Ask The Inspector: Townhouse Property Inspections

Urban Houses, Sydney, Australia

After months of property inspections you have found the perfect townhouse, in the perfect location. It’s a dream come true. Or is it?
You have worked hard and saved your money for that deposit. The last thing you want is to have a mortgage for a property that has major structural issues. These problems are often hidden and can be extremely costly.
It is crucial that you have building and pest inspections performed before any purchase, but using an inspector who understands the specifics of a townhouse property inspection will make a big difference. It could save you thousands in renovations and repairs down the track.

Thinking of buying? Do you need a pre-purchase inspection?

At Action Property Inspections, we regularly get questions from buyers about whether they need a property inspection. Jessica and Dan, a young QLD couple, are one such case study.
Eager to bust out of the rental cycle, they were thinking of buying a townhouse in North Brisbane. The townhouses were ‘semi-detached’ and while the one they were considering looked to be well cared for, the one right next door had been subject to bad tenants for some time. They were faced with a very important decision. Should they bother spending money on a townhouse property inspection or not?
In short, YES. Pre-purchase property inspections are essential to save you money and give you peace of mind before you invest. Here are two ways things might have worked out for Jessica and Dan.

Scenario #1 – townhouse property inspection performed

Wanting to know for sure that the townhouse they intended on purchasing was a good investment, Jessica and Dan thought it was in their best interest to have a building and pest inspection performed on the property.
They discovered that there were some minor repairs to be made; some bathroom tiles were cracked, some exterior guttering was pulling away from the house, and a section of wiring had been replaced in a way that didn’t meet the current Australian Standards. These were easy fixes.
On closer investigation, their inspector picked up some rising damp in the connecting wall between the two townhouses. It seems that damage caused by the neighbours to their own bathroom had resulted in inundation between the properties. This was likely to become a major concern over time!
Armed with this information, Jessica and Dan were in a position to ask the seller to make repairs, or to drop the sale price. They also knew they now had the option to walk away from the sale altogether and find a better investment.

Scenario #2 – property inspection was not performed on the townhouse

As the property was less than five years old, Dan and Jessica assumed that there would be minimal risk of any hidden damage to the property. They noticed a few cosmetic issues, like broken tiles, but figured they’d be an easy fix. They opted to forgo the pre-purchase property inspection on the townhouse.
After signing the contracts, taking out an extensive mortgage and making themselves at home, they started to notice staining and mould developing on the wall they shared with the neighbouring townhouse. They were now faced with a huge case of buyer’s regret and an expensive repair bill to pull apart the plaster and see just how much damage had been done through rising damp.
They may now need a complete overhaul and renovation of the bathroom. Wood rot can cause irreparable damage, and spreads quickly to other parts of the frame. To make the situation even worse, wood rot is like a buffet for termites. They love it!
Jessica and Dan loved the property so much that they let emotion dictate the purchase instead of using their heads to make sure the townhouse was as good as it seemed.

Townhouse pre-property inspection considerations

Just like every house, there are the basics you should focus on when inspecting a townhouse, like wall buckling, cracks in walls, or stains. In addition to these, if you are considering purchasing a townhouse you should also ensure your inspector checks:
• Firewall – Is there a firewall separating the two dwellings? A firewall is designed to prevent the spread of fire from one home to the other. While this isn’t essential, it is highly advised to only purchase townhouses that have this fire-resistant wall between the adjoining properties.
• Previous damage – This may be difficult to find out if a reliable body corporate is not in place, but you should attempt to find out if previous damage has occurred to the property. This includes roofing, electrical, plumbing and adjoining walls. If there have been major repairs performed, find out why!
• Roof tiles – Most potential property buyers know they need to check the condition of the roof. But did you know that you should also examine the condition of the adjoining neighbour? If they have broken tiles and have experienced damage from the weather, chances are that the townhouse you are looking at is suffering due to their lack of repairs.
Unfortunately, some townhouse owners rely on their body corporate to look after repairs, and these may or may not be carried out to the standard you would expect for your home. Even if the townhouse you wish to buy has been lovingly cared for, the state of your neighbour’s property must also be taken into consideration.
Your home is typically one of the largest investments you will ever make. Before you jump and sign on the dotted line without getting a townhouse property inspection, remember that once you do… all these potential problems become yours!

Call in the townhouse property inspection experts at Action Property Inspections and know that your next home is free from damage or defects.