Modern House Design
Building Inspection Tips, Purchasing a House

Buying a Modern House? Modern House Design Problems To Look For!

Buying a Modern House? Modern House Design Problems To Look For!

A modern house design is usually considered more favourably than a traditional older home design. Modern houses have lovely big open plan spaces and often have design features that make the property stand out compared to existing properties in the area. But a contemporary home can have flaws that may potentially cost a property owner money to fix or maintain. While older homes can come with their own share of problems, modern houses can have issues which can make the house uncomfortable to live in. Many modern homes have been built with a contemporary aesthetic in mind and little consideration for the climate or how it will stand when facing outdoor elements.  There’s also the issue of the lifespan of the modern design as they’re built for the market now, not the needs of the market in the future. Before your heart settles on a modern house design, here are the problems to be aware of so you can make an informed choice on the style of home you wish to purchase.

Modern homes are often built with incorrect orientation

The right orientation of a home comes down to wise planning and thoughtful counsel from an architect who has considered where the sun rises and sets in the area. Unfortunately, many modern homes are built with the incorrect orientation, which means the house can become a hot-box in summer and an esky in winter. When inspecting a modern home to purchase, look up and see where the sun orientation is to the main living areas of the home. Ideally, the main living areas like the kitchen, living room and any spaces which will be the heart of home activity should face north, as this aspect gets the best of both sun and breeze.

Modern homes can be heat traps

The square box look of modern designed homes can be an acquired taste for many. For those that are considering this style of modern home, you should check what climate control measures have been installed in the home. Unfortunately, the box shape of modern homes can have poor solar access. The lack of natural ventilation, outside shading and eaves means heat can be trapped inside the home. This can lead to over-insulation or the running of high-energy appliances like air-conditioners to cool the house in summer. In some cases, no heat control measures are installed, making the property one that is uncomfortable in both the hotter and cooler months. If you’re considering a property that is box-like in design, check what temperature measures have been put in place and what will be the ongoing costs to maintain those indoor climate controls.

Modern homes can be built using shoddy building materials

It’s true that houses aren’t built like they used to be, however there are materials, like asbestos, which are no longer used in properties due to the health risks of exposure. Despite these changes, a modern home can be built in a quick timeframe and on a limited budget, which means poor choices can sometimes be made for building materials. Lightweight construction materials can pose a risk to contemporary properties as they sometimes aren’t waterproof and can become a fire hazard. The only way for anyone to know if the existing materials are approved for installation in Australia and have been installed to Australian standards, is to book a pre-purchase inspection. Lightweight polystyrene cladding has a major flaw with water seeping through the joints which can cause mould within the property. Mould is a health risk and, if found within a home, needs to be investigated and resolved. Often, this issue doesn’t surface until the new owner of the property has moved in and it’s not uncommon that there is no budget to fix the cause immediately. This is why a pre-purchase inspection is so important. A building inspector will look for moisture, and advise in their report what they see and what needs to be done to have the defect rectified.

Modern homes can be built by unskilled tradies

There is high demand for skilled trades in most states of Australia. This demand can attract ‘cowboy’ tradies that are unskilled or unlicensed to conduct a particular building skill. Modern homes can come with their share of shoddy building work, and often the issues don’t arise until after a property owner has moved in.

Modern homes are generally a simple design to build, so they are often the design most easily built by tradies who don’t have the expertise to build any different. Poor workmanship can be identified by:
• Uneven rendering on the exterior walls
• Roof leaks
• Moisture in plasterboard caused by possible water leaks or materials that aren’t waterproof
• Uneven timber floors or flooring due to foundation issues
• Gaps between cabinetry
• Uneven plastering of walls inside the home

Modern homes may require regular maintenance

The most common materials used for the exterior walls on a modern home are rendered brick or cladding.

Rendering is the most popular way for a brick home to be modernised and updated to give it better street appeal. Unfortunately, not all render jobs are the same. In order to check if the rendering has been done to a high standard, look for imperfections and unevenness. If it’s patchy and you can see cracks, you may need to reconsider purchasing the property, unless you have money put aside to fix it up. A rendered house will need to be regularly painted to ensure the upkeep of the external facade.

The second most common exterior material is cladding. For architecturally designed homes with a contemporary edge, steel cladding or Colourbond is a popular choice. One of the common issues with steel cladded homes is the use of other metal materials for the roof, which can react with the steel. Lead, copper or stainless steel can cause the steel cladding to erode. Again, this can be difficult for the average joe to identify, but a pre-purchase inspection will note the roof material construction and exterior wall construction and identify if any reactions have started to occur.

A modern house design can still be a worthy investment for a family home or rental. To give you peace of mind about the property you wish to purchase, let Action Property Inspections conduct a thorough investigation to identify any potential issues.

For more advice and tips on modern house designs and buying a contemporary home, contact Action Property Inspections today on (07) 3201 2666!


About Andrew Mackintosh

Andrew Mackintosh has been answering home inspection questions in the greater Brisbane area since 1995. He has personally carried out over 20,000 building inspections and is a licensed builder and licensed building inspector, Member of Queensland Master Builders Association & Institute of Building Consultants. Being the business owner and the inspector, Andrew is passionate about providing clients with excellent customer service, value for money, honest, unbiased, thorough inspection and reporting in a professional and timely manner to allow clients to make informed decisions when purchasing property.

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