A Question for Those Who Are Knowledgeable about Building repair/maintenance

Hi all,

There is this property which I am considering making an offer on, which has some visible water damage to the the underside of the balcony. It's a double story freestanding strata property.

The damage is quite similar to the following photo, but it has covered almost one/fifth of the balcony, mostly to the furthest diagonal distance from the gutter.


The damage seems to be only limited to the balcony itself, no visible damage to the internal walls adjacent to the balcony area. No skirting walls getting detached from the walls etc. However, there could obviously be some non-visible damage inside the walls, e.g. mould, fungus etc.

I haven't nominated a building inspector yet. I am wondering if I should be looking for a building inspector with a particular moisture/mould diagnostic equipment?

What should I ask them about their experience/equipment etc.?

Thank you,


  • +3

    Newbie from 10 minutes ago and does not know how to use google search engine.

    As per the title where is the maintenance?

  • +4

    Welcome to Ozbargain. We are very pleased to be able to welcome you. The next OzEngineer will be with you shortly.

  • Depends on who you ask.

    a) flood restoration expert
    b) insurance builder
    c) pre purchase building inspection

    a) Will generally carry moisture probes and measures by default. Generally they can quickly access large quantities to air movers and de-humidifiers. If not look for somebody else
    b) They'll just replace the whole plaster ceiling. Patch and paint to match
    c) From a liability point, if theres mould present, they'll refer you to get a laboratory sample

    • If its a strata building then probably up to strata to address

      I would contact the strata agent first and ask who is responsible for this repair - owner or strata?

      However having inspected the photo

      This is just blistering of paint because its old paint and outside in the weather
      Nothing more (i.e.No water damage)

      Just scrape loose paint off, seal and repaint
      Done deal

      • It could be blistering because the sheeting is frequently wet. Painting won’t fix it.

  • +25

    Here is my report - same quality as a building inspector but cheaper:

    No visible damage(1,2). Condition appropriate for it's age.

    (1) We were unable to access area to inspect
    (2) We have no responsibility even if it's stuffed.

    I also learnt from building inspectors the importance of cut and paste, so have stored this comment for any further questions you may have.

  • +1

    I am wondering if I should be looking for a building inspector with a particular moisture/mould diagnostic equipment?

    Not really, any building inspector will have the tools (moisture meter) and the understanding of common moisture issues. You don't have to find a 'moisture specialist' to be able to point out issues.

    Side note, a building inspector is limited in what they can inspect as they can't remove walls/plaster to see behind it during the inspection, so a lot of what they will point out will be disclaimers, e.g. 'there could be termite damage to the wood but we don't know because there is plaster covering it.'

    • Thanks for the input. I guess asking for an invasive inspection is the only way to be sure…

  • +1

    Define "water damage to underside"? Is it in the middle of the roof (i.e potential sagging low point)? Or is around the edges (i.e could just be water running back off the lip and underneath, which is pretty common)? Is the damage mould, or just white chalky looking?

    • It's in the middle of the ceiling underside of the balcony. White chalky looking. I will try to be present during the inspection myself and take a couple of photos.

    • The damage is quite similar to the following photo, but it has covered almost one/third of the underside of the balcony.


      • I mean….that sounds pretty damn bad!!!! Sounds like a deal breaker to me, That's a lot of water damage

        My parents house (standalone) had the balcony literally fall off the house because the water damage had rotted the structural beams, but nothing was particularly visible

        • Oh wow, that's bad. Assuming they rebuild the balcony, how much did they had to spend to build another balcony?

          Also, was the balcony cantilever? Or was it supported by (two) columns?

      • It is most likely a water proofing issue and water/moisture making its way through and showing as the bubbling paint.

        But I am pretty sure this should be a strata issue not the owner's responsibility. Have you tried contacting strata?

        • I am not the owner of the property yet so body corporate wouldn't answer to me.
          However, this is a freestanding house, and the maintenance is most probably the lot owners' reasonability.

          • @MadeFromSnowFlake: Although most strata plans and their by-laws may differ, even if the property is a free standing house, as long as it is part of the strata plan/building complex, the balcony would still be considered common property. Just like the front door of the house.

            For any water leak issues, you would also contact strata/building management so that they can organise repairs for you.

  • +5

    There must be a sign somewhere on the Internet directing all enquiries to OzBargain?

    OzBargain, why use Google when our talented team of posters know the answer to everything?

    • +1

      Move along, nothing to bargain here…. Sorry nothing to help with that DR google can't help with…

      100% agree, seen to be getting allot of posts where people have not done any searching or reading before posting.

  • +1

    Is this a freestanding house or a unit complex? What is the balcony made from (timber or concrete)?
    Photo of the damage would be helpful

    • Freestanding. It's timber

    • The damage is quite similar to the following photo, but it has covered almost one/fifth of the balcony especially around the area where columns meet the balcony.


  • +4

    Take it to Court and you'll get the fine thrown out by the Judge.

    Wait what

  • Can’t see it, can’t help much. Water damage ranges from marks on paint to rotten timber and collapsing footings. Can be from a once off storm to every time it rains or leaking pipes.

    I recently repaired a veranda post that looked OK, but had the top half metre hollow inside. Water had been dripping on it for a long time.

    • The damage in in the middle of the ceiling underside of the balcony. White chalky looking. I will try to be present during the inspection myself and take a couple of photos. :)

    • The damage is quite similar to the following photo, but it has covered almost one/third of the balcony.


      • I’m not an expert. That looks like the cement sheeting has been wet and the paint has blistered off. Unfortunately without seeing the structure, it is impossible to tell if the structure is damaged, just that it has been wet. It could be a little bit wet, enough to blister paint and then dry out. It could be waterproofing failing and letting in a little water or it could be running water pooling in there affecting beams.

  • +1

    I have seen a lot of balconies on newish properties being rebuilt, especially on cheaper builds

    • That's what I am concerned about. It's only 7 years old.

      Having said that, it's not a cantilever balcony and is supported by two columns. Less likely to fall?!

  • just look and see if theres water building up in the wall

  • Aren't balconies common property? Look at the strata reports and see what work has been done.

    • It is indeed a strata property, but a standalone double story house. Not quite sure if the balcony is considered common property in this case?

      I have engaged a company to prepare a comprehensive strata report for the property. Things should be more clear then,

  • how old is the home?

    • 7 years

      • so no more builder's warranty?
        is it the balcony ceiling that has had water damaged or the balcony floor?

        • Balcony ceiling, mostly around the area the two columns meet the balcony underside. (there are two columns holding the balcony)

          Yes the builders warranty must have run off by now.

          It's strange why they have left things to become damaged though, the property surely has insurance? But then again the property has always been tenanted, that might be the reason.

          • @MadeFromSnowFlake: it may not have been reported by tennants.
            I reckon the ceiling is maybe hiding more roof water damage. Is it a tiled roof?

            • @godofpizza: Yep, tiled.

              The damage seems to have mostly occurred in the furthest diagonal distance to the gutter.

  • If teneted there was probably little care about maintenance. Looks like water ingress and has sat at the lowest spots in the ceiling under balcony which is possibly cement sheet, and being constantly damp the paint has failed. Being 7 years old this may be easily fixable and not severe damage to the timber yet BUT unless you can see the deck structural timber you won’t know. When inspecting the property go out on the deck and try to see where the water may be getting in, look for rot at any spot, bounce, jump up and down and try and feel any movement.

  • balconies should be waterproofed especially if above a room but no one really does it anymore as its an easy corner to cut.

    So the water will cause concrete cancer, chalky cement that is porous and will eventually need fixing. Might be 6 months, might be 5 years but 100% will need fixing. Spraying a water proofer on the balcony will delay it a bit but by how much is unknown.

    Correct way to fix it is jack hammer the concrete and replace the rebar that is rusted. Concrete it back up, waterproof membrane (different to spray on chemical sealer) then tile/grout if it had it before. remove chalky cement from underside, prime and paint.

    7 years might be touch and go for builders insurance and a lot of them will cancel their abn and make a new one to get out of it.

    Min cost would be 5k for a tiny balcony, like 2x2m. But even if there is no builders insurance its a strata issue since its structure/original fixture so it will come from sinking or special levies. Bad news is if 1 has it they all have it and you will eventually pay for others on the lot.

    every unit built in the last 20 years has this issue. When looking for a strata property look at the top level, if it has a pergola or is enclosed there is less chance of this problem, finding one is a needle in a haystack.

    Source: had nearly 1m worth of this work done on unit block before. Fixed a wall that had a broken down pipe, result was similar but the rebar was ok.

    Anything I missed, I dont know.

  • -1

    You should be asking a "professional" to conduct a full report. Don't tell me you are contemplating spending hundreds of thousands on a property, you have not even had properly appraised?
    The entire issue is ROT. Where is this water coming from. Has it rotted the inner structure, foundations, etc?
    But then I suspect you are to rent it out… and once the occupants become sick bc of the mould, you will act dumb.

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