Things to Be Aware of When Buying an Older Auckland Home

Auckland like many areas around New Zealand has a large number of older homes. When considering buying an older Auckland home there a few things to consider to minimise unexpected costs or problems! Buying a home is an investment and you don't want to end up with costly repairs or maintenance expenses due to problems you were not aware of. A building report and pest inspection are a good idea prior to purchasing; use reliable companies, as these experts will be able to highlight any potential problems.

Problems to look out for include:

- Borer infestations

- Lead paint

- Mould/rot

- Asbestos

- Insulation

The borer, or wood beetle, can be a problem in all wooden constructed homes. Evidence of an historical borer problem in windows or floorboards may not be too much of an issue as long as any damage was not too extensive. However, an active borer infestation in structural wood may be a big problem and expensive to rectify if the damage has been extensive.

Adult borer return to the surface after 2 to 4 years attacking sapwood (the two-tooth borer also attacks heartwood). New holes will appear between November and March. A borer infestation can be treated with insecticides to prevent further damage but it may not be until you start renovations that the extent of the damage is revealed.

Paints containing lead were used in and around many homes prior to 1975 and more so before 1945. Lead in paint only becomes an issue if the paint is old and flaking. There is also an issue if lead paint is removed and the lead may settle in dust or soil. If you suspect an issue with lead based paints in an older home, a test can easily be carried out to prevent lead poisoning becoming a problem.

Mould and rot can be problems in older homes if a leak has gone undetected and therefore untreated. If the mould is inside wall cavities it may not become a health hazard unless exposed. Certain types of mould can be toxic and cause all kinds of health problems in particular respiratory/breathing issues and skin rashes. When buying an older home you should check for any signs of mould or rot.

Asbestos is a mineral fibre that was commonly used in homes prior to the 1980’s, in a number of forms. In most instances the asbestos is not a problem unless it is damaged or exposed during renovation work. Asbestos was used because it is fire retardant, resistant to heat, chemicals and wear from friction. Once the health risks were identified asbestos use was phased out.

Ceilings and tiles are the two most common areas you may find asbestos in your older Auckland home especially if built or renovated between 1940 and 1980. The danger comes when asbestos fibres are released during renovations such as sanding, cutting or drilling through materials that contain asbestos, and the fine dust produced is inhaled.

Insulation may be old and ineffective or non-existent in an older home. Replacing or installing insulation is an extra cost to be considered when buying an older home. Asbestos was used in some insulation products but as long as they are sealed and undamaged during renovations, it will not be a problem.

Advanced Demolition are licensed, experienced and specialists in asbestos removal in Auckland region, covering the Far North, Whangarei and Hamilton. Visit www.advanceddemolition.co.nz for details on asbestos ceiling removal and asbestos tile removal.

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