The list of the the top 9 building defects found by Don Palmer of Reliable Home Inspections during PrePurchase building inspections are listed below.


Before you list such things as major cracking of walls and rising or salt damp as the top issues think again. Many people expect those two issues only to find they don’t exist or don’t impact on the house as much as they may have thought. The defects we continue to identify are issues that many home owners simply don’t recognize as being defects or that they are present.

This list of defects will inform later blog posts on the Reliable Home Inspections website.

The top 10 I have found are as follows:

1   Gutters falling the wrong way.

Gutters should fall toward the outlets in the gutter but way too often, even on staged construction inspections, we find they don’t fall enough of even fall the wrong way. Our last blog post titled what is good gutter installation focused on this defect.

2   There is no termite inspection/management program in place.

This is the case even with properties that have had termite activity in the past, prompting a one off pest control project. In Adelaide I believe you are a mug if you don’t have annual inspections for termites. Indeed I was advised recently of a house in Clearview that was only 12 – 24 months old that was destroyed by termites.

3   Smoke Detectors incorrectly located and not hard wired.

Even though we are reminded over and over on the media about house fires where lives could have been saved if smoke detectors have been installed we find homes without them. When they are present they often incorrectly located, or not hard wired, or over 10 years old.

4   Potential leaks found in showers

In brick veneer homes we often find evidence of leakage in the concealed pipes in the shower areas by way of positive moisture readings on the walls around and/or below the taps. Leaks in concealed piping can do as much damage to timber frames as termites can, and can attract termites for a double dilemma.

5   Lack of perimeter paving around a house and/or incorrect falls away from the house when provided

All too often people live in houses that do not have perimeter paving. The lack of paving around a house can contribute to a number of defects including:

  • cracking in walls, caused by the continual wetting and drying of the soil under the wall
  • rising damp in the wall due to the continually wetting of the wall.
  • encouraging termites activity due to damp conditions

A number of blog posts have already been placed on our website blog page for you to peruse if you wish including Good Paving Design.

6   Insulation over the ceilings not protected from the heat of downlights

The risk of fire and therefore the risk of death for occupants of buildings is something we should all take more seriously. Downlights overheating can create ignition of the insulation, even in my opinion with low wattage globes. All too often to I see homeowners and contractors foolishly take the easy way and just pull the insulation away from the light which impacts significantly on the effectiveness of the insulation.

7   Verandahs that have not received Development Approval

Freestanding roofed structures over 10m2 in size and all verandah structures (pergolas with roofs) require development approval. Such structures are often the product of a DYI construction project. There are a number of tell tale signs that give a hint as to whether it has been constructed DIY and/or they have not been approved.

8   Roller Doors that require maintenance

Roller Doors are the largest and heaviest part of the construction of a home and therefore should receive regular maintenance. They often have a loss of tension that prompts them to fall back down when they are opened. There are a number of other issues that require ongoing maintenance but this is a safety issue and reason on its own to get them regularly serviced.

9   The absence of an electrical safety switch.

The Building Code of Australia requires all new construction to include the provision of safety switches on all circuits. There is no such requirement on old homes or even old homes being resold. Having working safety switches in your home could save your life. We don’t understand why the legislators have not addressed this like they have smoke detectors.