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Structural defect, 9 year old house
Is there anything I can do?

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#1 Jellyblush

Posted 15 December 2012 - 08:14 PM

Hiya. I'm in Victoria and the very chuffed owner of a townhouse, built in 2003.

Since I moved in a couple of months ago the front door has shifted down and now scraps on the floorboards, which have become very damaged as a result. Front door is metal. Above front door two large cracks have appeared from the top corners.

I had my general handyman have a look. He says he can't fix it, it is structural (I don't even know what that means?!) and told me to look into the builders insurance.

I did this, but it seems it only lasts 6 years. My place is 9 years old.

I'm a bit lost as to where to next. Does anyone have any suggestions? Would it require a builder to fix it? Could this be claimed on my own home insurance? Anyone?


#2 Illiterati

Posted 15 December 2012 - 08:35 PM

Just bought it? Did you have  a building inspection done? If so look into what guarantees they may have.

#3 Illiterati

Posted 15 December 2012 - 08:38 PM

Also is it part of a strata title? There may be a sinking fund for such things.

#4 Jellyblush

Posted 15 December 2012 - 08:41 PM

Yes - I did have a pre purchase inspection, and come to think of it, they do offer a guarantee should it be a structural defect. Thank you for thinking of that! It was through Archicentre who I think are reputable.

It isn't strata - what is a sinking fund?!

#5 Mousky

Posted 15 December 2012 - 08:48 PM

Engage the services of a structural engineer.

I had an architect draw up plans for an extension, there were major problems. I called a structural engineer who couldnt beleive the mistakes he made (including drawing in the load bearing beam where there already were roof trusses that cant be moved).

Good luck.

#6 BabyHopeful

Posted 15 December 2012 - 08:56 PM

We have had a few cracks appear since the earthquakes recently. I wonder if they've played a part in it?

#7 Jellyblush

Posted 15 December 2012 - 09:37 PM

Oh, maybe! That would be frustrating, as this will be expensive to fix and no guarantee or home insurance will cover any of it if it is due to a natural disaster.

#8 Jellyblush

Posted 16 December 2012 - 09:35 AM

Oh cr@p!

Thanks for your story Tamm. Sounds like I should get onto it sooner rather than later.

Does anyone know a good structural engineer in Melbourne?!

#9 katpaws

Posted 16 December 2012 - 09:56 AM

Check out the builder's website. I know of one builder that says "guaranteed 10 year structural warranty" (although i would not trust that builder but that is another long story). Some builders may have longer warranties etc.

Do you have access to the building documents ie plans and contracts? Also, contact your state's Consumer Affairs dept.

#10 Jellyblush

Posted 16 December 2012 - 10:05 AM

Thanks - I don't actually know who the builder is, as I am the second owner. I might be able to contact the council to find out...

#11 katpaws

Posted 16 December 2012 - 10:13 AM

Maybe the real estate agent you bought the place through? I would have thought that with a purchase of a new build (even as the second owner) you would have received all the documentation about the build?

Maybe the Building Commission can help?

#12 Jellyblush

Posted 16 December 2012 - 10:57 AM

Hi Katpaws, sorry, I meant third owner if the builder is the first - i.e. the people I bought it from bought it from the builder.

Real estate is a good idea, and I will also try the council. Thanks for your help.

#13 Lifesgood

Posted 16 December 2012 - 11:21 AM

Before you worry too much...

Our house shifts all the time, cracks appear and doors get sticky, then it all shifts back, the cracks close up etc. It isn't structural for our house, it is because we are on a clay base and depending on how wet/dry/hot it has been the clay shrinks or expands and foundations shift a little. It's annoying, but not worrying.

So get a couple of opinions and also check with your neighbours - both withing your townhouse complex and separate properties. If they are having similar issues it is less likely to be structural.

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