To make sure your new building work remains trouble-free, it is important you take the time to understand how to maintain your home and keep the relevant records.
Keeping records is important
It’s important to keep all relevant records as you build or renovate. Types of records you should keep:
- a copy of the building contract and any variations for the work
- any plans or specifications that go with the contract
- proof of all payments made on the project
- Certificate of insurance under the Home Building Compensation Fund (HBCF) (if the work cost is more than $20,000, including GST, unless exempt) You can find out more about the HBC Scheme and check if you're covered at www.sira.nsw.gov.au
- other relevant insurance policies
- any additional written warranties or guarantees by the builder or by manufacturers of materials or items supplied by the builder
- a copy of the warranty and/or instruction sheet regarding any anti-termite protection work
- contracts and relevant warranties for any other associated work carried out by contractors other than the principal builder (eg. landscaper, pool builder)
- relevant samples or documents identifying types or brands of main building materials used (eg. kitchen door facings/kitchen bench tops)
- any building, soil, geotechnical reports by the builder, engineer, architect, etc
- any care-and-maintenance manuals provided by the builder and any principal contract for associated work
- all correspondence relating to the building work
- a list of all important phone numbers
- a list of all important dates (e.g. contract and completion date).
Defects and warranties
Closely inspect the finished project and list any items of concern. Contracts for new homes come with a warranty known as the ‘defects and liability period’ (usually 13 weeks for new homes).
Ask your builder for more detail, as the period covered can vary from builder to builder. If you find items of concern, let the builder know in writing and keep a copy. Legally, it’s the contractor’s responsibility to make sure the work is free of major defects for six years after the work is completed and two years for all other defects
Every new house built must be fitted with working and appropriately located smoke alarms that meet Australian Standard 3786. An alarm should be placed on the ceiling in a corridor or area between sleeping and living areas. A smoke alarm is also required in any other storey of the same building, even if it does not contain bedrooms.
Drying out the house
New building materials contain moisture that will eventually dry out. Small cracks may show in brick, timber and plaster-lined areas in the first 12 months. This should not affect the structural reliability but check with an independent building expert if you are unsure about larger cracks or any structural movement.
Minor cracking in a typical brick veneer home will not affect the structural reliability of the building.
To maintain the brickwork on your property:
- stabilise moisture content in and around clay sites by adequate drainage
- make sure trees are planted away from the house
- repair plumbing leaks
- keep a record of the width of any large cracks. If you are unsure about whether or not to be concerned about particular cracks, contact your licensed builder or a structural engineer.
Doors and windows
To maintain your doors and windows:
- tighten any loose screws
- oil or dry lubricate rollers, hinges, locks
- check that doors close properly and their locks work
- clean sliding-door and window tracks.
Provide more ventilation and heating or sunlight to walls with mildew problems and ensure roof and sub-floor wall vents are not blocked.
Kitchen, bathroom, laundry
To maintain your kitchen, bathroom and/or laundry:
- check care instructions for all surfaces – ie. no excessive heat or weight
- regularly clean exhaust fans and clean taps, shower rose and spouts
- replace and maintain tap washers as necessary.
Roof, gutters, drains
Regularly clean gutters, downpipes and drains to remove leaves, silt or other blockages. If you have any concerns, always use a contractor licensed to carry out roof repairs.
The security of your home is important, you should consider:
- installing deadlocks on windows and doors
- fitting lamps with timers to switch on periodically in your absence
- installing an alarm system or movement sensors to activate lights.
To maintain the grounds of your property:
- guide water drainage away from the house
- ensure adequate drainage of excess water from property to stormwater channels
- place garden beds away from the house walls
- if planting trees with large root systems, keep them well away from house foundations and sewer/stormwater pipes
- slope paths away from the house
- check council requirements for any pools or fencing.