As the nights begin to get cooler and the sun starts to set earlier, we know that summer is drawing to a close. The doonas will soon be out and we will see the change of seasons. The beautiful colours of autumn will start to take over.
However, before winter sets in, there are some things that need to be done to keep your house looking smart.
Organise summer gear. Collect all the summer toys around the yard and give them a wash and clean and pack them away ready for next year. Repair any toys that need fixing and throw away anything that is broken.
Check your windows and doors for leaks. You want your house to stay dry in winter so check for any leaks around window and door frames. Reseal any gaps and make sure you keep the wind and cold out.
Clean the gutters. Make sure your gutters are clear of leaves and debris and will be able to withstand the action of winter. You might need some help but it is really important to make sure your gutters are clear so they don’t block up and force water back into your house.
Replace broken tiles. Check the roof for any broken tiles or worn out seals particularly around vent pipes or chimneys. Replace any tiles and fix any seals to prevent leaks. You may need to enlist some help from the professionals on this but it is important to follow up.
Clean your vents and check your air-conditioning system. They need to be clean before you shut them off for winter. This will make sure they are functioning properly when you turn them on next summer.
Check your fire alarms. We start to use heaters and fireplaces in winter so make sure your smoke alarms are working. Replace the battery for peace of mind.
Hairy timber, fluffy batten or furry batten. We see these from time to time when conducting building inspections in Perth, WA and the more technical term to describe these hairy timbers is a process known as ‘delignification’. Delignification can occur to timber roof battens and other roof timbers visible from within the roof void.
Defect yes or no?
We have had an increasing number of enquiries from home owners after delignification has been identified in their roof void by a building inspector. They are told by others that the delignification is a major structural defect, a safety hazard and told not to walk on their roof for risk of it “caving in”. In many cases, this information is not correct. The roof voids we have been asked to inspect after being told “the roof could cave in” have been fine. As you can see in this video.
What is Delignification?
Lignin is the natural glue that holds the fibres of wood together. When the lignin is broken down the fibres then detach from each other creating a visible hairy surface to a section of the timber. Chemical delignification damage is most commonly found in timber sections used as roof tile battens of buildings that are located in close proximity to the sea, or major roads that have heavy traffic. We have found terracotta tiled roofs are more prone to delignification to the timbers due to the porosity of the terracotta tiles which puts the battens through a wetting and drying cycle.
The affected layer (the furry bit) is generally only very thin. Because the surface fluffs up, it looks a lot worse than the minor 0.2 mm or so in depth that is affected. The actual timber is still strong – it’s simply just a tiny bit smaller. Tile battens are installed as green or unseasoned timber. Any minor reduction in physical size is more than offset by the timber now being dry or seasoned and this is generally stronger than green or unseasoned timber.
What to do
Chemical delignification is regarded as typical material deterioration or a condition consistent with the age of the building. In other words, if you buy an old house, expect some building elements to have deteriorated. Also, the Australian Standard 4349.3 – 2010 Inspection of Buildings Part 3 Timber Pest Inspection does not classify delignification as a timber pest.
Some building inspectors are recommending fumigation, to stop the apparent risk of their roof “caving in”. The fumigation process does make the furry bits go away, and provide some level of timber preservation. The treatment in most cases is unnecessary and very expensive.
So, if an inspector is recommending fumigation because of delignification, be wary and get a second opinion. Don’t be fooled, save your money, and if in doubt get Home Integrity to take a look.
If damage or injury is caused by unauthorized building works, then the home owner is legally liable, and are unlikely to be covered by their insurance. Local councils can order home owners to have unauthorized building works rectified and even to have unauthorized structures demolished. Having unapproved building works can adversely affect the marketability and value of the home.
Many established Perth homes, through the years have had alterations and/or additions (building works) completed to improve the look and amenity of the home. For example, a patio or pergola, a new garden shed, a retaining wall may have been added. Or maybe a garage has been converted into a fourth bedroom.
In most instances, building works require approval by the local council. Once approved the local council will issue a building permit and this is required prior to any works commencing.
The building permit will stipulate all the conditions to be met by the person completing the works. The conditions will include planning and building regulations which are designed to protect the home owner, occupants and also not adversely impact on neighbouring properties.
What is unauthorised building work?
Unauthorised building work may include building work completed without a building permit, or building works that have not been built in accordance with the approved plans and specifications.
Retrospective Approvals for unauthorized building works
Local governments are able to issue a ‘building approval certificate’ to the applicant in relation to unauthorised building work.
The applicant will need to complete all forms, submit adequate plans and specifications (documentation), pay all relevant fees and demonstrate that the building work complies with the relevant standards.
Some councils have differing standards in regards to the documentation required. Documentation will need to be provided by most, if not all, of the following consultants.
Building Consultant / Project Manager
Building Surveyor / Private Certifier
Energy efficiency report
Bush Fire Attack Level report
Registered builder / qualified trades people.
The quality of the documentation will dramatically impact the success of the application and time taken for approval.
Providing an approval of this nature retrospectively allows local governments to be satisfied that building works are safe, complies with all requirements, and is included in their building records.
If you are concerned that a building or incidental structure on a property you own or are thinking about purchasing may not have the necessary approval, contact the relevant local council to confirm what building approvals have been granted.
No fuss / fast retrospective approvals
Home Integrity will carry out a full site investigation for structural adequacy and compliance to planning and building codes.
This inspection is carried out by a registered builder, who understands the retrospective approval system, and is experienced in having approvals granted fast.
Home Integrity will complete all forms, liaise with the local council and collate all documentation required from our team of qualified consultants.
Home Integrity will project manage all phases from documentation to application, to ensure the approval is granted as fast as possible.
If you are considering a Keystart loan, it’s a great way to buy your own home. However, there are a set of minimum standards that Keystart consider essential for the purchase of any established property.
Keystart will require a satisfactory Structural / Building report from one of the following professionals for all properties older than 25 years for both metro and country properties –
This means your average building inspector won’t be able to complete your inspection unless they are one of the above professionals.
The building report must include the following:
Photographs of the property.
Defects to the property.
They must also ensure that the report is inclusive of the following:
Photographic evidence of each issue raised regarding the property.
Specific commentary of each issue raised regarding the property.
An estimate of the costs involved to repair or replace each issue highlighted.
Please note: Keystart may request the repair of all highlighted issues prior to formal approval being considered. Once these items have been repaired, Keystart will require an updated building inspection report to confirm all have been fixed along with photographic evidence.
It is highly recommended buyers make it clear to the Real Estate Agent if defects are identified, as the loan approval may be subject to remedial works being completed to these defects.
Keystart reserves the right to decline any property that does not meet the required standards. These minimum standards will be applied to all properties that are to be accepted as security for a Keystart loan.
The house / unit must have:
Construction & Presentation
The property is to be well maintained.
All ceilings and frames in the house must be painted.
All internal wall finishes must be painted.
Wet areas in the house must be tiled.
All external areas of the house which normally require painting must be painted and be in good repair.
Must have window treatments, in good repair (i.e. curtaining, venetians) to all clear glass windows.
Must have floor coverings, in good repair (i.e. carpeting, tiles, polished timber) through the entire house.
The property must be fenced with the fence in a state of good repair.
Car Parking and Access
A concrete (or acceptable alternative material) driveway from the crossover to a carport adjacent to the house.
A carport with a concrete (or other suitable material) slab of industry standard or applicable building code requirement.
In the case of a unit, an allocated car parking bay.
Water metered to the boundary. In those regional areas where water metered to the boundary is not available, evidence that adequate rainwater tanks are held will be required.
Sewerage as required by the Water Corporation or a septic tank or leach drain in accordance with the requirement of the relevant local authority.
Lighting to the front and rear entries.
Mains powered smoke alarms or battery powered smoke alarms that are fixed permanently into the ceiling with a 10-year battery life.
A minimum of two Residual Current Devices (RCD’s) installed.
A minimum of three bedrooms, one bathroom, one kitchen, one laundry, one toilet and one living area all under the main roof. In the case of a unit purchase, one and two bedrooms are acceptable with a combined laundry and/or toilet. Smaller houses will be considered based on locality and condition.
In the case of a unit purchase, one and two bedrooms are acceptable with a combined toilet and bathroom, a combined laundry and kitchen or a combined bathroom and laundry are acceptable.
The laundry must have a trough and space for a washing machine.
The kitchen must have a sink, oven and/or hotplates and space for a refrigerator.
The bathroom must have a shower or a bath and a vanity basin.
The property must be of a reasonable habitable standard and have all the relevant local authority approvals and any other regulatory body approvals held.
The overall presentation must be of a reasonable standard (including gardens).
Home Integrity has completed many reports for clients applying for Keystart loans. We are one of the few building inspection companies in Perth that have a specific service tailored for clients requiring a report to satisfy the requirements of a Keystart loan.