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Buyer Beware: Buying older houses

There are a few extra questions to ask when you're buying an older house. We outline them below.

When buying an older home you need to be especially critical of the state of the property. Asking the real estate agent the right questions is key. The answers will be required to get home insurance with full replacement from your insurance company.

Home insurance is required by the lenders to ensure in the event of total loss the lender can be repaid.
Insurance companies have different questions based on the age of the property and will be hesitant to provide full replacement cover until you have satisfied them with following information:

1970’s and 1980’s house

When was the house last renovated and replumbed? If done during 1970s or 1980’s, does it have a black plastic piping, referred to as Dux Quest plumbing? These pipes have been known to be unreliable and, in cases, burst and cause water damage.

Pre 1950’s

  • Repiled: Has the house been repiled since it was built or recently? If it hasn't, you should check the piles are in good condition and there should be enough of them to stop the floor from dropping and sagging.
  • Roof: With maintenance, most iron roofs will last up to 30 years and tiles roofs 50 years. In case of iron roofing, the house should have been reroofed at most within the last 30 years and ideally painted within last 10 years.
  • Electrical: The entire house should have had the wiring replaced. If it is not replaced the insurers will request to have an electrician’s sign off that the house is safe with the existing wiring system.
  • Replumbed: What year was this completed or is it existing pipes?

Pre 1914

Scrim and sarking: Picture a villa where the internal walls are old sacks stapled to wood and after a 100 years how easily that would catch fire. Most have been renovated since and walls replaced with Gib. When purchasing a home from this era make sure you can have insurance cover in place for settlement before going unconditional

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