ACE #2

Now, where was I?

Following on from ACE #1 I’d like open the match with Canal, Lake and Riverfront homes.  Years ago I had a call from a builder I knew telling me to come to such n such an address and check out what he’d been called in to inspect.  Once there I found a solid home of 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, triple garage, far from new but very well maintained.  On the canal side, however, lay a disaster.

The retaining or revetment wall that separated the “land” from the water had collapsed into the water.  The “land” between the revetment wall and the quite large swimming pool had decided to go for a swim too and the poor old pool was left with no support.  The concrete shelled pool was leaning at about 15 degrees spilling water into a massive and ever widening hole where the backyard used to be.

All I could see were dollar signs and I breathed a sigh of relief that they weren’t MY dollars.  There was, I heard, a major stoush with the Insurance company, the Council and anyone else who could be ranted to, but, in the end, the owner had to cough up for the lot.

In many parts of the World where waterfront developments have been dredged up out of the swamp, developers will spend as little as they can get away with to construct revetment walls to contain the land (often sand) on which people will build their dream homes.  Now you know as well as I do that some government departments may have very keen and interested Inspectors and a political will to ensure that “things are done properly”.  Some don’t.

Most owners are NOT AWARE that revetment walls are THEIR responsibility.  It’s not like a dividing fence where you share.  The revetment wall is all yours mate!  If a revetment is built like a ship’s dock it may well last 100 years and be nigh on impossible to jackhammer apart even then.  Residential walls are, sadly, not a patch on large commercial installations.  So, at the 20, 30, 35 year mark they start to break down.  They crack and spall and the water and salt get into the steel reinforcing and you suddenly have a chronic and terminal dose of concrete cancer.

If your wall decides it wants to be IN the canal or lake rather than beside it, it’s often inextricably linked to its neighbours either side and will take some or all of them with it.

This can be a very expensive exercise – say, dredge, heavy machinery, repairs, or reconstruction more likely.  Mmmmm $50,000.00 to $100,000.00 please.

For goodness sake, a basic $300.00 to $500.00 Building and Pest Inspection is only going to give a visual inspection of a revetment wall and the 5 page disclaimer usually associated with such reports means it’s an All Care No Responsibility job.  Find a properly qualified and certified engineer and spend the money on an in depth investigation of the revetment wall before you commit.

Noise.  An otherwise idyllic home can be ruined by noisy neighbours.  If you are interested in a place, take the time to visit before and during the morning and evening rush, during the day, very early in the morning, later at night and as many times on the weekend as you can manage.  TALK to the neighbours and other residents in the street to see what’s what.

Beware the guys with their backyard sheds.  Most are pretty good but I’ve lived next door to a fellow who decided he could make a living from his shed and started to cut and grind metal 10 hours a day.  He said I was being unreasonable and was denying him a living!  Go rent a shed in an Industrial Area my friend, now enemy!

Dogs.  During your visits walk up and down all the surrounding streets to gauge how many dogs, breeds and how restless or aggressive they are.  I’m an animal lover and agree it’s a great idea for people to have dogs to keep scumbag burglars at bay but their dogs need to be trained and, unless someone has actually crawled over the fence, quiet.

Dividing or common fences.  As a Property Manager I’ve dealt with many nasty dividing fence issues and it really gets people all fired up and just plain unreasonable.  There used to be a Dividing Fences Act here in Queensland but that’s been recently replaced by the Neighbourhood Dispute Resolution Act 2011.  See HERE for more information form the Queensland Government.

If any of the common fences are in a poor state of repair, make sure you…TALK TO THE NEIGHBOURS!  If your potential neighbours are not amenable to contributing half the cost of new fencing, or can’t afford it you still have a few hurdles (pardon the intentional pun!) to overcome.  Even if you decide to just replace the fences at your cost, you still have to liaise with your neighbours as to material choice, colour, removal and works.  Some people can just be plain unreasonable and you’ll regret taking on a house with nasty neighbours.  The fence issues normally start other arguments and your life will descend into Hell.  Check first.

Here on the Gold Coast a lot of older properties have butt-ugly “fibro” or asbestos side fences installed from the 1950’s through to the mid 1980’s. These are a nightmare to remove as they require specialist asbestos removal teams who are very expensive.  That doesn’t stop people doing it themselves and I’ve witnessed completely unprotected idiots attacking these fences with circular saws and angle grinders, covering themselves (and neighbours) with deadly asbestos dust and breaking a list of laws as long as your arm.

If you aren’t sure if the fence material contains asbestos, get a NATA certified laboratory test done on a sample.

Limp to the Medical Centre.  It’s great to have a Doctor close by but would you want a Medical Centre next door?  Probably not.  Well it does happen, and, if you aren’t careful, you’ll get a butcher, baker and candle stick maker to boot!  If you or your lawyer don’t ask the right questions it may well happen to you.

Find out first  by visiting the Town Planning section of your local council and ASKING (there’s that instruction yet again!) what the locals can and can’t do with their land and if there’s been any recent Applications for change or amalgamation near where you’re thinking of buying.  I watched a person, who shall remain nameless, go against my advice and buy an older home 4 blocks in from a corner.  I’d heard a rumour (as you do as an Agent) that developers were sniffing ‘round the area.  Sure enough, a number of blocks of land were snapped up, amalgamated and a Medical Centre, Pharmacy and a couple of other shops sprouted right next door.

My friend put up with 18 months of construction noise and dust and was left staring at a Car Park.  Not only that, but quite large trucks would announce their arrival at 5 a.m. with beep-beep-beep reversing buzzers. Charming!

Another fellow bought a large block of land to enjoy the peace and quiet of having 20 metres on all sides away from neighbours.  He didn’t ASK either.  Shortly after moving in, the next door neighbour completed a sale to a developer, who had also bought another block adjacent and BINGO, 12 Townhouses!

…to be continued…

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