pool fence sunshine coast

Buying a house in Queensland with a pool – What do you need to know?

Almost 20% of Brisbane residents have a pool.

If you are looking at buying a house with a pool in Brisbane, it is a great idea to get some advice from a pool professional.

Like a pre-purchase building inspection, a pre-purchase pool inspection can save you from costly repairs that you might miss when looking at the property.

In addition, all residential pools must comply with state government regulations by having a pool safety certificate and be registered on the Government’s pool safety register.

Having an unregistered pool is both dangerous and can result in a fine of $235.60-$2356 to the owner.

Pool Safety Certificate

A pool safety certificate is given to properties that pass a pool safety inspection. It is evidence that the pool meets government standards.

When buying a home with a pool, it can be sold to you with or without a pool safety certificate.

The seller must give you a copy of the certificate, which they can access on the pool register which is kept by the Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC).

However if you are not given a pool safety certificate you must receive a Form 36-notice of no pool safety certificate prior to entering a contract of sale.

The seller must send a completed copy of the form to the QBCC, before the settlement of the property.

However, if you are renting, the owner must give you a pool safety certificate.

Some pools have clear barriers rather than traditional fences. They still need to comply with the standards set by the QLD government.

Certification

A pool must be pass inspection before it be certified.  As such, a pool safety inspection should be carried out.

This must be conducted by a qualified professional and can cost anywhere from $100 to $250, depending on the size of the pool.

To become an accredited pool safety inspector, they must complete the 10660NAT Course in Swimming Pool Safety Inspections.

Always ensure any inspector you hire has this course completed.

The main issues of pool safety include fences, climbable objects, gates, doors, signage, doors and windows.

Most compliance is based around making sure the pool is not easily accessible to children.

Fences

Fences must be at least 1200mm from the top to the ground level. The gap between the bottom of the fence and the ground should be 100mm.

There must be a gap of at least 900mm between any horizontal railings on the outside, while gaps for vertical railings cannot exceed 100mm.

If the horizontal rails do not have a gap of at least 900mm, then they must be on the inside and the gaps between vertical rails still cannot exceed 100mm.

Claimable objects must be at least 900mm away from the outside of any fence that is less than 1800mm high. For climbable objects inside the fence, climbable objects must be 300mm away.

For fences that are 1800mm high or more, all climbable objects in the pool area should be 900mm from the fence.

Any climbable object too close to the fence effectively reduces the effective height of the fence for the purposes of an inspection.

A pool with a tall fence.

Gates

The pool gate must not open inwards and must be self-closing and self-latching from all positions.

Latches must be at least 1500mm from the ground and 1400mm above the highest horizontal bar.

If not, it must be necessary to reach over through the fence at a height of 1200mm off the ground in order to open.

Alternately, it must be at least 1000m above the highest horizontal bar of the fence and 150mm below the top of the gate.

It may also be necessary to put a 450mm radius shield around the latch with no openings larger than 10mm.

Pool gate hinges thicker than 100mm must be 900mm apart, or more. If this is not possible, the lower hinge must have a non-climbable safety cap to prevent climbing.

Signage

A compliant CPR sign must be displayed near the pool so that it is easily visible near the pool.

Doors and windows

As per the guidelines, no door from the house or other building should lead directly into the pool area. Any entrant should always be required to go through the proper gate.

Any window that opens into the pool area must have a security screen or must not open wider than 100mm.

Provided all these elements of your pool meet the standards, you pool will receive a Pool Safety Certificate.

Pre-Purchase Pool Inspection

A pre-purchase pool inspection determines the integrity of the pool and ensures everything is working as it should.

This inspection looks at elements such as the appearance of the pool surface, pool filtration, pumps, light, water/chemical balance, pool cleaner, skimmer box, baskets and more.

The underground plumbing might also be inspected, checking for leaks.

Upon completion of an inspection, you will be issued a full written report that will go over the details.

Using information about any faults, you can negotiate with the seller about the price of the home.

pool inspection

Equipment used to service and clean pools.

Pool Handover Inspection

If you are new to owning a pool, a pool handover inspection is a great way to learn how to properly maintain and care for your new pool.

The technician will teach you how to clean the pool, including cleaning the filter and pump.

You will also learn about chlorination and whether to use salt, chlorine or some other form.

You will be taught when and how to empty baskets.

Furthermore, the training will teach you how to adjust timers and setting.

Different pools have different needs, so it is vital to contact an expert and get a pool handover.

asbestos

What is involved with Asbestos Testing

From the 1940s up until the mid-1990s, asbestos was a common fixture in the Australian building industry. This is due to its durability, insulating properties and fireproof nature.

However, it was eventually found that the fibres of asbestos were toxic to humans.

As such, production of asbestos was stopped and using all forms of asbestos was banned.

Any houses in Australia built pre 1995 likely contain asbestos material.

The Dangers of Asbestos

Asbestos is safe if it is undamaged and undisturbed.

However, once it is damaged, fibres are released into the air that are invisible to the human eye and float through the air.

If breathed in, these fibres could cause lung scarring, lung cancer, mesothelioma and various other lung related issues.

The health impacts from asbestos can take 50 years to show, but asbestos has been linked to hundreds of deaths a year in Australia and kills 90,000 people per year across the world.

asbestos testing

Asbestos is a deadly hazard.

Asbestos in construction

Prior to the mid-1980s, it was common practice for houses to have had asbestos used to construct the home.

From the mid-1980s to 1995, it is still possible that asbestos was used to build your home.

If your house was built after 1995, it is much less likely that your home would contain asbestos, though it is not impossible.

In 2003 it was made illegal to buy, sell, import, supply, use or re-use asbestos.

Asbestos in the home

Asbestos was generally used in areas where water was likely to be used, such as the kitchen, bathroom or laundry as a form of waterproofing.

The fireproof properties of asbestos made it a popular form of insulation for heaters, stoves, fuse holders, hot water piping.

Asbestos was a popular material for rooves and walls too.

Wall sheeting, roof sheeting and capping, guttering, outbuildings (sheds, dog kennels etc), eaves and stormwater pipes are just some of the places that may contain asbestos.

Many vinyl and linoleum sheets and carpet floorings also contained asbestos-felt.

The rubble of older buildings was often very dangerous due to the presence of asbestos fibres.

What if I have asbestos?

If you are worried about asbestos, you should be very careful. Do not try and remove it yourself, as you could break it and inhale the dangerous fibres.

Instead, contact an expert to conduct asbestos testing.

The Steps of Asbestos Testing

A trained inspector will conduct a multistep process when carrying out an asbestos test.

Asbestos Testing – Step 1: Preparation

Firstly, the safety of anyone nearby should be considered.

The area where a sample is being taken should be clear of other people.

Fans, air conditioners, heaters and any other device that might spread fibres should be turned off.

asbestos testing

Asbestos testing requires inspectors to wear protective gear, such as this.

Asbestos Testing – Step 2: Taking the Sample

Next, the act of asbestos testing should be carried out. This involves cutting a sample of material out of your wall that you suspect to be asbestos.

Before this however, the inspector should wear all necessary protective gear (mask, overalls and gloves) and place down the plastic drop sheet to catch any material that falls on the floor.

The area where the sample will be taken is dampened to prevent the spread of asbestos fibres.

After this, the inspector will use the pliers to cut a hole in your wall that is roughly the size of a thumbnail but extends the whole depth of the material.

The sample is removed from the hole and stored away safely.

A piece of duct tape will then be placed over the hole area to stop asbestos fibres from being released and spread.

Asbestos being safely removed.

Asbestos Testing – Step 3: Cleaning Up

The drop sheet is carefully collected and placed into a heavy-duty bag to be disposed of. All tools are wiped down and cleaned.

Asbestos Testing – Step 4: Sending it to the lab

The safely stored sample will be sent to a lab for proper testing to determine whether it is asbestos or not.

We then give you a report outlining the findings and the lab results.

ant capping

Ant Capping

Termite capping is a reliable way to stop termites from entering your home undetected.

Ant capping is a very necessary precaution that all responsible homeowners should take.

Experienced building and pest inspectors will not only examine faults around the home and signs of termites, but also whether your ant caps have been breached.

Poor quality caps can increase the risk of a termite infestation substantially, so it is important that you know the facts.

About termites

To understand ant caps, you must first understand termites.

Termites are pests that eat wood – if they get into your home, they will destroy wooden support beams, furniture and more.

Termites thrive in hot, moist environments.

As termites travel, they create tunnels out of their droppings called “mudding” which protects them and traps heat and moisture. This leaves brown mud-like stains in your home that resemble trails.

While termites can eat through wooden house stumps, they can also travel through cracks in concrete stumps and enter your home as well.

For more info, we have a comprehensive blog on termites which goes into detail about termites.

ant capping

A termite infestation found during a house inspection.

What is Ant Capping?

Ant capping is when metal sheets are placed in between the stumps of your home and the lower framing timber.

“Ant caps” refer to the metal plates that are used in this process.

ant caps

An example of ant caps under a house.

About Ant Caps

Contrary to popular belief, ant caps do not block termites from entering your home.

Instead, they block termites from being able to travel into your home through the stump, unseen.

This forces the termites to go around the ant cap, exposing their mudding to the naked eye.

As such, it is not a matter of installing the caps and forgetting – ant caps need to be inspected regularly.

ant capping

An example of termite mudding being built around the ant cap, exposing an infestation.

What happens if I don’t have ant capping?

Without ant caps, ants will travel through cracks or burrow though stumps from the inside, without ever being visible.

You might get a termite infestation and not even know it until the damage is too late.

Damaged ant caps

The condition of your ant caps matters greatly in terms of its overall effectiveness.

As they are metal, they can rust over time and holes can be created.

A damaged cap can present gaps that termites can get through without being detected.

Alternately, the caps can become loose over time as your house moves and either become dislodged from their position.

If you are concerned about the condition of your ant caps, book an inspection soon.

ant capping

Rusted, damaged ant caps can have holes that termites can move through without being detected.

Building over ant caps

Installing timber fixtures over your ant caps allows termites to circumvent the ant cap and travel through the wooden fixtures without being detected.

If you have an ant cap, ensure they are unobstructed and there is no wooden fixture that allows termites a path to burrow inside your home unseen.

Timber has been installed over this ant cap, allowing termites to bypass it without being seen.

The ant capping process

Ant capping involves lifting the floor of house up, generally using a jack, and fitting in the ant cap.

If there are old, damaged caps these are replaced wit new ones.

The galvanised caps themselves are not expensive, however you’ll want to hire an expert to know that the process was done properly, lest a termite infestation goes undetected.

Do I need to have ant caps?

All homes in Queensland must have a termite management system, as per the Building Code of Australia.

There are many different types of termite management systems including physical barriers and chemical barriers, however ant capping is one of the more common types.

Ant caps offer peace of mind, so you know that you will be able to see a termite infestation as soon as it occurs and contact a qualified pest inspector.

What if termites are discovered?

If ant capping works as it should, a termite inspection should be discoverable by checking the area around the metal cap. This can be done yourself or through a pest inspection, but if termites are found your next stop should be treatment.

Chemical treatments such as spot treatments, chemical barriers and bait stations are generally the best treatment options.

House Restumping

You are looking at purchasing a house and your building and pest inspection has noted that there is evidence of cracking in the stumps or house footings and you should engage a qualified house restumping contractor.  What does this mean?

House foundations are a crucial part of the construction process.

What are stumps?

Typically houses in Australia in 1950’s-1970’s were built on timber or concrete stumps.  There are a range of reasons why this was done and may be still done when building today.

For one thing, the earth naturally has lots of uneven ground and many foundations can slope or be unstable.

Furthermore, the ground has pests like ants and termites that would have an easier time entering your home undetected if they sat on the ground. It also helps protect against groundwater and flooding.

Thus, stumps were created to allow for houses to be elevated off the ground. They are pillars made from wood, steel or concrete.

Stumps also elevate a house and allow for more views, more ventilation and greater space.

house restumping

Built-in stumps under a house. They are pillars that keep your house stable.

What does it mean when your house needs restumping?

It is evitable that your house stumps will degrade over time. If they are made from timber and concrete, weather and general age wear them down.

Alternately, the soil supporting the stumps can erode and the ground can shift, causing the stumps to shift.

In the event this happens, a building inspector can identify this.

From there, this old stump is replaced with a new stump that better supports your home.

What are the tell-tale signs that a house needs restumping?

There are several key signs to look out for that suggest your house is ready for restumping.

Sloping floors

One of the more extreme signs is if you your floors start to feel as though they are on a slope.

Dropping a marble and seeing if it rolls one way – this is a sign that shifting stumps have causes your house to sag. You may feel the sloping floor beneath your feet as you walk.

Visible damage

Am eye test can reveal damage. Though you may not be a trained inspector, even a layperson can see issues such as cracks, holes, mould an various other forms of visible damage.

house restumping

A tracked stump at a house we inspected.

Presence of moisture

Look for moisture around stumps.

Moisture around your foundation can be a sign of termites in wooden stumps. However, termites can travel up cracked concrete stumps too and access wood from there.

house restumping

Dark patches on the ground around a stump can be a sign of excess moisture.

Doors and windows difficult to close

If your windows suddenly become hard to close, this can be a sign of degrading stumps.

This is because as stumps degrade, this causes the house to shift which warps the way doors and windows move.

The restumping process in action

Once you know that your house requires restumping, you should hire a contractor to carry out the work.

Removing the old stump

Restumping can be compared to changing the tire on a car.

The house is lifted, generally with some sort of hydraulic press, so the weight can be supported when the stump is lifted away.

Replacing the stump

To make way for the new stump, the hole left behind is cleaned out and concrete footing is put in to support the new stump.

The size of the footing depends on how tall the house. Ultimately, it will be the exact height to ensure the floors of your home are all on an even level.

Using the right material

Wood stumps are susceptible to termite infestations, so generally new stumps are made with steel.

These are not in danger of being eaten by termites and they do not decay like concrete.

A termite nest on a wooden stump. They will eventually eat through and hollow it out.

Lowering the house

Once the new stumps are in place, the house is lowered back ensuring the stumps are in place.

Stumps can be installed with tie down brackets to ensure that the stumps are completely secure.

Why is restumping so important?

If you do not restump your home, this will have major long-term effects.

Deteriorated stumps can move and warp your home, which will eventually cause damage that will need to be repaired.

Inevitably, these costs will exceed the cost of restumping.

Beyond the financial aspect, a failure to restump will cause damage that could completely destroy your home.

drugs

Meth Testing

Meth testing is the best way to protect yourself from the very real threat of meth residue, which can endanger the health of you and your family.

Meth use and manufacture is a real danger in South East Queensland, with the incidence on the rise over the last 10 years.  Home buyers, investors and renters should consider the potential that the property they are looking to purchase or living in might have been contaminated with meth.  Meth residue can cause ill health.

Meth in Queensland

Methamphetamine, also called meth or ice, is an illegal stimulant which looks like crystals, shards, a brown oily substance or off-white powder depending on the form it takes.

The most recent statics taken on meth labs per state revealed that Queensland contained almost half of all discovered meth labs in Australia.

Areas such as Logan, Redland, Yarrabilba and the Sunshine Coast were the areas with the highest drug labs recorded in South East Queensland.

meth testing

The products used to make meth are toxic chemicals. They can contaminate a home for years.

Meth labs in houses

As meth is illegal in Australia, people who want to sell meth must produce it in hidden locations. 64% of meth labs are in residential dwellings, such as houses.

Kitchens and bathrooms are converted into crude, makeshift labs to illegally produce methamphetamine.

The products used to make meth are hazardous and contaminate the surrounding area.

If your property was once used as a meth lab, toxic fumes can contaminate a home for years after the lab is gone.

Dangers of meth

The dangers of meth contamination are very real. This is especially true for children, who are more sensitive to the effects of drugs compared to adults.

Babies and toddlers who crawl along the floor are at increased risk of ingesting meth residue.

Common symptoms of meth residue exposure include headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, difficulty breathing, eye irritation, coughing, stomach aches and a sore throat.

The dangers of meth are not as extreme if residents have smoked meth, but the manufacture of meth is what causes dangerous contamination.

An example of a meth rock.

Signs of meth contamination

There are some signs that suggest a home was once a meth lab.

Firstly, meth labs have a very specific smell. The ground will generally smell like ammonia, ether, cat pee or rotten eggs.

If the windows are covered up, this can be a sign people are trying to hide something, such as a meth lab.

Meth labs are generally very messy and unclean, so if your prospective home matches this description it might be best to watch out.

Furthermore, if you live in an idea known to have a history of police involvement or low prices, it may be worth investigating whether or a meth lab was present.

Researching the area, as well as asking local police and neighbours can be helpful to know who previous occupants where.

What to do about meth contamination?

If you suspect that meth has been used or cooked in your potential purchase or rental property, you should seek to get meth testing done.

Meth testing involves a non-invasive swab of the property’s inner wall and they send the swab away to get tested in a lab.

This can be done for one swab in each room to find exactly which room the meth lab was in.

Alternately, you can do an indicative test which is one swab in multiple rooms which only gives a general reading that there is meth contamination somewhere in the house.

Property law

There has been a recent push by the state government to have local council in areas like Logan take the responsibility of doing mandatory testing and the clean up of properties where meth labs have been.

Depending on your role, your legal obligations can change.

Landlords/property managers

Landlords have a legal responsibility to provide tenants with a safe property.

If a property is found to be contaminated, landlords can be exposed to liability and litigation.

Furthermore, landlords have the responsibility of cleaning up after a contamination is found.

Many insurance policies do not cover drug-related claims. Thus, landlords can be forced to pay out of pocket for the expense of cleaning up.

As such, to protect yourself if you are a landlord you should get meth testing done before and after every tenant moves in.

Also, having a clause in your contract that outlines you will regularly conduct meth testing and they will be liable for any clean up costs.

Before you hand over the keys to a new tenant, make sure meth testing is done.

Meth Testing for Tenants

As a tenant, if you suspect that your rental property is contaminated, it is reasonable to have the property tested and see if the levels of residue could be risky to your health.

Likewise, if you are experiencing unexplained health issues, a meth test in your rental property could identify the cause of your ill health.

Meth Testing for Home Buyers

When looking to buy a new home, you will conduct a pre-purchase building inspection. More prudent home buyers will also consider meth testing.

A meth contamination could be utterly devastating both in terms of the health of occupants but also the financial situation of the owner.