How to Discover Property "Cover Up"s

When buying a house, you can often subconsciously overlook the fact that a property can have hidden faults and problems that are potentially very dangerous. This situation is compounded if you’re buying a property for investment purposes as you have to keep in mind that you have a duty of care to your tenants.

Building and pest inspections can help safeguard property buyers against investing in fault-ridden properties, and there are a number of things that you can keep an eye out for when house-hunting for that perfect home or investment.


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    Keep an eye out for cracking. Patched and painted internal walls are a sure sign of a cover up, as are external walls concealed behind plants or trellis.
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    Remember damp can be a huge problem. It can rise from the ground, come down from the roof or seep out through internal walls due to plumbing problems. You might smell it before you see it, or it may be hidden behind a coat of paint or furniture pushed against the walls.
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    Keep in mind that termites, borers and timber rot can all cause structural problems. Watch out for floor damage that's been patched and concealed under carpet, crumbly skirting boards, or weather boards and window sills that have been patched and painted.
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    Have a look at the roof. Not many people look at their roof on a regular basis so watch for rusty metal that has been painted, tiles patched with lead or damaged roof framing propped up in the roof space.
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    Get under the house. Check for damp that will affect timber sub-floor or stumps, or floors that are temporarily propped to prevent bouncing.
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    Have a look at gutters and downpipes. These can be costly to replace so make sure you don't have any rust that's been painted over.
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    Note that faulty and illegal wiring or plumbing can be expensive to replace, or if not noticed, can cause a legal nightmare if tenants are involved. These need to be professionally checked and replaced or repaired immediately.


  • Before you buy, get a professional building and pest inspection. This will save you money in the long run and reduce the risk of unexpected repairs.
  • If you must lock in the deal by submitting a contract, ensure you have your solicitor add as many escape clauses into the contract. The best clauses to include are, pest inspection (to your satisfaction), building inspection, finance approval, site survey (and make sure there are no illegal structures on the property), flood, council and property overlays due diligence, and any other "get out of jail free" clauses you can dream up. This will keep you safe and give you time to get professional assessment of the property.

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Categories: Buying Property