Buying your first home is almost always depicted as an exciting time, every photo you see is of smiling young couples. By rights, it should be an exciting time, but…
First of all, let me introduce myself. I’m Dan, I purchased my first home about 4 months ago now, and I’m fast becoming a qualified plumber, building construction expert and handyman. That’s what it takes to own your own home unless you have bags of money to have everyone else fix things for you.
The reality is that there is not a perfect house out there, every house you walk through for inspection will have something wrong with it, even if it was priced at near $800,000. What I do want to do is provide some advice from my experience so far.
The first thing to understand is that you need to be careful who you trust. The real estate agent is not your friend, nor is the building inspector.
Once you have narrowed down the house/unit/apartment you like, organise a building inspection report and then get some advice from a local builder as an additional opinion. Ringing up a builder and being upfront that you wish to pay them for their time to look at a house to see if it matches up with the building inspection report is a good move. They will more than likely be on board with this. Spending the money now on extra checks will pay off in the end.
Our problem was that the real estate agent was on site with the building inspector, and our building inspection report missed a lot of critical points that would have influenced our decision to walk away. Our building inspection report mentioned that some piers may need to be lifted if the wall cracked anymore. Unfortunate for us, we have had two additional professional opinions after we purchased the house and noticed the house sinking even more.
Both builders advised that the building inspection report was not done properly and was misleading. The fact is that there are not enough piers under the house and not spaced correctly. Water was going under the house and was causing the earth to soften and the piers to sink further. This is something that was obvious to the two building inspectors and should have been included in the building inspection report.
We are now up for $3000 to jack the house up and put new piers in and fix the other piers. This is quite a low price to fix this and could have run into about $20,000 to be fixed. So get some extra checks done on your house so you are not in for any surprises.
Always perform a final inspection before settlement. I cannot emphasis enough to attend a final inspection, and bring a family member or friend if possible.
Write down items you want to check and any questions you might have. If there is an existing solar system, solar hot water or alarm ask how these work. We’ve included a final inspection checklist below, but feel free to add to this. The real estate agent will chase up any questions you have prior to the settlement, just don’t expect the real estate agent to chase anything up for you once settlement is done.
Do not move into your new home the day after buying it. Organise to go through the house and clean it and do some work on it for 1 to 2 weeks before even thinking of moving in. It gives you time to bug bomb the house, have carpet’s steam cleaned and a splash of paint if you feel it needs it.
Have a plan, work out where you want things to go now that you are in the house. the most common mistake is to plan things when you are still in the settlement process. Things you imagine do not always work out or fit.
Start booking in removalists, carpet cleaners and bond cleaners 4 weeks prior to your move date.
If you are packing your own house ready for the removalists to just move boxes, you will want to start with a clean up around the 4 weeks prior, discard items you don’t want anymore, and eBay other items, the money may come in handy financing the move or dinner on the night of your move date.
In the last week, you should really only need a few basics out such as a couple of plates, cups, cutlery, one pan and one tray. This helps ensure the night before moving is not a last-second rush and that you are up until 2 am trying to get everything done. Honestly, you need your energy for the day of the move.
When it comes to maintenance and repairs around your house, Google it and see if you feel like you can manage this by yourself or with the help of family or friends. Also, think about popping into Bunnings our your local hardware store and ask for some advice.
If the job appears to be challenging or too large, make sure you get at least 3 quotes and YOU MUST ask each tradesperson how they intend to fix the issue, try to understand what they are talking about. Make notes if you are not sure what they are talking about and discuss with other trades. Not all quotes are created equal and a cheaper quote may not mean that the tradesperson is cheaper, they may be just solving your issue a cheaper way.
A great example of this is that we installed new downlights into the Kitchen and Dining room, however, the conversion plates were smaller and round, whilst the previous downlights were large and square. It left holes around the downlights that looked pretty tacky.
We were given 2x quotes from hipages.com.au. The first quote said that it was going to cost $640 to fix the issue. This was twice the cost of the downlights and installation. The second quote said they would fix the problem for $150 for all 8 downlights.
A massive difference in price, I had to ask each tradie how exactly they were going to fix the problem. The tradie that quotes $640 said he would remove each downlight, fill in each hole with plaster, cut new holes and refit.
The second tradie who quotes $150 for all 8 downlights said he would simply use wall cement around each of the downlights.
It clearly made sense now why one was $640 and the other was $150. The end result was going to be similar, and when painted you would not really know either so we opted for the $150 solution. I’m not saying the cheaper option is always better, but in this case it suited us better.
- Be careful who you trust
- Organise a building inspection report and a local builder to independently verify
- Make sure you do a final inspection before settlement
- Have a plan on what to check and write down any questions you have
- Do not move into your new home the day after buying it
- Work out where you want things to go now that you are in the house
- Start booking in removalists, bond cleaners and other services 4 – 6 weeks prior to your move
- Start packing up your current house around the 4 weeks prior
- When it comes to maintenance see if you can tackle it yourself first
- If you cannot or the job is too large, seeking advice from places like Bunnings or your local hardware store
- Always get at least 3x quotes and ask how they are planning on resolving the issue. This allows for a fair comparison.
Final Inspection Checklist
- Check how hot the water is
- Check water pressure from taps
- Turn on the water in the bath and shower to see if there is any shuttering of pipes
- Power on oven, exhaust fans