If you are building a new home in WA another important construction inspection on the construction journey is the “Lock Up (and waterproofing)” inspection.
1 What are We Talking About?
Once the builder has reached the “lock up” stage – i.e. the building is capable of being physically locked up (i.e. all the doors and windows are installed and property can be secured) a variety of key construction items should be completed and the builder may be seeking a further progress payment.
There is a range of items at this stage of the construction which should be capable of being inspected. These can include:
- All doors and windows have been installed and can be physically locked
- Ceilings and cornices have all been installed correctly
- Ceilings have been back blocked where required.
- Internal walls have been rendered and white set plaster applied correctly
- Plaster reveals have been constructed correctly
- Power points, light switches and gas point locations can all be established
- Cabinetry has been installed
- Brickwork is clean
- Waterproofing to wet areas has been completed, tiling has not yet commenced
- Screed/floor falls to drains in showers, bathrooms, wet areas and balconies is correct and to Code
2 When do We do the Lock Up (and Waterproofing) Inspection?
The Lock Up inspection should be conducted when the waterproofing has been laid but no tiling has commenced and the majority of the above construction items have been completed.
Given the amount of issues we see associated with ineffective waterproofing, we would suggest that it is important that we can inspect the completed waterproofing on the property, prior to the tiles being laid. At Houspect, we see this as being one of the most critical components of the “lock up and waterproofing” stage inspection. It is critical to note that generally there is only 1 – 3 days between when the waterproofing is applied to the wet areas and prior to the tiling commencing. It is very important that we inspect the property during this small window so as to ensure that the waterproofing has been applied correctly.
It is important to note that as the property is now capable of being locked, the Lock Up inspection will need to be coordinated between your Builder/Site Supervisor and your Houspect Building Inspector ensuring that access to the property is available at the nominated inspection time.
3 What is Inspected During the Lock Up Inspection?
Like many of the previous construction stage inspections, your Houspect Building Inspectors have a detailed checklist of construction items that they need to review. Essentially, we want to review every key component that has been added to the construction since the previous inspection to determine if there are any construction defects or omissions when compared to the Construction Plans, Building Code of Australia or Australian Standards.
It is important to understand that some of the construction work will no longer be visible at future construction stages so it is important that a thorough inspection is undertaken of all components which are still visible.
A key understanding to note, is that each construction is unique and just because a particular item may not have been completed when your inspection is undertaken, this does not mean that this is a defect or an omission. The build will progress as trades are available and while one item may be slightly behind schedule, other items may be ahead of schedule. In short, a degree of flexibility on all parties may be required. What is important is that by the time the control of the property is handed back to you, all construction must be completed and completed correctly.
The outcome of a Lock Up is a detailed report with photos which articulate all of our findings. In short, the report aims to identify items that the builder should address prior to the next inspection. Our Lock Up inspection reports are provided to our clients to enable them to review and consider prior to passing on to their builder for remediation work to be undertaken.
4 Why is it Important?
As with all stage construction inspections it is important to inspect the construction at all stages of the construction as the build progresses, especially as subsequent construction stages may in fact cover components of previous construction stages.
Further, if any notable items are identified, it is important that these are addressed as soon as possible so as not to delay the practical Completion Inspection (PCI) and the eventual handover of the property back to the homeowner.
5 So What is the Issue?
Lock Up inspections require a significant volume of construction items to be reviewed in a relatively short time. Building inspectors with a minimum of 20 years’ experience bring considerable skills and expertise to a Lock up inspection and simply look at new constructions through a different lens.
The following are recent examples that we found during Lock Up inspections in WA over the past few months in 2017.
5.1 White Set Plaster is Rough and Uneven
5.2 Power Points Missing
5.3 Door and Frame have Not Been Sealed to Prevent Damage
5.4 Window Sills have Not Been Sealed
5.5 Gaps in Plaster
5.6 Render to Window Heads is Rough and Uneven
5.7 Weepholes Not Installed as Required by BCA
5.8 Ceiling Uneven at Control Joint
5.9 Cracking to White Set Plaster
5.10 Outward Opening Doors Require Fixed Pin Hinges for Security Reasons
5.11 Damage to Down Pipes Caused During Brick Cleaning
5.12 1) Waterproofing Missing to the End of the Bath 2) Waterproofing has Gaps and is Defective
6 What is the Immediate Solution for People Building a New Home?
The simple solution is to conduct your Lock Up inspection with the support of a Houspect Building Inspector. Armed with the approved Construction Plans, Engineers Plans, a good knowledge of the Building Code of Australia, the Australian Standards and many years of experience, your Houspect Building Inspector can review the work undertaken on your new home so that you can be assured that the overall construction is progressing in accordance with the Builders obligations.
7 What Happens if Your Builder will not Respond to Construction Defects?
This should be a rare experience. Quality WA Builders are in business to deliver quality product to their clients, those that don’t, simply do not last in business. Our experience is that when a Builder is provided with a written report identifying construction items which are inconsistent with the Contract, Plans, Building Code or Australian Standards they will move to remediate as quickly as possible. There will on occasions be “grey” areas, but in the main these will represent a minority of construction items.
In the rare event that a Builder does not address construction defects in WA, there are a number of avenues that home owners can take to have the issues resolved. Houspect WA is able to support home owners by providing independent expert reports to support matters through Mediation, the WA Building Commission, State Administrative Tribunal and or WA Magistrate Court. While all of these options should be considered the absolute last resort, it is important that you know that your Building Inspector can support you through to the natural conclusion if required.
- The Lock Up inspection is an important inspection during the construction of your home. It should be completed once the waterproofing has been applied but before the tiles have been laid.
- The various construction items listed above should be capable of being inspected
- A very small window of opportunity exists for inspecting Waterproofing, prior to the tiles being laid and obscuring the waterproof layer.
- You should aim to undertake a thorough inspection of the entire property during a Lock Up inspection. Your Building Inspector can provide you with significant assistance during this process.
- It is not unusual to find a number of items during the Lock Up inspection. These items should be able to be resolved by the Builder prior to the next major construction stage inspection – the PCI inspection.
Lock Up inspections are an important part of your construction journey. Houspect WA conducts a large number of construction inspections every week, including Lock Up inspections. Our Building Inspectors, all of whom are independently registered WA Builders with a minimum of 20 years’ experience, can provide you with significant support during the important Lock Up process and beyond.
Build, Buy, Invest in property with confidence.