Risks to consider when buying Kominka in a Non-rebuilding land

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crew
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Risks to consider when buying Kominka in a Non-rebuilding land

Post by crew »

So the property I am considering does not have a 2 meter frontage to a public road, and the building is 100 years old so it is not compliant to the Building Code. So if the structure goes down, I can't build anything on the land anymore. But what other risks are there since I can't rely on the building code.

Do kominka usually have risk of asbestos use? How do you mitigate for fire safety? Anything else to look out for?

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Zasso Nouka
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Risks to consider when buying Kominka in a Non-rebuilding land

Post by Zasso Nouka »

crew wrote:
Mon Nov 14, 2022 11:11 am
Anything else to look out for?
Termites and dry or wet rot in the structural timbers ? How old is the roof and what is it made of ?

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Risks to consider when buying Kominka in a Non-rebuilding land

Post by crew »

Thanks! Roof and structure is supposedly 120 years old, but I only have the word of the builder/seller. I don't think there is any documentation.

Are termites and rot in the structural timbers something I can visually confirm? I'd imagine the builder would address these issues during the renovation?

Also do you think I can get fire and earthquake insurance given it is not up to code?

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Risks to consider when buying Kominka in a Non-rebuilding land

Post by Zasso Nouka »

Termites is something you should be able to spot. Look for their clay/soil covered tunnels running up timbers from the floor, they need water so will want access to the ground.

Various types of wet and dry rot maybe harder to spot so could be worth getting a professional in to have a look over if you are worried about them.

Is the roof thatch or tiles ?

As for insurance it's probably worth checking with a few insurance companies to see if they will give you a quote or they have any exceptions. I don't have any experience with insuring a kominka but maybe someone else can say what they did.

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Risks to consider when buying Kominka in a Non-rebuilding land

Post by crew »

Thanks for the reply.
I don't have any experience with insuring a kominka
Does this mean you don't own a kominka or you don't have your kominka insured?
Is the roof thatch or tiles ?
Is it possible to be both? The outer part is tiles, but looking through from the bottom it appears thatched.

What is unique about this is that it is sold by the builder renovating it, and it is in the middle of renovation so I could not tell what was there before they started renovating.

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Risks to consider when buying Kominka in a Non-rebuilding land

Post by Zasso Nouka »

crew wrote:
Wed Nov 16, 2022 11:59 am
Does this mean you don't own a kominka or you don't have your kominka insured?
Our house was a new build so not a kominka, it's fully insured.
crew wrote:
Wed Nov 16, 2022 11:59 am
Is it possible to be both? The outer part is tiles, but looking through from the bottom it appears thatched.
Yes it's very possible, many thatched roofs were tilled or had metal cladding later. The thatch provides good insulation and tiles or cladding protects the thatch.
crew wrote:
Wed Nov 16, 2022 11:59 am
What is unique about this is that it is sold by the builder renovating it, and it is in the middle of renovation so I could not tell what was there before they started renovating.
Ah, I didn't realise that. If you trust the builder you can ask him if he found any rot or termites and if the thatch was in good condition. You can also ask what steps he has taken to mitigate any of those problems, ie treating structural timbers with preservatives etc. He might even be able to tell you if the building is capable of being insured.

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Risks to consider when buying Kominka in a Non-rebuilding land

Post by Tora »

My understanding is that you can’t really insure old houses for fire and earthquakes. Might be different after a full professional retrofit. Ask the builders and maybe get a insurance company’s opinion/estimate.

Best way to look for termites is to get a pair of coveralls, a head light and a minus screwdriver or other pointy metal poker and crawl around under the house looking for tunnels, damage and poking beams and posts and joists to see if they’re solid or spongy. It’s not fun but if you’re not ready to (learn to) do stuff like that, then owning an older house might get real expensive and stressful real quick.

If the builders are putting or have put concrete under the crawl space, that should help with termites and moisture in the future.

If road access to the house is really limited, it could cause problems with future construction/demolition work if a lot of materials have to be hauled in or out manually.

Sometimes, renovations are done to cover up problems cheaply before offloading a problem property on some poor, unsuspecting person looking for an affordable dream home.

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Risks to consider when buying Kominka in a Non-rebuilding land

Post by crew »

Ah, I didn't realise that. If you trust the builder you can ask him if he found any rot or termites and if the thatch was in good condition. You can also ask what steps he has taken to mitigate any of those problems, ie treating structural timbers with preservatives etc. He might even be able to tell you if the building is capable of being insured.
Thanks. Builder seems trustworthy and is very active in the local community so I doubt he will do something bad intentionally. Having said that, he doesn't provide much info. I don't know if this is just countryside life and laid back attitude towards details.

I also forgot to ask him about asbestos! It seems to be a 100+ year old house but based on old photos has been renovated at least once except for the frame. When I saw it in person the walls were already "new". So even if I ask him about asbestos and if this was removed the legal way (assuming it was removed), will I just have to take his word for it?
Last edited by crew on Thu Nov 17, 2022 10:44 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Risks to consider when buying Kominka in a Non-rebuilding land

Post by crew »

My understanding is that you can’t really insure old houses for fire and earthquakes. Might be different after a full professional retrofit. Ask the builders and maybe get a insurance company’s opinion/estimate.
I found This online. They specialize in kominka fire and earthquake insurance it seems.
If the builders are putting or have put concrete under the crawl space, that should help with termites and moisture in the future.
Do you mean as a foundation? I read that concrete lasts shorter than the traditional wood foundation of a kominka. Don't really know much more about this. Or do you mean to seal off the crawlspace?
If road access to the house is really limited, it could cause problems with future construction/demolition work if a lot of materials have to be hauled in or out manually.
There is actually a road wide enough for a car or large van. My problem is that it is classified as non-rebuildable.
Sometimes, renovations are done to cover up problems cheaply before offloading a problem property on some poor, unsuspecting person looking for an affordable dream home.
Thanks for the warning. As I came unto the property mid-renovation, its hard to find out which kind of renovation this is (in addition to the risks of an old house as it is) I will have to do more homework.

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Risks to consider when buying Kominka in a Non-rebuilding land

Post by edmundedgar »

crew wrote:
Thu Nov 17, 2022 10:41 am
If the builders are putting or have put concrete under the crawl space, that should help with termites and moisture in the future.
Do you mean as a foundation? I read that concrete lasts shorter than the traditional wood foundation of a kominka. Don't really know much more about this. Or do you mean to seal off the crawlspace?

Just to show you what we did at my place:


This is a pretty extreme renovation, the original floor was completely removed, concrete poured and then we put in a new floor ranging I guess from 15cm to 50cm above the concrete.

Unfortunately I don't have a "before" picture to hand, but initially we simply had earth underneath the house. I don't think pouring the concrete does anything structural, but it helps keep out the damp and the bugs.

It's not actually sealed off from outside; I don't know if you can see it in the picture but the little ducts under the house are still there. The goal is that air can still circulate, but you don't have too much moisture welling up through the earth below. At one end, where the floor is highest, the builder actually put in a window (which he brought from upstairs where we replaced the window with a modern one) that we can open in summer to let the air circulate. (He reused all kinds of stuff, the wood on the wall above that used to be the upstairs floor...)


Putting in concrete like this may not be practical to do without ripping out the floor; A less extreme solution is to just put down a layer of plastic sheeting.