Order Now

Before you buy: Is your new house hiding leaks?

If you’re looking to buy a home in Sydney, a pre-purchase building inspection is vital to detect household leaks and rising damp.

BeSafe - House leaks

Sydney is entering a period of drier weather in 2023 and 2024 but this makes it even more important that you request a pre-purchase inspection and find out whether any home or apartment you want to buy could be impacted by leaks and rising damp.

Those rainy days are sure to come again and you don’t want to realise after you have settled that there are water issues affecting the structural integrity of your home. 

Take a look at how a pre-purchase building inspection professional detects household leaks and signs of rising damp in Sydney properties, what causes these problems and how they could impact the offer you make on your next place. 


What causes household leaks?

In general, leaks come from two different sources:

  1. The roof
  2. Wet areas like your bathroom, laundry and kitchen

Something as simple as a loose tile on the roof of a Sydney home will let water in when it rains. Leaks can also be caused by blocked gutters; when there is a big downpour the water will have nowhere to go and it can find its way inside your roof cavity. 

Meanwhile, wet areas include toilets, showers, baths and sinks, and anywhere that water pipes run through the home. If a hose connection is faulty or a pipe has a crack, water can leak into the walls and under the floor.

If the plumbing in a home is very old or not installed well, leaks are a natural consequence. In an apartment, leaks can come from the apartment above you. 


How a pre-purchase building inspection detects household leaks

Obviously, if you see a pool of water somewhere that it shouldn’t be, it’s a sign of a leak in a home. However, some leaks are small and hard to see. 

When you view the bathroom of a home for sale, it may look leak-free. But what if the waterproofing membrane has failed behind the tile? A tiny, impossible-to-hear leak will mean water is pooling and causing internal damage, and you won’t know about it until a significant repair job is required. 

In other scenarios, a broken roof tile can go undetected for months. All of a sudden there will be signs of mould on the ceiling or walls, indicating that there is moisture where it shouldn’t be. 

As well as checking your potential new property for obvious leaks and clear signs of water damage, a pre-purchase building inspector from BeSafe Property Inspections will come armed with several tools that expose hidden problems.

For example, we use special thermal cameras and moisture detectors to spot leaks and dampness that might otherwise not be noticed by the naked eye. We can also access parts of a house you won’t get to during an open home, such as the roof cavity and underneath the building. A quick check can expose a variety of problems. 


Leaks vs rising damp

Unwanted moisture in a home doesn’t only come from leaks — Sydney’s humid subtropical climate means homes often experience rising damp, especially in the inner west and lower north shore. 

Whereas a leak is an incursion of water, usually from above, rising damp comes from the ground up.

The problem is most commonly found in homes built prior to the early 1900s, because they weren’t constructed with a DPC (Damp proof course) as a form of waterproofing, or they were built too close to the ground.

The tell-tale signs of rising damp issues in an older Sydney home are:

  • Bubbling paint
  • Warped floors
  • ‘Tide marks’ on the walls, as though water has risen and fallen
  • Peeling wallpaper
  • Internal walls feel damp to touch
  • Mould


Should you buy a home with leaks or rising damp?

If a pre-purchase building inspection indicates leaks or rising damp, you don’t necessarily have to walk away from the property. 

Leaks are usually relatively easy to fix with the help of a plumber and tiler, but you may also be up for the cost of restoring water-damaged areas. If your building inspector notifies you about a leak in the property you are interested in, do a little research to see how much it will cost to stop the leak and fix the damage. You can potentially use this as a negotiating tool, or at least be aware that you will be up for added expenses when you move in. 

When it comes to rising damp, in some areas and for some types of homes, it simply can’t be avoided. Fortunately, this issue can be mitigated, by improving ventilation under the house, repairing brickwork (this is referred to as ‘spalling brick treatment’) or with a process known as a ‘chemical damp course injection’, which introduces a solution to prevent rising damp. 

All houses come with problems, and leaks and rising damp are some of the most common issues we see in Sydney as pre-purchase building inspectors. What’s most important is to be aware of the flaws a home has before you buy, and take steps to rectify moisture issues so they don’t have a negative impact on the value of your home. Even if you have to invest a little more in the property, you will save yourself money down the track. 


Don’t get a nasty surprise when you move into your newly purchased home. Contact BeSafe Property Inspections for a pre-purchase building inspection anywhere in Sydney today. 

Featured news articles