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Is Your Deck Safe?
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Is Your Deck Safe?

Recently we were engaged to complete a deck safety inspection after an incident which has seen serious personal injury to a Tenant. The Pool decking collapsed and the Tenants foot went through causing multiple leg breaks and as such, cannot work for months. The Owner purchased the property and was not aware of the unapproved status of the deck, and furthermore the less than professional construction methodology – very dodgy at first glance. It had been built without regard for any standards including material selection, support or durability.

It is important to not here that the Property Manager is not a qualified professional to assess and deem whether the deck is satisfactory or not, however has become involved in this situation.

Through not fault of their own, the Owners were not made aware of the decks poor construction, despite having a Building and Pest Inspection when they purchased.

The Building Inspector is required to include all structures on the property and provide assessment.

At first glance, the failures of this deck were obvious and should have been commented on in the report as assessed; unprofessional and requires further assessment to confirm structural adequacy.

Furthermore, due to the poor workmanship, this would have triggered a recommendation to confirm the local council approval, which would include engineering design, certificate of compliance (Engineer would sign of a form to confirm the deck has been built as per Engineering Plans and Specifications).

If the Buyer was made aware of this, they may have not purchased this property with what has turned out to be a serious safety hazard; or alternatively they would have been better prepared with information and would have negotiated to have it rectified. At the very least they would have been “aware” that the deck may indeed cause serious injury some day, if not to them, to their Children, childrens friends, Uncle Merv or Nanna, anyone, including the unsuspecting Tenant.

Don’t be caught out. Be informed and aware.

Retirees and Moving House
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Retirees and Moving House

We are assisting a growing number of people who are moving house to suit their lifestyles which are not high maintenance and work.

People who previously lived in large properties with large yards to maintain but don’t need all that space anymore, just want to enjoy their time doing what they love to do, not pushing a mower and cleaning bedrooms which used to provide sanctuary to their Children. They have better things to do, and are downsizing to suit accordingly.

Today we completed inspections for a lovely couple in this situation, and we respect the fact that the downsizing is a very emotional time (TBH, I cannot even comprehend the task). Memories, good and not so good are left behind and the new path can be very confronting and challenging. Stress levels, though not displayed, must be elevated and additional stress is not required when making this decision to up roots, cull the furniture and keepsakes as they simply will not fit into the new place.

We take extra special care of these downsizers, as they deserve the respect of a thorough assessment of the property they are about to immerse themselves in, they need to know everything possible about what could go wrong, what may need attention, and simply enjoy the new space without added expense and disturbance.

 

The Urbanbuild Co Story
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The Urbanbuild Co Story

We all have a story and mine is perhaps longer than some! It’s quite a read so sit back, and enjoy.

My Dad was a Builder and I worked weekends and holidays with him since a small boy, as is typical of migrant Tradesmen to this country- you as the Son (Eldest and only), are expected to follow in the path of the Father, and training from a young age is how this happens. Cool, just wish I got paid like my Mates did working at McDonalds! I actually wanted (and still do) want to be a Police Officer serving up a good dose of justice, or a Writer of sorts.

About Me:

I enjoy chasing my kids around in the surf, outdoor activity to escape the city life, road trips on and off the coast roads, long walks on the beach at sunset and pina coladas!

How/ Experience:

To acquire a QBCC Registered Building Inspector Licence, there is a path which includes ongoing study and progression with experience qualifications.

  • 1995- Complete Apprenticeship in Carpentry and Joinery (Hons).
  • 1995- QBCC Carpentry and Joinery Licence.
  • 2008- QBCC Builder Licence.
  • 2013- QBCC Building Inspector Licence.
  • Next- Still thinking-TBC.

Completed apprenticeship in Carpentry and Joinery (these days it is not as holistic a Trade, broken down into aspects of Carpentry), where we were on site from first shovel into ground to watering the turf we laid and everything in between. New homes but mostly renovations and extensions on budget properties through to prestige homes. This is when the Carpenters were multi skilled in all trades, and we were on the project every day from start to finish. A fantastic training opportunity to understand how and why each trade is scheduled and what materials are utilized to achieve various results. There is a lot of methodology under that concrete slab, behind that wall, under the ground which needs to be understood. Times have changed, as has much of the building methodology, materials, standards and regulations, so we stay up to date by maintaining ongoing professional training and conferences with industry leaders such as Master Builders.

I worked as a Building Supervisor for two years to tick this box on the experience to become a Builder, working for bespoke renovation Builder and then with a Project Builder. The difference between the two is remarkable, and provided a well rounded inside perspective of volume Vs quality. I know how busy Project Building Supervisors are to achieve the volume they are required to manage and understand how sometimes things can slip through the net. The most I had with this position was 27 houses to manage, not easy and to be honest, not 100% achievable. On the other hand, the bespoke renovation supervisor position was focused on quality control, quality management and quality trades completing a quality finish, and this was a pleasure of a position.

My Building career included work around Australia for several years before returning to Brisbane where my business was primarily prestige renovations and extensions where we completed many successful projects with a long list of satisfied Clients. I have seen the dodgiest of dodgy renovations and cover ups, and the most fantastic example of true craftsmanship from past and present utilized with premium materials to create breathtaking constructions which will indeed stand the test of time.

An ability to call the Trades out on defective work was honed in Darwin by learning from the best under a Site Supervisor who taught me to disregard the personal relationships and potential conflict (which was at times difficult) and lay it out as it is- it is not acceptable in its current state, it requires rectification. Explain why, refer to the standards to back up the defective condition, and deliver the message with confidence in an effective manner. No emotion, just fact and effective communication. “It is what it is” never made much sense, but it does in context from this time travelling around Australia.

Why I am Building Inspector:

I acquired the Building Inspector Licence as I had the experience and it was meant to be my “Old Man Plan”- when I had a dodgy back and knees and wanted to be off site. However, I soon realized I quite enjoyed the process of assessing properties and writing about them, and with the discovery of software to assist, soon started to prefer this type of work.

Furthermore, the time of being the “Nail Bag Builder”, the Builder who is on site everyday, all day, which is how is I operated (and believe maintained high standards of quality, duration and budget) were coming to an end as the off site administration of a building site was ever more important. I never comprehended the concept of trusting others to complete the works the way I liked, or at the standard I demanded, though there certainly are quality Builders who have this incredible ability. This was the perfect opportunity to transition to full time inspections, and bring forth the Old Man Plan earlier than expected.

The ability to combine my passion of building and informative writing provide me with career satisfaction, along with less time on site meeting 4.30am concrete pumps and cleaning up as the sun sets. Not to mention the heavy lifting and time quoting at night.

Last year we had our own software developed to further improve the delivery of information to our Clients, and this has proven to be successful with our follow up calls providing feedback that the report said it all, and the many photos ensured clear identification and explanation.

My Drive:

When buying our first property, I was quite shocked at the Pre Purchase Building Inspection Report we received. I was a Carpenter, and had a good degree of knowledge about houses, however the report was very ambiguous and did not provide any confidence the decision to proceed, or otherwise. From this point I thought there had to be a better way for Buyers to understand what they were about to sign up for- especially those who are not in the building industry, how would they know what was what?

I truly enjoy providing a report which includes much more information than is required in the standard AS4349.1-2007 criteria and scope of inspection, as the potential Buyer (and/or Seller) need to fully understand the property’s good and bad aspects. I see no value, in fact significant obstacle in providing half a report which just includes the defective aspects as this tilts the perception of the Client to a negative interpretation, when in fact there are often many positive installations, quality workmanship and materials which are not included in the summary. This is an injustice and not what I consider to be doing the job you are engaged to do.

The definition below uses the word “condition”- my interpretation of this word is consistent with Oxford Dictionary “noun- state of something. The state that something is in to be in bad/good/excellent condition.” So why are are so many Building Inspectors neglecting this fundamental requirement? Why not inform Clients that the hand rail is in very good condition? Why just focus on the negative? Do your job properly. At the same time, it is not a promotional sales document, as once I was accused- I am simply reporting on the condition of the property, and if it is full of positive news, then so be it- that is the summary of the property. Anything wrong with that?

I refer to the AS4349.1-2007- “The purpose of the inspection is to provide advice to a prospective purchaser to other interested party regarding the condition of the property at the time of inspection.”

This is the basis of my inspiration and drive to provide my Clients with a full assessment, warts and all, with clear explanations on all so they can make a well considered and educated decision on one of the most significant of their life. Further to this, I feel it equally important to educate on how to keep it looking good and avoid costly repairs with tips on maintenance. Proactive is always better than reactive measures.

My Favourite Aspect:

Cracks in brickwork- I just love explaining about cracks, and am aware of our qualification boundaries with regard to Structural Engineering advice. I do however have the ability to explain the observations, backed up with supportive reference material in AS2870 to provide recommendations when cracks are below a moderate level. Possible reasons for the cracking, what if no action is taken, general advice which in my experience is what a Structural Engineer would advise when called to site.

Too often we see and hear of Building Inspectors identifying a crack, noting in report with or without a reference photo, no explanation on direction or width of crack, and referring to a Structural Engineer. This scares people unnecessarily, as more often than not, the cracks are within the range of 0-Negligible up to 2- Slight. This range calls for no action other than monitoring, and are considered aesthetic not structural. When the crack is noted to be 3- Moderate or 4- Severe, this is when it is considered to be structural and professional advice from a Structural Engineer is highly recommended.

All cracks are recommended to be monitored of course, as they may progress to more significant, but for the purpose of reporting on the condition of the property at the time of inspection, this explanation can be the difference between buying a very suitable property which is in the right location, at the right price, and not buying for the sake of some slight settlement cracks (like many properties).

Our business cards have a Crack Guage on the back, which serves as an important tool when Clients take our advice and monitor/measure the crack over time. The photo taken at the inspection clearly confirms the initial measurement, and this provides our Clients with all the information they need to guage any progressions, or not.