/> Skip to main content
news and research
our facebook page linkdin
Common building faults Part 2

By John Dowling of ABIS www.abis.com.au


Last month, in part 1, we reviewed our survey of the various types of structural issues you could encounter when purchasing a home


Here, in part 2, we will review the findings on timber pest damage and secondary and finishing elements.


One in eight homes displayed structural timber pest damage.


One in eight homes displayed structural timber pest damage that had actually damaged the integrity of part or the entire property.  The most common timber pest is fungal decay caused by moisture followed by subterranean termites; wood boring insects and chemical delignification (breakdown of the timber fibres caused by salts or air pollution and usually within older homes)


In Queensland, subterranean termites are highly active and can be found in both old and new suburbs. Newer homes generally will have either a chemical or physical 'termite barrier' and its purpose is to block termites from entering the house directly from their subterranean tunnels.  The barrier forces them to build a mud tunnel outside the house, exposing them to visual inspection.  If visual inspections are not carried out on a regular basis termites can attack the property via entry points above the barrier. It is important to have a termite barrier (either physical or chemical) maintenance program in place.


One in two homes required urgent attention to secondary and finishing elements


Two in five homes had moisture problems behind the shower wall or in cupboards below the kitchen taps either visible or detected by an electronic moisture meter.

One in two homes had decayed timbers to fencing, pergola uprights and stairs due to poor maintenance, defective rainwater pipes or building timber straight into the ground.

One in three homes had problems with stairs or balconies, corrosion or handrails not meeting current building requirements for safety, although standard for their period of construction.

Three out of four homes had pools with inappropriate or compromised pool fencing which posed a safety threat.

One in four homes displayed corrosion to gates, stairs, down pipes, eaves and gutters.

One in two homes needed to have ridge tiles re-pointed and capped.

One in two homes had bathroom and kitchen tiles that were cracked or drummy.  This is significant because repairs and waterproofing to wet areas can involve substantial costs.

One in two homes had cracked or weathered roof tiles again threatening serious structural problems as a result of poor waterproofing.


In addition, the following less significant maintenance problems were common:


One in two homes had problems with sealants and grouting

One in three homes had cracked or holed internal plaster walls in need of repairs.

Two in seven homes had ceiling plaster that was damaged and need repairs.

One in five homes needed repainting internally.

One in three homes had door and cupboard latches, hinges, countertops to vanities and kitchen cupboards that needed replacement or repair.  Windows often needed easing, sliding doors needed attention and shower screens were often cracked.

One in five homes had a problem toilet, commonly a worn flange or broken stop-cock.


When buying or selling a home, ensure the property is 'safe and sound' by engaging a fully qualified, insured and licensed building and pest inspector.