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What Is Concrete Cancer?

From the outlook, concrete looks like something that will last for good. However, this is not the case, especially if it has not been taken care of or adequately developed. After some time, concrete can deteriorate, and as it does, its uprightness decreases. This is what is referred to as concrete cancer. It can be hazardous if neglected. So what is concrete cancer exactly?

The word cancer is not associated with anything nice, and the same goes with concrete cancer. Concrete cancer is any defects found in concrete that can cause it to become weak and put the building’s architectural support in danger.

Reasons Why Concrete Fails

Rust is the primary thing that causes concrete cancer. Concrete is protected by metal, meaning humidity and air can compromise the metal causing rust. When the metal starts rusting, it enlarges. Specifically speaking, concrete is not elastic, and cracks begin to emerge if it moves. Humidity and air can further get into these cracks, and concrete begins to deteriorate and fragment. Salt hastens the rusting process, so buildings along the coastline are more susceptible to concrete cancer due to salt in the air.

Concrete can also fail because of shoddy workmanship. Concrete is not all made the same. The measure of water, cement, sand and overall combination has to be correct. If you put too much or too little of any component of concrete it could become problematic in the future. Most people who like doing DIY are not aware that even the wrong type of sand can be problematic. Improper sealing also progresses the threat of concrete cancer.

Concrete cancer happens gradually over time. The work might look as if it is well done even after a few years. However, this may change when the property needs to be sold ten years down the line. When building inspections are done a building inspector will be able to quickly identify these issues.

How Do You Tell You Have Concrete Cancer?

If you are conducting property inspections or are looking to purchase a property, below are the main things you should look out for:

  • Rust stains that are reddish-brown near gaps in concrete or which appear to ooze out of the gaps
  • Concrete that appears to be strangely lifting out
  • Gaps with dampness discharge that form something like white crystals
  • Concrete erosion
  • Trickles indirectly above concrete exterior
  • Fizzing of concrete render
  • Concrete erosion restoration

Concrete erosion happens when humidity penetrates concrete making it peel, chip or protrude. Can concrete erosion be repaired? Yes. But only if you catch it in the early or medium stages. When caught early, the impacted areas can be secluded, the corroded metal changed, and the gaps filled. Or else, if the concrete erosion is overlooked, the building may be run down, or the repairs will make a massive dent in your pocket. Concrete cancer patching up is all about doing repairs as soon as they are discovered.

Should you buy a property that shows signs of concrete cancer?

Do not be in a hurry to write off a property that shows visible signs of concrete cancer. Get a professional inspector to assess the property and tell you how severe the concrete cancer is. After this, get cost estimates of all the repairs that will need to be done. A small area with concrete cancer will not cost you much in terms of repairs. If concrete cancer is widespread, then it will cost you a lot of money. Here is where you decide in line with your financial objectives.

What if the property is an apartment or a unit?

Unfortunately, when the property is an apartment or a unit, the building inspectors cannot check the whole building. Concrete cancer may be present in the property and that may impact the unit you are about to purchase. Moreover, it may also impact your safe building space usage.

In such a case, it is advisable to ask for property strata documentation and strata meeting minutes dating back ten years. Go through the information thoroughly to see if there were any clues as to the state of the building.

How To Deal With Concrete Cancer

Dealing with concrete issues prevents humidity from reaching the metal. This will stop rust and enlargement from occurring. Naturally, if the structure has been put up correctly, to begin with, then this is less probable to occur.

The tips below should be followed if you wish to prevent it from happening or if you detect early signs of concrete cancer.

Moisture proofing

Ensuring your concrete has a good coating of the moisture-proofing membrane should be the first thing you do. This is simple to do for grounds and interior walls where it will be protected. The downside is you cannot do this to the exterior of your property.

Gap filling

It is important to check your property on a routine basis. If any gaps are visible, ensure they are filled up immediately. This will block out moisture from getting to your metal. If you are unsure you can ask a professional to do this.


It is recommended that you waterproof your concrete regularly. This protects your metal as moisture does not seep through the cracks.

Water seepage

Last but not least, ensure that you have no stagnant water surrounding your concrete. Be on the lookout for any indication of leaking water into or out your concrete.

Risks For Purchasers

As much as structures along the coastlines, beaches, etc., are prone to concrete cancer because of being exposed to salty water winds or water sprays from the ocean, rapidly expanding areas have a record of trying to cut costs leading to the emergence of concrete cancer. Old town office buildings from the 1960s to the 1980s with vast concrete have a higher risk of showing concrete cancer.

A lot of levels of expansion have had to increase unique levies to take care of such one-time maintenances. Some buyers make the blunder of only checking the one unit they want to buy and not doing a full inspection of the entire structure and communal areas.

The cost of doing repairs on concrete cancer may be high, depending on how serious the problem is. A buyer needs to be aware of this to put it into consideration when making an offer. If the buyer does not read through the building inspection report, they might be in for a shock. Building inspections are carried out to the highest level by building inspectors.

Pre-Purchase Inspections

Buying a property is one of the most significant investments you will ever make. So it would help if you did your due diligence before signing any paperwork. You do not want to put money on an investment property that will be a complete waste of your money. You can prevent this by organizing a pre-purchase inspection before you sign any contract.

Importance of a pre-purchase building inspection report

A pre-purchase building inspection report will give you a clear view of the condition of the property you want to purchase. This could be rotting window frames, rising moisture, and electrical issues that some property owners may want to hide. It will also assist you in pinpointing serious fears which need to be immediately taken care of.

A skilled, certified professional workman documents a pre-purchase building inspection report. The completed report will be written in a language that lay people can understand. The report should also include images as evidence of defects while also pinpointing the workman needed to repair them.

What is included in a pre-purchase building inspection?

  • The credentials and documents of possible safety issues such as construction destruction, asbestos hazards and electrical faults.
  • Identifying any significant construction deterioration that requires repairs immediately.
  • Images that show the uncovered defects.
  • A detailed outline of the work that needs fixing both big and small faults and the suitable tradesman to do the job.

What is the cost of a pre-purchase building inspection?

There is no one cost for all properties when it comes to the cost of a pre-purchase building inspection. Many factors will determine the cost of a pre-purchase building inspection, including type, size and site of the structure.

Types Of Pre-Purchase Building Inspections

Standard building inspection

This is the simplest inspection. It examines the basic structure of the property. It aims at identifying any possible safety issues. A standard inspection does not include inspections such as asbestos or pest examinations.

Building inspection for asbestos

When you know that the property is at risk of containing asbestos fibers, you must carry out this type of inspection. Since asbestos was banned, older buildings might still have them, and an asbestos inspection should be done before any renovations or bringing the building down. All Jim’s Building Inspectors are trained in completing Asbestos Inspections.

Building inspection before an auction

If you want to buy a property at an auction, ensure a pre-purchase building inspection is done before bidding. This will tell you the exact state of the building. It will help you get a more accurate evaluation. Furthermore, it will spotlight any unexpected problems that make the overhaul loss-making.

Pre-renovation building inspection

This report is written by a professional workman who considers the designer’s blueprint for the structure. It will consider the designer’s plan to establish if the basic structure needs additional reinforcement before any makeover work is done. This ensures designer’s get a more accurate approximation of the price of the complete project.

Bid subject to building inspection

This type of inspection is done before a contract to buy the property. The potential buyer will submit a bid for the structure. However, the price will depend on the outcome of the building inspection. In such a scenario, the information will spotlight places that may be costly for the buyer to repair.

Subject to building inspection stipulation

After a bid has been placed and a deposit paid, then this type of inspection is done. It is normally put in the agreement so that the person purchasing can be reimbursed his deposit if the succeeding inspection indicates anything that the vendor did not reveal at all through the sales process.

Understand Property Costs

Both the buyer and the seller should know the precise cost of the property. Each party is looking to get a good deal. Purchasers need to see that they are getting the best value for money. On the other hand, the vendors need to understand they are receiving a reasonable price for their building. Therefore, by having a separate pre-purchase building inspection conducted by a professional inspector the two parties will be informed of the state of the building. It lets prospective purchasers approximate the price of doing repairs prior to approving a price.

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