Fourteen property records you should have.

Soooo important

How important are property records anyway? You would think by the way many people have no idea where their property records are - that they have little value at all. But the opposite is tru!

Lets take a look at some documents and why they are important.

Title

Proves ownership of the property. You can do a title search online from $25. Your conveyancer or solicitor will do this as part of the conveyancing process. Land titles office in NSW and VIC in Australia sold for over $2B each so I guess the title information is valuable!

Building Approval

Buyers will often ask the seller for proof of building approval (or permit) for improvments on the property. Except for repairs and minor maintenance, most works do require approval. Ask your building inspector to advise you what improvements have been carried out at the property (including the original buildings) and then have your conveyancer or lawyer request a search of local council records for records of what approvals have been issued. Often the information only states what work was approved, the date of approval and the approval number. Sometimes the search will reveal if the approved works had the necessary inspections during construction including the final inspection. In Australia the final inspection is often known as the Form 21.

WARNING: Unauthorised building work is usually uninsurable. So if your property had a large extension and there was a fire and it burnt down, the insurer could refuse to pay the claim.

If you are selling a property and you have copies of approvals, Form 21 and approval documentation (plans, specifications, soil test etc) its best to provide these to the Selling agent.

Planning Approval

Many building works require planning approval. Planning approval often comes with a long list of conditions relating to this like the permitted use, hours of operation, visitor car parking, disabled access and more. The permitted use of the land can have a big effect on the value. E.g. Planning approval for a 10 storey apartment building with shops can make the property worth multiples of a standard residential site.

Pool Safety Certificate

In some states of Australia you require a Pool Safety Certificate if you own a property with a swimming pool or outdoor spa bath. There are significant penalties for properties that do not have a compliant pool safety barrier. In Queensland the Pool Safety certificate MUST be provided to the buyer after a contract to purchase has been signed OR else the Purchasor MUST agree to obtain a Pool Safety certificate within the prescribed timeframe.

Contract of Sale

The contract for the sale of the property is a key document that sets out the parties, the terms of the agreement and rights and responsibilities of the signatories to the agreement. A contral of sale for property will always show the date of the contract was entered into, the agreed sum, any deposit paid, a settlement date and any special conditions.

Entry condition report

A document that clearly sets out the agreed condition of the property at the commencement of the lease. This docuement is needed at the end of the lease to allow a comparison to the exit condition.

Lease agreement

If the property is being leased then there will be a lease agreement between the property owner and the tenant. The agreement sets out the terms of the lease such as start and finish dates, lease payment amount, rent reviews, improvements, maintenance, renewals and more. These are a key document and will be critical should a dispute arise between the parties.

Building inspection report

Completed by a Building inspector, this inspection report will detail the presence of major defects and safety hazards. In Australia the report should be strictly in accordance with AS4349.1 when it relates to residential property and AS4349.0 for non-residential property. The report helps the owner to understand the condition of the property and prioritse necessary repairs and maintenance.

Pest inspection report

Completed by a Timber Pest inspector, this inspection report will detail the presence of timber pests including subterranean termites, borers of seasoned timber and fungal decay. In Australia the report should be strictly in accordance with AS4349.3. The report should detail the type, location and extent of any activity or damage together with a list of risks conducive to pest damage. Comment should also be made on the presence of a compliant and current termite management system. Having the history of pest management for the property is important in regions where timber pests are common.

Valuation

A sworn valuation from a registered valuer gives an opinion of the properties improved value and details of the property. It also has comparable sales of other similar properties in the area.

Warranties

Appliances and building products like roof sheeting and pool equipment will have a manufacturers warranty. Sometimes these warranties need to be registered. Some components, like a termite management system may require an annual inspection by a company technician to maintain the warranty. Some warranties like roofing can be 25 years, so you need long term storage of the warranties.

Manuals

Air-conditioning, Hot Water system, Dishwasher and other appliances have operating instructions. You need these to make sure you are using your appliances properly and taking care of them so they last as long as they should. Almost all manuals are available online but its handy to have these on hand to share with a property manager, tenant or new owner.

Quotes

Quotes from Builders and tradespeople for improvements and maintenance are useful to define the scope of works, payment terms and delivery dates. These are useful for future reference and trades/suppliers can be added to your contacts. Quotes provide a reference point for assessing the value of future work.

Will

A will is a legal docuement. A person can decide allocation of their property upon their death. It will usually name one or more persons or beneficiaries. The executor is also named and will be the one to manage the estate until its final distribution.

The gold standard

Its best to upload all available records to inndox. When you sell you can share inndox with prospective buyers so they can confidently make an offer on the property in the knowledge that the property has a good set of records making it easier to take over and manage.

Home maintenance when you haven't got time for it

SPENDING SAVES YOU MONEY

JUST LIKE your car, a building needs maintenance. A typical home has many thousands of parts. When everything is well maintained you have a home that is comfortable, safe, healthy and energy- efficient. As a property investor you need to monitor the building, identify potential problems and fix these problems promptly. After you have purchased a property you are responsible for maintenance. This chapter will help you to know what to look for and how to fix it.

Remember that you are maintaining an asset that has the very important task of building your future wealth.

In Australia, the cost of property maintenance is high. Our tradespeople are heavily taxed and highly regulated so no wonder cheap labour is hard to find, but that is another story. The high cost of labour and materials means that it is more expensive than most people realise to maintain a property. Once investors have coughed up the huge amount necessary to purchase the property they seem to think, great now I can relax and watch the money roll into my account. An Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) survey conducted in 1999 found that maintenance costs seem to be around $2,000 per annum on a rental property. Interestingly, the same survey found 64% of people who lived in a house that was more than 60 years old said it had major structural defects. Hardly a news flash that older properties need more maintenance. Given it’s now 2016, it’s likely that maintenance costs have only increased.

 

WHY USE A PROPERTY MANAGER?

I personally use the services of professional property managers to manage the maintenance of the property in my investment portfolio. Yes, I could do it myself but my time is worth more than what they charge (and your time is worth more too).

OK, so here is how you make a list of maintenance on your own home easy. Set and forget. Have a look at the following example shown.

Gutters every 6 months by ACME gutter cleaning ph. 555 7788 dave@acmegutterclean.com

Window cleaning every 12 months by Sparkle Window cleaners ph. 555 123 jenny@sparklewindows.com

Air conditioning service every 12 months by Be Cool Air Con Solutions ph. 0455 456 789 Alex@becool.com

Schedule this maintenance using inndox so you get a reminder that is linked to your contacts and is there for the next owner. This makes your property more attractive as a buyer can more easily take over the management of the property.

 Why you should get one maintenance company to do multiple jobs

Save time by getting one company to do multiple items. For example, the guys who clean my windows also clean the pavers with high pressure water. Now they offer gutter-cleaning too. They call me once a year in September (our springtime) and two guys come and spend the whole day cleaning the gutters, then the walls and pavers and finally clean the windows. It costs about $800 after I get a discount for being a regular customer and packaging all the services together. They call me every year and we agree on a day. Set and forget. Now I just got back four weekends I can spend with my family and friends.

 

OMG my tenant died!

My tenant was 54 years old and lived on his own. I had only met him a week before he passed away. I got a call from my onsite manager advising me that he had just found the tenant sitting on the sofa wearing only a singlet. The onsite manager called the police and they came over to verify the man was deceased.

The coroner’s office came out and investigated the scene. They concluded there was no evidence of foul play and took the body away.

The onsite manager then arranged for the carpet and sofa to be removed. We agreed to tile the floor instead of using carpet again. The tiler could start straightaway and the floor was tiled within two days. The tenant’s family visited the property and removed his remaining possessions.

After the cost of the new tiles, rubbish disposal and unpaid rent I was out of pocket $500. The onsite manager who took care of the management of the unit was very professional at a difficult time. I really appreciated his efforts to show the appropriate respect for the tenant and his family while also getting the property ready for the next tenant and keeping me well informed.

 I have seen tenants make a huge mess of a property and cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage. This damage usually occurred over many years and the rental agreement was usually a handshake agreement between family or friends without professional property management.

 

Do you need the “extras” on your Landlords insurance?

The bond of one month’s rent is woefully inadequate when you get significant property damage. Landlord’s insurance is essential. Some policy extensions include malicious and accidental damage by tenants. I recommend getting these extensions if possible.

 Also take out building and contents insurance. I recommend that you obtain a replacement estimate from your building inspector.. Insurance companies sometimes have online calculators to help you arrive at a replacement value. In your estimate, don’t forget to allow for architects’ fees, demolition, council fees and rent for another property during a rebuild.

 

Ask your tradie for proof of license and insurance

When engaging tradespeople. Always ensure they are appropriately licensed and insured. For jobs that cost more than $500 I will usually get   a comparison price or two. Be respectful of people’s time and refrain from getting five quotes. The insurances that tradespeople need include: Workers Compensation, public liability insurance and home warranty insurance in some parts of Australia.

 

Who is responsible for maintaining common property areas?

If you buy a unit, flat, townhouse, apartment or other property that has common areas then I consider it essential that you arrange for a search of the body corporate records. These will help you to understand if there are any issues that may impact upon you or your decision to purchase the property (if you are in the process of purchasing the property). Often a search can be arranged by your solicitor as part of the conveyancing process. The building inspection will generally not include common property areas. Its a good idea to put all Body Corporate (Community) rules and correspondance into your inndox.

 

 


What documents a Builder should give to a client at handover.

Handover documents?

What documents a Builder should give to a client

Professional Builders know that the days of leaving a few manuals and the garage remote in the kitchen drawer are long gone.  Customers today expect a better experience.

Here is a list of items that could be included.  What is included will depend upon the type of building and inclusions.

  1. Building Contract

  2. Approvals and Permits

  3. Final Certificates

  4. Manuals (Appliances etc)

  5. Maintenance information

  6. Warranties

  7. Plans

  8. Finishes Schedule e.g. Details of paint, tiles, carpets etc

  9. Product information

  10. Trade contacts

You should also get at least two sets of keys to locks (doors and windows), alarm codes, remotes controls.

This list is not exhaustive but does give an idea about the sort of documents and items that should be provided.

If you have any questions email us and we are happy to help

inndox helps you maintain your biggest asset

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How do I set Maintenance Reminders

inndox has a property maintenance feature to help you care for your property.

Step 1. Go to the Maintenance Reminders section on your inndox dashboard

Step 2. Select the View all button

Step 3. Click on Add maintenance button

Step 4. Enter in the details: Title, Due Date, select if Recurring & End date, if additional person for reminder, Who it is scheduled for & add any notes

Step 5. Finally click on Add maintenance item 

Your important maintenance reminder is now scheduled and you will receive alerts from your inndox app, 2 weeks in advance.

Examples of some typical maintenance checks:

  • Annual Termite inspections

  • Annual Pest Sprays

  • 6 monthly gutter cleaning

  • Annual Smoke Alarm battery replacement

  • Annual air-conditioning service

  • 6 monthly window cleaning

  • Monthly garden maintenance

  • Annual timber deck re-coating

  • 5 yearly hot water system valve replacement

  • Annual water tank service

  • Annual water filter replacement

  • Annual pressure wash of pavers, driveways

  • Fortnightly pool checks and cleaning

  • Annual pool equipment inspection

  • Annual carpet cleaning

  • Annual curtain & blind cleaning

Here are some consequences for not caring for your property:

***spending thousands of dollars on repairs such as structural integrity issues (a result of not having your property's timber decking recoated)

***potential fire hazard or drainage issues by not having your guttering cleaned on an annual basis

***termite infestation due to unexpected termite invasion by not having annual termite inspections 

By using inndox to manage all of these important tasks, you will feel more relaxed.

For example, you will have peace of mind that your painter gets notified two weeks in advance when the timber decks need re-coating, your plumber will be notified two weeks before the water tanks, hot water system and refrigerator filter services are due, the air-conditioning technician gets advance notification that you want your air conditioning units serviced, and the window cleaner gets notice that your windows need cleaning. 

No more diarising or simply forgetting. You can become a paper-less and care-free property owner.

Email to inndox feature: Auto-inndox

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How to set contacts to email documents directly to inndox

inndox offers a handy way for your solicitor, accountant, agent, builder or anyone to be able to email important property documents directly to your inndox! 

Step 1. Go to the “Emails” section on your dashboard, select the View All button 

Step 2. Click/tap on green Create email address button

Step 3. Enter in Topic to easily identify those email documents e.g. legals, or plumbing

Step 4. Assign a folder name e.g. “Plumber info” (create a folder if not there - select Add folder)

Step 5. Select Add Auto-inndox button

Step 6. Go to the relevant email address in the list displayed, select the green action button on the right 

Step 7. Select Notify contact  (this will send an email to the contact to notify them of the new email address to use for further correspondence).

Step 8. Select Choose a contact (if not there, select Or add new contact).

Step 9. Enter a message for that contact e.g. “Please use this email address for all plumbing info” 

Step 10. Select send button

The contact will instantly receive an email from inndox notifying them of the new email address to be used.

Every time the contact uses that email address, a confirmation email will be issued.

So now whenever your contact (say your plumber, Tom Smith) sends you an email using this email address, those emails will automatically display on your dashboard and all the attached documents (e.g. plumbing plans) will automatically upload into the relevant folder (e.g. Plumber info folder)!

No more lost email attachments or searching through old emails for documents when you need them. Now they can be automatically uploaded and filed to your inndox as the emails come in!

Contacts that could use the revolutionary “Email to inndox” feature:

  • Builder

  • Property Developer

  • Solicitor

  • Accountant

  • Trades people

  • Architect

  • Interior Designer

  • Property Manager

  • Strata / Building Manager

  • Real Estate Agents

  • Insurer

What is Subsidence of a house?

A property investor we know engaged a buyer’s agent to find them a suitable property. The buyer’s agent found a renovated, older style home on a large corner block near a major shopping centre that ticked all of the boxes and was about $20,000 less than comparable properties on the market. The buyer’s agent noticed that there was a 25mm gap between the floor slab and the skirting board in the living room and mentioned this to me at the time of booking the inspection.

Here are some of the observations made at the inspection:

1.     The external brick walls of the house had been rendered. Cracks up to 3mm wide were present in the rendered external brick walls.

2.     I noted neat rectangular patches of newer concrete to the paths around the external walls of the house.

3.     Some vertical joints had been cut into the external brick walls.

4.     The door frame to the garage was out of square by 60mm.

5.     The large timber patio was located only 500mm from the rear boundary.

6.     The garage was built right onto the side street boundary without a fire-rated wall.

Here is some of the advice given to the buyer’s agent from the Building inspector:

1.     It appears that the house has had significant damage from subsidence. The owner had the house underpinned, rendered and articulation joints were installed. Some damage, such as the tiled concrete floor of the living room being out of level and the garage door frame being out of square, were not rectified. Further cracks indicate that there has been more movement since the rectification works have been carried out.

2.     The garage and patio are built less than 900mm from the boundary without a fire-rated wall. This indicates that these structures are illegal.

The buyer’s agent decided not to proceed with the purchase mainly because:

1.     More damage had occurred since the underpinning. The long-term consequences of more damage could not be known. There is excessive risk of future repairs and therefore a chance of reduced re-sale value.

2.     Illegal structures will make the property more difficult to insure and could reduce re-sale value.

One day I hope that every property will have an inndox and serious defects like subsidence will be disclosed to buyers. Unfortunately we still have “Buyer Beware” laws operating in much of Australia and this means that it is likely that this property was sold to an unsuspecting buyer who will eventually learn theat they have bought a problem.

Is it worth using a Building Inspector?

Of course, property should be inspected if you are making an offer to purchase a new home. But really anyone who owns property should use the services of a building inspector from time to time. So whether you are buying, selling, leasing your property or living in it, you will greatly benefit from knowing the condition of the building and how best to deal with any issues found. A seller should get a building and pest inspection report done prior to listing to assist the sale process. A property investor should have regular inspections done on the tenanted property for maintenance and safety reasons. A person living in the building and planning to renovate should talk to a professional building inspector. Anyone living in their building should have ongoing property inspections during the time they own it.

Let’s look at all these scenarios.


 WHEN YOU ARE BUYING YOUR HOME

How exciting, you’ve found a home and you just love it. Emotionally, you’ve moved in already! But wait, don’t forget that all-important inspection report. You will be living in your new home for several years, maybe decades, so make sure you know what you are buying.

Most people nowadays see the value in having the required property inspections carried out on their behalf when buying a property, but I still hear of people who don’t bother and end up buying a dud. Excuses for not getting an inspection include: the property was only two years old; it was a bargain; we ran out of time; we are going to renovate anyway; my brother-in-law had a look at it for me and he is a carpenter.

Not getting an inspection is taking a risk with a huge financial investment. Get it right and you can save thousands of dollars. Get it wrong and it can cost you thousands, maybe tens of thousands. Not only is there the cost of repairs to consider but the time and stress involved with fixing the problems and the opportunity cost of lost capital gains.

I’ve heard horror stories about years of stress and financial hardship they endured because they bought a property without any property inspections. Learn from their mistakes!

Some people are prepared and have done their homework when they are buying a property. They have assessed the property themselves (or used a buyer’s agent). They have visited the property a few times at different times of the day. They have checked with the local council for flood risk. They have asked the selling agent about the sinking fund on a strata property. They have checked that their car fits in the garage, They have asked the agent to see the inndox on the property etc. Even so, they are not professional building inspectors and therefore they need to engage someone who is experienced and suitably qualified to prepare an inspection report for them.

MAINTAINING YOUR HOME

So you go to the dentist once or twice a year to get the pearly whites checked and you have the car serviced regularly too. But the house… “Nah. It can wait, sure it’s my biggest asset but I know what I’m doing”. Wake up people, over the years your property is deteriorating and it needs to be maintained. Sticking your head in the sand does not keep your property in peak condition. Periodic professional building inspections are a good way to keep informed about maintenance needed on the property.

Some homeowners understand they have some maintenance issues so they get some quotes from tradespeople. It becomes confusing when the tradespeople recommended different solutions with widely varying costs. This has left them confused about what to do next. They appreciate getting independent expert advice so they can confidently make the necessary investment with the appropriate scope of work to properly address the issues. Inspectors will usually find other issues that the owner was unaware of that also need attention.

 

WHEN YOU ARE BUYING INVESTMENT PROPERTY

Most property investors will lease their properties to gain rental income. If a rental property is not maintained in a safe condition, then the owner will be in breach of common law, the landlord’s insurance and building insurance conditions. Most tenancy agreements and insurance policies require an owner to maintain the property in a safe condition at all times. Its worth sharing the inndox with the tenant so they know have access to information like operation manuals and Community rules.

The next scenario illustrating when it’s essential to engage a property inspector involves when you are buying an investment property. It will not only save you money when you buy, and potentially increase your return on the property, but it may also save you from defending yourself in court.


Liability you have as a homeowner to your tenant

In the case of Graton v Gillan Investments Pty Ltd, the owner was held to be liable for failing to keep the rental property in a safe condition. The owner was held to have had an obligation at the start of the tenancy to have the property inspected and assessed by a qualified person.

This case has extended the requirements of owners to have regular inspections done by qualified professionals. It is not enough to have property managers doing these inspections. Owners now face increased liability for defects which may have previously not been detected. In this case, the tenant was awarded damages of $100,000 for her injury.

 Property investors need not only obtain a pre-purchase inspection at the time of purchase but also need to have ongoing inspection services including: Building maintenance inspections and Termite inspections.

By utilising a building inspector, you can meet your responsibilities and aid in protecting yourself from litigation and penalties, while also ensuring that the rental property is in a safe and sound condition for the tenants to enjoy.

 Can a property manager inspect my property?

You should make it a practice that at the commencement of each tenancy, and at least every year, a qualified building inspector is engaged to examine the repair and safety of the rental property. A property manager is not qualified to do this. The building inspector’s report should be sent to you (the owner) and the property manager. The report will enable you  to instruct the property manager to arrange any necessary repairs.

PROPERTY MANAGERS

Inspecting buildings for structural defects and safety hazards is a job for a licensed and insured building inspector with suitable experience and training.

The law courts have recently held that a property manager is not considered to be a fit and proper person to inspect a rental property to ensure that the property is in a safe and well maintained condition. Deaths and serious injuries from the collapse of decks, balconies, stairs and floorboards are becoming all too frequent. The landlord (and the property manager as agent of the landlord) may be liable if an accident occurs on an investment property that you own or manage.

If someone is injured or dies while they are at the rental property and this is found to be due to a lack of maintenance that should have been detected by undergoing a regular professional inspection, then the property manager and owner may well be liable.

As I said earlier, by utilising a building inspector, a property manager can meet their responsibility and aid in protecting them- selves (as agent of the landlord) from litigation and penalties while ensuring that the rental property is in a safe condition for the tenants.


Unsafe balcony causes tenant to move out

A property manager knew that the balcony on a small block of flats  was in a poor state of repair and had asked the owner to get it rectified. The owner thought it was a body corporate responsibility and so did not take any action. When the tenant moved in, the property manager told her to watch out for the handrails on the front stairs as they were   a “bit wobbly”.

The tenant arranged for removalists to move her furniture into the property. When the removalist arrived at the property they advised the tenant that they could not safely carry the furniture up the stairs as there were badly decaying stair treads. The tenant found a piece of timber to place onto the stairs to enable the removalists to get up the stairs. When the removalists got to the top of the stairs the balcony floor gave way under foot. The removalists stopped work and took the furniture away stating that it was too unsafe for them to unload the furniture. The tenant was very upset as she had paid a month’s rent and bond in advance and could not occupy the property as she could not get her furniture moved into it.

She approached the property manager about the situation and was offered some temporary accommodation in another property. When the situation did not get resolved after a few weeks, the tenant approached ‘A Current Affair’ and asked them to investigate and report on the matter.

I was then asked to appear on the program and inspect the balcony and access stairs. I found these to be structurally unsound and unsafe. I recommended that the entire balcony and two sets of stairs be replaced.

The licensee of the real estate office admitted that they had sent a young, inexperienced property manager to inspect the balcony and stairs. The young property manager noted on her entry condition report that the handrail was a “bit wobbly” and there was some “flaky paint”. Clearly the property manager lacked the necessary training and expertise to identify structural defects and safety issues. This put the tenant and removalist at serious risk of life and limb.

The program highlighted the unprofessional conduct of the real estate licensee and the lack of care shown by the owner.

 The video of this story featuring Andrew Mackie-Smith from inndox can be viewed at www.buildingpro.com.au/media

 

 WHEN SELLING PROPERTY

When selling, it is important that your property presents well to potential buyers and that you remove any barriers to a sale. If you can provide pre-sale building and pest reports to potential buyers, you can greatly assist the sale process.

The last thing you want is for the Contract of Sale of your property to fall through because the buyer obtains reports (from an inspector working for the buyer) revealing significant structural damage, safety issues or severe termite infestation that you were unaware of.

Advantages of pre-sale inspection reports include:

The seller knows of any major defects or significant timber pest issues in advance, giving them the opportunity to get these sorted out. I can think of many times when the seller has said “the agent recommended that we get you to do the inspection for us although I don’t know why as you won’t find anything wrong, but knock yourself out mate”. Many times I have found major structural damage or a termite infestation and the seller quickly changes their cavalier attitude and wants to know how they can quickly get the issues rectified.

Disclosing defects and fixing problems is worth the effort and expense to help them sell their property.and having the opportunity to fix the problems than hearing about it from a buyer’s solicitor after the contract has been cancelled.

Buyers are more likely to make an unconditional offer as they can rely upon the report provided. This saves them the expense and gets the deal done with less delay.

If the property is going to auction, then buyers are more confident to make a bid. I often get people calling our office desperate for a building and pest inspection to be done on a property that is going to auction within a matter of days.

Sometimes inspectors are fully booked and cannot get the report done before the auction. If the buyers cannot arrange for an inspection to be carried out in time, they may decide not to bid at the auction.

Buyers are less likely to renegotiate a reduced price after the contract has been signed because if there are any building or  pest issues with the property, they already read about them in  the pre-sale report when they entered into the contract. This doesn’t mean that some won’t try, but hey, they knew what they were getting themselves into so it severely limits their bargaining power.

The inspector can discuss the report findings with potential buyers and answer any questions they may have.

Of course setting up an inndox and sharing this with your Real estate sales agent allows them the ability to share the inspection reports with prospective buyers and to eventually transfer the inndox to the new owner.

 

PRO TIP

Some inspectors have a reputation for being overly pedantic. Others are just inexperienced and their reports are not balanced or well written. This can leave the buyer feeling uncertain about whether to proceed with the property purchase or not. A good property report should give confidence to proceed, negotiate a reduction in price or pull out. If the buyer is uncertain, then a cancelled contract will be the likely result. Make sure if you share any property reports through inndox that the buyer can speak with the consultant who prepared the report to clarify any concerns as its easy to mis-interpet some reports.

 Some inspectors will put the pre-sale reports into the name of the eventual purchaser at no extra cost or for a reduced fee. Usually the purchaser will need to agree to the inspector’s standard inspection agreement first. I hope to see our law change so that it becomes mandatory for sellers to provide pre-sale inspection reports to all potential buyers through a digital platform like inndox.

 

BEFORE YOU RENOVATE

Are you planning the big reno? Perhaps you’ve been inspired by the scripted ‘reality’ renovation TV shows? Renovations can be horrendously expensive. I am not a fan of large-scale renovations. They are usually very costly, time-consuming and stressful. Budgets are stretched or many compromises are made. Mistakes happen and lessons are learned.

Rather than renovate, I suggest that clients simply buy a better property instead where the hard work has been done for them. If you are clear about what you want and take the time to look, you can often buy the property that meets your needs without having to renovate. Its easy to store all of your renovation plans, approvals, certificates and more on inndox.

PRO TIP

Add the cost of renovating to the cost of the purchase. Then compare that figure to the cost of renovated properties in the area.

For example, if you are comparing properties and one is a basic house with a “blank canvas yard” and the other property being considered is fully renovated with an extra bedroom and an in-ground concrete swimming pool and costs only $40,000 more, then does it makes sense to buy the unimproved property and spend $120,000 and 12 months of your spare time adding these features? I would always choose to buy a well renovated or newer property that suits your needs if you can afford it. Use inndox and a Council search to look at the history of approvals on the property.

If you really need to renovate or just want to give it a go for the life experience then I strongly recommend that you get an architect or building designer to prepare the plans and specifications (with necessary approvals), so that the work can be competitively tendered for fixed price quotes from at least three licensed builders. This means the builders are all quoting on the same scope of work and you can get the best advantage from the competitive quote environment. Store the quotes in inndox for your records.

 


 


Why you should always ask your Builder to itemise the quotation

Ask the builder to itemise their price, i.e. separate the costs of plumbing, electrical work, painting, etc. If your preferred builder has some significant anomaly between his price for a particular line item and the price from other estimates/quotes you will know in advance. You can then ask the builder to check his price to make sure they have not made an error. If a builder under-quotes due to an error in calculation or understanding, they are more likely to cut corners on the job to recover profit lost from the quoting error.

Let’s take a look at an example.

You receive a plumbing quote from your preferred builder that is $35,835. Plumber quotes from other builders (for the same scope) are $47,560 and

$50,500. You ask the preferred builder to check his plumbing quote. He comes back to you two days later and sheepishly admits that he forgot to include the new roof in the plumbing quote. So you ask him to price the roof and he confirms the new roof will cost $11,000. The total amended plumbing component of the quote is now $46,835.

In my experience, it is better to have a builder making a fair profit on the job than trying to complete a project where the builder has started with a loss. If this is the case the temptation to cut corners or to find ‘extras’ may be too great. I always strive for a win/win – a good job for a fair price.

Keep all of your property related quotes in inndox for easy reference.