Renovating a dream house

2018-07-18 06:02

There are obvious issues one should be looking out for when buying an old property to renovate.

These include poor storm water drainage, faulty electrical connections, plumbing and gas installations, a leaking roof, defective insulation, poor maintenance, structural da­mage, water damage, evidence of wood-destroying insects or fungi, poor ventilation and hazardous materials including mould.

A warning was issued to property buyers that major renovations are not for the faint-hearted, especially if you are thinking of doing it yourself.

Paul Stevens, CEO of Just Property, urged buyers to be honest with themselves as to whether they can live with the mess for what might be a year or more, and whether they can afford the professionals required to turn their tumble-down into the dream home.

“Don’t get carried away by the dream of what that cute Victorian will look like when you are finished sprucing her up.

“The very first step is to do a thorough inspection and be prepared to walk away if the work required is too great,” Stevens said.

“Another challenge is that older homes often need electrical and plumbing upgrades, including new wiring, distribution boards (DBs), hot water geysers, plumbing pipes and sanitary ware,” Stevens said.

He said in a statement that a good estate agent will point these things out but they may not be aware of it, so consider getting HouseCheck to do an inspection.

“If a building is older than 60 years, it will generally be protected under Section 34 of the National Heritage Resources Act,” he said.

“You will need to apply and pay for a permit for any alterations and additions,” he said.

This can be done online by creating an account on the South African Heritage Resources Information System (SAHRIS).

Useful instructions can be accessed on the SAHRIS site or on YouTube (sahrisprojectma­nager).

“Minor building work requires plans. It is for this reason that it is essential that you should also remember to ask the seller whether they have approved plans for any building work they have done,” Stevens added.

Once you have your plans and approvals in place, it is time to choose your contractors. Discuss the work together and get an estimate of the cost.

Stevens recommended that one uses the same detailed written instructions to secure quotations from at least three reputable professionals.

It is important to brief each one of them on site, so they can take the context and requirements into account.

When choosing a contractor, it is a good idea to start with the membership lists of the Master Builders in the region.

“The Master Builders Association represent members of the building and construction industry in South Africa.

“Their members are required to possess the necessary technical qualifications, know­ledge and practical experience – or to employ, in a position of responsibility, a person or persons therewith – to ensure that all building projects are carried out in a workmanlike and economical manner.”

“When deciding which contractor’s quote to go with, remember that there is a big difference between a cost estimate and a detailed, written offer to carry out the work.

“Do not sign anything until you are sure that your builder’s offer is firm and clear and covers all your requirements,” he advised.

“Ensure that the question of VAT is clear on the quotation. If the work is extensive, make sure that all quotations are based on model contract conditions.

“When you have chosen your building contractor, make sure you confirm your acceptance of the quotation in writing,” Stevens said.

“There are genuine opportunities out there for people who are prepared to put in the hard work of realising the value offered from improving a home that is outdated or has not been well looked after,” Ste­vens said.

“If you are up for the challenge, remember to think like an investor when you are looking at properties for sale.

“Ensure that the work you plan to do will not exceed your budget, or overcapitalise the property.

“It comes down to doing your homework, good advice from a professional, an experienced agent and then selecting the right people and materials to get the job done,” Stevens concluded.

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