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Common Building Defects – What are They and How Can You Spot Them?


Whether you live in an apartment or a mansion you need to be concerned with building defects and how they can affect your property. In fact, recent surveys suggest it is the biggest concern for Australian apartment owners; and with good reason.

There are many reasons why you light find a defect in your building, these range from poor build quality to cheap materials and simply old age. Almost every building will have a defect or the potential for a defect; this is why it is essential to understand what the most common building defects are:


This is a very dangerous substance but one which was commonly used in houses 30 years ago. It can be in the roof lining, guttering and even in the walls. Asbestos can cause a variety of issues including fibrotic lung disease and cancer.

It is best to get an asbestos risk assessment done on your home as it can be very difficult to spot unless you are a trained professional.


If you notice part of the guttering is missing or leaking or that you have tiles missing on the roof then damp will be getting into your home and potentially the foundations. This can cause damp rot, leaks and even undermine the foundations.

A visual inspection of the roof and guttering should tell you if you have or have had a problem.

Wood Infestation

Damp can cause your wood to rot, making it soft and unable to support any structure. However, your wood is also at risk from infestations, particularly termites.

Look at any visible wood in your home. If you can easily poke a screwdriver into it then it is suffering from damp rot. If you see grooves or even lots of small holes then there is a good chance you have termites.

Both can cause serious issues and can be expensive to fix, you need to get professional help quickly.


Old electrics are often dangerous as the protective sheath disintegrates over time. This can leave you with the potential for shorts and even overheating. The worst case scenario is the electrics start a fire.

If you have an older house have the electrics checked by an electrician, there’s a good chance the electrics won’t reach the safety standards or today.


Take a look at all the walls to see if there are any visible cracks. Not all cracks are an issue, you need to assess whether they are in the brick work or just the plaster / rendering.

If the crack runs the entire length of a wall it is likely that the house has shifted. This might indicate subsidence. You should have this checked as the cure is underpinning which is a very expensive process.

Cracks and stain in the lower part of the interior walls can also be due to rising damp. This might mean you need a new damp treatment and you will need to keep an eye open for mold, which can be dangerous to your health.

Common sense should prevail when looking at your home. Older properties are likely to have some of these defects; as long as you take this into account when purchasing there is no reason not to go ahead with your purchase. Just make sure you have it surveyed!

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