Buyer beware, Part 1: What to look for in a bathroom, kitchen and laundry

Peak season for the Sydney real estate industry is well underway and it’s competitive out there! Don’t let your desire to buy a home cloud your judgement on a property: follow these tips to make sure the bathroom, kitchen and laundry of a property are sound before you buy.

Blocked drains or leaky pipes are unfortunately all too common in newly bought older homes. A whopping 44% of homebuyers call a plumber within a year of purchasing a property, which indicates that buyers and building inspectors are not finding those defects before they lay down their deposit.

bathroom plumbers sydneyWhen purchasing a property, don’t forget to inspect plumbing in the bathroom, kitchen and laundry.

Property inspections don’t include a thorough check of plumbing so it’s worthwhile to check what you can in your bathroom, kitchen and laundry before buying. With practice, you can spot problems if you know where to look. This is not only useful for avoiding paying too much, but can help you negotiate thousands off the price of the house.

In the bathroom

Too many homebuyers just see the aesthetic aspects of a bathroom—whether they like the colour of the tiles, whether the mirror is big enough—without examining the really important stuff: the plumbing. Apart from noting any obvious leaks, you should also undertake the following checks.

  • Knock on the tiles. If more than 10% sound hollow they are no longer adhered properly and the whole bathroom needs re-tiling.
  • Inspect a newly renovated bathroom. Look carefully for signs of shoddy workmanship, in particular tiles, paintwork, silicon and grout. If the end result is not perfect, it means someone may have cut corners externally and internally—behind the tiles—so beware!
  • Check for major cracks in ceramic fixtures, as these will need to be fixed.
  • Flush the toilet. A slow draining toilet needs to be checked by a plumber as it indicates a blocked sewer.
  • Note if there are any stains around the toilet. Black or white stains indicate water damage and therefore a leak.
  • Look for brown water stains. Leaks can soak through to the ceiling below or wall next door. Unfortunately though, these can easily be hidden with paint.

In the kitchen

A kitchen can often make or break a homebuying decision on its layout and decor alone.

Fats, oils and grease cool in the sewer, sticking to the walls of pipes and clogging them up.

Fats, oils and grease sticking to the drain walls.
Courtesy of Icon water

The laundry

The laundry is rarely a dealbreaker, but because it is often inconsequential to a homebuying decision, you may not realise that it could potentially cost you a lot of money if you don’t complete a thorough check.

  • Turn the washing machine valves on and off to test for leaks.
  • Run the laundry sink tap at high volume If the water drains slowly it may indicate a clogged pipe.
  • Check under the sink for any leaks in the drainpipes.

Do not skimp on inspections; pay for the best professionals you can afford—after all, your home is the biggest asset you’ll own. It’s a good idea to attend an inspection so you can ask the builder or plumber for an estimate on the spot. If you do find a fault, get a ballpark estimate for repairs and use this to negotiate a price reduction or set yourself a lower limit at the auction.

Which part of a house is a dealmaker or dealbreaker for you?