ACE #4

Aspect, Contour and elevation continues.  I also used to an ACE in the Air Force!  Seriously.  Airspace Coordinating Element. A part of my role as a military air traffic controller was to ensure that Navy, Army, Air Force, “other” forces and units didn’t bomb, strafe or shoot each other, or civilians, out of the sky.  That’s about all I can say about that… Now, back to real estate, and again, in no particular order…

When considering a purchase there are hundreds of things to keep in mind, and I’ve mentioned quite a few already.  The list continues…

Poo.  Or more particularly, things to do with poo.  On your walk, cycle and/or drive around the area you’re thinking about buying in, look for sewerage pumping plant, breather pipes and other sewer infrastructure.  The local Council will also tell you where these things are.  Some of this plant can emit terrible smells either very occasionally, on a regular basis or 24/7.

There’s one place here on the Gold Coast where, during the day with a prevailing south easterly breeze, there’s virtually no smell.  When the wind drops and especially at night, when you drive past, you have to ensure you haven’t got a hangover or queasy stomach.  The wind, or lack thereof, will have a huge impact on whether your chosen property will be affected and again, ASK the neighbours and locals if they ever get a “pong”, as we Aussies say.

Black Roof.  This is where, in our hot, subtropical climate I just don’t understand why form has so taken over from function.  Who, in their right mind, puts a black roof on a house here?  The heat absorbed by and pumped into the roof space by a black roof is incredible.  It may be a great thing to have in our short winter but for 8 months of the year, insulation in the roof space is not going to nullify the effects.  Think twice about buying any place here with a black or very dark roof colour unless you like sky high utility bills for air conditioning.

In-Roof insulation.  The fallout from the Government’s disastrous roof insulation scheme continues.  You’ll recall installers and electricians dying in roof spaces and fly-by-night operators installing insulation that didn’t meet any standard.  I’m sure many thousands of installations haven’t been checked for compliance and present an ongoing danger to homeowners and their families.

Ensure any Building and Pest Inspection pays particular attention to this issue.  I’ve been in a few roof spaces recently where insulation was laid straight on top of red hot lighting transformers and I could see where the insulation was burned to what appeared to be close to the point of combustion.  I’ve also seen very poor installations where not enough insulation has been installed and the consumer has been comprehensively ripped off.

Your licenced electrician should also check this aspect and report any dangerous installations, especially metal foil, the type most likely to cause short circuits and death.

Local Council further enquiries.  Ask if the local council is any good.  Are they efficient managers of rates collected?  Could there be rate hikes in the near future as a result of major infrastructure commitments or just plain mismanagement?  Are there any large developments planned for the area that could cause you long term headaches? I’m thinking road realignments or widening, a major development, or Council sanctioned Events that may produce  a LOT of noise, like Rock concerts, or here on the Gold Coast for example, the annual Car Races (Gold Coast 600, INDY etc) and the now infamous “Schoolies Week” (which turns into a month-long bout of drunken bad behaviour!)

Home and Contents Insurance.  With the recent major floods in South East Queensland most people have suffered a rather rude shock as annual premiums for their house insurance have skyrocketed even if they live on a mountain top!  Parts of even good suburbs may have a high burglary rate so premiums for contents coverage may also be much steeper than adjacent suburbs.  Do a comparison.  Moving to an nearby suburb may well realise a worthwhile saving.  Don’t forget to enquire about car insurance too!

Schools.  In general, Public or State schools here have “catchment areas”.  Unless you live within the catchment area, you can’t send your children to the school of your choice unless there are extenuating circumstances.  Make enquiries of the schools surrounding where you plan to buy to check on their policy at the time.  Private schools have no such restrictions.  If you can afford the fees, your child, subject to vacancy and interview of course, can attend.

Mobile Phone, Internet and Data.  This aspect is often overlooked and results in all sorts of grief.  I won’t mention any particular carrier but, as we all know, they break their promises.  Make sure you can connect to the speed of internet  you want or need for your home based business or office.  If you have a few teens, they’ll want high speed and big downloads.

Get a commitment from the company in writing if you can. Do not rely on some “numpty” in a Call Centre who’s told to say “Yes” to everyone.  Walk around the house and check your mobile phone to see if reception changes.  Some metal framed and roofed houses have 5 bars of signal outside by the pool and NO RECEPTION anywhere inside.

I’ve had personal experience with a company promising blistering internet speeds with a cable to WiFi installation.  The local 3G data has always been faster.

Golf Course Frontage land.  I’ve lived on a golf course.  The early morning views were fantastic.  This was in the days before “The Wisdom” and I was comprehensively sucked in by the glossy brochures, false advertising, lack of disclosure and spin.  It was also in the days when golf-crazy Japanese visited the Gold Coast in droves.  Despite a thorough briefing at the Club House, and plenty of bi-lingual signage saying “Out of Bounds” “No Trespassing” etc, eager, single-minded golfers would stomp all over my garden at 5.30 a.m. looking for their lost golf balls.  Sadly for me, the garden bed was right outside my bedroom window.  I was NOT HAPPY.  Despite many meetings with Golf Course officials the bad behaviour and blatant disregard for private property drove me crazy.

There was more bad news.  One day I noticed a tractor pulling a boom that was spraying something that looked like little balls of soap suds on the fairways so I asked the maintenance staff what was going on.  I discovered, to my great dismay, that Golf Courses are “Chemical Junkies” which require massive amounts of all things artificial and poisonous to keep their manicured and near perfect appearance  One golf superintendant I spoke with said whilst he enjoyed his job very much, he’d never live on or near a golf course because of spray drift containing carcinogens covering gardens,  homes and people all day, every day.

There are less than perfect golf courses that use “organic methodology” but this wasn’t one of them. I moved out.

Riverfront land.  Again, a possibly idyllic lifestyle.  Friends have river frontage and boy, do they put up with some “stuff” to enjoy direct boating access to river and ocean.  The Water Police chase jet skis, “tinnies” full of underage and unlicensed kids, ski boats full of drunken yobbos, and posers in huge twin V8 powered motoryachts behaving badly.  Tour Boats drive past with loudspeakers blaring as the on board commentary bleats personal details of riverfront home owners.

People pull their boats up, especially rent-a-boats, to their private pier and unpack chairs, lunch and alcohol to settle in for the afternoon.

THAT gets OLD real fast.

Then there’s the night time Party Boats which don’t seem to have any restriction on DECIBELS. What? I can’t hear you!

It may appear to be fabulous when you make two or three inspections on Saturday afternoons, but one weekend “living” there will have you rushing for the exits.

Oh, and one more thing – midges, or sandflies. These biting stinging nasties appear mid afternoon and unless you have Midge Proof screening, you’ll be eaten alive and covered in swollen bites, even inside your home.  These critters can go straight through normal fly screening so you have to install special midge proof screens with tiny holes that fill with dirt and fluff and severely restrict the airflow through the house.

Lots to think about huh?  Giving you a headache yet?  How’s your personal checklist going?  It’s now much longer and more complicated than it was before you started reading my blog, no?

To be continued…

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