Watch Out! Hidden Costs when Buying Property

So, you have just bought your new house or apartment. Great! Congrat’s.

You’ve had to pay a bunch of money towards the deposit, stamp duty, Solicitor fees and don’t forgot moving costs.  Your bank account is drained. It needs to take a break.


You move in and bang, the drains overflow, there is mould build up in the cupboard, the taps leak…

A house or apartment has many hidden maintenance costs that buyers are unaware. Many costs are in the thousands to fix or remedy.

When you have just moved into your new home, it’s the last thing you want to worry about.

This is where a lot of property buyers who get caught out after purchasing their home. After moving in, they discover appliances don’t work or there is a bad leak in the shower. If you were renting the property, then you’ll just call the property manager to get it fixed.

Now that you own the property it’s too late, it’s your problem!

The hidden costs of buying a property

There is a long list of hidden costs when buying a house or apartment. Here is a brief list –

  • Blocked drains
  • Leaking showers
  • Cracked and leaking bath tubs
  • Leaking roofs
  • The taps and toilet leak
  • You check closely in the cupboards and there is mould
  • You find asbestos in the house
  • The air conditioner unit blows up
  • Hot water system blows up
  • Dodgy wiring
  • Pool maintenance costs
  • Landscaping maintenance costs

Hot Water system

For me, the No. 1 item that needs to be replaced when I buy a property is the hot water system.

For some reason it’s the appliance that blows up just after purchase.

Depending on the size of the hot water system, this could be a $1,200 to $1,500 outlay straight away. But how do you properly test the H.W.S, and all the appliances in the house for that matter, during a 15 – 30 minute open for inspection?

The answer is you can’t, so it’s best to have a renovation budget or contingency. (I might add, the appliances usually get tested by a building inspector during an inspection, however, the inspector usually only tests to see if the appliance works by turning the appliance on/off!)

Asbestos (house)

After I purchased my home, I found asbestos in and around the home. This was a surprise given I did a building inspection. The building inspector either didn’t detect it or didn’t report it to me.

My house was built in the 1940’s and has a double brick exterior so the likelihood of asbestos is low. However, during renovation works to the house, we found asbestos in eaves roof linings and the kitchen flooring.

I was informed by a roofing expert that asbestos was used widely for the eave linings. In fact, most houses built around that era have it, but many people are unaware. Unless there is a roof leak or storm damage, most people just aren’t concerned about their eaves to notice.

Another surprise we got was when we wanted to renovate the kitchen floor. Underneath a layer of old vinyl flooring were vinyl tiles glued to the timber floorboards. We figure it was easy enough to pull up the vinyl tiles before sanding and polishing the timber boards underneath.

It was one of the flooring contractors who came to give us a quote who alerted us to the asbestos. He was very experienced and thank goodness he was otherwise we’d be exposed to asbestos. We had the vinyl tiles tested by an asbestos company and it came up positive.

Along with the building and pest inspection, it’s worthwhile doing an asbestos assessment so you are fully area.

This was a very costly hidden cost to buying a property.

Hidden Swimming Pool costs

Never owned a pool? Or had to maintain one?

If you never had to maintain a pool before, then you won’t realise how much time and money it takes. There are hidden costs of buying a house with a swimming pool but here are a couple of tips.

Make sure the pool comes with a pool cleaner or have your Solicitor specify it in the sales contract. If it’s not in the contract then the owner ‘may’ decide to take it with them to their next property. After you move in and you suddenly realise you don’t have a pool cleaner (because the previous owner took it), it’s going to burn $300 – $1,500 from your pocket straight away.

It’s also a good idea to get the pool equipment tested prior to buying the house.

Pool equipment parts are expensive and sometimes the pool shop won’t carry parts for an old pool filter. Get the pool equipment checked out before you buy or settle on the property. This is easily overlooked when the main concern is the house.

So my advice is;

  • Set aside a chunk of money in your budget for renovation works
  • Get proper renovation quotes (before you buy the property) for any hidden costs you or your building inspect uncover
  • Get an asbestos assessment done by a professional asbestos testing company
  • If your new house has a pool, get a professional in to check the pool filter and equipment

In my experience, you will generally only discover hidden costs after you move in. It’s a total bugger.

But if you have a renovation budget at least you are prepared.

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