Buying your first home can be a daunting task. Everyone has a checklist of what they like in a home, whether you are looking for something to renovate or something to simply move into and be comfortable. Let’s assume you might not have a million dollar budget, and are looking for something cheap to break into the market. If this is the case, you’ll also probably be interested in upgrading or renovating the home to increase the value, or simply to improve liveability. To avoid nasty surprises like requiring asbestos removal, consider the items below in your cost analysis. We will aim to focus on a renovation and construction perspective rather than the usual considerations like location, layout, bedrooms and such.
Age of the Home
How old is the home? Seems like an obvious start, but an older home means more chance of repairs – think rotting timbers, leaky roofs, termites. All of the fun stuff. Don’t let this dissuade you though, just ensure you get a full pest and building inspection so you aren’t caught unawares. You’ll want to jump on top of these repairs pretty quickly though, so add it to the “cost of your home” if you can.
Avoid Asbestos or Factor in the Cost of Asbestos Removal
Additionally, when judging the home’s age, if the home is pre 1990 (yes, that recent) you have to consider that the home may contain asbestos. If you don’t want to revamp the home, asbestos isn’t as big of a problem as you can safely leave it undisturbed. It only becomes one if you’d like to rearrange walls, extend or demolish any areas (do contemplate that you might not want to just bang a nail in to hang a picture as well). So, if you’re planning to renovate you will need to factor in the costs of hiring professional asbestos removalists as one of the very first steps. Without seen the actual internals of the sheet, asbestos fibro can be very difficult to differentiate with non-asbestos fibro. It is better to assume that is asbestos. A sample can be sent to a lab for testing to be certain.
Asbestos Removal in Newcastle can cost anywhere between $30 and $100 per square metre.
Brick and Tile
One way to ideally avoid asbestos altogether is to look for brick houses. Since asbestos was typically an external (although not always) sheeting material, you may find the simplest way to avoid it is to look for brick and tile homes. Not only that, a brick and tile home is sturdy, better insulated and in my opinion, great to render/bag for an effective makeover. Brick and tile will add to the cost of the home, but if you are looking to eventually resell, this will translate into a better sell price for you too. Old tile roofs may have leaking problems, but can be repaired reasonably cheaply with individual tile replacement. Conversely, a corrugated tin/colorbond roof has less than half the lifetime, and entire sheets need to be replaced in the case of an issue. Upon home inspection, look for spots of mould in the ceiling to determine a leaking roof and again factor in the costs of repair.
If you think you’d like to redesign the interior of the house to the point of removing walls, a truss roof is your best bet. If you don’t you will have to install visible support beams. Having a quick look in the ceiling cavity is the best way to find out.
Flooding and Water Damage
A big one to look out for is flood prone homes, whether from raising water levels if the house is near a body of water or heavy rains, there are some tells to look out for.
- Mould and discolouration – Look for mould or dulling of colour in external areas. Mould thrives on moisture, so if you see mould up against the exterior of the house, it’s highly likely that pooling occurs in that area.
- Slope and drainage – If evidence has been removed, you can imagine where flooding is probable. Outdoor concrete slabs or paths are a big one, as water will run in whichever direction it slopes. If the concrete was not intentionally set to slope away from the property, then it will pool until the water finds somewhere to go. Ensure that inside the house, or even against a brick wall is not the lowest point. Water can penetrate through the external walls if no water-proofing or draining is present.
As a multi-home owner and a passionate renovator myself, these are just some of the common factors that I had to consider when purchasing each home. It is rare to buy an older home without any problems, so make sure you borrow or save a little extra to resolve any big issues as soon as possible.