Illegal building work and the pitfalls.

According to recent data, up to 25% of homes for sale have some sort of illegal building. Illegal building work is work to a house that is undertaken without the required permits or compliance certificates. Amongst the most common, is electrical wiring that has been tampered with, home-made plumbing, and internal load bearing walls that have been removed.

Brad Aylett-Sloan, pre purchase building consultant at Melbourne House Check, says that “illegal building work was a significant problem faced by our clients in 2014. The ramifications of liability are widespread. Not only are the original constructors of the works at fault and at risk, but future purchasers of the property are also exposed to the risks. We are finding that local councils are actively issuing building notices on current owners to show cause and comply with building regulations. Notices that may require home owners to demolish the works. If during our pre purchase house inspections we suspect that recent building works have been conducted, we are recommending to our clients that they check with the local council as to whether a building permit has been issued”. Brad says.

It can become an issue for vendors when the appropriate documentation and certification cannot be produced at the request of the buyer. “We are finding that buyers are often not willing to take on that liability and risk.” Brad says.

Some of the common illegal building works identified by Melbourne House Check during pre-purchase house inspections in Melbourne are as follows:

  • Internal load bearing walls removed without adequate support of the roof above.
  • Rooms being constructed in roof spaces, with floor loads directly on top of ceiling joists.
  • Excavations underneath sub floors and the removal of stumps to accommodate storage.
  • The construction of decks and pergolas.
  • Electrical and plumbing work conducted without the associated compliance and safety certificates being issued.

Brad says that “Melbourne House Check highly recommends that anyone considering purchasing a house should check the compliance of recent works of the building, to ensure that they are not buying an ongoing problem”. For information on the requirements of building and planning permits, you can visit the Victorian Building Authority website here.

Melbourne House Check conduct building inspections in Melbourne and can be contacted at . If you have been issued with a building notice to show cause of illegal building works, you can contact our office for direction on 1300 729 352.

You can view our Google+ post on this matter also here.