This article contains 10 important things to consider on any home.
Gutters and storm water systems
External timber work/windows
Wet ares water proofing
Termite protection. Did you know termite damage and damage by all vermin including rats and mice is not covered by your home insurance? Consider having an inspection and treatment every 2-3 years. This is a form of insurance which is a lot cheaper than resultant repair work which you are not covered for.
Ventilation. Ventilation, particularly in sub-floor spaces, is critical to maintaining an acceptable moisture content to prevent vermin infestation and structural damage to timber.
Ventilation in roof spaces is important in homes where ceiling fans are not vented properly to the outside of the building in a controlled manner.
Roof leaks. If your roof is over 15 years old it may require some attention. Prevention is cheaper than cure. Tiled rooves benefit from re pointing once or twice in their life, while metal rooves (corrugated iron or colourbond) need to be re-sealed at all junctions, may require replacement of flashings and roofing screws as they degrade.
Gutters and stormwater systems. To prevent water damage to timber and subfloor areas it’s essential that gutters are inspected and cleaned at least once a year. Box gutters are a particular concern as blocked box gutters often result in leaks into the building. Underground stormwater systems can become blocked with leaf debris and at times tree roots. If your downpipes and drainage pits are taking longer than usual to drain off-site, you may need to have pipes inspected with a drainage camera.
External timber work/windows Regular painting, every 5 – 10 years depending on location and orientation, is the best way to prevent more serious damage. Areas to look for are internal and external corners of fascia and weatherboards. Window sills are very common too. It’s often not cost-effective to replace elements of an existing timber window and so a full replacement is required, this is, however, a great opportunity to upgrade to double glazing too.
External cladding External cladding protects your most important asset, the timber frame. After years of harsh treatment under The Australian sun, lightweight cladding likes to move and shrink, therefore allowing water in. Painting is your first line of defence, however, if it is too far gone, repairs may be required. In some cases, it’s worth considering a new cladding system which can also improve energy efficiency, increase property value, protect against bushfires (this can also reduce the cost of insurance in bushfire-prone areas), and in some cases reduce or eliminate the need for ongoing maintenance.
Wet area waterproofing. While waterproofing has been mandatory since 1994 in Australia, however many bathrooms prior to, and after 1994 suffer from, in particular, shower leaks. Many companies offer a patch solution which can remedy the problem for a few years but does not address the underlying problem or seek to repair water damaged timber framing. The only comprehensive and warrantable solution is to remove tiles, apply and modern flexible membrane. Beware seemingly inexpensive short term fixes, any new bathroom work should be carried out by licensed trades supplying a certificate of compliance. These certificates apply to most trades and are your proof of statutory warranties.
Landscaping. It’s vital that all paved and landscaped surfaces fall away from the building so as not to direct stormwater against or underneath your home. Overhanging trees need to manage to avoid build-up of leaves in gutters. And lastly, all vegetation should be kept off your home slightly to prevent moisture from building up and promote air drying, particularly in winter. Most building materials can withstand a certain amount of moisture if they have a chance to dry out quickly. South facing elements are the most susceptible.
Electrical. Modern homes are required to have safety switches and circuit breakers to protect against electrocution primarily, but also to protect against electrical fires. If your home is older than 20 years speak to a licensed electrician about a switchboard upgrade of certain components. While there is the potential to save on electrical costs, insurance companies will also give discounts as their risk is reduced, but above all, for the safety of your family.
Plumbing. Wet areas are the most common building insurance claims, in particular flexible hose connections found in the most kitchen, bathroom and laundry cabinets. For the low cost of replacing these items (a single flexible hose connector is worth less than $15), it’s worth asking your plumber when you have them there for other work to investigate. As always prevention is cheaper than cure, and a lot easier than an insurance claim.