Queensland Drought 2018 – How Could it Affect The Brisbane Property Market?
No matter where you live in Australia, no property is immune from being affected by a drought. The rain fall measured over autumn and winter in 2018 have been well below the average. The Australian Bureau of Meteorology is predicting a dryer summer than expected. This will have a number of consequences to properties around Brisbane and will prompt you to carefully consider what type of property you may purchase both now and in the future. This article endeavours to explain how the threat of the Queensland drought 2018 could affect the Brisbane property market. We share what the drought can affect and what you should look for in a property when a drought occurs.
Check for visual damage to a house during the drought
The first image that comes to mind when someone hears the word ‘drought’ is a dry ground with cracks. The same concept can happen to your home. Dry soil and cracks are not an ideal foundation for your home, but this is a consequence to properties that live through a drought.
Drought affects the soil by exposing reactive soil which is not good news for your property. Reactive soil is the exposure of underlying clay pans which become prominent after cycles of flooding, drought and erosion.
When soil becomes dry during a drought, it compacts. The moment moisture hits the surface of the ground, the soil expands, and this can ‘heave’ under the foundations of your house, causing it to move and create cracks in the walls and floors.
Major cracks in homes can be a sign of damage caused by drought and they should not be ignored. They can be costly to fix – especially if the ground movement has caused damage to the footings and foundations of your home and the pipes and drainage connecting to the wet areas of your home.
If you’re looking to purchase a home in Brisbane and notice cracks in the walls or floors, make a note of these and book a pre-purchase building inspection. Ensure your building inspector is aware of your concerns. A building inspector should be able to thoroughly assess the property before you consider purchasing it.
Consider water wise systems to make a property drought proof
A property that has water wise systems installed to drought proof it is important to consider.
It can be costly to add these measures to a new property so having them installed already can give peace of mind. The things to check that would make your property drought proof include:
- Installation of water tanks, hooked up to feed a toilet cistern and washing machine. Alternatively, they could be hooked to a pump to feed a garden hose used for watering the garden or washing the car.
- Water saving aerators installed on all tap spouts to reduce the flow of water from the tap spout.
- Installation of a water saving shower head to reduce the flow of water during showers.
- The installation of a dual flush toilet cistern which uses 50% less water than a single flush toilet suite.
A drought-proof home will become more sought after as it can save a potential owner the time and money required to get these water saving items installed. This can be a great selling point for a home so do consider a home with these installations.
Consider grey water solutions
Grey water is the waste water produced from the shower, kitchen and laundry. This water can be diverted away from the sewer pipes and into a treatment pump to be used for watering your garden. The council will have specific conditions on how grey water can be used, and the property owner will need to be careful with what cleaners, washing liquids, soaps and detergents are put down the drain as they may not be eco-friendly. But the installation of a grey water system that collects waste water and replenishes the gardens is something to consider when purchasing a drought-proof home.
Gardens are what can give a home street appeal. But a thirsty garden can cause plenty of headaches for a new property owner as it will suck moisture from the ground and require constant watering to be maintained. During times of drought, this kind of watering will almost certainly be restricted.
Consider purchasing a home with drought resistant gardens to prolong the life of the garden. The best plants that survive during dry times are drought tolerant grasses like buffalo or couch. Drought resistant plants to consider include yuccas, cacti, succulents and native plants. Gardens in Brisbane should be able to tolerate dry periods.
Add mulch to the gardens to keep moisture in the soil from evaporating. Ensure the mulch is not spread against the house as this can encourage an ideal environment for termites.
A brown and dry lawn is not a welcoming sight to a home. This is where the water saving measures of installing a tank can come in handy to keep the lawn watered and green.
Consider metropolitan instead of rural
While Brisbane is one of Australia’s third largest capital cities, there are still areas that are considered rural. During a drought, water restrictions will be more severe if a home is connected to the South East Queensland water grid. For homes in rural areas that rely on bore water, the water restrictions may be tougher than those relying on town water.
SEQ Water has put measures in place to ensure Brisbane doesn’t experience the panic that arose from the Millennium Drought, which saw Wivenhoe Dam’s water supply diminish to 15%. While all preparations can be put in place, there are no guarantees it will prevent water restrictions. However, Brisbane is better placed now than it was 10 years ago.
This information is crucial for a buyer to know, especially when considering a home in a rural or metropolitan area in Brisbane. Rural properties may experience a decline in sales due to access to water and the water costs needed to maintain a property.
If you’re in the market to expand your investment portfolio or simply change your family home, a current drought should not deter you. But it is crucial to organise a building inspection before you settle on a property to ensure the drought hasn’t affected the property more than your eye can see.