Total Home Inspections News

9 July 2024

Renovation Risks: What Perth Buyers Need to Know in a Tight Market

In the midst of Perth’s housing availability crisis, buyers are often tempted by renovated properties that promise modern comforts and updated features. However, poorly completed renovations can lead to significant issues down the road, turning what seemed like a dream home into a costly nightmare. Understanding the potential hazards of these subpar renovations, recognising the pitfalls, and knowing what to look for can help buyers make informed decisions.

The Appeal and Risks of Renovated Properties

Renovated properties are highly attractive to buyers, especially in a tight housing market. They offer the allure of move-in readiness, contemporary designs, and updated amenities without the hassle of undertaking renovations themselves. However, not all renovations are created equal. Some may be done hastily or with substandard materials to quickly flip a property for profit. This can result in a range of issues that affect the property’s safety, functionality, and value.

Potential Risks

Structural Issues:

Poorly executed renovations can compromise the structural integrity of a property. This includes improper removal of load-bearing walls, inadequate support beams, and shoddy foundation repairs. Such issues can lead to sagging floors, cracking walls, and even potential collapse in severe cases.

Electrical Hazards:

Substandard electrical work is a common hazard in poorly renovated homes. Faulty wiring, overloaded circuits, and non-compliant installations pose significant fire risks. In addition to safety concerns, these issues often require expensive repairs to bring the property up to code.

Plumbing Problems:

Renovations involving plumbing can result in hidden leaks, inadequate water pressure, and improper drainage if not done correctly. Water damage from leaks can lead to mould growth and structural decay, both of which are costly to remediate.

Poor Insulation and Ventilation:

Insufficient insulation and ventilation can result in high energy bills, poor indoor air quality, and uncomfortable living conditions. This is particularly concerning in a climate like Perth’s, where effective temperature control is essential for comfort.

Surface-Level Fixes:

Some renovations focus on cosmetic updates without addressing underlying issues. For example, new paint and flooring can mask problems like dampness, termite damage, or structural weaknesses. These surface-level fixes give a false sense of security and can be costly to uncover and repair later.

Pitfalls to Look Out For

Unlicensed Contractors:

Renovations completed by unlicensed or inexperienced contractors are more likely to be subpar. Always check the credentials of those who carried out the work. Licensed professionals are more likely to adhere to building codes and standards.

Lack of Permits:

Renovations that lack the necessary permits are a red flag. Permits ensure that the work meets local building regulations and standards. If a property has undergone extensive renovations without proper permits, the work may not be up to code.

Inconsistent Quality:

Pay attention to the consistency of the renovation work. Inconsistent quality, such as mismatched materials or uneven finishes, can indicate rushed or careless workmanship. Assess the quality of materials used in the renovation. High-quality materials generally last longer and perform better than cheaper alternatives. Look for reputable brands and durable finishes.

Hidden Problems:

Be wary of renovations that focus heavily on aesthetics without addressing fundamental issues. Fresh paint and new fixtures may hide serious problems like dampness, foundation issues, or outdated electrical systems.

Inadequate Documentation:

Reliable renovation projects come with detailed documentation, including receipts, warranties, and compliance certificates. A lack of documentation could indicate corners were cut during the renovation process. Verify that all renovation work complies with local building codes and standards. This includes checking for necessary permits and ensuring that the work has been inspected and approved by local authorities.

Functionality Over Aesthetics:

Ensure that the renovation improves the property’s functionality, not just its appearance. Functional improvements, such as updated electrical systems, plumbing, and insulation, add real value to the property.

Tips for Choosing a Suitable Renovated Property

Research the Renovator:

Investigate the renovator or contractor who completed the work. Reputable renovators will have a portfolio of completed projects and positive reviews from previous clients. Ask for references and follow up with them.

Ask for Documentation:

Request detailed documentation of the renovation work, including permits, receipts, warranties, and compliance certificates. This paperwork can provide insight into the quality and legality of the work completed.

Get Multiple Inspections:

In addition to a standard building inspection, consider specialised inspections for areas like plumbing, electrical systems, and structural integrity. Multiple inspections can provide a comprehensive understanding of the property’s condition.

Negotiate Based on Findings:

Use the findings from the inspections to negotiate the price. If significant issues are uncovered, you can request repairs or a reduction in the sale price to cover the cost of future repairs.

Consider Future Maintenance:

Understand the long-term maintenance needs of the renovated property. Even well-renovated homes require upkeep, and knowing what to expect can help you plan and budget accordingly.

Check Market Value:

Compare the renovated property to similar homes in the area to ensure you’re getting good value for your money. Overpriced properties may not be worth the investment, especially if the renovations are not of high quality.

Trust Your Instincts:

Finally, trust your instincts. If something feels off about the property or the renovation work, it’s worth investigating further. Don’t rush into a purchase simply because of the housing availability crisis.

In Perth’s competitive housing market, renovated properties offer a tempting solution for buyers looking to avoid the hassle of renovations themselves. However, poorly completed renovations can lead to significant headaches and expenses down the line. By understanding the potential hazards, recognising the pitfalls, and knowing what to look for, buyers can make informed decisions and choose properties that truly add value and comfort to their lives.

Thorough inspections, attention to detail, and careful consideration of the renovator’s reputation are key to navigating this challenging market. With the right approach, you can find a renovated property that meets your needs and stands the test of time, ensuring your investment is safe and sound.