Buying an apartment? Follow this checklist prior to closing the deal

March 17, 2015


Buying property can be stressful. Whether it’s your first home or your fifth investment property, there are important steps to take to ensure you’re getting exactly what you paid for.

Take the example of Daniel and Jane – a young Sydney couple who learned the hard way. For their first home, they settled on purchasing a 2 bedroom apartment in Coogee – nestled on the coast in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs. In an art-deco block – like many surrounding it – Daniel and Jane were charmed by the apartments ornate plasterwork and high ceilings. 

A couple of months after moving in, the pair discovered a host of issues with the building. After a big storm they found that the roof was leaking; there were plumbing problems causing calcium leak and mould under the kitchen sink; and rusting steel structure supports were causing concrete cracks and cancer.

Regretfully, the couple hadn’t followed all the necessary steps to properly research the building’s history – and were now faced with the structural problems of a heritage property.

To avoid this sort of misfortune, there are some key things to ensure you check-off prior to purchasing your next property:

Personally check the building for visible issues

Before buying any property, it’s imperative that you check for any visible damage. Be sure to walk around inside the property, the garage (if there is one) and the outside of the building. Having a second pair of eyes is always helpful, too – so take along a trusted friend or family member. Someone with knowledge in trades, building or previous property purchases is especially helpful.

Things to check for:

Cracks in walls;

Visible pipes that are rusting or cracked;

Windows not opening and closing properly; windows rotting;

Sagging ceilings or floors;

Buckling floorboards;

Plumbing is working soundly;

Guttering and drainage is all smooth; and

Any mould or dampness on walls, ceilings or floors.

Head to this page: concrete cancer and spalling repair 

Organise an independent pre-purchase property inspection report

Without one of these, there is a high chance you will run into expensive problems down the track. Under NSW law you are entitled to have a report conducted before exchanging contracts.

This report will include any existing problems in the building – including rising damp, movement in the structure, cracking walls, concrete cancer and hazardous roofing. If left untreated, these issues can cause major damage and expensive repairs.

Failing to repair concrete cancer (cracking) – for example – can compromise the integrity of a building structure, making it hazardous and potentially unsafe to live in. Definitely not ideal for a recent buyer!

Should the report find major problems, you can potentially negotiate a lower price for the property; or walk away from the purchase knowing there’ll be hefty costs in future.

Consider a plumbing report

Just as the property inspection report should be conducted by a certified builder, surveyor or architect, of equal importance is a plumbing report by a certified plumber.

Sydney’s suburbs are dotted with older buildings from the 40’s to the 80’s. Many of these come with old plumbing that needs maintenance. Calcium leaking from pipes, rusting plumbing and worn out systems can result in costly repairs, not to mention the potential health hazard they present.

A plumbing report will give you information on the age and state of the building’s plumbing system, as well as the fixtures and fittings inside your apartment.

Ask the strata manager for a work report

Asking the strata manager to provide a report of all work they have organised or completed on the property in the last two years works to tell you two things.

Firstly, it provides insight into strata management planning and reporting. The level of detail in the report and its response times will give insight into their work ethic and overall organisation. Secondly, it will show the amount of work they have done on the building. Both of these indicate their level of care for the building and how they deal with issues when they arise. 

What this boils down to is not only taking into account this information – but seriously considering whether you would be happy owning an apartment under strata management in the first place. Without competent strata management, there is potential for costly building issues down the track.

To avoid a similar misfortune to Daniel and Jane, be sure to research properly before purchasing property. Avoid DIY conveyancing, know the ins and outs of your contract if buying off the plan, and familiarise yourself with laws that will affect you. You can read more about the Home Building Amendment Act here.

Ensuring your new home is safe and sound will set you up for a secure future.

The above article was written for our blog by the team at Andersal, a Sydney based waterproofing and concrete repair contractor.


This website provides general information only. Nothing on this site should be taken to comprise legal advice or used as a substitute for detailed and competent legal advice. While the information contained in this website is believed to be accurate and current, it is provided by CM Lawyers in good faith on an “as is” basis. CM Lawyers, its directors, officers or employees make no representation or warranty as to the reliability, accuracy or completeness of the information contained on this website, and none of them accept any responsibility arising in any way (including negligence) for errors in, or omissions from, the information contained in this website.


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