Cap-It-All Building Inspections

Safety Warning – How Faulty Electrical Wiring is Affecting WA Homes

Fires caused by faulty electrical wiring are leading to many deaths in Perth. Uninsulated wiring can also cause electrocution. Cap-It-All Building Inspections Perth are finding loose electrical wiring within roof spaces that are not contained within junction boxes with every few inspections undertaken. 

If an unconcealed wire is touched by a person, the person is at risk of electrocution. Additionally, loose wiring can overheat or come into contact with combustible materials, fuelling fires. If a fire occurs within a roof space the fire is likely to spread quickly before being detected by the smoke alarms installed within the home, as they are usually installed on the ceiling of the interior of the home. Since 1986 the Australian Standard for Wiring Rules has included mandatory requirements for electricians to allow for the de-rating of electrical wiring due to their proximity to insulation – a highly combustible material. Prior to this no requirements existed. This makes it especially important for older homes to be inspected for exposed or faulty electrical wiring within roof spaces in Perth.

Below are some examples of homes in WA that have been affected by fires caused by electrical faults.

Here are some ways you can prevent a house fire caused by an electrical fault:

  • Never undertake your own electrical work unless you are a qualified electrician or contractor. Not only is it illegal, it is very dangerous to do so.
  • Use a registered, licensed electrician for all electrical wiring jobs.
  • Ensure the electrician connects any work they undertake up to the relevant Residual Current Device (RCD) and tests the RCDs to ensure they are working at the correct speed.
  • Minimise the use of power boards or double adaptors in your home, as they can overload power points. Have your electrical contractor install enough power points so that temporary adapters and power boards can be removed.
  • If the house is unoccupied, do not leave on electric blankets or similar appliances.
  • Eradicate pests and have the roof space inspected regularly. Mice and rats can eat through the insulated wiring in the roof space and ants often nest in power points.

Remember that once you sign on the dotted line of your offer and acceptance contract, you accept the liabilities of the house including rectifying any faulty electrical wiring issues at your cost unless otherwise stated in your contract. When purchasing a home the below suggestions may help you to protect yourself with relation to exposed electrical wiring within roof spaces in Perth:

  • Request the details of any electrical contractors who have completed work on the property previously, especially if the property has been recently renovated.
  • Consider stating that any exposed electrical wiring within roof space of the house you are purchasing should be put into an electrical junction box at the cost of the seller by settlement.
  • Ensure that when you purchase a home it is inspected by a Building Inspector who can identify loose wiring within the roof space of the property. If found, the inspector should be able to advise you on necessary steps to take which will likely include hiring a qualified electrician to put the loose wiring within a junction box. 

An electrical junction box is a container for electrical wiring or connections, usually intended to hide them from vision and discourage interfering. A small plastic or metal junction box may form part of a thermoplastic-sheathed cable (TPS) wiring system or electrical conduit in a building.

Cap-It-All Building Inspections Perth are currently undertaking research and recording each of the houses inspected by our business that have loose wiring within roof spaces in Perth. Our business will use this data to present to the local government, to try to change the worrying statistics emerging with regard to the amount of house fires being caused in WA as a result of faulty electrical wiring.

Popping Nails – Causes and Rectification

Popping nails can be identified by imperfections to the paint on a wall as seen in the picture. This blog explains the causes, rectification and possible problems relating to popping nails.

Popping nails are normally the result of:

  • The plasterboard moving whilst the nails remains static.
  • The nail moving whilst plasterboard remains static.
  • The timber into which the nail is secured absorbing water/moisture causing it to expand and loosen the nail and further to the removal of the source of moisture, the timber contracting and pushing/popping the nail out.


  1. Tools and materials: Filling blade/paint scraper, 1 – dry wall screw, 1 – dry wall nail, drywall compound/flexible filler, nail punch, screwdriver/cordless drill, hammer, miniature paint roller, primer/sealer, matching paint and 100 grit sandpaper.
  2. Resecure the loosened plasterboard to the timber frame: Ensure you locate the joist/stud that the original nail was fixed to, take your dry wall screw and drive it through the plasterboard and into the underlying timber support approximately 25mm from the popped nail. The new screw should not puncture the paper backing on the face of the plasterboard, a countersunk of around 2mm is advisable.
  3. Drive a new nail immediately adjacent to the popped nail: Rather than trying to remove the popped nail entirely which can often cause more damage to the surface, drive a new nail in immediately adjacent so that the head of the new nail overlaps that of the popped nail resulting in the popped nail being driven back to its original position. Take your nail punch and counter sink the new nail, and subsequently the popping nail, around 2mm into the plasterboard.
  4. Apply dry wall compound or a flexible filler to the holes created by the new screw and nail: use your filling blade/paint scraper at a 45° angle to fill the holes then revert to a 90° angle to remove excess filler. Let the compound/filler dry completely.
  5. Sand the patches: Lightly sand the patches using a fine, (around 100 grit), sandpaper.
  6. Apply a second coat of compound: Use your filling blade/paint scraper to apply a second coat of compound/filler. This coat should remain thin. A maximum of around 2mm in the centre, and extend out slightly beyond the two holes feathering away to flush with the plasterboard surface. Do not worry if it does not look too neat as once it is completely dry you will again use your fine sandpaper to carefully sand the whole area leaving only a very thin covering of the dried compound almost flush with the plasterboard surface.
  7. Painting: Use a primer/sealer initially over the patched area. Allow to dry before applying a coat of matching touch up paint using a miniature paint roller and feathering the paint out from around the patched area.

Possible Problems

  • The original paint has weathered/faded and the new paint will not blend in.
  • Some darker paints are notoriously difficult to successfully patch.

In both of these instances you will need to re-coat the whole of the affected wall/ceiling.

Please also note that where moisture intrusion has caused the timber to swell and contract resulting in nails popping, the timber should be allowed to fully dry prior to rectification.

At Cap-It-All Building Inspections Perth we find evidence of nails popping during many of the Building Inspections we undertake. Contact us now to book a Pre-Purchase Building and Timber Pest Inspection.

Curing of Concrete – What You Need to Know

As cement comes into contact with water, a chemical reaction known as hydration occurs. It is important to control the amount of moisture loss during cement hydration, as moisture loss will often lead to loss of strength for the finished concrete member. The process of controlling moisture loss within concrete is known as curing.

Why is curing of concrete so important?

If a concrete member loses moisture content whilst curing, it will be unable to achieve maximum strength.
Testing undertaken suggests that concrete that is immediately allowed to dry out achieves only 40% of the strength of fully strengthened concrete. The full period of concrete curing is 180 days, although 95% strength can be achieved after 28 days. 28 days is the typical curing period during residential construction in Perth.


How is curing of concrete achieved?
Methods of curing concrete generally fall into the following categories:
• Minimisation of moisture loss by methods such as the use of a relatively impermeable membrane.
• Minimisation of moisture loss by continuously wetting the exposed surface of the concrete.
• Moistening the surface of the concrete member whilst also increasing its temperature, thereby increasing the rate of strength gain. This method is typically used in commercial construction methods such as pre-cast construction.The selection of the appropriate method or methods for curing will be dependent upon the site conditions, temperature, and other environmental factors. Specific techniques in achieving proper curing of concrete are as follows:

Impermeable-membrane curing
Formwork is an efficient and cost-effective method of curing. In hot weather timber boards should be moistened and plastic sheeting may also be used to cover exposed surfaces.

Plastic sheeting is probably the most common form of concrete curing here in Perth. Their effectiveness is very much reduced if the sheeting is not kept securely into place, and colour selection of the plastic should reflect the temperature at the time of concrete placement. For example, in hot weather white or lightly coloured sheets are preferable, whereas in cooler weather black plastic may be selected.

Membrane-forming curing compounds are another cost-effective method of curing concrete surfaces. However, their effectiveness is very much reliant upon the timing and even distribution of the compound.

Internal curing compounds may also be incorporated into the concrete as an admixture. These compounds have not been extensively tested in residential construction.

Water Curing
Ponding is a method whereby a ‘dam’ or ‘dike’ is erected around the edge of the slab and water is added to create a shallow pond. Ponding is a quick, inexpensive and effective form of curing when there is a ready supply of good ‘dam’ material (e.g. clay soil), a supply of water, and the pond does not interfere with subsequent building operations. When ponding is properly undertaken, the slab has the added advantage of maintain a constant surface temperature, therefore reducing the risk of early age thermal cracking.

Sprinkling or fog curing can be an efficient method of supplying additional moisture for curing, and reduce the temperature of the concrete surface during periods of hot temperature. However, constant supervision is required for this method as environmental conditions such as high winds may prove the system to be ineffective.

Wet coverings such as hessian or materials such as sand can be used like a ‘mulch’ to maintain water on the surface of the concrete. Any coverings must be kept damp at all times to ensure that they do not have the opposite to the desired effect and actually draw moisture from the slab itself.

How will my building inspector assess the effectiveness of the curing of concrete?
Unfortunately it is difficult to accurately assess the effectiveness of concrete curing from a visual only inspection. However, certain defects may be attributable to improper concrete curing, such as early age drying shrinkage. Other factors may have contributed towards early age drying shrinkage cracking and as a result it is best practice to monitor these cracks throughout the building process to ensure that they do not extend in width.

Discolouration of the concrete slab surface may also be an indication of inadequate concrete curing, and as such your building inspection report may act as evidence should it need to be proved in the future that the concrete did not reach the maximum strength desired.

Contact Cap-It-All Building Inspections Perth for a comprehensive pre-purchase building inspection carried out by an experienced and knowledgeable building inspector.

Buying Property in Perth – What Cap-It-All Building Inspections Perth Thinks You Need to Know

When buying property in Perth there are so many things to consider. What can I afford, where do I want to live, where do I even begin when assembling my team of professionals?? Buying a home is usually a very emotional feat so it is important to follow a structured process from the beginning to ensure you purchase the right property for the right price.



– What can you afford? The best thing to do firstly is to create a budget to determine exactly how much disposable income you have after paying out your expenses.

– What can you borrow? Next you will need to speak with a mortgage broker or lending institution so that you know how much you can borrow.

– Set your goals. Having clearly defined goals is important – are you buying the property so that you can lease it to tenants down the track? Do you want a block that could potentially be subdivided in the future? Or are you looking for your dream home that you plan to live in for years to come?

– Pre-Approval. Obtaining pre-approval for your finance from your bank/lending institution can give you a considerable advantage over other purchasers when you’re ready to submit an offer.


– Which suburb do you want to live in? Do your research and understand which amenities are important to you. You may want to live in an area with great schools for your kids. Maybe you want to live in a trendy suburb with plenty of shops and restaurants/cafes?

– What type of property do you want to purchase? Think block size, orientation, age and maintenance responsibilities of the property. An agent brief sheet can help local agents in the area you want to purchase understand what type of property you desire so you can be contacted first when your perfect property comes on the market.

– Consider using a buyer’s agent. A buyer’s agent can be paid a fee to do all the hard work of finding you the perfect property. This can be particularly convenient for interstate or overseas buyers.


– What should be considered when viewing a property? Take extra care when viewing a property to ensure you note any minor defects that you will have to take on if purchasing the property. Does the property have extra appliances such as a dishwasher and air conditioning?

– What will the property cost? Don’t forget to consider additional costs such as stamp duty, registration fees, settlement agent fees, lender’s mortgage insurance and removalist costs that you may not be able to add to your loan.

– Engaging a settlement agent. You will need to engage a conveyancer/settlement agent to act on your behalf and transfer the property title into your name. A settlement agent acts for you so they can offer you any necessary advice about the purchase and should follow up issues like whether council approval is held for necessary structures and whether an electrical safety certificate has been supplied in relation to smoke alarms and RCDs.

– Placing an offer. Ensure that you understand what is written in the sale contract and add any special conditions that may be in your best interest. Don’t forget that the real estate agent is acting on behalf of the seller and not you.



– Building, Timber Pest and Swimming Pool Inspections.Ensure your contract has an annexure for a building and timber pest inspection to be carried out. Swimming pools/spas must have barriers that comply with regulations, so if you are buying a property with a pool you should have these inspected too.

– Final Inspection. At the final inspection, about a week before settlement, you will attend the property with the seller and ensure all electrical, plumbing and gas appliances are in good working order (assuming this condition is written in your contract).


– Settlement Day. Before settlement takes place you will need to organise insurances, relevant amenities such as gas, electricity and telephone connection and removalists. Don’t forget that if the seller is living in the property you are buying, they technically have until midday the day after settlement to provide you with all access devices for the home.

The above is just a condensed/simple guide for buying property in Perth, but luckily Cap-It-All Building Inspections Perth have created a website which provides Perth home buyers with a detailed guide of the process from start to finish. Not only can the website provide you with free advice and tools that will aid you in purchasing the perfect property, it can also put you in touch with experienced, reliable professionals who will work in YOUR BEST INTERESTS such as mortgage brokers, buyer’s agents and settlement agents.

Visit to see what the team at Cap-It-All Building Inspections Perth have put together to help you make the best decisions when purchasing property in Perth.

Effectiveness Vs Efficiency – Getting the balance right

What makes a business the best at what they do? 

The answer lies within an optimum mix of being efficient and being effective.

What’s the difference between efficiency and effectiveness?

To be efficient is to maximise productivity in a systematic, organised fashion – in other words to achieve outcomes as quickly as possible without it affecting the quality of your product.

Effectiveness is a measure of producing the best possible outcome.

Some businesses focus on effectiveness and produce a brilliant product. However without combining this with systems which help you produce this product in an ideal timeframe, a customer may become unhappy with the time taken to generate the product.

Similarly, some businesses may focus on creating an efficient system, especially in today’s technology-focussed environment. Although being able to generate products at the touch of a button can save a business time, it is important that the quality of the product is not sacrificed in the process.


In the building inspections Perth industry, there are many franchises and independent businesses which have created an efficient system (through an iPad/iPhone App or something similar) but the quality of the report suffers since there are only certain items the Perth building inspector can click/report on. Comparable to this, many inspectors use a “tick box method” in which they only have predefined boxes to tick and do not investigate any further than this which may result in less defects being uncovered or less understanding as to why the defect has been caused and what can be done to remedy it. It is important to recognise that if a Perth building inspector claims they will send your report to you straight from the property, it is likely that they’re efficient in what they’re doing, but their report may not be as detailed or as well-understood by the inspector as it could be.

At Cap-It-All Building Inspections Perth the inspector will always return to the office after completing the inspection and discuss any possible defects with other experienced members of staff, so that together the team can determine the exact circumstances of a defect, how the defect can be remedied and who is liable to fix the defect. Cap-It-All Building Inspections Perth have a point of difference in comparison to other Perth building inspectors as each member of the team possess different skills and experience, so by effectively communicating with each other the team can determine the best possibly solution for your situation. As well as this, inspectors are on site for an average of 2-3 hours (for a building and pest inspection Perth) which based on the team’s feedback from real estate agents and sellers, is much longer than most other inspectors. If your Perth building inspector is on site for less than one hour when producing your building inspection report they may not be providing you with as much information as possible.

Additionally it is important to the Cap-It-All Building Inspections Perth team that you understand every aspect of your report and have all of your queries answered. This is why we follow up with a phone call when it is convenient toYOU and not immediately from the property before you’ve had a chance to read your report.

If you’re looking for a thorough, comprehensive building inspector but would also like to receive your report within 24 hours of the inspection taking place, contact Cap-It-All Building Inspections Perth now.

How to Clean Bricks – A Cap-It-All Building Inspections Guide

Most skilled bricklayers clean their work at the end of each working day, meaning minimal cleaning is required to get the finished look required for brickwork. However, unfortunately there are occasions where poor DIY jobs or workmanship leaves excess mortar visible to brickwork.
Methods of cleaning bricks

Firstly, mortar ‘lumps’ should be scraped or physically removed from the surface of the masonry, leaving only the mortar staining left to rectify. Many methods exist to clean excess mortar stains on brickwork. In all instances the manufacturer’s instructions should be followed and appropriate PPE should be worn. The following methods are discussed in greater detail:Using Brick acid (hydrochloric acid)
The cheapest and most common agent for removing mortar that has been allowed to harden
is a solution of hydrochloric acid diluted with water. The following steps should be taken when mixing the solution:


1. Select a well ventilated area for mixing, although be sure not to mix in a windy area or an area where the acid may come into contact with other hazardous materials.


3. Only use earthenware, glass, or heavy duty plastic containers

4. Whilst mixing be sure to wear appropriate PPE, including goggles and rubber gloves. PPE should be tight to the skin, to minimise the risk of acid coming into skin contact in those areas.

5. Avoid splashing of acid into water and be aware of your surroundings. Not only may there be hazardous substances in your surroundings, but there may be materials such as concrete masonry that may be attacked or discoloured as a result of spillage. Polished stone and metal surfaces are likely to become permanently defaced should they come into contact with acid. Brick acid should never be used on limestone products or in instances where vanadium removal is necessary.

Different bricks will require a different mixing ratios. For example, bricks that are lighter in colour or particularly sensitive to high concentrations of acid will require a water to acid ratio of 20:1. It is recommended that this mix is initially used in all circumstances. For darker bricks or particularly tough stains, the ratio may be increased to 10:1.

Upon mixing of the solution, the following steps should be taken:

1. Wet down the bricks prior to applying the solution. Failure to do so may lead to staining of the bricks known as acid burn, as acid will soak into the brickwork and dissolve the iron within the brick.

2. Apply the solution using a thin bristled brush. The use of stiff bristles may damage the masonry itself as opposed to removing the excess mortar.

3. Wash the affected area clean with water.

Other acids & cleaning compounds
Other acids & cleaning compounds may be available to clean excess mortar from brickwork. Care should be taken when selecting these products. Some of these products are not suitable for masonry and may even cause destruction of the masonry units via salt attack.

High pressure cleaning
High pressure water may be used to remove excess mortar from affected brickwork, although the incorrect selection of nozzle or incorrect use of the jet may lead to damage of the masonry product. The following precautions should be observed:
(a) Use a maximum pressure of 7000 kPa.
(b) Use a wide fan spray nozzle (15° to 20°).
(c) Keep the nozzle about 500 mm from the wall and never closer than 300 mm.
(d) Test the procedure first on a section of wall that is less noticeable.

In all instances of cleaning it should be noted that the excessive use of water may contribute to moisture problems as well as increase the likelihood of efflorescence. If you have any concern, please contact a suitably qualified professional.

Will my Perth building inspector check for areas of excess mortar?
Excess mortar is generally a cosmetic issue and as such, although it may be reported on as part of a comprehensive pre-purchase building inspection, it would not be deemed a structural issue and as such will not be required to be fixed by the seller prior to settlement. Cap-It-All Building Inspections Perth will advise on the above techniques where necessary, as we aim to assist all our clients in purchasing a structurally safe home, and assist in the development of a maintenance schedule to ensure you are happy with the quality of your home.If we are conducting your stage or practical completion inspections on new build homes, excess mortar will be classified as a workmanship issue, as no direct reference is made within the masonry code. As such, your building inspector will need to draw on their expertise and experience to express an opinion as to whether the work is defective. For this reason it is important to choose a building inspector that can adequately determine workmanship defects whilst conducting a building inspection, and an inspector who understands the processes involved should the builder refuse to rectify the defective work.
Visit the Cap-It-All Building Inspections Perth website to book your         Pre-Purchase Building Inspection.


Author: Lewis Flatt – Cap-It-All Building Inspections, servicing the Perth Metro Area

Buyer Beware – What You Need to Know About the Contract You’re Signing

Following countless hours of scouring property websites, local newspaper and attending home opens you finally stumble upon your ‘castle’, the place that you would like to call home. You have fallen in love and anxiously wait for the crowd to disperse so that you can approach the Real Estate Agent and submit your offer. You inform the agent that you would like to make an offer slightly under the asking price, (common practice), and they produce the standard REIWA Offer and Acceptance form for you to complete and sign.
You’re no legal expert but everything appears to be in order and the Real Estate Agent advises you that the sale will be dependent on Building and Timber Pest Inspections anyway. Later that evening your telephone rings and it is the Real Estate Agent informing you that your offer has been accepted. You are on cloud nine and with champagne glass in hand congratulate yourself on your remarkably astute dealings of the day!

The property purchase tale described above would be typical of 90% of transactions that occur in Perth, WA – so where has the purchase gone wrong?

The first point to consider is that the purchaser is being advised by an Agent that is legally bound to represent the seller/vendor and is also paid by them. Secondly, they have committed themselves to a contract in which the wording is owned by the Real Estate Institute of Western Australia (REIWA) which is the peak industry body representing the interests of Real Estate Agents.

There is no cooling off period in WA, consequently with the Offer and Acceptance contract signed by both parties it immediately becomes legally binding and is usually weighted in the favour of the seller so that there is very little chance of the contract collapsing.

You, the buyer, may only withdraw from this contract if the bank will not provide finance or your building/timber pest report reveals a major structural defect as defined in the offer and acceptance contract, and only then if the seller refuses to either rectify the fault or deduct an agreed amount from the purchaser price.

By agreeing to the terms of the REIWA Offer and Acceptance contract you have severely impaired your negotiation entitlement with regard to the rectification of defects highlighted in your building and timber pest inspection reports.


What Should I Have Done?

It is crucial that you assemble your team as early as possible in the property buying process and certainly prior to signing a contract.

Your team should consist of a Settlement Agent, Mortgage Broker and a Building Inspector. Some people also engage a buyer’s agent, however, the majority are confident to proceed with the aid of the former three..

Your Mortgage Broker will organise and advise on all financial matters. Your Settlement Agent will ensure that your contract is tailored to suit your requirements and you are able to lawfully act on the contracts of your Building and Timber Pest Reports by inserting carefully worded clauses into the special conditions section of the Offer and Acceptance contract.

The following are a non-exhaustive list of considerations that may be of concern to you and will need to be added to your O&A contract by your legal representative to enable you to take appropriate action:

  • A minimum of two Residual Current Devices are not only present but in correct working order. Despite penalties applying to sellers who do not comply this is still an item that is frequently not enforced. Currently 15 Australians die and around 300 are hospitalised each year from preventable electrical accidents at home. At a cost of $80 to ensure that the R.C.D’s are fully operational, smoke alarms comply and an electrical safety certificate is issued, to not adhere to this procedure is quite frankly a disgrace.
  • Smoke alarms are correctly installed and comply with current legislative requirements. On average 5 people are killed and many others seriously injured by house fires annually in WA. Penalties of up to $5,000 apply for non-compliance.
  • Pool and Spa barriers have been installed and maintained in accordance with current governing legislation. Over the last 5 years 16 toddlers have drown in Western Australia. For every drowning death it is estimated that a further 10 children are admitted to hospital following a near-drowning incident. Non-compliance can result in a maximum penalty of $5,000 and a penalty of $250 per day until compliance is achieved.
  • The rectification of significant/major structural defects, items such as leaking roofs, sagging ceilings and burst pipes are not considered as structural defects with the terms of the standard REIWA contract.
  • Mould treatment and removal is carried out by a suitably qualified professional. Toxic moulds release airborne spores that can pose serious health risks.
  • Electrical defects uncovered within the roof loft space are rectified and an electrical safety certificate is issued. At Cap-it-All Building Inspections we often find illegal electrical wiring and non-compliant downlights in the roof loft space. These dangerous defects may only be exposed by our Inspections as nobody else is legally permitted to enter this area whilst a home is being sold. If not rectified fire may occur which will burn above the smoke alarms putting occupants at risk of serious injury or death.
  • Chattels and fixtures, the term fixtures relates to items which are a fixed part of the property such as floor coverings, window treatments, light fittings and built-in air conditioners. Generally fixtures stay with the property upon sale. Chattels such as garden sheds, dishwashers and wall mounted tumble dryers may be removed by the seller unless stated otherwise within the terms of the contract.
  • Elimination of timber pests and rectification of any resulting damage. At Cap-It-All Building Inspections we are able to advise on the existence, the elimination and extent of rectification required where a home has been affected by the presence of the 3 main timber pests, namely – Termites, Borers and Fungal Rot/Decay. It is advisable that a clause be inserted to allow you to withdraw from the purchase if damage is found to be extensive.
  • Outbuildings, attachments and pools – only defects within the main residence are required to be rectified by the seller according to the standard REIWA contract. Although an old, unstable wooden shed affected by fungal decay and termite ridden may not be of concern to a purchaser, however a large workshop, detached garage, attached pergola or swimming pool with major structural defects may.
  • Illegal structures, where possible it is essential to confirm Council approval of additions, attachments, outbuildings, and swimming pools etc. which were not constructed at the same time as the main residence. If these structures were not approved, Council may seek retrospective approval or order demolition. Once settlement has occurred this may become your problem.
  • Having established what you would like to keep, you should also ensure that it is clear within your contract with regard to the items that you would like removed. For instance, do you envisage a future role for the unpainted, chipboard DIY cabinetry in the laundry? It is almost certain that the stack of old asbestos sheeting packed tightly behind the garden shed will not be required!
  • Is the pool equipment operational? Is the hot water system operational? Are items such as light globes, extractor fans, doors, windows, ceiling fans operational? What is the level of risk posed to my family by the identification of asbestos? Does the shower leak? 

So it is easy to see that current legislation in Western Australia is dictated mostly by REIWA and heavily favours the seller. That said, whilst there are many Real Estate Agents that will uncompromisingly hold you to the contract you have signed we also encounter others who operate in an extremely fair and ethical manner and will negotiate with their client to present you, the buyer, with a fair deal. However, why leave such an important, valuable transaction to chance? Assemble your team early in the buying process and they will represent your interests, empowering you with the correct advice and information to ensure a smooth, hassle free transaction and an ultimately rewarding outcome.

I conclude with a word of caution. Once educated to the many benefits and financial gains that may be obtained by instructing your Settlement Agent to insert clauses within the special conditions section on the REIWA Offer and Acceptance contract it is advisable not to try to swing the pendulum too far back in your favour. It is important to bear in mind that you are purchasing an established property and the majority of these homes will have a degree of maintenance issues which do not affect the value of the property. Whilst presenting power point presentations to our Property Industry Associates we often find that a large number advocate writing a clause into the contract such as “subject to my satisfaction of Building and Timber Pest Reports”. This is unlikely to be accepted by the selling agent, the vendor or their representatives as it can open a ‘Pandora’s box’ of infinite minor problems to be resolved.

We at Cap-It-All believe that everybody should be confident that the home that they are purchasing is safe and recommend that you have clauses inserted into your contract that ensure that the wiring in your roof loft space is in junction boxes, and the smoke alarms and RCDs are compliant with current legislation. You should receive an Electrical Safety Certificate to confirm this. Friable asbestos and mould issues should also be addressed. Swimming pool barriers should be compliant and issues such as leaking roofs, poorly fixed ceilings and unstable outbuildings/attachments etc. should be rectified prior to settlement. It is our intention to lobby Local State Government to follow the lead of many areas of Australia’s Eastern States where the Building and Pest Inspections are completed and available for viewing by prospective purchasers prior to the signing of a contract. We believe this to be a more transparent method which enables buyers to have a vastly improved insight into what will probably be their biggest life purchase.

In the meantime, Happy House Hunting and should you require advice or an inspector to identify any defects and hazards to your health and safety, contact Cap-It-All Building Inspections Perth.

Concrete Compaction – Is it important and how do I know if my slab isn’t adequately compacted?

Compaction of concrete is an important component in the process of laying a concrete slab. If compaction is not carried out as required, a series of defects may become apparent and the concrete slab will suffer from significant loss of strength.
What is compaction of concrete?
Compaction is a process which expels entrapped air from freshly placed concrete and packs the aggregate particles of the concrete mix together, increasing the density of the concrete.

How important is it to compact a concrete slab?
Proper compaction of concrete is essential to maintain the structural integrity of the slab, and to assist the concrete slab in achieving its ultimate strength. Benefits of proper concrete compaction include:

  • Increased ultimate strength of concrete
  • Enhanced bond between concrete and reinforcement
  • Increased abrasion resistance and general durability of concrete
  • Decreased permeability of concrete, lessening the likelihood of concrete spalling (concrete cancer)
  • Minimisation of shrinkage characteristics
  • Minimisation of other forms of cracking

When first placed, normal concretes will contain between 5% and 20% of entrapped air. This entrapped air has a huge effect on the finished strength of the concrete. For example, the strength of concrete containing 10% of entrapped air (air voids) may be as little as 50% that of the concrete when fully compacted.

How is concrete compacted?

Generally there are two types of vibrators common on building sites, immersion vibrators and surface vibrators. Sometimes a combination of the two may be utilised to achieve maximum compaction.

Immersion vibrators are often referred to as ‘poker’ or ‘needle’ vibrators, which is an instrument inserted vertically into concrete as quickly as possible, and then held stationary until air bubbles cease to rise to the surface. The use of an immersion vibrator is a specialist task and should be carried out in a systematic fashion throughout the slab. Failure to carry out this task systematically (i.e. random patterns), may result in areas of the slab being poorly compacted. Immersion vibrators should never come into contact with the reinforcement within a slab, as this may create further air voids.

Surface vibrators are applied to the top surface of the concrete and act downwards from there. The use of a screed also aids in levelling and finishing the surface. There are a number of different surface vibrators available, with their effectiveness varied dependent upon the thickness of the slab. Care should be taken that surface vibrators reach all corners of the formwork, as to ensure that no air voids are created.

How is poor concrete compaction identified?
Many specifications for the placement of concrete state caution against over-vibration of concrete. However, it is under-vibration that is found to be more common and therefore a greater problem when conducting building inspections in Perth.

Your Perth building inspector will understand the processes involved in the placement of concrete and as such will identify signs that your concrete slab has not been adequately compacted. Cracks identified may be the result of poor concrete compaction, or concrete honeycombing may indicate areas where poor compaction is evident.

When cracks are identified during a Perth building inspection they will be reported as per AS 2870, and your building inspector will monitor the cracking throughout the build process to ensure that movement is not prevalent.

When concrete honeycombing is identified during a Perth building inspection, your building inspector will have to make an educated assumption based upon the location and nature of the honeycombing as to whether it is a structural or cosmetic issue. For example, if the honeycombing exposes any reinforcement then it should be rectified to reduce the likelihood of concrete spalling. In all instances of concrete honeycombing identification during a building inspection, monitoring should be undertaken to ensure it is not a result of poor concrete compaction.

At Cap-It-All building inspections Perth we have over 40 years of industry experience, and are well acquainted with building techniques in Perth. For further information on our services including building and pest inspections please visit our website. Alternatively you can visit our Cap-It-All Building Inspections Perth homepage.

Author: Lewis Flatt – Cap-It-All Building Inspections, servicing the Perth Metro Area

Get Your Pre-Purchase Building and Timber Pest Inspection for Free !!

Not many people are aware that the State Government offer a scheme administered by the Department of Commerce called the HBAA (Home Buyers Assistance Account). This scheme offers first home buyers $2,000 to assist them with the incidental expenses of buying a property, such as settlement fees, mortgage registration fees and inspection fees (building and timber pest inspections).


To be eligible for the grant the below criteria must be met:

• You are purchasing an established home for less than $400,000 (this amount is subject to change, please visit the Department of Commerce’ website for up to date figures.

• This is your first purchase of property in Australia (if you are purchasing the property with somebody who has already purchased property within Australia you may be entitled to a part-payment).

• You are purchasing the home through a licensed real estate agent and establishing a mortgage through a lending institution (i.e a bank, building society or credit union).

• You intend to live in the property for a minimum of 12 months after the settlement date (the property cannot be rented out during this time. If there is a lease in place when the property is purchased the lease must expire within 6 months of the settlement date and you must immediately move into the property and reside there for 12 months).

You can obtain an application for the HBAA on the Department of Commerce’ website. The grant will be paid to you in lieu of you purchasing a property, but you must lodge the application within 90 days of your offer to purchase being accepted. The application must be lodged along with a final copy of your Offer and Acceptance contract and a final Settlement Statement (provided by your settlement agent).

Some frequently asked questions:

Q) How long does it take to receive the grant?
A) The grant can take up to 8 weeks to be approved and paid.

Q) Will the grant be paid directly to me?
A) No. The grant will be credited to your lending institution; their policies will dictate where the grant will be credited to.

Q) Is the HBAA the same as the First Home Owners Grant?
A) No. The First Home Owners Grant is separate to the HBAA and you may be entitled to both.

Q) What if my purchase price slightly exceeds $400,000, am I still entitled to the HBAA?
A) No. To be eligible your purchase price must be below $400,000.

Q) Am I still entitled to the HBAA if I have owned an investment property before but never lived in it?
A) No. To be eligible your name must not have been on a property title within Australia.

Q) Does my income affect my eligibility for the grant?
A) No. Income level is not factored in when determining eligibility for the HBAA.
The Home Buyers Assistance Account is a great scheme that helps many first home buyers to cover their incidental expenses including their Building Inspection and Timber Pest Inspection.

To view our services or book an inspection please visit the Cap-It-All Building Inspections Perth website.

Free NCC – Just the beginning of a changing industry

The recent move by the federal government to make the 2015 NCC free to access is just one of many reform agendas that aim to be achieved by 2019. It is estimated that achieving these outcomes will contribute to an additional $1.1 billion per year in productivity, as the Australian Building Codes Board embarks on its ambitious three-year plan.
Author: Lewis Flatt of Cap-It-All Building Inspections Perth – Servicing the Perth Metro Area
Shift to a three-year amendment cycle
Currently the NCC is released annually. The last annual version of the NCC is to be released in 2016, with the 2019 NCC to be the first three-year amendment. It is the 2019 amendment which is the principal target for the Australian Building Codes Board to achieve its desired outcomes.

Greater Focus on Performance requirements
Deemed-to-Satisfy provisions are often met by builders as these are clearly outlined within the National Construction Code. However, many alternative solutions exist in meeting the performance requirements of the NCC. Greater awareness is required by builders and industry practitioners alike in explaining different methods of meeting the performance requirements, as this will encourage greater innovation and flexibility in building. The implementation of this goal will obviously take some time as the mindset will need to change from both builders and regulatory authorities in becoming more accepting of the use of new and innovative materials and practices.

Greater Education
To meet performance requirements and understand the processes in which they will be approved, greater education will be required throughout the industry. Often the primary reason that building professionals are reluctant to propose alternative solutions when designing a build, is the lack of clarity and explanation in what is required to meet a performance requirement. The Australian Building Codes Board intends to provide more publications to industry associations, as well as further information via net-based mediums such as YouTube. By raising greater awareness of our industry and giving greater access of code to practitioners, more productive and innovative outcomes can be met. The NCC will also be reviewed and reformatted to become more internet friendly.

Reduction of state & council based code
Another issue highlighted by the ABCB in using alternative solutions for the NCC is the discrepancy between state & federal legislation, as well as imposed building regulation from local council. Consolidating codes and the removal of unnecessary codes so that builders and practitioners have a ‘one-stop shop’ for codes and standards is deemed essential to ensure that building professionals are educated and confident in proceeding to implement alternative solutions to buildings. Some clauses within the NCC may be removed between now and 2019, whilst others may be changed to reflect more topical information and growing technologies, such as meeting the requirements of energy efficiency. The co-operation of both state and local government is required in achieving this outcome, as productivity will almost certainly rise with the limitation of standards set outside of the NCC.

Review of regulation & acceptable construction practices
The NCC may reference Australian Standards to reach acceptable construction practices of Volume Two. These practices will be reviewed to ensure that the content contained within the standards are still applicable, and that where Australian Standards are referenced, a clear and concise explanation is provided.

Introduction of other codes
The plumbing code was introduced as part of the NCC in 2011. Gas fitting, telecommunications and electrical codes have been suggested as future additions as part of the code, with cross-referencing provided to areas that will be applicable to builders.

Greater consultation
Although the NCC and many other publications are free to access, registration is still required. There are two very important reasons that the Australian Building Codes Board have taken this step:

  • To build up a list of personnel that can be contacted when consultation has begun regarding that efficiency of the code. This will allow small builders and professionals that may have been left out in the past to have greater say in the progression of the building industry.
  • To notify personnel of amendments to building codes, legislation, or Australian Standards. Often it is not feasible for a building professional to keep up-to-date with all relevant changes within the building industry, and this measure will minimise the risk of non-compliant work or practices being undertaken.  

As a building inspector I identify areas of non-compliance in buildings with regular occurrence, and I hope that the latest reforms will include quality assurance measures that can be implemented by builders to sub-contractors.

We believe that current contracts, standards and legislation are still open for dispute, and that if the builder was to provide greater clarity in how the performance requirements were achieved then liability could be passed to the sub-contractor via a sub-contract agreement.

Unfortunately many sub-contract agreements are more general in nature, and as such the sub-contractor does not actually research or receive clarification on the exact processes required for them to comply with the relevant building regulations.

In addition to this, many supervisors are unaware of the areas that they should inspect to ensure that the sub-contractors work is compliant with the specifications. It is this breakdown at ground level that I believe is the main cause of building defects in the new-build sector.

I think the most effective outcome to increase compliance in building would be the ability to separate building design measures and building compliance measures. This could be done in a tick-box method and sent to the various professionals involved.

Cap-It-All building inspections will continue to play a part in building industry roundtable discussions, as well as using our ties within the industry to promote positive change within the building process. To view our services or book an inspection, please visit our Cap-It-All Building Inspections Perth website.

Termites Eating Concrete – Is this possible?

Termite attack is a real problem for residential homes in Perth and stories often emerge of untold damage caused by termites. Whilst studies have accurately identified that the average damage that termite attack causes to a home is $7,000, at what lengths will termites go to cause destruction to your home? It has been speculated that termites are capable of working through concrete in residential buildings, and as such studies were undertaken to see if this is possible.
What has been said about a termite’s ability to forage?
A worker termite’s role is to continue to forage until a food source (preferably moist timber) is found. Termites may also nest in damp conditions, such as under concrete floor slabs of a building, and are notoriously shy creatures. As such termites will forage in areas of concealment such as under floor coverings.

Reports often surface of termites eating timber flooring laid on concrete slabs, and so the CSIRO conducted studies to determine whether termites could in fact ‘eat’ or ‘forage’ through concrete slabs in a residential building. Test cracks were also made through the slabs to determine the minimum size in crack width a termite requires to enter the interior of the building.


What testing was carried out?
Two test slabs were placed in both a tropical climate (near Darwin, NT), and in a semi-arid climate (near Griffith, NSW). Both these locations have a history of aggressive (but different) termite behaviour.

In each location 300mm square by 70mm thick slabs were installed using 20, 15, an 10 MPa concrete. This slab thickness is under the allowable minimum thickness as per AS 2870, being 85mm in our Perth sandy soils. Cracks were located centrally to the slabs and its width fixed by means of a steel plate either side of the crack. The cracks simulated shrinkage or temperature induced cracks which extended the full depth of the slab, ranging in width from 0.4 to 2mm.

The study was undertaken over a three year period, with inspections of the slabs carried out yearly.

What were the results?
It was found that termites required a clear passage of 1.4mm to travel through a concrete slab-on-ground. Concrete slabs constructed in accordance with AS 2870 are generally expected to have crack widths less than 1mm, therefore it is deemed that termites will not be able to forage through concrete slabs as long as they are built in accordance with Australian Standards.

One of the main reasons that the result of the crack sizes were a lot greater than anticipated is that termites had to build their mud tunnels through the crack. This is most likely due to the abrasive sides of concrete not allowing a termite’s soft body to navigate a clear path through, as well as their body temperature not being as regulated as required due to building temperature changes..

It was also noted that the only crack which was physically widened by termites were those in the slab constructed of 8MPa concrete, with concrete poured in Perth generally of 20MPa or greater for a residential building.

As such a residential concrete slab may be considered an adequate barrier for termite protection given that cracks do not widen by more than 1mm, as stated in AS 3660.1. However, certain areas such as slab penetrations for plumbing pre-lay should have additional adequate termite protection.

How will a building inspector assess cracking in residential slabs?
When conducting your slab inspection, generally any cracking will be inspected in accordance with AS 2870. In terms of termite attack, you should ensure that any cracks greater than 1mm are monitored during the build process. An adequately qualified inspector will understand the reason for the cracking, and as such be able to reasonably advise the likelihood of the cracking extending the full depth of the concrete slab. For example, plastic shrinkage cracking may be 1.5mm at the surface, but taper to a point that will not allow termite entry. However, should the crack extend the full depth of the concrete slab your building inspector should report that the cracking is non-compliant in accordance with two building Australian Standards.

At Cap-It-All building inspections Perth we are adequately trained and qualified to conduct building and timber pest (termite) inspections. As such we understand the habits of termites in Perth and also the Australian standards and building provisions that apply to the surrounding building elements. To view more information on termites click here or visit for further information on building, termites, or to book an inspection. 

Author: Lewis Flatt of Cap-It-All Building Inspections Perth – Servicing the Perth Metro Area

Asbestos still being used in Australia – The dangers of importing building products

A recent paper released by the Master Builders Association has highlighted a worrying trend in the non-conformity of building products imported from China. Some recently imported building products have been found to contain asbestos, which poses further need for regulation on importing before another wave of asbestos-related disease and death.
What has been found?
Concerns have been raised by the Master Builders with imported steel and glass products as well as electrical cables. Many other building products have also been found to contain asbestos, such as plasterboard.

Who is responsible?
Unfortunately there is no single system in place which identifies products as being ‘safe’ and ‘fit for purpose’.

Australian border and protection services have said that they are proactive in trying to curb asbestos entering our country, with penalties of up to $170,000 for individuals, $850,000 for companies or three times the value of the goods (whichever is the greater) in place should prosecution be made against importers. However, the Abbott government has conceded that it is unable to guarantee Chinese imports are free of asbestos.

As these faulty supplies are made public to consumers, suppliers are not checking for compliance of items and builders are not seeking the ‘certificate of conformity’ or ‘product certification’ prior to installation of these items.

Therefore, it is apparent that many parties should take a portion of responsibility for allowing these products to be installed, and that the current system needs changing to ensure consumer safety.

What is being done?
Master Builders Queensland recently hosted an industry roundtable to discuss practical and workable solutions to the ongoing problem of non-conforming products. The parliamentary secretary to the federal minister for industry and science the Hon Karen Andrews MP was present, who has the portfolio for non-conforming products in the Abbott government.

The current proposal from the Master Builders is as follows:

  • All products used in regulated building work are assessed against Australian Standards (or equivalent) to a level determined by their risk profile. Hopefully this critical requirement can be undertaken by customs or the like, ensuring that any non-conforming items are kept from being distributed prior to their acquisition by suppliers.
  • All products found to meet the standard are marked in a clear and concise way. There are currently marks available on certain products (such as the watermark used for plumbing products), although unfortunately regulatory supervision is often patchy.
  • The product assessments can be verified and are audited.
  • The system is monitored and enforced by a single government agency. The new model occupational safety legislation in all states and territories with the exception of Victoria and Western Australia clearly allows for criminal prosecutions, although no-one is yet to be prosecuted. With government agency monitoring, if suppliers / builders or the like installed non-conforming products knowing that compliance marking was not obtained, I would expect criminal prosecutions were both more likely and deserved.
  • The system is funded by manufacturer’s by way of an industry-wide levy. This may not be favourable to suppliers and further investigation may be required, although our initial thoughts are that if the levy could be offset by reduced insurance premiums as an added layer of protection has been added by government, then this may be viewed as a positive measure.
  • Product recall insurance is required for all manufacturer’s/retailers of high risk products operating in the Australian market.
  • Retailers would be required to keep a register of all high risk products sold. This would reduce the risk of consumer’s ‘slipping through the cracks’ and providing greater protection. We believe that the additional labour required by suppliers for ensuring this quality assurance could be part-funded by government, as savings will be made due to the advertising of product recalls no longer required.
  • Section A2.1 of the National Construction Code should be amended to provide greater certainty regarding compliance options.

All the above points have their merits and we hope will be considered. What is apparent is that there is a need for change given that these products have been allowed into our country in the first place, and that priority should be given to this issue to prevent more non-conforming products installed in our buildings.

How do I know if a non-conforming product is used in my home?
Sadly it is not always apparent that a product is faulty and may take time before recalls are issued, as apparent with the recent recall of infinity electrical cabling that could cause house fires and electrocution to occupants within their homes.

It is important that your inspector is able to identify known recalled products and if any concerns arise, make the appropriate recommendations such as lab testing. Cap-It-All building inspections are accredited in asbestos identification and we familiarise ourselves with recalled products to give ourselves the best chance of identifying faulty or potentially dangerous products whilst conducting your inspections.

For further information on asbestos click here, or to view further information on building inspections Perth

Author: Lewis Flatt of Cap-It-All Building Inspections – Servicing the Perth Metro Area