A Pre-Purchase Building Inspection For An Older House

Common defects in older homes

Older homes offer buyers a chance to own a piece of history and can often be more affordable than newer homes. However, due to their age, older homes often come with a greater likelihood of problems. Here are the common defects that often exist in older homes.

Weather worn appearance

One of the most obvious issues with older homes can be in their weather worn appearance.

Over time, various elements of a home can become damaged or fall into disrepair. This is commonly reflected in aesthetic damage.

Issues like peeling paint, rusted door handles and metal fixtures, cracked walls and windows, as well as decaying wood are all common in older houses.

This is particularly true if more recent owners have not been vigilant in caring for the home.

Beyond just being unpleasant to look at, this dilapidated appearance can signify an unsafe structure.

For example, a wooden staircase that is decaying poses a risk because someone could put a foot through it and injure themselves.

Such risks should be brought to your attention before you make the final purchase.

That's why a pre-purchase building inspection is necessary.


When looking at older homes, many people may comment on a musty odour emanating from around the house.

This is evidence that mould or mildew has grown somewhere in the house.

Mould is a fungus that grows due to moisture and humidity.

You can also notice evidence of mould through dark stains on walls, windows, in showers, sinks and around moist areas in the home.

While not every dark stain is evidence of mould, if you spot any you should seek confirmation from a relevant expert.

This is because mould is a dangerous fungus that can cause health issues like asthma and other raspatory problems.


If your home was built prior to 1990, it was likely to have been constructed using asbestos.

Asbestos is a fibrous substance that is an effective building material due to its fire resistant properties.

However, when it is broken up or damaged, it releases fibres that are toxic if inhaled.

Asbestos has been linked to cancer, scarring of the lungs, mesothelioma and various other lung related medical problems.

It was used in many ways including as fabric, bonded in cement, the lining of walls and more. As such, it is difficult to spot with the naked eye.

The traditional pre-purchase building inspection does not look for asbestos.

However, you can book a separate asbestos test. This involves removing a small section of the wall and getting it sent off to a qualified lab for testing.


Wood is a common fixture in many homes, new and old alike. However, modern structural timbers are treated with the latest chemical preservatives and processes.

Older wood does not have the same luxury and over time what durability it did have has likely deteriorated.

Termites are attracted to wood and will seek out the wood in your home to make a meal.

The older and less durable the wood, the more likely termites are to eat away at it.

For evidence of termite damage you can look out for includes damaged wooden floors and walls, muddy trails near the base of the home, as well as ill-fitting doors and windows.

Checking out the condition of timbers in the garden can also be a good indication of termite activity.

A pre-purchase building and pest inspection will determine if there's any evidence of termites or termite damage.

For pest control Brisbane residents trust, Dedant can conduct spot treatments or install chemical barriers.

Defective electrical work

Electrical wiring is another aspect of a home that can become damaged over time.

The best and easiest way to test the electrical utilities in a home is by turning the lights on and off again.

For a more detailed look, you will need an electrical pre-purchase inspection.

An electrical pre-purchase inspection and pre-purchase building inspection are two different activities and as such, you will need to book two different inspections.

An out of date or missing durable notice

A durable notice should be permanently fixed to an important, notable part of the building such as the meter box.

This durable notice lists evidence of the termite management system including when it was installed and what chemical was used.

An older home is more likely to have an out of date durable notice or be lacking a durable notice entirely.

This makes the home more vulnerable to termites, as there is no evidence of consistent termite protection.

When inspecting a home, ask if you can see the durable notice.

Alternately, a qualified timber pest inspector will be able to locate this on your behalf, if it is present.


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