive to termites.

Building inspections should always be undertaken by insured and experienced consultants who look for evidence of water damage to foundations, walls and flooring, condition of fire walls, adequacy of ventilation and evidence of pest infestation.

Here are some of the most common problem areas found during our inspections in and around Melbourne:

Sinking floors

A sinking floor often means that the original subfloor was simply not installed correctly. If your floor feels “spongy” or seems to have too much give to it may also just mean that the subfloor is old and not what it once was. Water or excessive moisture may have started rotting the joist, causing certain areas of the floor to sag. The best course of action is to call in a professional to have a good look at your floor rather than just living with the problem. It is vital to have a building inspection prior to purchase to inspect a subfloor.

Creaking floors

It is quite common for an older home to have a floor or two that creaks or makes other strange noises when walked on. Many homeowners just ignore the sounds, thinking them just a quirk of the house, but that can be a big mistake. A creaking floor can mean that the subfloor was not secured to the joists correctly. A good flooring professional will be able to tell you exactly what the problem is and the best way to go about fixing it.

Uneven floors

As a home’s foundations settle floors can become uneven. Excess moisture in the air can also damage the floor joists and lead to the same problem as well. Dealing with an uneven floor may involve all kinds of framing and joist work so it to is a job best left to a professional.

Wet and damp areas

Water pooling around concrete footings can cause major structural problems. Downpipes that are not connected are often the cause. Even in summer months, make sure you know where the water is being directed too. It is a relatively straight forward process connecting downpipes to the stormwater systems, but if water is left to pool around slabs or stumps it can be a very expensive rectification.

In need of a building and pest inspection for your home or property? Call us on 1300 729 352

DIY Electrical Dangers

While Melbourne is a state of DIYers, when it comes to electricity, it’s completely hands-off. While you may think you can save a couple of dollars by ‘having a go. Stop and ask yourself, is it worth risking your life or that of a loved one? Not only is it breaking the law, but you could also be jeopardising your building’s insurance!

Even when you think you know what you are doing, never attempt to do your own electrical work – it’s dangerous, illegal and can be fatal. The image at the beginning of this blog shows a typical DIY electrical project that endangers people and property. Unlicensed and DIY electrical work – it’s just not worth the risk!

The law is black and white when it comes to working on the electrical systems in your home. If it’s much beyond changing a light bulb or re-setting a safety switch at the switch board you will probably need to get a licensed electrician to do it.

Don’t be fooled by the array of electrical products in the hardware stores either. You don’t need to be licenced to buy them, but you most certainly need to be licenced to install most of them. While many renovating forums are full of advice from DIYers who say they can competently lay cables and fit off general power outlets themselves, the risks of doing so are great. The first thing to accept is that there is a real danger of a major accident or death. Even qualified, experienced electricians have nasty accidents, therefore amateur DIYers can’t begin to understand the complexities of household electrical systems.

Even if you get the job done, there’s no guarantee that it’s been done right. Simply because a light or power point works doesn’t mean it’s safe. You could be in for a nasty surprise down the track. On top of that, the fines for illegal work are high and your insurance company certainly won’t cough up if there’s evidence of illegal electrical work.

Melbourne House Check’s tips

Tip 1. Never ever do electrical work yourself, it is illegal and potentially deadly.

Tip 2. If you notice electrical work that has been conducted by amateurs, (they may have survived the job, but subsequently leave other people who use the sub-standard work with the risk of electrocution and fire). Call an electrician.

Tip 3. Create a good relationship with a sparkie. They may happily allow you to dig trenches and do the messy work under strict supervision. (Word of mouth is always the best recommendation for finding a good electrician, and you should always do a licence check to verify their licence number and that the licence is current).

Melbourne House Check conduct house and building inspections in Melbourne prior to purchase and are available to offer free phone advice whenever required regarding not only electrical work but any element of a house.

Buying a House? – A must read.

If you or someone you know are considering buying a house, conducting thorough due diligence is vital. Traps are everywhere, and when it comes to an actual building, cover-ups are common. In Victoria our laws clearly state “buyer beware”, meaning that a house buyer needs to investigate whether a house has defects prior to purchase. During building inspections we commonly see concealed defects. House defects range in severity, but whether defects are large or small, inexpensive or costly, if you are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a house, categorising any defects is a must.

Melbourne House Check have published a booklet titled House Defect Cover-Ups Exposed. It is a must have document for anyone considering buying a house anywhere in Australia. Within this booklet is a detailed list of the 20 most common house cover-ups that you need to know about when buying real estate. The booklet also includes a Building and Pest Inspection Checklist to help assist you when searching for a house.

Inside the booklet you will discover inside secrets of how vendors may cover-up defects and ways not to get caught out. How to avoid potentially expensive mistakes when buying a house and a full procedural inspection checklist to be used for all building and pest inspections.

An example of such concealed defects that are documented within the booklet are painted asbestos sheeting in bathrooms. Asbestos can be a real concern in houses build up to the mid 1980’s. Commonly it was used in many different applications in houses such as eave linings, exterior wall linings and interior wet area linings in bathrooms and laundry’s. Because of the high cost of removal, asbestos is commonly concealed by vendors in order to save these removal costs. Always consider the presence of asbestos. You can learn more about asbestos in houses from the Melbourne House Check website.

Another example of concealed defects is re-painted interior wall linings. This is one of the easiest ways that vendors can cover up signs of defects. Internal walls that have cracked is one of the most common cover ups of defects in houses and while in most cases the painting has covered up minor dents and cracks, there are some cases where it can demonstrate a more serious problem. While having a freshly painted house appears lovely, it simply does not allow a prospective buyer to establish a true history of the house.

The House Defect Cover-Ups Exposed booklet also outlines clearly an inspection process of identifying defects during your own building inspection and provides further lists of things to consider during a timber pest inspection. Of course we recommend that a professional building consultant conducts an inspection always, however the booklet will provide useful information for you to consider when conducting your own house inspection in Melbourne.

Download your own copy of House Defect Cover-Ups Exposed booklet here and learn more about the 20 most common house cover-ups that you need to know about when buying real estate. Melbourne House Check can be contacted through the website here or by calling 1300 729 352.

Drone Inspections – Melbourne House Check

Melbourne House Check in association with National Drones have recently introduced aerial asset inspections to the list of their services. Because inspecting assets manually is such a time consuming and labour intensive process, we utilise unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) to cut costs, deliver efficiencies and save time. In most cases building inspection and rooftop inspections are a dangerous activity of which our drone services overcome.

Regular inspection of assets prevents faults, service interruptions and deterioration caused by neglect. Early detection of defects is particularly important as infrastructure ages. Bridges and overpasses, train lines and even monuments and buildings of historical importance also require regular inspection; more so following a severe weather event.

High definition imaging, SD modelling, digital thermography and inferred are just some of the applications that we make affordably accessible through our remotely piloted aircraft operations. Our drone services Melbourne wide provide intelligence to technical engineers reducing maintenance and extending the life of valuable assets.

 Call us today to book a free demonstration to discover how using one of our fully insured, licensed and experienced UAV controllers can help you cut costs, deliver efficiencies and save time. Melbourne House Check can be contacted on 1300 729 352.

The house where cracks were a feature.

Cracking in exterior brickwork is never good. Discover how some brickwork can be a structural element and some brickwork can be simply decorative. Either way, when cracks appear in brickwork it is expensive to fix and in most cases rectification involves removing the brickwork and re building it. The pictured brickwork had cracked so badly that it had completely dislodged from its original plane and had been painted over to look like a feature in order for the house to be sold.

Movement in brickwork occurs for many different reasons, including variations in climate or temperature, movement in the frame and movement in the foundations. It is important to diagnose the severity of brick work cracking prior to purchasing and to also assess whether the defect is considered structural or non-structural.

Be wary of the desperate vendor who attempts to turn a severe brick crack into a feature of the exterior. Always have a pre-purchase building and pest inspection. Melbourne House Check conduct house and pest inspections Melbourne wide. To learn more about concealed defects in houses for sale, download our House Defects Exposed Booklet here.

The moment a family discovered they’d made a terrible mistake.

Watch the video of a house inspection in Melbourne Australia when termite damage was discovered rendering the house condemned. The family, purchasing their first home in an affluent suburb was so excited about their house purchase at the time, that having a house inspection prior to the end of the cooling off period was almost overlooked. Believe it or not it was actually the real estate agent that prompted the inspection. While the house presented as requiring renovation, it looked in fairly reasonable condition overall, however what was discovered was quite unbelievable. Termites had occupied and damaged almost the entire timber structure, including the subfloor, the walls and roof. Our pre-purchase inspector almost fell through the ceiling upon entering the roof space due to the extent of termite damage of the ceiling joists.

 The video shows an inspection of timber bearers in the subfloor that at first glance look normal, however were are actually completely hollow. The building inspector in the video is actually uncomfortable being under the house. Every single bearer and joist that is inspected by the pre purchase inspector has been completely consumed by termites. The same damage was noted in the roof space.

Understandably the family who bought the house were disappointed. Luckily however they were able to withdrawer from the purchase and have their deposit returned. It is worth noting however, that if they had left the building inspection just 1 day later, the cooling off period would have expired and withdrawing from the sale would not have been possible. Considering the extent of damage in this particular house, this scenario would have been financially disastrous for the family. Having a building inspection prior to purchase is vital.

 

Melbourne House Check conduct building and pest inspections Melbourne wide. If you wish to speak with them about a house that you are considering, they can be contacted 7 days a week on 1300 729 352.

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Supporting young people who are homeless or are at risk of homelessness

Social Responsibility Program – Melbourne House Check

Melbourne House Check is proud to announce the launch of its very first ‘social responsibility’ program in the form of a partnership with Barnardos Australia (commencing 25th January 2016). Barnardos is doing what it can to support young people aged 16 to 25 years who are homeless or at risk of homelessness so that they can connect back with their families and communities or have a safe place to stay.

“From 25th January 2016, every inspection booked and completed through Melbourne House Check will result in a percentage being donated to Barnardos Australia. Not only will our customer’s receive one of the most comprehensive Building Inspections conducted by a qualified, licensed and insured building and pest inspector, but they will also be contributing to society through our social responsibility program.”

Brad Aylett-Sloan, Director of Melbourne House Check

“When choosing a charity to engage with, we considered the link between the services we offer, the customers we serve and the section of society that would most benefit from our collective contribution.” Brad continued. “Barnardos Australia and its support of young people who are homeless or are at risk of homelessness seemed like a perfect fit.”

Once launched we hope to encourage Real Estate Agents to support our social responsibility program by displaying our offer in-store.  We would like to encourage our customers to make mention of this program to their Realtor in order to encourage participation for the sake of those that will benefit from it.

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The building inspection that uncovered car jacks.

Are you considering buying a house? Does the house look like it’s in good condition? Perhaps you’re thinking twice about whether to have a building inspection or not. Well, believe it or not, in most cases when major structural defects are identified, they are found in houses that present beautifully from the outside. In almost all cases, major structural defects are concealed and if it was not for the building inspection, the defect would go completely un-noticed. The above photograph was taken in a subfloor after settlement at a house in Melbourne. This particular subfloor door was nailed shut, preventing access pre-purchase. It was only after settlement did the buyers commission the inspection wanting peace of mind. What was found was astounding. Four car jacks supporting the floor load in a section of the house that required restumping. This is a defective condition that is vital to identify before you purchase rather than afterwards. In another case this week in Melbourne we discovered a subfloor that was completely consumed by water, that had been leaking from the main shower. Considerable damage had been done to the structural timbers of the subfloor requiring major rectification costs.

Brad Aylett-Sloan from Melbourne House Check says “an increasing number of clients are contacting us post purchase. In most cases they have not commissioned a house inspection prior to purchase because of the rush of the sale process. We are continually identifying structural defects that have been concealed pre-purchase. It’s important for house buyer to realise that identifying major structural defects is not a simple task for non-professionals and that crawling under the floor and in the roof space is vital. Knowing what to look for is also a skill that only an experience builder has”

Melbourne House Check have produced an e-book that exposes 20 of the most common cover-ups in houses. It is a must have document for anyone considering buying a house. The e-book can be downloaded here.